Geoffrey Syme and Violet Addison Garnett were married on the early, almost certainly rainy afternoon of 15th January 1901. The report published the next day in the Clitheroe Advertiser said that the sun did not shine upon them and that the cloaks and coats worn by the bridal party made it difficult to see what the bridal party and their guests were wearing. They were married at St. Helen’s, Waddington, just outside Clitheroe, the church that Violet and her family usually attended and where she had been confirmed and made her First Communion. She had been christened at the much bigger church of St. Mary’s in Clitheroe, where her father was a churchwarden, and occasionally she went to St. Paul’s, Low Moor, where many of the Garnetts, including her grandfather, James Garnett, were parishioners. The Clitheroe Garnetts were all members of Church of England, but their doctrinal beliefs ranged from those of the very High Church to those of the very Low Church. St. Helen’s was High Church, and Violet wanted to be married by the Vicar, the Reverend Francis Parker. She had known him all her life, and he had prepared her for her First Communion.

St Helen's Waddington
The Reverend Francis Parker
The Reverend Thomas Arthur Garnett

The other clergy at the wedding were the Reverend E. G. Bardsley, the vicar of All Saints, Bingley, the church where she went when she was staying with her mother’s parents, and Tom Garnett’s first cousin, the Reverend Arthur Garnett, who was the third son of Jeremiah Garnett of The Grange near Bolton. St Helen’s stands within a churchyard, and is beside the brook that runs through the village of Waddington. It looks like a 14th century church with a 15th century tower, but only its tower is truly ancient. The church was largely restored at the very end of the 19th century and the work was only finished just before her wedding. Another reason for choosing a January date for the wedding was the fact that Violet’s mother was

pregnant with her seventh child when Violet and Geoffrey became engaged. The baby, Horatia, was born on 28th November 1901 and was christened at St Helen’s only a few days before her eldest sister’s wedding.

The church is small, so tickets had to be issued for the guests to get inside for the ceremony. There was a lot of local interest in the wedding and Tom Garnett had arranged for awnings to shelter the crowds of people that gathered outside the church to see the wedding party.

The church was decorated with palms and with white flowers, which were hard to find in January in the north of England.  Geoffrey had chosen Dixon Musson as his best man. Dixon was the son of Dr. Alfred Musson of Clitheroe. He was also the elder brother of Harry Musson, who was so much in love with Violet that that he wrote and told her that he could not bear to go to her wedding. Their sister, Mollie was one of the two grown-up bridesmaids.

Harry Musson. He was an archeologist.

Mollie Musson
Marjorie Garnett
Greta Garnett
Eileen Garnett
Betty Garnett

The other adult bridesmaid is described as “Miss Johnson” and was, almost certainly, Geoffrey’s cousin Winifred. The four young bridesmaids, Marjorie aged about twelve, Greta about eleven, Eileen, ten and Betty four, were sisters of the bride. They all wore cream silk dresses trimmed with lace and carried bouquets of lily of the valley and violets, but the elder bridesmaids wore white felt hats trimmed with violets and the young ones wore satin hats. Hats were then obligatory in church. The crown of the head had to be covered, so they could not wear wreaths.

The bride wore an ivory satin dress with a chiffon train, and her veil was of Honiton lace. It was held in place with a wreath of orange blossom and had been worn by her mother and grandmother before her. The report in Clitheroe Advertiser says "She looked altogether a pretty and most charming young bride." It is sad that there are no surviving pictures of her with her bridesmaids.

She also wore Geoffrey’s presents to her, an opal brooch and opal bracelet, and an opal and diamond pendant that had been given to her by her great-uncle, William Garnett of Low Moor. Opals were considered appropriate for a bride who was going to live in Australia, but she wasn’t consulted. She didn’t like opals and they were supposed to be unlucky.

The bride and her father entered the church to the hymn “The voice that breathed o’er Eden”. The other hymns were ”Oh perfect love” and ”Fight the good fight”. This was Violet’s favourite hymn. It was rather an odd choice for a wedding, though it was to prove appropriate in the years to come. The organist was Mr G. Walmesley, who played Mendelssohn’s Wedding March as the bridal couple left the church.
Violet and Geoffrey's marriage certificate.

The Clitheroe Advertiser reported that more than fifty carriages and cabs took the wedding party and their guests from Waddington to Clitheroe for the reception. “Practically every cab in the town was chartered as well as several from Whalley and Blackburn”.

The reception was in the Public Hall in Clitheroe. Tom Garnett’s house, Radeclyffe, was much too small and, though Waddow was big, most of its rooms were not. When there were parties there in the summer marquees were erected on the lawn above the river, and it would have been too difficult to warm a marquee on a wet and probably snowy day in January.

