Hello Scotland! From Jane Austen to Downton Abbey – there was always at least one daughter that run away to Gretna Green in the middle of the night to get married. I´ve read so much about this little town on the Scottish border, that I just had to stay a night there! And lucky me – I even met a runaway bride!
In the middle of the 18th-century marriage laws in England were changed. One had to be at least 21 to be allowed to get married without the parents’ consent and the wedding had to take place in a church.
But in Scotland “you could marry on the spot, in a simple ‘marriage by declaration’, or‘handfasting’ ceremony, only requiring two witnesses and assurances from the couple that they were both free to marry.” (Gretna Green) as long as you were over 15 and not closely related to each other.
Gretna Green was the first village on Scottish soil on the direct route between London and Edinburgh and as the couples had no time to lose, Gretna Green became the #1 destination for weddings at the “famous” blacksmith shop, where you could still get married today. We saw quite a few couples doing this and sneaked in between.
Even so, Scottish law allowed a very short and informal “ceremony”,
English couples usually preferred to keep some English marriage traditions and so looked for someone in authority to oversee the ceremony. The most senior and respected craftsman or artisan in the countryside was the village blacksmith, and so the Blacksmith’s Forge at Gretna Green became a favourite place for weddings.
The tradition of the blacksmith sealing the marriage by striking his anvil led to the Gretna blacksmiths becoming known as ‘anvil priests’. Indeed the blacksmith and his anvil are now symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Gretna Green’s famous Blacksmiths Shop, the Old Smithy where lovers have come to marry since 1754, is still in the village and still a wedding venue. (Historic UK.com)
I stayed at the lovely Prince Charlies Cottage B&B and it was just a short walk to the Blacksmiths and the whole “shebang”, the shops and café around the venue reminded me of a tiny charming Las Vegas – it´s all about marriage, romance and fun. And the view from behind the parking is amazing!
When you feel fed and have enough of the shopping what about a little walk to the adjoining Gretna, a planned town built during World War I to provide homes for 30,000 employees of a munitions factory that was the biggest in the world. I planned to visit “The Devil’s Porridge” museum the next day to learn more about the factory but was too early.
But if you´re up for even more shopping there is a huge Outlet centre in Gretna, I prefer a little evening walk…
Huge thank you to the lovely runaway bride, actress Alice.