The history of Gretna Hall Historic Marriage House and Hotel
Originally a Family Home…
Gretna Hall (or ‘Graitney Hall’ as it has been known in the past) has many interesting historical associations. For many years the Estate of Gretna belonged to the Johnstone family, and Graitney Hall was erected in 1710 as the family mansion. The coat of arms of the Johnstone family, with the year in which the hall was built, is engraved above the principal entrance and is still present to this day.
John Linton Takes Charge in 1825…
In 1793, the subjects were fitted up as an inn or hotel. It was not, however, until 1825, when one of the most famous of Gretna “priests” John Linton, took a lease of the subjects, that they became well known. Linton had the acumen to arrange for the regular coaches to stop at Graitney Hall, and the passengers’ praise soon established its reputation.
Historical Marriage Records…
There are in existence the Marriage Registers kept at Graitney Hall during the time of Linton’s tenancy, and also certificates of some of the marriages that took place there. The Register contains 1134 entries, the first being dated 12th July 1825, and the last, 30th April 1855. The Certificates are known to be in existence number 1120, the first being dates 1st January 1829. There is also in existence a small index book applicable to the Marriage Register, the table used by Linton, and a tin box, in which the Register Certificates, etc., were kept. Some of the well-known people who were married at Graitney Hall, and whose names are entered in the Register, were:-
17th May 1835 – Richard Brinsley Sheridan, grandson of the poet Sheridan, to Marcia Maria Grant, only surviving child and heiress of Sir Colquhoun Grant, of Frampton Court.
7th May 1836 – Carlo Ferdinando Bourbonne, Prince of the Two Sicilies and Prince of Capua, to Penelope Cardine Smythe: Prince Carlo was a younger brother of Ferdinand II of Naples.
26th August 1847 – Duke of Sforza-Cesarini, to Caroline Shirley: this gentleman was the scion of one of Italy’s noblest families, allied to several sovereign houses.
28th May 1840 – Lord Archibald Drumlanrig, son and heir of the Marquis of Queensbury, to Caroline Clayton, daughter of General Sir William Robert Clayton.
6th November 1844 – Captain Charles Park Ibbetson, to Lady Adela Corisande Maria Child Villiers, daughter of the Earl of Jersey, while two years later Captain Francis Frederick Lovell was married to Lady Rose Somerset, daughter of the Duke of Beaufort.
In June 1848 – E. Arabella St. John, daughter of Viscount Bolingbroke, was married to Francis Smith, and in the same year, a lady with the unusual names of Julia Octavia Anne Grace Duncan Guise claimed the “Priest’s” services to unite her to Charles Septimus Smith.