IT is 66 years this month since demolition crews began tearing down Swindon’s best-known stately home.

The images on this page are possibly the last photographs taken of The Lawn, heart of the old Goddard Estate, before it was reduced to rubble.

The main picture shows the dereliction into which the once grand 18th century mansion had fallen,with the roof a ruin, foliage overgrown and decorative stone posts missing from a wall.

By the time our smaller picture was taken, wire fencing had been placed around the dangerous structure to protect trespassers from their own recklessness.

A brief Adver story with that image was headlined: “Farewell to the Lawn.”

It said: “The Lawn, Swindon, seat to the Goddard family for several hundred years, will disappear within the next six months.

“A London firm of contractors engaged by Swindon Town Council began demolition work on Tuesday.

“So dangerous has the Manor House become through decades of neglect that, to lessen the possibility of accidents, only three highly-experienced men are working on the building, hand-stripping the interior.

“Later, the walls will be pulled down by a power winch.

“Much of the rubble will be used to fill in the vast cellars.”

The Goddards, originally from Upham near Aldbourne, had bought the manor in 1562 from a family to whom it had been granted much earlier by royal gift.

The Lawn replaced the medieval home which stood on the site when the Goddards arrived.

According to the Victoria History of the Counties of England, The Lawn was known until the early 19th Century as Swindon House.

The authors note: “The long north front had a recessed central bay with a pedimented [gabled] doorway flanked by windows on the ground floor and a Venetian window above.”

There were large projecting side blocks divided by rectangular columns which rose to the full height of the structure.

The last of the Goddard line, Fitzroy Pleydell Goddard, died in 1927, and his widow, Eugenia, left in 1931.

The building, steadily falling into disrepair, was used by the Army during World War Two and bought by the council, along with 52 acres of grounds, in 1943.

Today much of the structure, which once dominated the local landscape as its occupants dominated local life, lies in pieces beneath the parkland where people stroll, walk dogs and picnic.