The wedding guests had to cross Brungerley Bridge to get back to the reception. It crosses the Ribble, which was the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Another quotation from the Clitheroe Advertiser:  “The interest in the wedding was great because of the desire of the workpeople of the mill of Thomas Garnett and Sons of Low Moor and the many tenants and townspeople to see the wedding of the grandaughter of James Garnett and the daughter of Tom Garnett,” Crowds gathered outside the hall as well as outside the church. More than one thousand tickets were issued for the viewing of the presents in the Public Hall, but it was thought that more than double this number queued up to go through the hall after the reception was over. The queue moved though the hall for more than three hours and at times reached back as far as Clitheroe Grammar School. Violet’s father, Tom Garnett, had been Mayor of Clitheroe four times, her grandfather, James Garnett, eight times, and her great grandfather, Thomas Garnett, had been Mayor twice, but the reporter considered that the reason for the interest in the wedding was “the high personal regard in which Mr. Tom Garnett is generally held by all classes.” (This respect for her father was evident more than thirty years later. When Violet Syme was staying in Clitheroe in 1933 and 1936 many of the people she had known as a child still greeted her with a curtsey).

The Public Hall was decorated with flags and white and gold drapery. These had been arranged by Mr Walmesley of Bradshaw Gate, Bolton, who had also made the seven-foot-high wedding cake, which was decorated with violets and sprays of wattle. Mr Gudgeon’s string band played throughout the reception.

Relations came from near and far. Her maternal grandparents, Thomas and Fanny Garnett and her uncle Harold Garnett came from Oakwood, her paternal grandfather and his second wife Emily came from Waddow, bringing with them their little son Hugh.  The William Garnetts came from Low Moor, the Newstead Garnetts from Shireburn, Jeremiah Garnett from Bromley Cross, the Gustav Garnetts from Ouselhurst, and the Charles Garnetts from Turton. Another family of William Garnetts came from Clifton, near Bristol. The Reverend Richard Garnett and his wife came from Otley. He is not to be mistaken for the long-dead Reverend Richard Garnett of the British Museum, though the latter’s son, Dr. Richard Garnett, sent a present (a brass tray) from London. It is impossible to work out the number of guests since the wedding list often gives a name then adds “and family.”

The bride’s great-aunt, Contessa Tacidi, could not come from Rome, (though she sent a bedspread) but her mother’s sister, Daisy Tennant, came from London, and another aunt, Aggie Slater, made the short journey from Blackburn. The wedding list is full of the bride’s relations; not only dozens of Garnetts, but Newsteads, Atkinsons, Horsfalls, King-Wilkinsons and Eccles, as well as friends like the Robinsons and the Asshetons. Every member of Tom Garnett’s household was invited, and the maids from Radeclyffe all wore new grey dresses and white hats that were given to them by Tom Garnett.

The Radeclyffe staff. 1902.
Many wedding presents were on display. There was a lot of silver. This ranged from the huge silver tray and tea and coffee service given by her grandfather James Garnett, the entrée dishes and shell-patterned spoons and forks given by her great-uncle William Garnett of Low Moor, and the sugar basin, cream jug and vase given by the teachers and scholars of the Low Moor School, to the silver buttonhook and shoehorn given to her by the Reverend Mr Parker and his wife. Her parents gave her household linen, which was of such good quality that a few of the embroidered sheets, table-napkins and monogrammed hand towels are still in use more than one hundred years later. David Syme gave them a most welcome cheque, and his wife Annabella presented her son with a furnished house next door to Blythswood, a present that was to cause some problems in years to come.
Willaim Garnett of Low Moor

The bride and groom could not have stayed very long at their reception. The wedding was at 1.30 p.m. and everyone had to journey back from St. Helen’s to Clitheroe, but it was not long after 3.30 p.m. that they set out on their honeymoon. The bride wore a red dress and a red toque, which is described as “decorated with sables and lace.” She had more sables to keep her warm. This was fortunate, since they were going to Edinburgh. Scotland must have been Geoffrey’s choice, and he must have wanted to show her the land of his father. He didn’t need to show her the land of his mother, since Annabella Syme was a Yorkshirewoman, born in Bradford. It is fairly certain that Violet had no great desire to see North Berwick, and would much have preferred somewhere more romantic like Paris or Rome or even London. Few records remain of her honeymoon journey or her return to Clitheroe where she had to say goodbye to her father and mother and brothers and sisters and all the rest of the family. Aged eighteen she had absolutely no idea what her life would be like in Australia. She was in love with her husband and she did not understand how difficult she would find it to live so far away from England. She was homesick for the rest of her life.

St Helen's


In St Helen's there is a memorial window to Violet and Geoffrey Syme's 2nd daughter Hilaire. She married Kenneth Peacock of Birmingham and died in 1926 aged 22.


Hilaire is buried in the graveyeard of St Helen's, beside Greta Robinson. Greta was one of Violet Syme's child bridemaids.


Memorial at St Helen's to the Reverend Mr Parker
Copyright © 2012 Dr. Veronica Condon. All rights reserved.