Walled Garden Cowdray wedding
The Walled garden Cowdray, the venue for Fiona and Tony’s wedding reception last week, under near-perfect blue skies. Well, a few little white clouds and a couple of stubborn grey ones when we were trying to take some pictures! A Sussex summer wedding. The Walled Garden Cowdray, next to the old ruins and polo fields, is a venue I had strangely, despite living in Sussex for fourteen years, never been to. I have had the odd enquiry for weddings there in that time, but they never came to anything. I drive past, homeward bound from weddings, so often. (The last time I was actually at Cowdray was to shoot a polo match, many, many years ago. I had no idea what was going on, as the assistant for the Tatler’s photographer kept wittering on about so and so they had spotted in the crowd. I was shooting for the Sports pages at The Tmes. A long time ago – I had to race to my (now) in-law’s house in Surrey to develop the film (in their bathroom) and transmit some pictures back to The Times. Nowadays you do this from where you are stood.)
Anyhow, the Walled Garden Cowdray, my first time at one of Sussex’s premier wedding venues. ( Not too shabby either! 😉 )
But we start the coverage, just down the road from St George’s church in Eastergate (near Chichester). Fiona was getting ready with family and friends, before the short drive to the old church. A small church with a shingled bell tower and flint walls, like many Sussex churches. It dates from around the Norman Conquest and was built near the remains of a Roman villa. Unusually you pass through the grounds of a farm to reach the church – doesn’t get more country church than that!
The service done, the couple hitched, a triumphant arm raise as they left the church and a kiss. Talking of which, that kiss inside, when invited to by the vicar. Tony was clearly thinking of the honeymoon in Italy – this was no “polite English peck” – this was a KISS! Passion of the Italian! Then time to run the confetti. Great to see the vicar, Rev Tony, get in position for this too – he was a wedding guest also. Then clamber into the open-top car – veils doing what veils like to do, and onto the Walled garden Cowdray (in Midhurst), just over the South Downs.
A garden in its summer prime. Drinks on the lawn, a quick group shot and then into the wedding breakfast. Now the food…..some seriously nice West Country beef, served by the caterer’s Jacaranda, who are based at Cowdray. (The very professional but friendly J-J in charge, is the spitting image of a Belgian friend of mine – a University lecturer in Sussex. The younger brother at least, with a bit more hair. They even sound the same.)
Couple portraits in the Cowdray ruins
We had a time slot for some pictures in the ruins, as the guests sat down. To be honest it wasn’t the best time light wise. The sun was still high and then to eat into our minutes, a stubborn grey cloud refused to move. I tell every couple, certainly for summer weddings, that the best light is key and it can happen late in the day. Often that light is just when everyone is sat down inside, eating the meal, at English weddings. The Sun does not care about a wedding timetable. You have to react and grab it. Fiona and Tony weren’t too keen on leaving the meal. I had seen some light, next to the ruins, as the meal was taking place. The question was, after all the speeches, was it still there? A small shaft of sunlight still was. It was low and streaking across the grass – we grabbed six minutes with it. A few minutes later – it was gone…
There was still the cake to cut outdoors and the flowers to throw. Can you tell that Steph was pleased to have caught them? Then dancing inside…
A lovely, relaxed Sussex summer wedding, at the Walled garden Cowdray….here are just a few images from the day…
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