Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Here Comes the Bride: An 1825 Carriage for a Duke's Daughter

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Isabella reporting,

As intrepid Nerdy History Girls, Loretta and I are always on the hunt for historical inspiration, whether we're watching a battlefield reenactment, on vacation, making college visits, or even reading society wedding announcements.

Over the weekend, Lady Melissa Percy, the younger daughter of the 12th Duke of Northumberland, married Thomas van Straubenzee in a lavish wedding in Alnwick, Northumberland. This was the kind of wedding that had everything, from royal wedding guests to fireworks over the family's Alnwick Castle (which most of us would recognize as Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter movies.) Here's a link with lots of photographs if you want to read all the details and see the bride's beautiful gown and jewels.

But what made my NHG heart beat faster was the carriage, above left, in which Lady Melissa and her father the Duke rode to the church; there are photos of the carriage about midway down the page of the same link. Considered one of the most important surviving carriages in Great Britain, the state coach was built in 1825 for the coronation of King Charles X of France at Reims Cathedral, France. The coach was presented to Hugh, the 3rd Duke of Northumberland, by King George IV in recognition of his service as Ambassador Extraordinary. At the coronation, contemporary news reports noted that the Duke "astonished the continental nobility of the magnitude of his retinue, the gorgeousness of his equipage, and the profuseness of his liberality." The carriage continued to be used for important processions and events throughout the 19th c., and also appeared as part of the coronation of King Edward VII.

In 2011, the carriage was restored and refurbished, and used for the wedding, right, of the Duke's older daughter, Lady Katie Percy. This weekend the carriage was again in bridal service, complete with white horses and a white streamer from the driver's whip. There's an element of romantic fantasy in every wedding, but for us NHG, a carriage like this trumps the white limo every time.

Top: State Carriage of the Duke of Northumberland, Alnwick Castle.
Below: State Carriage of the Duke of Northumberland, wedding of Lady Katie Percy, 2011. Photo ©The Journal, Newcastle.


Karen Anne said...

I have the sudden urge to reach for a Dramamine :-) Seriously, I wonder what it was like riding in one of those, let alone for hours at a time.

Fichu1800 said...

The had the pleasure of meeting the driver and carriage horses used for the coach a couple of weeks ago. The museum is a wonderful place to visit and Caroline, the owner, is a fountain of knowledge. http://www.workingcarriages.com/

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