Happy couple Lisa and Kelvin Sylvester pose for a photograph following their wedding – after becoming the first newlyweds to use the front doors at St Martin’s Church for nearly two decades.
Fitness instructor Lisa, 47, fell in love with the historic building while researching wedding venues and stumbled across old footage uploaded to YouTube of the 1937 wedding of Lord Hotham and Lady Winifred Cecil who can be seen exiting the church onto High Street St Martin’s.
But when the couple booked the church for the wedding, which took place on July 23, they were told the front doors were out of action and had not been used since 1997 when Burghley House director Miranda Leatham - a direct descendent of William Cecil, first Lord Burghley - married Orlando Rock.
But fortunately for Lisa and Kelvin, their big day coincided with the commencement of a major programme of refurbishment works at the church, and the doors were repaired in time for the ceremony.
Lisa explained: “When booking the church in 2015 we enquired with Father Gavin Cooper if we could use the main doors, but were told unfortunately they were not used anymore due to their condition.
“However, on the eve of our wedding and at our rehearsal, I was ecstatic to be asked if I wanted to be the first bride to go through the doors in 19 years. Of course I said yes!
“We had an amazing service at St Martin’s made all the more special by being able to enter and exit through the magnificent main doors on such a gloriously sunny day.”
Lisa and 48-year-old carpenter Kelvin, from London, met via Facebook and have been together for eight years. They both have two children.
Father Gavin, who has been at St Martin’s Church for two years, said he was delighted to make Lisa and Kelvin extra happy on their wedding day.
He added: “The front doors were last used for a wedding 19 years ago. I’m not sure exactly why they fell out of use but over the years the wood expanded and it became very difficult to open them at all.
“But as we have begun a major programme of renovation works, the doors have been reopened and repainted. The roof is to be mended, a new sound system has been installed, and we intend to add a new kitchen area and loo so the church can be more of a community space and use for coffee mornings and other events like that.”
The renovation work will cost between £150,000 and £200,000. Around £50,000 has so far been raised and fundraising events are being planned. Anyone who would like to make a donation, or assist with fundraising, should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org