Britain, places to visit, attractions, heritageFind places to visit in Britain by name, location, type of attraction, or other keyword.

Tap/Click ‘find listings’ for a detailed search – or just have a browse. 


Why is the small Scottish village of Gretna Green famous for marriages?  In 1753, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act declared that all marriage ceremonies in England and Wales had to be conducted by a minister in a parish church or chapel of the Church of England and that anyone under the age of 21 needed the consent of parents or guardians.  Clergymen who disobeyed the law were liable for 14 years transportation.  Jews and Quakers were exempt, but the law required religious non-conformists and Catholics to be married in Anglican churches.

In Scotland, the law was different.  Anyone over the age of 15 could marry provided the couple were not closely related and neither was in a relationship with anyone else.  The marriage contract could be made wherever they liked, in private or in public.  Gretna, just across the border from England, became a popular destination for eloping couples and the ceremony could be conducted by a blacksmith – a person of standing in the community.

The famous Blacksmiths’ Shop in Gretna was built in 1713 and is perfectly situated at the junction of five old coaching roads. The local blacksmith, the ‘Blacksmith Priest’, would conduct the marriage ceremony over his anvil, with his wife and locals standing as witnesses.  The anvil would be struck with a hammer as part of the wedding ceremony, forging the lives of the two lovers together in an unbreakable bond.

The Marriage Act of 1836 allowed non-conformists and Catholics to be married in their own places of worship in England and Wales and made non-religious civil marriages possible.  The minimum age for marriage was raised to 16 in 1929.  The age for parental consent was lowered to 18 in 1970.

Even so, Gretna Green is still a favourite place to get married and the Blacksmiths Shop is one of the most famous venues.  It includes shops, a café, shops and there is free parking.  Other wedding venues are available.

Headless Cross
Gretna Green
Dumfries and Galloway
Post Code
DG16 5EA
Main Historic Period
Devil's Porridge Museum, Gretna Green Gateway shopping
Primary Management
Private - open to the public

This is a growing listings directory – over 950 entries have been listed as of September 2022. 

Entries have links for further information, such as opening times and entry fees.

If your favourite attraction is not listed yet, and you have a good quality digital photograph of it that you are able to freely send, please get in touch

%d bloggers like this: