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First ever wedding set to take place at St Peter's, Lower Withington
Rev Malcolm Shaw outside the church with, from left, Doreen Dean, Sheila Burcham and Anne Venables n122221
A VILLAGE church is set to hold its first wedding in its 120-year history.
St Peter’s Church, on Farm Lane, in Lower Withington was built in 1892, but has never hosted a couple’s big day.
Parishioners had instead been told they would have to tie the knot at St John’s, in Chelford – but on Saturday, June 9, village girl Helen Jenkinson will marry Jonathon Roskell from York after Rev Malcolm Shaw obtained an Archbishop’s Special Licence at the bride’s request.
St Peter’s arrived in the village as a flat pack.
The parts were delivered by train via Chelford station, and the village’s farmers transported it by horse and cart before putting the church together.
Helen has been a member of the church all her life, and had expressed an interest in marrying at St Peter’s.
Helen, 33, who is currently living in York, said: “It has always been my local church.
“My grandparents went every week and my mum used to go, so it seemed natural that I should get married there.
“I knew that it didn’t have a licence, but I decided to ask Rev Shaw because I know the regulations have changed and he did some checking but when he told me he has obtained a licence I was over the moon.
“My mum was brought up around here and she asked to get married here, but was told to go to St John’s.
“It’s lovely that the whole village is joining in as it’s such a lovely community in Lower Withington.
“I couldn’t have imagined getting married anywhere else, and it’s great that it’s all been sorted.”
The parish has 1,800 residents, with 500 of those living in Lower Withington, and St John’s normally holds three or four weddings a year.
REV Malcolm Shaw told the Guardian the whole of the village was looking forward to Helen’s big day.
The vicar, who has been at the helm of the parish for two and a half years, said he couldn’t believe the church had never held a wedding.
“It’s only a very small village church and may look like a tin hut on the outside, but it’s a perfect Church of England church on the inside,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it when I found they had never had a wedding here.
“Helen is a local girl and she asked if it was possible.
“So I made a few enquiries and we were given the licence. I knew we had a chance because you can get married anywhere.
“When I took over the parish two years ago, I was told St Peter’s had never been used for weddings because everyone just went to St John’s in Chelford.
“All the girls in Lower Withington were told they had to go there and then they would come back to St Peter’s to have a brief five-minute blessing.
“The whole village is thrilled there will be a wedding and it makes a nice change. Helen has even got the Brownies from the village doing her guard of honour.
“It seems in the past people have just not bothered to ask and have just gone to St John’s, but if you ask you normally get a good answer.”