Visitors to Lydiard Park can’t miss the activity around Lydiard House at the moment. Essential building repairs which began this July are progressing well according to a spokesman from Swindon’s Corporate Projects Team. So far no unforeseen issues have arisen and the work is on course to complete in November, weather permitting.
Various different trades are involved as wood and stone work is repaired on all sides of the building. Over the summer degraded and moisture retaining paint has been stripped from the former service wing, the render repaired and treated with a breathable paint. This wing of the house was built in the 1830’s and housed the kitchens with their huge ovens and ranges as well as the butler’s pantry and other servant’s quarters.
On the building’s 18th century classical facades, stonemason Robert Fleming has been carefully drilling out a large number of rusting iron cramps and pins from the damaged stonework. These had been used to help hold the limestone blocks in place.
“We drill out the minimum size possible in order to remove the damaged stonework and to provide enough room go get an adequate key for the new stainless steel fixing. The final stage is to then cut and fix an indent of ashlar to plug the hole in the facade. This is bedded and pointed with a hydraulic lime mortar with Bath Stone and Silver Sand aggregate”, says Robert.
Back in Beard and Son’s workshop in Swindon colleagues are carving new stone sections to replace damaged areas of the main balustrade and parapet.
Lydiard House is Swindon’s only Grade 1 house which means it is defined as having ‘special architectural and historic interest of national importance’. All works to it have to be approved by Historic England.
Conservation architect Michael Gray, a trustee of the Friends of Lydiard Park, said:
“I am pleased to see Swindon Borough Council embark on a programme of repairs, which on the South Tower and North East Court are much needed. I’m also pleased to see Beard Construction involved who I have worked with successfully on heritage buildings in Oxford. They have a good appreciation of the issues relating to the repair of historic buildings which combined with their local roots makes them the right contractor for Lydiard House. Against this background we look forward with anticipation to seeing the completed works.”