A COUPLE who had their hearts set on marrying in a privately-owned chapel have attained the right to do so found they will be the first to wed there in more than 100 years.

Leigh Procter, 30 and his fiancé Kielly Collings, 29, knew Christ Church in East Layton, Richmondshire, was the only place for them to tie the knot, and will finally say their vows at noon today (Saturday, August 23).

Miss Collings grew up in the village, was christened at the church, and her father’s funeral was also held there – so it had been her dream to eventually marry there.

And Mr Procter said the pair were thrilled to hear their ceremony had a greater significance in the history of the grade II-listed church.

He said: “The vicar who will marry us told us that having looked through the church records, there have been no marriages there at all as far as they go back - more than 100 years.

“We had to apply for a special licence to marry there because it is privately owned and there has been quite a lot of work involved with getting permission but it has all been worth it.

“To find out that we are the first couple to marry there since before the First World War is extremely special.”

Reverend Andy Pell who will conduct the service said he had spoken to the church owner, Captain John Trotter, who had said he did not know of a wedding ever having taken place there.

“The church was built in 1895 and the architecture was based on Worcester Cathedral; it has many similar features.

“It is an absolute privilege to conduct what could be the first wedding at the church – it was renovated just five months ago and so it feels fresh and new.”

He added: “Mr Procter and Miss Collings had to get a special licence from the Archbishop of York, rather than the usual banns, because it is not a consecrated building under the Church of England.

“This is very unusual and it may be the reason why no wedding has taken place here before."

Church treasurer Jamie Cameron said: “It was commissioned by a Mrs Proud – the great, great aunt of Capt Trotter.

“The inside woodwork has all been done by the Mouseman of Kilburn so it is really special – even the Church of England describes it as a “little jewel”, which it certainly is.”

Christ Church was built as a Chapel of Ease, and while it has always been privately owned it has been available for Church of England services, and it now hosts around two serves a month.