The First Lady of Lydiard

Throughout the long history of Lydiard Park, there has been a whole succession of fascinating women who have been born or married into the St John and related families. In her book The Ladies of Lydiard, Frances Bevan takes a look at their stories, giving us a glimpse into the history of the house and estate through their unique perspective and this month we are showcasing the first of the ladies of Lydiard to inherit the estate.

Sibilla was the daughter of Robert fitzHarold Ewyas and his wife Petronella, and was born at Ewyas in Herefordshire. When her father died in 1198 she inherited the Honour of Ewyas which included Lydiard. Sibilla married Robert Tregoz, the grandson of a wealthy French nobleman who, as was often the case at the time, held land on both sides of the Channel. Robert, who had been a steward in the household of Richard I, the Lionheart, had strong interests in Wiltshire, where he was sheriff and constable of Salisbury. This dynastic marriage brought Lydiard into the Tregoz family along with a number of other estates. Robert and Sibella probably married in 1194 and Robert spent a considerable time in Normandy serving the Angevin Kings Richard and his brother John. He returned to England by 1205 and he and Sibella had at least three children. Their second son, also Robert, put Lydiard on the map when he received three grants of oak from the royal forest of Braydon between 1241 and 1258. This is intriguing since it suggests some sort of building project and it was the start of a number of records at Lydiard, leading to the grant in 1270 of a royal licence to impark the woodland in order to create a deer park.

For more tales of the Ladies of Lydiard you can visit Frances’ blog Good Gentlewomen and also buy the book!