The St.John family portrait collection displayed in the State Rooms of Lydiard House is a fascinating record of the people who owned and lived at Lydiard Park from Elizabethan times onwards. The St.Johns employed some of the finest artists of the day such as Cornelius Jensen, Sir Peter Lely, and Godfrey Kneller to represent them. They depict all manner of characters from respected landed gentry to those at the heart of English social and political life, eminent statesmen, historic heroines, spies and mistresses.
The portraits are also a window into the fashion, costume, and mannerisms of their day, symbols of social status, lover's tokens, and in the case of children’s portraits, the hope and affection of parents as much as pride in their continuing lineage.
When Lydiard Park was purchased by Swindon Corporation in 1943, the house was empty, and when Swindon Corporation opened it to the public in 1955 only two St.John paintings were on display. This all changed in the 1960s when Lord Bolingbroke, with encouragement from the Friends of Lydiard, sold a large number of his ancestral portraits to the council. Since then, a huge effort has been made to trace and return St.John portraits so that the majority are now home.
Browse this collection for portraits hanging in Lydiard House, along with several hanging in institutions and private collections in the UK and overseas. You will also find research articles documenting the history of the collection and its provenance, as well as inventories and letters regarding pictures previously on loan to Lydiard House from The National Trust.