At the end of October I married Layla, my true love, by the Witch’s Stone in Meanwood Park. This is single standing stone beside Meanwood Beck, perhaps erected in the early 19th century by Edward Oates (grandfather of Captain Lawrence “I may be some time” Oates). It has become one of the focal points in our relationship, alongside the stone of Cocidius at Alwoodley Crags and, of course, Almscliffe Crag.
I distinctly remember my first visit to the stone a couple of years before Layla and I met. Upon arriving at the stone I was unexpectedly taken into one of those strange experiences of immanence that we often associate with such monuments: the shape of the stone appeared to be perfectly harmonious with the angles of the trees, branches and grass that surrounded it, cohering in an emotionally overwhelming gestalt…
So, on an uncannily sunny day, we gathered at the Meanwood Institute to meet our family and friends, before being led down to the Witch’s Stone by Rory James Scammell, playing the Pied Piper with his hurdy gurdy.
The ceremony was conducted by our friend Becky Cherriman, a poet and writer, who excelled herself in delivering sensitive, well written and beautifully observed material that surpassed our expectations.
After our vows, Rory led us back to the Institute. It was time for the First (Morris) Dance with members of Briggate Morris.
Our cake was very kindly commissioned by Emily Clavering from Sarah Spangle at Yestercake, as were the toadstool cupcakes gathered around the base. It was maple and pecan! Thank you Emily and Sarah!
The rustic cake stand was made by Alex Brown, from wood that Layla and I spent almost a whole day cutting by hand! I also admire Alex’ fine attention to detail with regard to the proportions of my ‘own’ symbol, John Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad. If anyone needs carpentry, roofing or any other eminently practical work doing for them in the Leeds area, get in touch and I’ll pass on his details!
Earlier in the week Layla, Briony, Emily and I had also spent an evening putting together wedding favours containing interesting liquorice and one of our favourite poems. Each one also had a tag with a lino-cut we made of our favourite tree leaves and their accompanying Ogham letters.
The first dance proper came courtesy of Herb Diamante, accompanied by Emily on piano, doing their own rendition of the romantic classic “The Monster Mash” by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett. I’m pretty sure Herb could have gone on for hours ad libbing things in the style of Vivian Stanshall (“Have you watered the brains today, Igor?”). Herb also favoured us with some of his own songs, we are blessed!
Amps and DJing were provided by Phil Todd & Mel O’Dubhslaine and the Ashtray Navigations sound system. Since Layla and I have rather particular music tastes we almost never get a chance to dance (I think we’ve only danced about five times in three years), so it was great to let Phil & Mel take over! They ensured everyone had a good time until it was time to pack up and go home!
Prior to gathering our friends and family together we’d had our photos taken by Layla’s friend, photographer Graham Vasey. Graham is an amazing photographer (see this video!) and today used a traditional silver gelatin method with an Edwardian camera and a portable darkroom in the back of his car. He did two seven-second exposures, of which this is one… an absolutely perfect gift.
A deep thank you to all our talented friends and family who brought their skills and support to make our day such a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Thank you also Seth Cooke and Sara Sowah for the support and friendship in all times prior to the day, and their copious haul of fruit, bread and incredibly sharp knives.
My aunt has an amazing blog about her travels up and down the country, looking at and for antiquities. She did a lovely piece about the wedding here too. Thank you, ‘Nilly’!