Tag Archives: Lydiard House

From Aristocratic playground to American Hospital and Beyond – Lydiard House

2 May
Sarah Finch-Crisp

Sarah Finch-Crisp with Festival Director Matt Holland ©Calyx Picture Agency

Today was not the first time I’ve got soaked en route to a Swindon Festival of Literature event. I’m soooo glad I bought those new flip flips in the most recent Debenham’s Blue Cross Sale. Sigh.

So when my sodden self staggered into the room in the Lydiard House conference centre where the talk on the story of Lydiard House and Park was being held it was already pretty full. By the time the talk commenced it was standing room only.

Such a level of interest is unsurprising of course. In a town full of treasures of every kind Lydiard House and Park has to be Swindon’s equivalent to the Koh-i-Noor diamond. Both are much loved and the latter is much used. And, given the recent hullabaloo around SBC’s suggestion that management of it all go out to private tender, and everything around that, (to simplify the story somewhat) there was ever likely to be a big turnout.

The 260 acres of parkland we have today is what’s left of several thousand acres. Its survival is little short of miraculous. It’s extraordinary. And even better it’s in Swindon.

The fact that we’ve got it at all is largely down to the visionary town clerk David Murray John – he of the tower in the town centre. Facilitated by the philanthropy of Councillor Francis Akers who used his own money to temporarily buy the house and park in 1943, DMJ ensured the safety and preservation of Lydiard. And all at a time of graver national concerns. So thank goodness for them.

So what did I get from Ms Finch-Crisp to make my soaking worthwhile? Continue reading