Moggerhanger and a humanist wedding

On Friday to Moggerhanger, where the long postponed official opening was taking place. I meet the shadow minister for the arts Hugo Swire and others from trusts who have supported the project including the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many of the craftsmen were present, and the Countess of Erroll, one of the trustees, who asked if Country Life could help solicit donations of appropriate furniture and paintings. The house certainly looked stunning, and the interiors have an architectural force that hardly needs furnishings but the odd portrait and Regency chair does help bring the right elegant tone to bear. Lady Erroll is particularly keen to find people to donate good quality Turkey carpets. The next great challenge, but highly important, is to wrestle with the much degraded Repton landscape: without which the pristine house will seem to many passers by (on what is gamely called the scenic route) strangely as if it has landed from outer space. The landscape setting is so important and as I am learning on trips being made for the Genius of the Place award, there is so much that can be done.

This weekend, my stepsister was married at a humanist ceremony at my father’s house. It was all very charming and personal with a ceremony in a marquee before dinner. The sloping lawns of their house make for a rather ship-board like experience when dining and even more so when dancing. Which is perhaps rather appropriate for my new brother-in-law is from Gibraltar. This also brought a Mediterranean atmosphere to an English country wedding party, even though his family all tended to have rather old fashioned first names, such as Ronald and Albert. My wife kept on going to saying hello to tall, dark Spanish-looking young men, only to find they are now working in places like Worthing.

I always enjoy weddings for the way they bring you across the paths of people you have some connection with but never see, distant cousins from all over England, and Scotland (my stepmother’s family all present in kilt or trews) or friends of the bride and groom, and you find yourself taking about such surprising things: from dogs to dinosaurs.