By­ways . . . . . . . .

Evergreen - - Contents Summer 2015 - Gle­nis Wil­son

June, when or­ange blos­som and roses are out in fra­grant bloom, is the tra­di­tional month for wed­dings. June, when the weather is balmy and brides are driven to church in open- top cars and horse- drawn car­riages. But not all wed­dings take place in this beau­ti­ful month. Queen Vic­to­ria chose to marry Prince Al­bert in the chill of Fe­bru­ary.

She is re­ported to have set the fash­ion for white wed­dings when, on 10th Fe­bru­ary 1840, dressed in a pure white satin wed­ding dress, she was con­veyed by horse- drawn car­riage to the Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, where she mar­ried her beloved Al­bert.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that she pro­posed to him the pre­vi­ous Oc­to­ber. It was a love match most cer­tainly judg­ing from a let­ter she wrote the day af­ter her mar­riage. The let­ter, ex­pound­ing her great hap­pi­ness, was sent to her Un­cle Leopold who had first in­tro­duced them. In it she refers to her new hus­band as an an­gel and that to look into his eyes was enough to make her adore him. Her great de­light, she told her un­cle, was to make Al­bert happy.

The Bri­tish weather cer­tainly lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion on Vic­to­ria’s wed­ding day. In a short note writ­ten that morn­ing she ex­claimed, “What weather!” and ex­pressed the hope that the heavy rain would ease later. But un­doubt­edly she would have been quite un­per­turbed by the win­ter weather as she was driven to her wed­ding in the horse- drawn car­riage.

In the Vic­to­rian era, a bride and groom could cer­tainly choose a lan­dau and pair, com­plete with groom and coach­man, but for royal wed­dings, lan­daus were usu­ally drawn by four white horses. How­ever, there was a wide choice and the bride could choose from han­som cabs, phaetons, broughams, car­riages, coaches and wag­onettes.

The lan­dau, a firm favourite, is

a most grace­ful style of car­riage. It orig­i­nated about 1757, seem­ingly in Lan­dau, in Ger­many. It boasts a hood that is con­structed in two sec­tions to the front and rear that can be folded down in in­clement weather.

When Lady El­iz­a­beth BowesLyon, our late Queen Mother, mar­ried the Duke of York in the spring of 1923, she chose to ride in style to Westminster Abbey for the cer­e­mony in a closed lan­dau. But on her re­turn to the Palace as a mar­ried lady, the lan­dau was driven along at a se­date pace and was open to public view.

Much fur­ther back dur­ing Ro­man times there was no re­gal car­riage await­ing the bride. Although she would have been mar­ried wear­ing a white dress, here the sim­i­lar­ity to our 21st- cen­tury brides ended. On her feet she would have worn deep golden san­dals with a veil of the same colour. This colour was as­so­ci­ated with the god­dess Hy­men, said to be the god­dess of fer­til­ity, who presided over wed­dings. To en­hance this as­pect, in her hand the bride would have car­ried three ears of wheat. This was looked upon as a great sym­bol of fer­til­ity. Af­ter the cer­e­mony she would be es­corted to her new hus­band’s house and the bridal party would pro­ceed to carry her over the thresh­old. But whereas in the Ro­man mar­riage, both the man and woman had

to be in agree­ment, the An­gloSaxon girl fared very much poorer. Although the An­glo Saxon word “wed” ac­tu­ally means a pledge, it was com­mon prac­tice for these un­for­tu­nate young women to be cap­tured and/ or pur­chased and find them­selves caught up on horse­back and rid­den away with — whether they wished to or not.

In more re­cent times, 30 or 40 years ago, brides wanted to ar­rive at the church or register of­fice in a grand man­ner. The fash­ion then was to be as­sisted from their seat of hon­our in the back of a white Jaguar, Daim­ler, Rolls- Royce or limousine. Whilst ar­riv­ing for the wed­ding in a large ex­pen­sive mo­tor car was guar­an­teed to make a girl feel re­gal, to­day’s brides have com­plete free­dom to choose how they wish to travel to the cer­e­mony on their spe­cial day.

Many choose an early model of the mo­tor car such as a 1930 Beau­ford Tourer or 1912 Lan­daulette, usu­ally driven by a fully uni­formed chauf­feur. But things have come full cir­cle and in the 1990s it was by no means un­usual for the truly ro­man­tic bride to choose to ar­rive by el­e­gant horse­drawn car­riage, such as the lan­dau.

In­creas­ingly pop­u­lar now, how­ever, are mar­riages abroad. For

the ad­ven­tur­ous 21st- cen­tury woman leav­ing our shores to marry at an ex­otic for­eign venue, it is truly a case of the world be­ing her oys­ter. The only prob­lem be­ing, which lo­ca­tion to choose.

For a fairy­tale wed­ding, she may choose to go to Florida and be trans­ported by Dis­ney’s Cin­derella glass coach drawn by four dap­ple­grey horses and at­tended by cream cos­tumed and be­wigged foot­men. Or she can choose to ac­tu­ally marry on board whilst cruis­ing through the Ya­sawa Is­lands in Fiji.

To marry Down Un­der in Syd­ney, she will be con­veyed into mat­ri­mony by sedan chair, or should she choose Sri Lanka, an ele­phant will at­tend the wed­ding and af­ter the cer­e­mony, carry the bride and her new hus­band away on its back. And she doesn’t have to have been born in Raro­tonga in the South Pa­cific to ex­pe­ri­ence the unique tra­di­tional wed­ding. In Raro­tonga she can ex­pect to be car­ried to the cer­e­mony by war­riors in a dec­o­rated outrigger ca­noe. Nor need she have been born in Mau­ri­tius to be mar­ried at sea aboard a cata­ma­ran.

But if her heart is here in Bri­tain, she can still opt for the un­usual such as the cou­ple who mar­ried in Le­ices­ter­shire and ar­rived at church by bul­lock cart, or the Glouces­ter­shire lady who was taken

to church by a pair of Longhorn oxen. If she is a feisty lady, like the one from Arm­ley, near Leeds, she could have a bless­ing ser­vice deep down in the earth at Gap­ing Ghyll in York­shire. No tra­di­tional trans­port in sight here, just the bo­sun’s chair. And cer­tainly no ro­man­tic white gown to adorn her, but the nec­es­sary garb of black wet­suit com­plete with hel­met and miner’s lamp to light her way to mar­riage.

But what­ever mode of con­veyance and wher­ever in the world the love­knot is tied, the one es­sen­tial thing a girl needs to carry her through is the love of a good man. Then, on her wed­ding day, she re­ally can be trans­ported with love. The au­thor’s novel “Dead Cer­tainty” a horse- rac­ing mys­tery is now avail­able from Sev­ern House Pub­lish­ers, price £ 19.99 ( hard­back).


A bride may choose a chauf­feur- driven limousine such as the 1930s Beau­ford Tourer in the fore­ground.


A car­riage pulled by two plumed horses — per­fect for trav­el­ling on a win­ter’s day.


A lan­dau is an el­e­gant choice of wed­ding trans­port, which has been pop­u­lar for royal wed­dings.


For some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent this Glouces­ter­shire bride was taken to church in a cart pulled by a pair of Longhorn oxen.

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