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Upper Street bride follows in mum’s footsteps… 40 years on

Vicar surprises couple by getting them to sign their names in the same register as her parents

05 October, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

James and Clare walk down the aisle. Picture: Catherine Pound Photography

A COUPLE have tied the knot 40 years to the weekend since the bride’s parents walked down the same church aisle.

And as a surprise sprung by the vicar on Saturday, James and Clare Manders even signed the same register that Clare’s mum Janet and her new husband Steve Guttridge signed on their wedding day at St Mary’s Church in Upper Street back in 1978.

Clare, 31, said: “I am really close with my parents and I always admired their relationship. It felt really special and something that James and I wanted to do.”

The couple met two years ago through the dating application Happn – where you can match with people you walk past in real life. They had unknowingly crossed paths a whopping 87 times before romance blossomed.

Clare, a group spa manager at a private club in Chelsea, said: “I’d had one disastrous Happn date, and that’s it, so I went on there to delete the app and I saw a message from James.

Janet and Steve on their wedding day in 1978. Picture: Sheldon Long

“We both worked in the city but I’d never seen him until our first date.”

James, 37, proposed in January and the couple, who now live in Essex, married at the weekend, posing for pictures at the same spot her parents did.

“It was amazing. Our feet still haven’t touched the ground,” said Clare. “It was better than we ever thought it would be.”

Clare’s roots are firmly in Islington – her grandmother, Dolly Wren, is well known on the Isleden House estate, in Prebend Street, where she has lived for decades. She received her MBE in 2011 for services to the community.

Janet lived in the block until she married Royal Navy engineer Steve in 1978 and moved to the south coast, where he was based. Her sister Helen also married her husband, Ken Davis, at the same church in Upper Street in 1980.

The Rev Simon Har­vey shows Janet and Steve their signatures in the register. Picture: Catherine Pound Photography

About her daughter’s wedding, 62-year-old Janet said: “It was fantastic and the date made it even more special.

“When we got married, my uncle flew from America to give me away. He passed away last year and seeing his signature in the book, it felt like he was looking down on us.”

The Rev Simon Harvey, who conducted the service, said: “I sprang a surprise during the marriage service when I showed them that the wedding register they were about to sign is the very same one in which Clare’s parents’ signatures appeared.

“Everyone was delighted and I invited Steve and Janet to stand so that the packed church could congratulate them on their ruby wedding anniversary.”

He added: “The registers contain the names and addresses of the people who are getting married and their occupations. I was interested to see how things have changed.

“Forty years ago, people who married at St Mary’s did jobs that barely exist today – telex operators, telephonists, bank clerks and computer punch card operators.

“The registers aren’t just legal records. They document social history.”


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