It’s not the most obvious choice of wedding venue, but couples looking for an entirely different way to tie the knot can now book the infamous Surrey-based courtroom, featured in Downton Abbey and scenes from British dramas, including The Bill, EastEnders, Holby City, Call the Midwife and Midsomer Murders.
Ahead of series five of Downton Abbey (starting 9pm, this Sunday, on ITV), Surrey County Council has announced that the former Crown Court now has a license to conduct weddings. It’s no longer a working courtroom but still has all the original deep wood panelling, and would have been a pretty atmospheric place to stand trial. If they desire, happy couples can say their vows on the same stand that Bates was tried for murder, as 100 of their relatives sit in the jury box or public gallery.
Filming in the historic Victorian space, located in the council’s Kingston-upon-Thames headquarters, brought in £145,000 of revenue in 2013. It’s hoped that the wedding market will prove just as lucrative. Weddings can be booked for between £3,000-£3,250 (VAT exempt), including a ceremony in the courtroom and a reception in one of the building’s grand chambers.
Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for business services, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the more avid Downton fans decide to exchange vows in the same courtroom that witnessed Mr Bates’ trial.” If you’re not a Downton fan, Le Gal says detective drama lovers can also relive great TV moments from “Lewis, Endeavour or Midsomer Murders, or even The Bill for any police officers walking down the aisle”.
Downton Abbey series five begins on 21 September at 9pm on ITV