As a new member of the Friends of Lydiard Park, I was able to join them on their recent annual summer outing.
The Friends, an independent charity dedicated to supporting the conservation and continued enhancement of Lydiard House and Park, was established in 2005, a successor to the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz founded in the 1960s. With a new website launched in May and a facebook page just hours old, the Friends are getting their message across to a modern, media savvy audience.
This year's trip was to the magnificent Stourhead House near Warminster. The estate comprises a Palladian stately home, a Pantheon and a Temple of Apollo, plus other classical representations, set in more than 2,600 acres.
The property belonged to the Hoare banking family for more than 200 years. The estate was split in 1946 when half was gifted to the National Trust and half remains in family ownership.
Henry Hoare, who ran the bank alongside his younger brother Benjamin following the death of their father Sir Richard, purchased the medieval Stourton manor and renamed it Stourhead. He began work on the impressive Palladian mansion but unfortunately never lived to see it completed. It would be his son, another Henry, nicknamed 'The Magnificent' who furnished the house and created the classical landscape complete with temples and monuments.
And of course there has to be a Lydiard Park/St John family connection.
Hoare's bank was founded in 1673, the brain child of goldsmith Richard Hoare. Sir Henry St John, the reprobate found guilty of murdering Sir William Escott in 1684, was the first family member to open an account with Hoare's in 1697. His father Sir Walter was the second St John client, opening his account in 1704.
The third member of the family to bank with Hoare's was the Hon. John St John, responsible for the remodelling of Lydiard House in 1745. Perhaps he popped down to Stourhead to visit his bank manager and pick up a few tips for his own grand design.
Today Hoare's is the oldest, independently owned private bank with branches at 37 Fleet Street and 32 Lowndes Street.
|Temple of Flora|
|Members of the Friends with Emily, our guide, in front of the Pope Cabinet|
Many thanks to Sonia St John for making her research available.