Bride and Joy: Celebrating an Atcherley marriage

The day on which “Minnie” Caroline Frances Amherst Stacey became a member of the Atcherley family was a very special occasion – and not just for Caroline and her new husband. In the Shropshire, Denbighshire and Flintshire villages where David Francis Atcherley was ‘squire’ there were feasts and festivities arranged for many of the local inhabitants. Saturday 10 February 1866 was a day which would long be remembered by landlord and labourer alike.

Although the marriage of Caroline and David took place at St. George’s church, Hanover Square, in London (pictured above), the ceremony was performed by the Reverend George Egerton, rector of the groom’s home parish of Middle. The bride, who was described as “beautiful and accomplished”, wore a diamond necklace, earrings and brooch and “was attired in a white satin dress trimmed with a rich deep flounce of Bruxelles point lace, the head dress being a veil of the same material, fastened by a wreath of orange blossoms.”

Caroline was attended to by ten bridesmaids: Miss Atcherley (possibly David’s youngest sister, Anne Eleanor), Miss Willoughby, Miss Daniel-Tyssen, Miss M. Daniel-Tyssen, Miss Amy Tyssen, Miss Rose Tyssen, Miss Tyssen Amhurst, Miss Stacey, Miss Walker and Miss Lawrence. Five of the bridesmaids wore “white tarlatan dresses trimmed with ruches of pink satin ribbon, the other five with blue satin ribbon, and bonnets of white tulle trimmed with narcissus and forget-me-not.” As the bride’s father had died some 13 years before, Caroline was given away by her first cousin, Mr William Amhurst Tyssen Amhurst, the High Sheriff of Norfolk (pictured above; he was born William Amhurst Daniel-Tyssen and in 1877 changed his surname for the second time, to Tyssen-Amherst). The best man was Sir Edward Hamilton, Baronet.

After the ceremony “the bridal cortege drove to the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, where a magnificent breakfast was laid out in the noble dining room. The viands, dessert, and wines, were of the most recherché description”. Grace was said by the Reverend Egerton, “and the usual loyal, patriotic, and complimentary toasts were duly honoured.” William Tyssen Amhurst then proposed long life, health and prosperity to the bride and groom, who later departed for their honeymoon.

Confirmation of the marriage was received back at Baschurch in Shropshire by telegraph at one o’clock. Fog signals were then exploded at the village station to alert the residents of nearby Marton, in Middle parish. The church bells of Baschurch and Middle then “rung out merry peals, while, for the remainder of the day, hill and dale echoed with the sound of cannon firing.”

“In accordance with the expressed desire of the worthy squire”, arrangements had been made “for the participation of the humbler classes in the festivities incident to the occasion.” The Wrexham Advertiser reported:

Accordingly about two hundred men sat down to a substantial dinner on Saturday, laid out in the servants’ hall, which was tastefully decorated for the occasion by Messrs. Birch of Shrewsbury. Evergreens, flowers, mottoes, and devices, contributed to form a charming effect, hearty aspirations being breathed for the realisation of the principal motto—‘Long Life and Happiness to Mr and Mrs Atcherley.’ In connection with these decorations we must not omit mentioning a beautiful arch, bearing the significant word ‘Welcome,’ and tastefully embellished with flowers and evergreens.

The women of the parish were not excluded from the celebrations. On the Monday after the Atcherley marriage, the wives of the labourers of Middle and the surrounding area – nearly 1600 of them – were treated to tea in the servants’ hall. Then:

After tea they went to the grounds adjoining the hall, where races were run by the women for tea, tobacco for their husbands, &c., &c. In the meantime other sports were going on, such as football, &c., until dark, when all returned to the hall to engage themselves in the festive dance. The health of the squire and his beautiful bride were duly toasted; after which dancing was kept up until a late hour.

The festivities at Marton were echoed in other places with which the Atcherley family was connected. David Francis Atcherley owned land and mineral rights at Minera, Brymbo and Hope (situated to the west and northwest of Wrexham). The those places, the Atcherley nuptials were marked with the firing of cannons, the flying of flags and banners, and in some cases with the ringing of church bells, a bonfire, and fireworks.

There was food too, of course. At various places in Minera people “were regaled with bread and cheese and plenty of ewrw da” (probably cwrw da – good beer). Later in the day:

At half past three p.m., the children of the National School were regaled with a plentiful supply of tea and plum cake. The Hope drum and fife band and the Coedpoeth brass band were in attendance, who enlivened the evening by playing some choice and popular airs during the remainder of the day.

In the evening, David Francis Atcherley’s widowed mother Anne Margaret Atcherley (nee Topping), who at that time resided at Dee Side House in Chester, gave a “sumptuous dinner” at the Queen’s Head Inn, Coedpoeth (adjacent to Minera). After dinner had been eaten and the cloth removed, toasts were given, these being “interspersed by some capital songs”. The first toast was of course to The Queen.

