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In a history spanning a thousand years, the Lydiard estate has belonged to just five families. The men were adept at acquiring wealthy brides and spending their fortunes, while their wives were consigned to a private, passive life. But were they?
So opens the description of “The Ladies of Lydiard”, a fascinating study of the women of the Manor of Lydiard Park. From royal matriarch Margaret Beaufort to King Charles’s mistress Barbara Villiers; and from Lady Diana Spencer, wife of Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke, to Mary Howard, the gamekeeper’s daughter who married the Sixth Viscount, these remarkable women left their own indelible mark on this English country house, its parkland and surrounding parish.
Written in a style that combines impeccable research with fine story-telling, Ms Bevan has produced a series of essays that truly take us inside the social history of the secret lives of the ladies of the great house. Whether creating remedies for the plague, supplementing building renovations with their own fortunes, or hosting garden parties for the local villagers, these women are brought to life in witty, accessible prose and gorgeous colour illustrations.
A reader doesn’t need to be familiar with the history of Lydiard Park to enjoy this collection, but you will enjoying getting know more about the ladies of the manor, the people whose lives they influenced, and the extraordinary history of a country house through their eyes.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Elizabeth St John