The Lost Village of Dode……Gemma and Thomas had picked a very unique and remote venue for their country wedding last weekend.
“In an almost forgotten valley between Luddesdown and Holly Hill, astride the North Downs, the small Norman Church of Dode stands sentinel over the site of it’s former Village.”
Situated at the end of a ‘no through road’ in the Kent countryside, Dode or Dowde is now the tiny 900 year old Norman church, with coarsed flint walls, that used to serve a village wiped out by the Black Death in 1349. This is all that remains of that village. Deconsecrated now, the church lay forgotten and in ruins for centuries. Even after restoration at the end of the Victorian era, it took the efforts of it’s current owner to restore to it’s this condition. A look, with straw on the floor and lit by candles, that would not appear too different to those unfortunate fourteenth century villagers. Even today this is a peaceful, eerily quiet spot – so of course it has to have some legends attached to it. Most notable is the ghost of the Dode child. The last survivor of the plague, a seven year old girl who took refuge within the church once the other villagers had died. She, it is said, died there and now haunts the venue, every seven years….. ( I’ve looked through the images, but can’t see the face of a young girl peering around the wedding guests as they ate canapés. 😉 ) Local rumours suggest the odd bit of black magic rituals taking place here during it’s ‘in ruins’ days. ( Pagan ceremonies do take place today within the stone circle ( modern) in the corner of the grounds )
When I first met Gemma and Thomas last year, they mentioned how ‘testing’ this venue could be for photography. It’s dark, it’s very dark. But actually the first test is finding it. It’s a wedding venue with no signs leading to it’s door. Even the minicab drivers who had dropped off the wedding guests, I encountered them as I raced up the lane, were bemused by it’s remoteness. This is an early Norman church, no big stained glass windows, just arrow slit windows that let in very little light. Inside, the candles do the work, along with two big fire braziers that have turned the main arch black. It’s dark but it’s atmospheric. A lot of people, when you look on Google, seem to get married here in medieval costumes – Gemma and Thomas didn’t seem so keen on that.
With the service complete, the weather played ball long enough for drinks and canapés outside the church. Entertainment was by probably the UK’s busiest magician, Etienne, who had flown over from Spain that morning. Meanwhile the caterers, Home Gurr’own, were doing a fantastic job in transforming the church for the wedding meal. The theme for the food was ‘Bring the outside in’, a get stuck in buffet with some great details. After speeches and cake cutting ( a cracker of a cake made by Flossie Pops ) and as the night drew in, Gemma and Thomas had said that there would be no first dance – just a nice, relaxed pub vibe. However, once Roger started playing , up in the gallery, the music got the better of them and they swayed together on the straw.
A lovely, intimate wedding with a personal and unique touch, for a great couple! It is hard to get a more unique wedding venue, certainly in the South-East of England, than the lost village of Dode.
Here are a few images from the day…