Last Monday the team of us went to Coombe Lodge in Blagdon on the outskirts of Bristol, with panoramic views across the Chew Valley & Lake in the beautiful autumn sunshine it was a most stunning place for a photo shoot.
Because of Emma pulling some strings (plus being friendly with the present owners) we were lucky enough to get full access across the whole site.
We were fortunate to have the grounds, gardens, verandas, halls, library and bedrooms (including the Bridal suite) in which to run amuck!! And as the images will testify such a huge variety of stunning backdrops has really helped show off Owen Barry coats and bags to their very best.
Coombe Lodge nowadays is used mainly as an exclusive hotel and wedding venue.
The original house and grounds date back to 1759 but the present house (c. 1930’s), constructed from Bath stone, and was built on the original foundations on behalf of the Wills family, who ran the W.D. & H.O. Wills Tobacco Company in Bristol. Coombe Lodge was built on the proceeds of tobacco importing thru the port of Bristol and the manufacture of cigarettes & cigars and it became the Wills family home for over 30 years.
Whilst we were waiting for the stylist and model to get ready, I was roaming the halls and generally loitering, casually watching the straggling guests from the weekends wedding loading their possessions (including 2 bay trees festooned with silver satin ribbons ?!) into a variety of very posh vehicles.
Obviously everybody had enjoyed an absolutely marvellous time, and no doubt the newlyweds were already sitting under a beach umbrella on Mauritius enjoying their conjugality.
However, I guess neither the bride, nor her adoring mother, or in fact anyone of the glowing guests realised how their weekend of enjoyment and celebration had been built, at least in part on the subjugation and the non-marital happiness of women many years ago.
Up until the 1920’s any girl or woman employed by Wills was banned from marriage!! – as with many indentures of the time (& as was the case with our own founder Owen’s contract – see previous blog) the frequenting of ale houses, taverns, play at card or dice tables, or any other unlawful games was completely forbidden etc.
But WD & HO Wills went further and decreed that their female employees should not be allowed to marry. A ruling obviously fought and in time overturned along with many others, by the Suffragette movement (Thanks Emily et al – we REALLY owe you).
Goodness gracious how things have changed.
But frighteningly, we look around the world and still hear similar horror stories that are happening every day in the 21st century.
Ladies - we are some of the luckiest people on Earth - We live in Britain, where our daughters (and sons) can get married whenever, however, and to whomever they want.
All we have to do is save up and pay for it!! – Coombe Lodge full package £££???!!! – woweeee – I’d better sell a few more bags!!