Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Harry Gough - first caretaker at the publicly owned Lydiard House.

In 1943 Harry Gough sold the properties he owned at Washpool and with his wife and two daughters moved into the mansion house at Lydiard Park, the first caretaker to be appointed following the purchase of the house and parkland by Swindon Corporation.

Joyce Vincent, Harry's daughter, recalled the first night the family spent in their new des res:

Moving to a house of that size, from a small house, was, to say the least, somewhat overwhelming and nerve racking. The first night I thought my father was the most cruel person on earth taking us there because there were no conveniences, we had candles and aladdin oil lamps, and instead of a cooker mother had to use what was known as a Triplex. It was like a fire place with an oven to one side. The downstairs wasn't too bad but the upstairs was in a terrible state. I don't think there was a bedroom ceiling that didn't have a hug hole in it somewhere. You could look through right up into the attic.

Harry was in his mid forties when he took on the role of caretaker.  He had served in India during the First World War and in the second was Senior ARP Warden in the Lydiards. Among his duties at Lydiard Park was 'to keep an eye' on the American soldiers based there at a camp on the fields off Hook Street. No easy task as they were renowned for getting up to mischief, leaving their graffiti in the attic, damaging the staircase and when they left attempting to take the Henry Cheere Carrara marble fireplace in the Drawing Room with them.

Joyce recalls how much her parents loved living at Lydiard House.

When the Mansion was first opened to the public, in 1955, I thought what a fantastic job they had made of the house.  Also the lake because when we were there you couldn't walk round it at all, it was so overgrown.  However I must confess the first time I returned I resented so many people being there, and yes, it was a little selfish of me, but I remembered Lydiard Park with just my father and my mother, sitting on a seat on the front lawn - with the daffodils out, they both so adored living there.

Harry spent more than ten years as caretaker at Lydiard Park.  When his wife took ill Harry decided he could no longer manage his job and reluctantly the couple moved to Broad Hinton.  Following Mrs Gough's death Harry returned to Lydiard Millicent and worked as gardener at the Rectory.

He died in June, 1973.  The Rev Carne wrote about his memories of Harry in the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz Report published the following year.

He was the kind of person no one could ever forget - a real character.  His infectious good humour, his high sense of loyalty and responsibility and his great gentleness made up the delightful person he was, one whom one feels better for having known. 

Mr and Mrs Gough

Snooker table in the Grand Hall

Rotting ceilings ...

and rotting floorboards

State bed in the beautifully restored Lydiard House

Old images taken from 1980s Lydiard Park & Church guidebook
Joyce Vincent's memories of Lydiard House were published in Lydiard Life (date unknown)

Rev Carne's memories of Harry Gough were published in the Friends of Lydiard Tregoz Report No 7 1974

1 comment:

  1. Did the Vizard family take over from Harry Gough?