“When my husband and I moved to Swindon eight years ago to be nearer the children, we did not know that Swindon had a park with a rich history and an ancient church only ten minutes’ walk away from our new house.
It has become one of the many joys of living here to explore the park and walled garden. I joined the congregation of St Mary’s church and love the wonderful sense of peace and sharing worship with all generations. Even though we have kept in touch while the church has been closed this year it will be so good to meet everyone properly again.
The church needed more volunteers to help open the building to visitors, so with the existing volunteers’ encouragement, I became a steward. We aim to open the church during the weekends, especially in June when the church offers its famous cream teas to anyone passing by.
I learnt some of the history of the church and its strong links with Lydiard House. My husband Trevor and I went to a series of talks in the house arranged by the Friends of Lydiard Park and became very interested in the St John family. We joined the Friends at that time and have shared in many of the activities since.
I also followed my interest in art and architecture by joining the local Art Society. Their monthly meetings sponsor excellent lecturers who talk on various historical, artistic and social subjects. The Society, also aims to help other local organisations so I arranged for some of their members to become volunteers at St Mary’s. We open the church every Friday during the summer. During the last few years, we have welcomed thousands of visitors. It is a very interesting and enjoyable occupation meeting and talking to so many different people from near and far.
The very stones of the church reflect so much of its history and I frequently discover new details that reveal fresh aspects of its life over the centuries. The present National Lottery Heritage Fund project is helping make sure that the church building will welcome people for years to come.
Once the strange times of the pandemic are over, we will need more people to join as stewards to show visitors the work of conservation inside the church. If you are thinking of joining you can find us at [email protected].
Lydiard Park has been even more important to the local people of Swindon during the coronavirus pandemic. It is so good to be able to walk or cycle there and join the many other people using the park as a haven of peace and tranquillity to relax and enjoy nature. See our gallery of images taken at Lydiard Park during lock-down.
Joining as a friend of Lydiard Park not only offers new interests and acquaintances but also helps safeguard the future of this special Swindon amenity.