After “other patriotic toasts, which were duly honoured and responded to” came those directed to the Atcherley family and those connected with them. “Long life and happiness to Mr and Mrs D. F. Atcherley,” was received with great cheering. Other toasts included “The health of Mrs Atcherley and Lady Hartland, of Dee Side House, Chester”, “The healths of Col. Atcherley, his wife, and child” (David’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew, then in Canada), and “Captain Atcherley” (David’s youngest brother, William). In all some 50 to 60 people – tenantry and friends – were involved in the proceedings.

At Brymbo “a number of good old English sports were started and carried on with great spirit” and in the afternoon “a number of gentlemen dined under the hospitable roof of Mr Edwards”. The feasting at Hope, meanwhile, took place  at the Red Lion Inn, where J. Sparrow, Esq. took the chair. Mr Sparrow’s main contribution to the evening was reported as follows:

In giving the toast of the evening, the Chairman said that he thought, from the little he had seen of Mr Atcherley since he came into possession of his property in that district, that he was a gentlemen desirous of doing his duty. Good landlords made good tenants. If a tenant had a good, liberal landlord, doing his duty in building, repairing, &c., the tenant would be more likely to do his duty in return. He hoped that the good feeling which had always existed between Mrs Atcherley and her tenants, would continue between them and Mr Atcherley. He had chosen a wife who would be an ornament to the society in which she was placed. He had great pleasure in giving ‘The healths of Mr and Mrs Atcherley.’ Might they live long and happy together, and never regret the step they had taken.

On Wednesday 18 April 1866, Mr and Mrs Atcherley returned home from their marriage tour. This, of course, was the subject of further public celebration. The newlyweds arrived by train at about 5 o’clock, and found that Baschurch Railway Station “had been gaily and profusely decorated with flags, banners, floral and evergreen arches, and other bridal favours”.

A great many of the couples’ tenantry and friends were in attendance, along with the school children of Baschurch and Middle. “To add to the general joy on the arrival at the station, the church bells rung out their merry music, and a brass band was also in attendance, which contributed its harmony to enhance the pleasure of the auspicious proceedings”. (The tower of Baschurch All Saints, from which the bells “rung out their merry music”, is pictured right.)

The private carriage in which the Atcherleys were taken home to Marton formed part of a procession, headed by the brass band which had played at the station. Following the band were the school children, with their flags and banners, and “the tenantry of the Marton Hall estate, mounted on horseback, riding two abreast”. Some of the latter rode “on either side of the carriage, acting as a guard of honour.”

After the arrival of the procession at Marton an address was given to the Atcherleys by the Reverend Egerton and the bride was presented with “a service of silver tea and coffee pot, sugar basin, and cream ewer, in rosewood case.” The assembled multitude was then “regaled with wine, ale, and sandwiches”.

A little over a year after the wedding of David and Caroline, Queen Victoria held a Court at Buckingham Palace. Among those who were presented to the Queen was “Mrs. Atcherley, on her marriage, by the Countess of Bradford”. By this time Caroline was well settled in her role as the wife of a landed gentleman. She had, for example, been one of the patrons of a bazaar held in aid of the Minera New Church (and had subscribed £5 towards the church fund).

Caroline had also performed at an amateur concert, held at Oswestry’s Victoria Rooms for the benefit of a local charity. Many more such performances were to follow. You may recall that on the occasion of her marriage, one gentleman proclaimed that the new Mrs Atcherley “would be an ornament to the society in which she was placed.” She would prove to be a dazzling ornament indeed, and more besides. For Caroline Frances Amherst Atcherley possessed a “beautiful, silvery and highly cultivated voice”, one which she would use both for pleasure and for the benefit of many charitable causes.


Picture credits. St George’s church, Hanover Square: adapted from a public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. William Amhurst Tyssen Amhurst: adapted from a public domain image from Wikimedia Commons. Cannon: Adapted from an image on page 191 of A collection of ballads printed in London, taken from the British Library Flickr photostream; no known copyright restrictions. Baschurch All Saints: photo by the author.


References

[1] Marriage register of St George, Hanover Square, Middlesex, covering 1866. Entry for David Francis Atcherley and Caroline Frances Amherst Stacey. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Marriages. Marriage registered at St George Hanover Sq., March quarter 1866; volume 1a, page 429.
[2] The Wrexham Advertiser, issue 673, 17 Feb 1866, page 6. “Marriage of David Francis Atcherly, Esq., with Miss Minnie Caroline Frances Amhurst Stacey.”
[3] The Wrexham Advertiser, Saturday 28 Apr 1866, page 8. “Return of Mr and Mrs D. F. Atcherley, of Marton Hall, from their Marriage Tour.”
[4] Yorkshire Gazette, Saturday 30 March 1867, page 9. “The Queen’s Court.”
[5] Wrexham Advertiser, 3 Nov 1866, page 1. “A Bazaar”.
[6] Wrexham Advertiser, 9 Nov 1866, page 6. “Minera. New Parish Church.”
[7] Cheshire Observer, 12 Feb 1870, page 3. “St Aspah. … The Harmonic Society’s Concerts.”

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