Your wedding marks the first day of your shared life as a married couple - and your wedding story is one you’ll tell for years to come.
So, when you’re planning your ceremony, why not pick a venue with its own fascinating history? From royal connections to celebrity links, we’ve found the most interesting venues around the UK.
- Leeds Castle, Kent
One of King Edward I’s favourite residences, Leeds Castle belonged to a string of English Queens, including Catherine of Aragon, over the past nine centuries, although the remaining castle buildings date mostly from the 19th century. Set on two islands in the middle of a lake, within 500 acres of gardens, it’s a fairytale venue where you can marry in a tapestry-hung room in the Maiden’s Tower, or have a reception in the Henry VIII banqueting hall.
Contact the venue for more information: www.leeds-castle.com
- Highclere Castle, Berkshire
As well as providing the setting for Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle has a long aristocratic history of its own. It has been home to the Earls of Carnarvon for decades, including the 5th earl who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. Brides can get a taste of living like a countess by preparing for their ceremony in a castle bedroom, sweeping down the oak staircase to marry in the saloon and enjoying a grand reception in the Victorian Library.
Contact the venue for more information: www.highclerecastle.co.uk
- Eltham Palace, Greater London
The childhood home of the much-married Henry VIII, Eltham Palace has been a royal residence since 1305 and some of the medieval buildings still survive, including the ancient Great Hall, as well as a sunken rose garden in the 19 acre grounds, alongside a beautiful 1930s art deco mansion. If you can’t decide between tradition or a spot of Hollywood glamour, this venue provides a perfect combination of the two.
Contact the venue for more information: Eltham Palace
- Middle Temple, London
One of London’s four ancient Inns of Court, Middle Temple Hall was built during the 16th century and has survived the Great Fire of London and two world wars almost unchanged. Home to the first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in 1602, it overlooks the Thames from the landscaped gardens. And for a final touch of contemporary romance, the engagement scene in “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” takes place in the corridor outside the Queen’s Room.
Contact the venue for more information: www.middletemplehall.org.uk
- Notley Abbey, Buckinghamshire
Dating back to the 12th century, Notley Abbey was home to a community of Augustine monks for centuries. As well as playing host to Henry V, who held court there, thespian legends Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh later bought it as their country home. The monks’ refectory still exists and you can opt for civil ceremonies indoors or in the gardens with the River Thame running nearby.
Contact the venue for more information: www.notleyabbey.co.uk
- Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire
16th century Rufford Old Hall dates from the reign of Henry VIII – and a young William Shakespeare is said to have performed in the black and white timbered building before he was famous. You can still get a taste of what life was like for past owners with armour and tapestries throughout the hall and elegant Victorian and Edwardian gardens to stroll through. It is also possible to hire this National Trust venue exclusively on certain days.
Contact the venue for more information: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rufford-old-hall
- Tutbury Castle, Staffordshire
Once the prison of Mary Queen of Scots, Tutbury Castle is owned by Queen Elizabeth II. You can marry in the 11th century Great Hall, choose a handfasting ceremony in the grounds overlooking the Dove Valley, or even enjoy a medieval-style midnight wedding. You may have to accommodate a few uninvited guests, though: Tutbury is one of the country’s “most haunted” wedding venues. Watch out for a ghostly old woman who hides keys and a little drummer boy.
Contact the venue for more information: www.tutburycastle.com
- St Pancras Renaissance, London
Sir John Betjeman called this Victorian masterpiece “too beautiful and too romantic to survive”, but the old Midland Grand Hotel (later used for British Rail storage space), has been reborn as the St Pancras Renaissance. With its red brick gothic exterior, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, intricate carved stonework, rich paintwork and grand staircase (where the Spice Girls filmed the video for Wannabe) it is a unique venue for wedding photos.
Contact the venue for more information: St. Pancras Renaissance
- Ston Easton Park, Somerset
Nearly 300 years old, Grade I listed Ston Easton Park’s grounds, complete with an ice house, romantic bridges and grotto fountain, were created by Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the 18th century. And the Palladian mansion even boasts its very own ghost; a maid supposedly murdered by the housekeeper after being discovered kissing the bailiff.
Contact the venue for more information: www.stoneaston.co.uk
- Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
The setting for one of the UK’s most cherished love stories, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Sherwood Forest is one of the few sections of royal hunting forest left in the UK. After a ceremony in the Oak Room at Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, you can stand under the 450 acres of ancient trees before a reception in the restaurant, including an open air hog roast if you want to embrace the medieval theme.
Contact the venue for more information: Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve