Major Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard's dying request was that his funeral service be as simple as possible and that he wished to be buried in a "plain elm coffin made from timber grown on my estate."
The last Lord of the Manor to live at The Lawn, Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard died at the family home on Friday August 12th 1927 and less than three weeks later Fielder and Tuckett, a firm of auctioneers, valuers and surveyors, were called in to catalogue the family treasures.
An Inventory of Plate, Pictures, Busts, Statutes, Books and Jewellery fills several typewritten sheets of paper, recording items of both financial and sentimental value. Items were listed under headings of the rooms where they were observed, for example the Dining Room, the Lobby to Drawing Room, the Blue Room and the Rose Room along with the Gun Room and the Billiard Room.
Pages and pages of books are recorded not just from the library but all over the house. An eclectic selection of titles such as Williams' Dogs and their ways is listed alongside a Welsh Dictionary, a photograph book and a scrapbook.
Among the silver plate was a tankard with lid dated 1643 and a Queen Anne crested salver on stand from 1711. There was a Georgian sugar sifter along with a Victorian one, a pair of small rat-tail sugar tongs and dozens of forks, knives and spoons.
Surprisingly there were few items of jewellery. A gold half hunter watch and chain, and seal has an explanatory annotation initialed E.W.G. "given to the Reverend C.F. Goddard (Fitzroy Pleydell's younger brother) at my husbands death."
Oil paintings of animals including two by Benjamin Marshall, an early 19th century canine and equestrian painter, hung on the walls alongside photographs of Teignmouth and Torquay.
In the Major's private room were two photographs of his parents taken on the occasion of their Golden Wedding anniversary in 1897.
Whether the inventory was made for probate or sale is unknown. Fitzroy Pleydell's widow spent a brief four years at The Lawn after her husband's death, before leaving for America where she made her home.
The Major's funeral took place on Monday August 15 at 8pm. Advertiser headlines read 'Interred at Sunset' and 'Large Attendance.'
As requested the Major's coffin was made from one of his trees, cut down in Drove Road during road widening work. Covered by a Union Jack the coffin was carried from The Lawn to the Parish church on a handbier where Canon C.A. Mayall and Dr. R. Talbot, the Archdeacon of Swindon conducted a simple service in Christ Church. The congregation was estimated to number in the thousands as Swindon marked the end of an era.
The Goddard Family - Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard is perched on the bench wearing a bowler hat
Old images of the Goddard family and the Lawn are published courtesy of Swindon Local Studies see www.flickr.com/photos/swindonlocal/
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