– Places in my books pt. 4
In my latest novel, A Favorable Impression there are no less than four weddings that take place, one of them being a double wedding! So, I thought it would be fun to continue my series on places in my books with a post on Regency era London churches.
In my book, Lady Catherine expresses a decided preference for St. George’s Church in Hanover Square over St. James’ Church in Piccadilly. However, both of these churches would have been fashionable locations for the ton to be married at.
St. George’s, Hanover Square
Without a doubt, the most popular church of the ton during the Regency era was St. George’s Church. Situated on Hanover Square, in the heart of the fashionable Mayfair district.
It was, and still is, the parish church of Mayfair. Built in 1724, its popularity rose as the district grew. By the Regency era, over 1000 weddings per year– an average of three per day– were held at St. George’s, Hanover Square. One church record shows 11 couples married there on a single day!
Many Regency romance authors have chosen to have their characters be married at this famous church. Even Jane Austen mentions the church in a letter from Mary Crawford to Fanny Price. “Perhaps you would not mind passing through London, and seeing the inside of St. George’s, Hanover Square” (Mansfield Park- Chapter 43)
The church boasts a beautiful barrel-vaulted ceiling, an impressive pipe-organ, and exquisite stained-glass windows.
The composer George Frideric Handel was a parishioner and regular worshiper at St. George’s, and frequently played the organ there. One can only imagine how wonderful it would have been to hear that!
St. James’ Church
Perhaps less popular than St. Georges, Hanover Square, but equally beautiful, St. James’ Church in Piccadilly was also a fashionable wedding location for members of the ton.
The church has stood since 1684, one of 50 churches built by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666. The church suffered severe damage in the London bombings of 1940, and was restored after the war in the same style.
Eagle-eyed fans of the Bridgerton TV series might recognize the interior of this church as the filming location for the wedding scene between Anthony and Edwina in Season 2 of the show.
There is a fascinating virtual tour on the church’s website so you can “visit” there from the comfort of your home and see this magnificent church.
In Pride and Prejudice (chapter 51), it is mentioned that Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham were married at St. Clement’s. When I began to research St. Clement’s, I learned there were two churches by that name. One in Eastcheap, not far from Gracechurch Street (the most probable location for Lydia and Wickham’s wedding, in my opinion) and one in Westminster on the Strand. I thought it might be amusing if Lady Catherine were to have a preference for one over the other, prefacing her preference for St. George’s of Hanover over St. James’ Church. Lady Catherine must have an opinion on everything, after all!
St. Clement Danes on the Strand
A church dedicated to St. Clement has stood in Westminster since the 9th century. Originally founded by Danish settlers, the building was reconstructed in 1682 by Sir Christopher Wren. Like St. James’, St. Clements was destroyed by the London bombings during World War II and was reconstructed over a decade later.
Though perhaps not as popular with the ton, the architecture and interior of St. Clement Danes resembles that of other churches of the era. I imagine many middle and working-class people were wed there during the Regency era.
The church is currently the official church of the Royal Air Force.
St. Clement’s Eastcheap
Another church that figures in the Great Fire church rebuild project by Sir Christopher Wren, St. Clement’s on Eastcheap claims to be the church featured in the nursery rhyme beginning “oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement’s,” based on its proximity to the docks where citrus fruits were unloaded.
The interior is simple and modest, compared to most of Wren’s other churches. St. Clement’s Eastcheap is only one block away from Gracechurch Street, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner in Pride and Prejudice.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with a scene from A Favorable Impression
Lady Catherine was driving Darcy mad.
Since she learned of Miss Darcy’s engagement to Lawrence Worth, all her energy tunneled into the singular focus of planning their wedding. Lady Catherine seemed to think that no conversation was worth having if it did not in some way relate to the forthcoming union.
“Georgiana must be wed at St. George’s in Hanover Square; there is no other place so fashionable,” Lady Catherine insisted. “I never attend anywhere but St. George’s when I am in Town.”
Darcy tried to tell her that since their residence in St. James’s Square belonged to the parish of St. James’s Church, it would be far better for her to marry there, that it was equally fashionable and far more convenient due to its proximity to Darcy House, where the wedding breakfast would be held. Nevertheless, Darcy’s words held as much sway as a feather floating on the breeze.
“Surely it would be no difficulty to obtain a special license so that Georgiana may marry in the parish of her choice,” Lady Catherine insisted.
“I have already checked with the bishop at St. George’s; they have no openings for any weddings until December. I hardly think that Georgiana and Lawrence wish to wait that long to wed,” Darcy replied.
“That is not correct!” Lady Catherine argued. “When I spoke with the bishop the other day, they still had one opening for August, which would be the perfect time for Georgiana and Lawrence to marry if we act quickly enough to secure it.”
“They had an opening, it is true; however, I have been informed by Nathaniel Worth that he has since taken that date for himself and Miss Catherine Bennet.”
Lady Catherine’s face grew red. “Why should that Bennet girl have her wedding at St. George’s, and our Georgiana be forced to wed at St. James’s? Our Georgiana, who is even named after St. George.”
Darcy knew perfectly well that his sister was named after their father and that the saint bearing the same moniker had nothing to do with the name chosen for her.
“Calm yourself, please, Aunt Catherine. Miss Bennet has every right to have her wedding at St. George’s; since she has resided in the Mayfair parish for well over three weeks, St. George’s can be considered her home parish for the time being. As for Georgiana, if you wish her to be married in a church bearing the moniker of her eponymous saint, then she can be married in the Worths’ parish at St. George’s of Bloomsbury.”
“St. George’s of Bloomsbury is nothing compared to St. George’s of Hanover!” Lady Catherine spat.
“They are equal enough in size and beauty.”
“It is too far away and of too little importance. Bloomsbury, indeed! I would sooner have her married at St. James’s than at St. George’s of Bloomsbury!”
“Good. Then we are in agreement. I will book the church at St. James for Georgiana and Lawrence.” With that, Darcy left the room while his aunt was still speechless before she could collect herself and try to have the final word.
If you enjoyed this excerpt, I hope you’ll check out the rest of the book, available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
Also, don’t forget to sign up for my email list and get your FREE COPY of Elizabeth’s Secret Admirer