[Note: Because a couple of my English readers have asked about my letting characters get married at home, rather than in church, I thought I'd rerun this. In the not-too-distant future, I hope to go into the matter of special licenses in more detail.]
The matter of divorce in England in the early 19th century is much too complicated for me to attempt in a post. I’m not sure I’d attempt it in a dissertation. However, since we historical romance authors often send our characters to Doctors Commons for this, that, or the other thing, I thought I’d offer a Rowlandson image from the Microcosm of London and an excerpt describing one of its matrimonial functions.
This is also the place we’d send our heroes to obtain the famous-in-Regency-novels special license, which is explained in the epigraph heading the epilogue of Vixen in Velvet:
"But by special licence or dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marriages, especially of persons of quality, are frequently in their own houses, out of canonical hours, in the evening, and often solemnized by others in other churches than where one of the parties lives, and out of time of divine service, &c."—The Law Dictionary 1810
The image I’ve used is courtesy Wikipedia, because it’s of superior quality to the one in the Internet Archive version. You can see truly splendid images from the Microcosm at the Spitalfields Life blog.
Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.