From his home, Belladrum in Scotland, long standing Friend Joe Gibbs describes the family connections with Lydiard Park that lead to his father becoming a champion for the Friends and his own enduring interest.
‘My paternal grandmother, Margaret, was born a St John of the Bolingbroke family. My father, Roly Gibbs, who retired to Wiltshire and became Lord Lieutenant of the county in 1989, consequently took a great interest in Lydiard Park and St Mary’s. He was Vice President of the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz and grew to love the house and church so much that he asked for his funeral service to be conducted there which duly happened in 2004. It was a wonderful occasion – for a funeral – with just the right mix of military ceremony and informality, in the incomparable setting of that church and afterwards in the State Rooms of Lydiard House.
Roly had been a keen reader of the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz Report when it was edited by Rev Brian Carne, a very learned publication which recorded the results of so much scholarly research on the St Johns and produced so many fascinating and arcane footnotes to the story of the family. He introduced me to the house and church. I will never forget my first sight of the Golden Cavalier and the triptych of the St John family with their lineage and emblazons on either side.
After my father’s death, I continued our link with the committee of the Friends of Lydiard Park but sadly, living as I do in the North of Scotland, wasn’t able to attend meetings as regularly as I would have liked. Nonetheless I have watched the fortunes of Lydiard from afar and have been deeply impressed by the loyalty and energy of its hard-working friends in supporting the fortunes of the house and staving off the various threats to its role, its setting and its tranquillity. Also, by the numerous events that take place there and its involvement in the local community. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to Sarah Finch-Crisp whose dedication to the house and park has been unstinting over 36 years and without whose leadership in preserving it things might have been very different, although I know she would say it has been and continues to be a team effort. My very best wishes to all those who continue to support this wonderful place so that other generations can enjoy it.’