The Friends of Lydiard Park has been quietly transforming. The 60-year-old organisation, which is dedicated to supporting the protection, conservation and enhancement of Lydiard House and Park has significantly raised its profile with an enhanced mission bringing Lydiard to life for thousands of people, both local and national, and international. The transformation is revealed this week in the launch of the Friends’ new interactive website and events programme. The new website www.friendsoflydiardpark.org.uk is packed with beautiful images of Swindon’s much loved park, fascinating stories about its history, natural environment, and the people associated with it over the centuries and right up to today. A new events programme of talks, tours and family activities is unfolding throughout the year, and members of the public are invited to participate, submitting their stories and unique memories of Lydiard. Chair of the Friends, Sarah Finch-Crisp, says: ‘’Lydiard House and Park is such an important part of Swindon, both for its heritage and as a wonderful amenity for local people. The Friends have been researching, supporting and promoting Lydiard for over fifty years and have compiled a wealth of information about Swindon’s “jewel in the crown.” Today, through our new website and events programme we are delighted to share our enthusiasm and curiosity with even more people in this country and abroad. We hope many of them will join us.” Along with the website and wide-ranging events, The Friends of Lydiard Park are working closely with Swindon Borough Council and the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre to make Lydiard’s archive of documents and photographs more accessible. The Friends are also forming collaborations with other records offices, universities and libraries to exchange information and enhance record access. I’m delighted to represent the Friends internationally, and so excited about all the great things we have planned for this year and beyond. Be sure to stay in touch via our new website, or email me personally!
It’s almost three months since Written in their Stars published, and I still miss the people and places every day. It’s funny how characters stay with you, long after you’ve typed “The End”. Today, I received a fabulous Chill with a Book Premier Award, a level that’s reserved for those books that receive exceptionally high reviewer evaluations. So, my part in the book is over, but it’s lovely to know that others are enjoying time within its covers.
“There is poignancy in every chapter; the characters are diverse and interesting, and the pace is perfect. Ms St John’s writing style is beautiful and rich. Wonderful book, wonderful series.”
Getting ready to embark on the first leg of my lecture tour and excited to be visiting wonderful English Speaking Union branches across the country. This coming week, I’ll be speaking in Winter Park, Florida on Feb 4th, Savannah on the 6th, Atlanta on the 8th and Jacksonville on the 9th. Here’s a glimpse of my talk – it is open to the public, so if you’re in the area, come along. Tickets are available by calling the ESU branches in those locations.
Tales from Inside the Tower of London Join Elizabeth St.John, historian and best-selling author, on a journey back in time to England’s infamous Tower of London and its notorious prisoners and residents. What made Sir Walter Raleigh spend most of his time in a hen-house? Did the Wizard Earl of Northumberland succeed in discovering the Philosphers’ Stone? And why did William Shakespeare perpetuate the story of the murdered Princes in the Tower? Elizabeth’s ancestress, Lucy St.John lived in the Tower from 1617-1630 as the Keeper’s wife, and is the subject of her historical fiction trilogy The Lydiard Chronicles. From first hand accounts, memoirs and hidden archives, Elizabeth shares the secret life of the Tower of London.
“It was on the 29th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1620, that in the Tower of London, the principal city of the English Isle, I was, about four of the clock in the morning, brought forth to behold the ensuring light. My father was Sir Allen Apsley, lieutenant of the Tower of London; my mother, his third wife, was Lucy, the youngest daughter of Sir John St.John of Lidyard Tregooze in Wiltshire” Celebrating Lucy’s 400th birthday this week, whose memoirs of her life inspired The Lydiard Chronicles. A full copy of the Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, the book she wrote of her regicide husband to honour his memory to her children, is online at Bartleby. It also includes the biographical fragment which tells of her mother, Lucy St.John, and her life as The Lady of the Tower. https://www.bartleby.com/362/
Whenever I travel, I try to make a priority of spending time in the local library, and intentionally take a notepad or my laptop to write a few words, or an entire chapter. Over the past couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of working in Manchester and New York, and written in the New York Public Library, the John Rylands Libray, and have dreamed in the Morgan Library and Chethams Library. Surrounded by books and centuries of wisdom and creativity, inspiration is not far away.
Angels, Buckets and Bells: A creative response to St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze
Date: 14th January 2020 – 24th March 2020 Location: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Bath Road Swindon SN1 4BA Time: 11:00 – 16:30
St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoze, is one of Swindon’s most historic and beautiful buildings. The Grade 1 listed church was awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2018 to conserve its medieval wallpaintings, monuments and decorative schemes. This exhibition will bring together the sketches and finished work created by the project’s Artists in Residence, Felicity Cormack and Judy Thompson, which will be exhibited alongside treasures from the church.
A wonderful opportunity for a glimpse into the conservation of centuries-old monuments and paintings by modern artists.
Happy New Year everyone! It’s a #BookBub promotional weekend for my new release WRITTEN IN THEIR STARS, and pricing is at 0.99 world-wide! Who’s your favourite…The Rebel, The Courtier, or the Spymistress? https://geni.us/MyBookWITS
Here’s a review that came in today from Hoover Book Reviews. So delighted.
Another triumph, another fascinating read. The author has retained that emotional tug at her reader’s hearts throughout the series, while at the same time providing a powerful tale of shattered dreams, hopes, and survival in a country torn by civil war, and rife with divisive politics that tear families apart. The trials and tribulations of the family, overwhelming at times, are rendered beautifully through the strength of the characters; characters who pull the reader into the turmoil, the chaos, the victories in an ever changing reality. Let the pages turn, my fellow readers – Luce, Nan and Frances are calling you. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I’m really excited to let you know I’ve been invited by The English Speaking Union to present a Lecture Tour in the US in the early part of 2020. I’ll be visiting branches across the southern states, meeting the wonderful members and giving talks on my books and the historical context – especially around the Tower of London, Lydiard Park and the lives of my ancestors. For full details go to my events page: http://www.elizabethjstjohn.com/events/
A word about the Lecture Series Sponsor: The English-Speaking Union of the United States was created to fulfill a mission. It was formally organized in the United States in 1920, two years after the establishment of its counterpart in Britain, the ESU of the British Commonwealth, and arose from the conviction of its founder, Sir Evelyn Wrench and a group of like-minded American and British friends, that maintenance of the close personal and national ties forged during World War I was necessary for the preservation of peace. Sir Evelyn firmly believed that given the opportunity to know one another personally, people who shared a common language would soon discover that they also shared similar values, whatever their differences in nationality or background. https://www.esuus.org/esu/
Love that paperbacks are enjoying a resurgence this winter. I’ve just returned from Lydiard, where I was so excited to launch my latest novel, Written in their Stars. Paperbacks sold out in 20 minutes! Much as I love my kindle for traveling, there is nothing quite like curling up with a new friend. Thank you to all my readers who are buying books this winter. I hope you enjoy spending time with the family.