Category Archives: Wedding

Dave and Helena’s Wedding

It’s not often I feel proud to be English. The espousal of nationality seems to be associated these days with the worst aspects of mindless soccer violence and belligerent xenophobia, both of which I detest. However, on July 8th this year at St Mark’s I think we demonstrated an uplifting national trait I can’t imagine you’d find in many other countries.

It was Dave and Helena’s wedding. It was special in so many ways. Firstly, of course, the people. It was also the first wedding to take place in St Mark’s for many years and the first wedding ceremony that St Mark’s has ever held in its own right, rather than as a scion of St John’s. Number one in the record book of St Mark’s weddings!
Helena and Dave are both artists. They and their friends produced banners to hang from the walls of the church for the occasion. The transformation was remarkable. They’re still there and I feel reluctant to remove them, at least until we’ve got others to take their place. This, and a full church, gave a delightful atmosphere to the whole event.

However, it wouldn’t be St Mark’s without something being a bit zany, which is where my feelings of national pride come in. Whilst it is possible, if you scour the earth, you may find another country in which the bride would walk up the isle to the fiddle tune “Whiskey before breakfast”, and you might even find a place where the newly-married couple would leave to “Grumbling old men and grumbling old women”, I’m prepared to bet you won’t find anywhere where the glorious hymn “Tell out my Soul” would be sung to the accompaniment of Frances on Emily (the creaky old pipe organ), myself on fiddle and the crowning glory of Lesley on obligato tin whistle! I think this is something only the English would consider doing.

Another nice touch of English eccentricity was from Heather and Caroline doing improvised harmony singing during the signing of the registers. (Took me back to my youth of long hair and flared trousers!)

However, we shouldn’t forget the ceremony itself which was both joyous and devout, a combination it would be nice to find more often.

Altogether a glorious ceremony in the best traditions of St Mark’s, to celebrate the marriage of a wonderful couple.

Bob Shatwell


“It has always been done this way”

There has been a lot of talk recently about Weddings and how Weddings have always been…  Well, did you know:

1076 – Weddings had to be conducted by a priest but no witnesses were required, and it could take place anywhere.

1306 – Mediterranean male bonding church ceremonies including the joining of hands at the altar, and a kiss were banned because of sex between the men.

16th Century – Council of Trent required two witnesses to be present.

1754 – The Marriage Act made the registration of marriages compulsory, and required that they take place in the Parish Church.  This did not apply to Scotland where marriages could be witnessed by anyone and did not require a priest – hence the rise of Gretna Green.

1836 – Civil marriages, and those by other denominations, became legal.

1857 – Divorce allowed to common people.  Previously an act of parliament was required.  Clergy were required to remarry divorced people and could only refuse in cases of adultery.

1870 – A wife was allowed to keep any money she earnt or inherited.  Prior to this it was legally her husbands.

1907 – Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act allowed men to marry their deceased wife’s sister (contrary to BCP table of Kindred and affinity).

1929 – Age of consent raised to 16 for both sexes, previously 14 for men and 12 for women (parental consent was required for marriages under 21, and more recently 18).

1937 – Clergy could not be compelled to preside at a marriage, or allow their church to be used for a marriage while a former spouse was alive.

1957 – Convocation of Canterbury (Church rule makers) said that Marriage Service should not be used for those with a previous spouse still living.

2002 – General Synod allows remarriage in Church.

2014 – Law allows same sex marriage in England & Wales – but does not force churches to conduct them.  Church of England refuses to do so.