Holy Rood, Swindon’s first parish church, was abandoned and partially dismantled in the mid 19th century when construction began on the new one at Christ Church. All that remains today is the chancel complete with numerous memorials to previous parishioners.
Alongside plaques to the Goddard’s and the Vilett’s is one to Mary Broadway, the widow of former parish priest John Broadway, and her sisters Dorothy and Margaret Brind. The inscription reads - Near this Place/Lie the Bodyes of three Sisters/Mary, the Widow of/John Broadway/Late Vicar of this Parish/Died Jan 7 1747 Aged 70/She left 20 Pounds, the Interest/to be given yearly for Ever/to Poor Widows of this Parish/Dorothy Brind died/May 4 1748 Aged 64/Margaret Brind died/May 29th 1748 Aged 68/She left 100 pounds /to the Poor of this Parish/the Interest to be given yearly/for Ever on Margarets Day/and directed by her Will/this Monument to be/erected.
When Lord of the Manor Richard Goddard died in 1732 Margaret and Dorothy were living with him. In his first will dated 1718 Richard bequeathed the Swindon estate to his brother Pleydell and that if he too should die childless, it should go to the older of the two spinster sisters, ‘cousin’ Margaret, on condition that she change her name to Goddard. But who was Margaret Brind?
It has taken members of the Goddard Association of Europe many years to solve the mystery but with the assistance of new online data they have been able to reveal the identity of the elusive Margaret Brind.
The three Brind sisters, along with two others, were born in Wanborough, the daughters of Thomas Brind and his wife the former Dorothy Hedges. Thomas’ sister Martha Brind was the wife of Oliver Pleydell and it was their daughter Mary who married into the Goddard family and became the mother of Richard and Pleydell Goddard.
Margaret and Dorothy died within days of each other in May 1748. Dorothy left a brief will with bequests to her married sisters, the bulk of her estate going to Margaret who died less than four weeks later.
The sums of money bequeathed by the two sisters, worth today approximately £17,000 were combined. Acting on behalf of Margaret and Mary, ‘the minister, churchwardens and overseers of the parish of Swindon’ purchased a three acre close of meadow or pasture ground called Cannon’s Close in Stratton St. Margaret. The last tenant to lease Cannon’s Close was Richard Blunsden who in 1831 paid £9 a year rent. When land at Stratton St. Margaret, including Cannon’s Close, was inclosed, an allotment at Upper Stratton was granted to Swindon’s parish church.
During the 1880s land acquired with the sisters’ bequest was sold along with land belonging to Richard Goddard and the Poor’s Allotment charities. From the money raised £1,171 was invested as a fund for the poor and £203 for widows. In 1906 these and a number of other 18th and 19th century charities were combined.
Although the money didn’t stretch to cover the ‘for ever’ clause, the charity was still in operation more than 150 years later when in 1903 the poor fund stood at £30 and the widow’s fund at £5. By 1962 the annual income was £110 and only residents of the ancient parish of Swindon were eligible to apply.