10 things to celebrate about Swindon. No 1: Parks and Green spaces
A: Lydiard Park and house

When I first conceived this blog I needed a starting point. So I came up with the idea of 10 things to celebrate about Swindon. This post is No 1: Parks and Green spaces – Lydiard Park.

November 2014:  Sadly the stormy weather of Christmas 2013 destroyed the ancient walnut tree pictured below.  Go here for more information about it.

Below is a picture I took the day before the storm came in and destroyed it.

No 1: Parks and Green spaces Lydiard  - walnut tree at Lydiard Park
Ancient walnut tree

Swindon is a town blessed with a huge amount of green space. It’s my understanding Swindon is classified as the greenest town in England.

Its green spaces range from the formal Town Gardens with its lovely bandstand, to large green areas, including a stately home and park in West Swindon: Lydiard House and Park.

I live a hop, skip and a jump from Lydiard Park but don’t go nearly as often as I should.  However, even if I don’t utilise it too often many people do. It’s popular with runners, families out on bikes, dog-walkers, strollers and, in the summer months, picnickers and BBQers. If only more people would take their blasted litter away with them. How hard can it be? Grrr!

Lydiard House and Park

As the website says: Lydiard Park is a beautiful historic estate on the western edge of Swindon, with the Palladian House, Church and Walled Garden, set in 260 acres of parkland. The children’s play area, Cafe & Tea Rooms, events and education programmes make Lydiard Park a great destination for a family day out.

And on Lydiard House: ‘At the heart of the park is Lydiard House – a striking Grade I listed Palladian house that for 500 years was home to the St John family.  The ground floor state apartments of Lydiard House have been beautifully restored and are open to visitors to view the ornate plasterwork and original family furnishings displayed alongside portraits and photographs of the St John family.Your visit starts in the grand Main Hall, which was originally the impressive entrance to the St John’s family home as well as being a space for dancing and entertainment.  To the right, you will find the Library, lined with bookshelves decorated with classical plaster busts of famous philosophers.’

NB: See Secret Swindon and Swindon in 50 Buildings for mentions of the house at Lydiard and St Mary’s Church.

A few years ago (okay a LOT of years ago) I was given, to celebrate a special birthday, a hot air balloon flight from the park.  It took place on a perfectly clear, warm, sunny early September evening. The operators inflated the ballon in front of the house and when we ‘took off’ and floated right over the house it was so, so magical. One of the loveliest experiences I’ve ever had. Simply amazing.

St Mary’s Church

Just behind the house is the Parish Church of St. Mary’s, Lydiard Tregoze. This is a gorgeous little church. It has closed in pews – something I’d not come across before. There’s recently been a big conservation project going on there so it’s well worth visiting if you’ve not been.

“St Mary’s is one of England’s finest small churches and dates back to the 12th century. It is  packed with fascinating monuments to the St. John family including St John Polyptych, erected by John St John in 1592 and the Golden Cavalier, a full-size effigy of Edward St John, who died in battle in the English Civil War in 1644.”

I went up there for a walk just before Christmas (2013) and here a few pictures I took. It was a lovely sunny day and was even relatively mild.   The house always looks very lovely in the sunshine.

Sunday 29th December 2013 – more photos:

Other parks are available

In no particular order, just some of the other parks/green spaces Swindon boasts are: Town Gardens, Queen’s Park, The GWR Park, the Polo Ground, Coate Water, Shaw Forest Park and Barbary Castle – a misleading name as it’s not actually a castle at all.