Lydiard Park is a beautiful historic estate on the western edge of Swindon, owned and managed by Swindon Borough Council. There has been a deer park, manor house and church on this site since Medieval times. The current grade I listed Palladian house was remodeled into what we see today in 1740., and is set along with the beautiful Georgian walled garden in 260 acres of parkland.
Like many country estates, Lydiard Park was requisitioned by the military in 1943. It was used as an American army hospital, housed German prisoners of war and the Home Guard used the fields and woodland for training and target practice.
Entry into the park itself is free, dogs are allowed in the grounds and the park is a lovely destination for a walk, run or bike ride. There are BBQs available to hire in the summer, a cafe and tea rooms on site, and lots of picnic spots. There are also some great kids play areas, which I didn’t photograph due to the number of other people’s kids playing there, and a Jungle Parc aerial adventure tree top course on site.
On this occasion we visited just to walk the dog, have a play and a picnic lunch, and to see if we could forage any fallen pine cones and needles for a project we have in mind, but in the past we have paid the entry to look around the house, which has some beautifully restored State rooms that you can visit. As part of the entry to the house you can request to look at the church. This is particularly fun, as they provide you with the giant, ancient key, and you get to go and open the church up yourself, which makes it all seem much more of an adventure.
Lydiard House opened to the public in 1955. Over the decades the parkland declined, the lakes silted up and many of the historic features were at risk, so in 2005, with the aid of a heritage lottery grant, the house, parkland and walled garden were all restored.
For part of the year, this large herd of Irish Cob Ponies graze at Lydiard Park. They are the loveliest horses, and are really happy to receive a treat and pat. This year, we were told, is non breeding year for them, although we still spotted a couple of adorable foals.
Lydiard Park is very popular with local families, and a really lovely place to spend time. It is the perfect environment for kids to play in and explore; the site is beautifully maintained, and, as the seasons change, there’s always something different to see, however many times you have visited before.