Number of marriages in Norfolk on the up in the last few years
13:46 14 February 2015
It’s an institution that has gone through some changes in recent years, but for many marriage still represents the biggest commitment two people can make to one other.
So with some of those expected to pop the big question today, they may be interested to discover that new figures show they are part of a wider trend.
Statistics from Norfolk County Council’s registration services show the number of people getting hitched in the county has rocketed in recent years, with nearly 900 more marriages and civil partnerships in 2014 than in 2010.
The 40pc rise in the number of couples tying the knot has also provided a boost to the county’s coffers, with takings of £1.3m from marriage registry fees in 2013-14 compared to £950,000 in 2010-2011.
A number of theories have been put forward for the rise. Caroline Clarke, regulatory manager for the county council’s registration services, said celebrity culture and the variety of different venues available had made an impact.
A surviving ritual in Norfolk for Valentine’s Day is that of Jack Valentine, otherwise known as Old Father Valentine or Old Mother Valentine.
Jack Valentine was responsi-ble for the mysterious gifts that appear on doorsteps on Valentine’s Eve, and he always vanished into thin air
when the recipient answers a knock at the door.
Jack Valentine was, of course, all your friends and neighbours. But the hope was that after an evening of delivering thoughtful and mysterious gifts to the doorsteps of friends and family – and perhaps a few prank gifts as well – you would return home to find your own doorstep covered in gifts.
These include the county council’s growing list of approved venues, with settings such as Holkham Hall, Carrow Road, Norwich Castle and the Tolhouse jail in Great Yarmouth.
“We’ve seen that marriage is really coming back into fashion and I think often people see that celebrities are doing it more and they want to do it.
“People are also getting the weddings they want, with more places and themes available now.
“We are already taking deposits for weddings going into 2017 so it’s not slowing down,” she said.
The Ven Jan McFarlane, Archdeacon of Norwich, felt marriage offered stability for couples.
“On the whole there is no rhyme nor reason for how many weddings we have but we do notice that when times are uncertain, as they have been, people revert to more traditional values.
“There’s anecdotal evidence that young people are more likely to get married than their parents were. I don’t know what that’s about, but it may be about finding a sense of security,” she said.
The rise in marriages does not appear to be linked to a rise in population in the county. Population has risen by just over 4pc in the last five years, while the number of weddings has shot up by 40pc. It has risen almost every year, from 2,213 in 2010/11, to 3,094 in 2013/14. The latest figure was a dip on the year before – but of just 28.
The number of approved venues for weddings in Norfolk has soared in recent years, with more than 120 available for marriages and civil ceremonies – in addition to the hundreds of places of worship.
Stately homes and rural retreats feature strongly on the list, with grand buildings such as Narborough Hall, Pentney Abbey and Lynford Hall available.
Simpler ceremonies can be held at several of the council’s registration offices. including Dereham, Diss, Downham Market, Fakenham, Great Yarmouth, North Walsham and Thetford.
But for those with a niche taste, there are also more unusual venues to choose from.
Thetford’s 500-year-old Ancient House Museum offers Tudor-themed heritage, Cley Windmill is licenced for cosy ceremonies of up to 22 people, and the jail at Great Yarmouth’s Tolhouse is for those with a Gothic vision in mind.
What do you think the rise is down to? Are you getting married in an unusual ceremony this year? Email reporter Andrew Fitchett on firstname.lastname@example.org
Love can strike at any age
Never mind love’s young dream, a couple have announced their inten-tion to wed – at the ages of 87 and 86. John King, also known as Jack, and Joan Brown revealed their engage-ment, in a newspaper announcement, in time for Valentine’s Day.The Lowestoft pair have each been married before, with Mr King married for 55 years and Mrs Brown getting hitched at the town’s St Margaret’s Church when she was just 17.
However the couple – who have come into contact over the years, as they both spent the majority of their working lives at the town’s Birds Eye factory – have grown closer in older age, as they shared lunchtimes together in Morrisons after their respective partners died.
Grandfather-of-two Mr King – who was born in Grimsby but has lived in Lowestoft since 1931 – arrived in the town with his parents and brother to begin his career as an apprentice at LBS Engineering before moving on to work at Birds Eye. Mrs Brown was employed at the firm for all her working life.
Mr King, who retired aged 61, described how the couple have known each other for a long time and how his new fiancée is “always happy”.
They became engaged in December but have kept it quiet as they wanted to make it official on the most roman-tic day of the year, Valentine’s Day, by taking out a personal announcement in the EDP’s sister paper, the Lowestoft Journal.
“We have known each other on and off for years,” said Mr King, of Oulton Road. “When her husband died and my wife had died, we used to go down to Morrisons and have lunch together.
“We like to go out for meals and try different places, so we might as well be together all the while now.”Mrs Brown, of Haven Avenue – who has two daughters aged 63 and 62, four grandchildren and four great-grand-children – said she believed that “love is wasted on the young”. “We are happy little bunnies at the moment,” she said. We are enjoying our engagement and each other’s company.
“I am sure we will enjoy the rest of our lives together and we are hoping to still be here until we are both aged 120.
“You never know how long you have got left so I would tell people of our age to enjoy every minute,” she added.
“Me and Jack are happy together now. Everybody asks when we are getting married and I tell them I haven’t thought about it. My friends also told me to bring Jack to meet them so they can tell him what he is letting himself in for.”
The couple plan to mark Valentine’s Day with a romantic meal at Carlton Manor.