A History of Bamburgh Weddings

Bamburgh Castle old wedding photo

Marriage Reverend Andrew Bowlt to Catherine Sharp

The Sharp family connection with Bamburgh Castle began in 1736 when Reverend Thomas Sharp was appointed to the perpetual curacy of Bamburgh.  His son, Thomas, was appointed to the same position in 1757 and on his death in 1772 an elder son, John was appointed.  In 1792 Reverend Andrew Bowlt was appointed perpetual curate of Bamburgh on the death of his benefactor and patron, Dr John Sharp.

Catherine Sharp, niece of John Sharp, married Andrew Bowlt.  Defying convention he changed his surname to Catherine’s surname to continue the Sharp family legacy.  Afterwards he was said to have ‘gone Bowlt into the church and came out Sharp’.  They continued the Sharp family’s work in the castle and church with many building works and practical and compassionate projects.

Marriage Captain the Hon William Watson – Armstrong to Zaida Cecil Drummond- Wolfe

The archive room at Bamburgh Castle contains some newscuttings books from the late 19th and early 20th century, compiled by a London agency.  The clippings for 27th October 1917 relate to the Marriage of Captain the Hon William Watson –Armstrong (on leave from service in France) to Zaida Cecil Drummond- Wolfe.

“Wedding of Lord Armstrong’s Son at St Johns Church, Hampton Wick, Middlesex to Zaida Cecile, conducted by the Bishop of Southwark. The Bride wore a bridal gown of white chaumouse brocade, and a Brussels lace veil and wreath, worn by the late Lady Armstrong at her marriage There were numerous and costly presents, but owing to the War, no reception. After the ceremony, the couple left for a short honeymoon at Bamburgh Castle.  ” Train to Belford, a motorcade to Bamburgh.”From the Castle, church and large number of private houses, flags fluttered and hearty indications of rejoicing. Groups of villagers cheered lustily. They were received by Lord and (the new) Lady Armstrong outside the Keep.  The cake was cut, then Mr Brewis representing the Bamburgh tenantry offered congratulations to Lord and Lady Armstrong. The Vicar presented a silver cigar box in the Kings Hall, and stressed that “villagers had been eager to subscribe to the gift”.  Capt. Armstrong responded that it seemed only a day or two since he had thanked them for his coming of age presents. At the end of the War, he and his wife intended to spend much time at Bamburgh. He reflected that about 120 years ago, his gt-gt-grandfather had also spent his honeymoon at Bamburgh.

“The bride’s father was the son of Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, British Ambassador to Madrid and Private Secretary to Lord Randolph Churchill. Her maternal Gt-grandmother was Lady Georgina Walpole. Her former home was Caplanne Billere, Pau; the family now reside at Hampton Court Palace”.

Bamburgh Castle wedding chest

The Marriage Chest

Displayed in the Court Room of the castle is the marriage chest.  Of 15th century origin the marriage chest was decorated by Italian artists.  It was common that artists would work on a single panel, in this one the front panel and top could be late 15th century and the sloped lid 16th century.   The

sculptural elements here are very unusual, cassones were mainly painted.  It is likely that William Spence, from England, put together the chest in the 1850’s when he lived in Florence.   Sometimes made in pairs for storage, one chest would be for the bride and the other for the bridegroom.  Often paraded through streets during the wedding procession they were high status, flamboyant pieces.

The scene shows great spirit, uninhibited revelry and festivity.   The modelled figures are enriched with colour and gilding.  Bacchus was the Roman god of wine and merry-making and the grapes suggest a successful harvest.

The Bamburgh chest was acquired by the fourth Lord Armstrong for Lady Armstrong.  The window facing the sea was taken out of the Court Room and a crane was hired to hoist it in.

Weddings at Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is licensed for civil ceremonies and partnerships providing a unique wedding venue.  The magnificent King’s Hall makes a grand entrance to the exchange of vows in the Cross Hall.  Alternatively, the 12th century Keep Hall with vaulted ceilings and stone flagged floors is also licensed and full of atmosphere.  The Battery Terrace or the beach of Bamburgh Castle Estate provide special outdoor space where vows can be exchanged.


Bamburgh Castle