A trip down memory aisle beckons brides

BRIDES can take a trip down memory aisle through a new exhibition at a Morpeth church.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin has been open to visitors every Saturday this month to enable more people to see its medieval features and find out about refurbishment plans.

The last of the sessions will coincide with the national Heritage Open Days scheme next week — and to add even more to the attraction, there will be a free exhibition of wedding photographs.

Leaflets were handed out at Morpeth Fair Day calling for couples who married at the church to submit their pictures, and dozens of snaps have been sent in, stretching back to 1901 and featuring many weddings from the 1950’s onwards.

Some brides have loaned their dresses for the event, while others have provided mementos, such as invitations or orders of service.

Church Warden Frances Major said: “St Mary’s is a well known place to get married, and for brides it has a certain special relationship with women.

“It is dedicated to a female saint, some of the stained glass windows are of female saints, sometimes quite unusual ones, and of course the Suffragette Emily Davison is buried in the churchyard.

“A wedding for many people is a very special day in their life and this exhibition will be a nice way to celebrate those days in the church before it is closed for refurbishment.

“It will be quite pretty for anyone even thinking of having a wedding at St Mary’s.”

The Herald reported earlier this month that a fundraising appeal is under way to secure the final £20,000 needed for a major refurbishment of the 12th Century church.

Parishioners plan to create a new entrance in the north aisle to provide disabled access, add toilet and kitchen facilities and make room for a lobby, meeting and education space.

Longer-term plans have been made for new heating and lighting systems.

A total of £97,000 has already been raised for the work, but a series of theft and vandalism attacks on the building meant that thousands of pounds had to be spent on repairs.

To help the final push for funds a silent auction will be held in the Parish Hall.

Businesses and individuals have donated numerous items for the sale, ranging from a coffee table to a bottle of whisky. There are vouchers for meals at The Sun Inn, Marabinis and Tandoor Mahal, as well as services such as car washing.

Mrs Major said: “People can bid for these items, but instead of standing out and calling out numbers, they write down their bid on a sheet of paper for that particular lot. People can add more bids underneath and the one that bids the most is the winner.

“The meal vouchers are always popular and people have contributed promises, like making a Christmas cake, which are quite nice things to have.

“We have got quite a number of items, but we could do with some more people to come along on the day.

“It should be a lovely evening and it is all in aid of the restoration.”

The silent auction will be held at the hall in Grange Road on Saturday, September 15, at 7pm.

Tickets cost £5, including wine and light refreshments, and are available from the Parish Office on 01670 503326.

The wedding photograph exhibition will run in the church from Friday, September 7 to Sunday, September 9, from 10am to 4pm each day.

On the final day there will be a joint Parish service at 10am, led by the Rev Tony Curtis.