THE Archbishop of Canterbury will give his blessing to Lydiard Park’s Heritage Open Days when he visits the park in September.

The Most Rev Justin Welby will be visiting the Swindon Council-owned park on Saturday, September 13, as part of a three-day visit to the Diocese of Bristol, and will cut a ribbon to officially announce the start of Heritage Open days.

The Archbishop will be at the historic stately home after meeting for breakfast and prayer with clergy and church leaders from Swindon Churches Together, an ecumenical group of churches which work together across the town.

Heritage Open Days is a national annual event celebrating England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee.

Lydiard House and its Walled Garden will be open between 11am and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, September 13-14.

Next to Lydiard House, St Mary’s Church will be open from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.

Outside, the Georgian ornamental fruit and flower Walled Garden will also be open to visitors free of charge.

The Archbishop will be starting a sponsored walk and bike ride outside St Mary’s Church at 10am as part of the Ride+Stride National Churches Trust initiative, in which people from all over the country walk or cycle between churches from Cornwall to Northumberland.

The money they raise helps to preserve some of Britain’s 47,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses that are at risk of falling into serious disrepair.

The Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Rev Dr Lee Rayfield, said: “Everyone across the Diocese is excited about the forthcoming visit of Archbishop Justin Welby and I know from conversations with him that he is really looking forward to meeting people in our local churches and communities.”