Mike Montagu is the Host & Historian at Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire where he was until very recently Bursar for over nine years. His new role allows him to focus exclusively on heritage, the history of the Palladian house, and the provision and guiding of tours.
Explaining his interest in Lydiard Park, Mike told us ‘ I have long been aware of the importance of Ditchley’s connection with the St John family through Anne St John, Countess of Rochester, and Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.
An active link with Lydiard Park, though, only started to be realised following research visits by author and long time Lydiard Friend, Elizabeth St John, for her Lydiard Chronicles series – the books feature in part Ditchley and the redoubtable Anne St John, who played such a crucial role in safeguarding the royalist Lee family’s fortunes throughout the Civil War and Cromwell’s Commonwealth.
Liz’s continued interest in, and engagement with, Ditchley has led to the prospect of closer collaboration with Lydiard Park, particularly in the area of archiving, including the sharing of historic material. Like Lydiard, the Ditchley Foundation has been working towards the full digitisation of its archive.
I am a very newly joined Friend, but am keen to visit Lydiard Park. Ironically, I previously knew nothing of this beautiful and interesting house despite spending the last two and a half years of my Army career at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham on the edge of Swindon and then living south of the city before moving to Oxfordshire. I’m looking forward to rectifying the oversight!’
You can discover more about Ditchley Park in our new Castles and Mansions collection in The Lydiard Archives.