Choosing a period
Swishing skirts and handsome gentlemen; who among us has never imagined themselves as Lizzie Bennet, Jane Eyre or another period heroine, walking the ruins of Mandalay, or the misty moors surrounding Wuthering Heights?
The modern world has imprisoned us all and watching costume drama is all we can do to relive the romantic days of yore where women were disinherited in favour of distant male relatives and carriages were the fastest means of transport.
If you’re an admirer of the classics and want to live out your fantasies, choosing a period residence for your wedding venue could help your dreams come true. Marry your Mr Rochester or Angel Clare in style at a suitable stately home, mansion or castle.
Lyme Park, Cheshire
Dating from the late 1500s, Lyme Park is a Grade I listed building set in grounds incorporating an Edwardian rose garden, herbaceous borders and ravine garden. Perfect for a wedding reception, the grounds are made all the more spectacular by the lake from which everyone’s favourite Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) dramatically appears in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Hever Castle, Kent
Anne Boleyn’s childhood home where she also lived during her banishment from court, Hever Castle dates back to the 13th century. Set in 600 acres of land, including a moat, water maze and walled rose gardens, this Tudor location is idyllic, historical and beautiful. Winter weddings can be held in the castle’s inner hall, while summer weddings tend to take place outside in the Italian gardens, overlooking the lake.
Basildon Park, Berkshire
Featured in Dorian Grey, Pride and Prejudice and Marie-Antoinette, this country house was built in the 18th century for Sir Francis Sykes, whose grandson was to later become the inspiration for Bill Sykes in Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. Built of Bath stone, Basildon Hall has two rooms available for wedding ceremonies all year round, as well as beautiful grounds for memorable photos.
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Home to the Cavendish family since 1549, Chatsworth House has been voted Britain’s favourite country house and has been used as a film location for Pride and Prejudice and The Duchess (both starring Kiera Knightley). Comprising over 12,000 acres, the main grounds are full of fountains, waterfalls and sculptures and are perfect for a country wedding.
Highclere Castle, Berkshire
Home to the award-winning TV series Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle is a Victorian castle built by the architect who designed the Houses of Parliament. Wedding ceremonies and receptions can take place in the Saloon, Library or Music Room, while the grounds and driveway, designed by Capability Brown, are ideal for wedding photographs and a spectacular arrival. Optional fireworks are also available to end your celebrations with a bang.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
The childhood home of Elizabeth I, where she learned of her accession to the throne, Hatfield House is an historical venue where your guests can enjoy a Tudor banquet in the Old Palace, complete with jesters and minstrels. Wooden beams and elegant décor add to the atmosphere, while the grounds of Hatfield Park provide the perfect setting for your wedding photographs.
Who can forget the poignant night between Angel and Tess at Stonehenge, before she is arrested? At Midsummer, there are often hand fasting ceremonies for couples who wish to embrace the pagan ritual of being married for ‘a year and a day or however long love shall last’. Dawn, surrounded by one of the world’s mysteries, is a truly romantic setting for a wedding.
Caerphilly Castle, Glamorgan
The second largest castle in the UK, Caerphilly Castle is a medieval fortress surrounded by a moat and several small islands. Begun in 1268 by Earl Gilbert de Clare to protect the Normans, it was fought over during the Middle Ages and recently featured in the TV series Merlin. Ceremonies and receptions take place in the 14th century Great Hall while the castle itself provides a stunning backdrop for dramatic wedding photos.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Built in the early 1700s and used in several films (including The Young Victoria) as ‘Buckingham Palace’, Blenheim Palace offers luxury weddings in the double-vaulted ceilinged Marlborough Room. Set in 2,000 picturesque acres of land, the view from the palace is breathtaking and perfect for wedding guests to explore while you have photos taken on the bridge overlooking the lake.
Chawton House, Hampshire
Built in the latter part of the 16th century, Chawton House was owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward towards the end of the 18th century, after he was adopted by the childless couple Catherine and Thomas Knight II. Bespoke wedding ceremonies and receptions for up to 200 guests make use of several rooms of the house - including the Great Hall - as well as a marquee if needed.
John Lewis Wedding Insurance
If you’ve found your Mr Darcy or Elizabeth Bennet, you’ll want to choose the perfect location for your period wedding. Having wedding insurance can help to financially protect you if things don’t go to plan on your special day.
John Lewis Wedding Insurance offers six levels of wedding cover for weddings costing £10,000 to £100,000 and your wedding cake, wedding rings and wedding attire can all be covered for loss or damage.
If you’re choosing the grounds of a stately home or castle in the UK for your wedding or civil ceremony, then we also offer optional Marquee Cover.
For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).
Terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and eligibility criteria apply.
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