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1890: A big society wedding for a Sergison daughter

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

The wedding morning, John Henry Frederick Bacon, 1892

Marriage of Mr JHK Bailey and Miss Sergison, from the Monmouthshire Beacon, Saturday 16 August 1890:

In the quaint old parish of Cuckfield, situated about 14 miles from Brighton and two from Haywards Heath in Sussex, Mr JHR Bailey, of the Grenadier Guards, son of Sir Joseph Bailey, MP, was married on Wednesday week to Miss Sergison, only daughter of the late Major Sergison and sister of the present squire of Cuckfield.

The wedding had excited considerable interest in the neighbourhood, for the bridegroom had been assisting the bride's family in arranging a series of festivities on a scale never previously attempted in the village. Athletic sports, succeeded cricket matches, and fireworks, and fairs, formed not the least interesting features of the entertainments, whilst a large house party was hospitably entertained by Mr Sergison at Cuckfield Park.

Then the Sergisons, there is no family more popular or more cordially esteemed in Cuckfield, and it was not surprising, therefore, to find the accommodation of the parish church, on the occasion of the wedding, insufficient to meet the demands of the overwhelming congregation desirous of obtaining seats. The pews to the north and south of the nave had to be reserved for the wedding party, which included ...

[… A very long list of guests follows, that must have packed Cuckfield Church … which included the Bishop of Chichester, the Duke of Norfolk, many high ranging officers from the military including a general and colonels, several lords and ladies and the Vicar of Brighton…]

The groom

The bridegroom was attended by Mr C Ferguson of the Grenadier Guards, as his best man, and the 8th Company of the Guards was in attendance to line the nave of the church down which the bridal party passed to the chancel. The bride was accompanied by her brother, Mr Charles Sergison, by whom she was given away, and there were seven brides in attendance viz., Miss Bailey and Miss E Bailey (the bridegroom's sisters), Lady Elyne Erskine (the bride's cousin), and the Hon, Florence Hanbury Tracy, Miss Margaret Fielding, Miss Greathead, and Miss Levitt. The mother of the bride was also present.

The bride

Miss Sergison’s wedding dress was a very lovely gown of pearl white satin with long train, embroidered girdle collar, and cuffs, and chiffon sleeves. Her jewels were three diamond stars, the gift of Sir Joseph Bailey; a pearl necklace, the gift of her godfather, Mr Earle; and a diamond grenade, one of the four magnificent presents of the bridegroom. She had also an elaborate tulle veil with orange blossoms, and her bouquet of choice white flowers was made by Mr Ballard, head gardener of Glanusk Park, Sir Joseph's seat in Wales.

The bridesmaids

The bridesmaids were attired very prettily in dresses of white Bengaline with pale blue under bodices and sleeves slashed with material to match. They wore white ostrich feather bonnets with blue strings, and carried bouquets of blush roses and mignonette; and each had, moreover a gold bangle with blue enamel forget-me-nots with pearl centres, the gift of the bridegroom.

The service

The service which was choral, the choir meeting the bridal party at the doors, was conducted by Archdeacon Mount, assisted by the Rev Canon Cooper, vicar of Cuckfield, Mr William de Manly Sergison, the bride's cousin, organist of St. Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, presided at the organ, and played some appropriate voluntaries, the usual wedding hymns, and at the conclusion of the service, the Wedding March.

Engraving after The Wedding Day (1890) by Edward Lamson Henry 1890 (Philadelphia wedding at this time)

Going away

The bride’s going-away dress consisted of a grey Directoire silk trimmed with pink, a gold embroidered waistcoat, grey hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, and a large grey silk cloak trimmed and lined with pink. The drum and fife band of the 8th Company Grenadier Guards accompanied Mr and Mrs Bailey to the Hayward's Heath Station, whence they proceeded to London, en route for Glanwye, Builth, In Wales, where the honeymoon is being spent.

The wedding presents

The bride's presents included a handsome silver centrepiece, on ebony stand, from the tenants of the Cuckfield estate; gold-mounted driving and riding whips, the tradesmen of Cuckfield; set of silver and ivory fish-knives, in case, the women of Cuckfield; set of carvers, in case, the labourers on the Cuckfield estate; sapphire and diamond ring, diamond grenade, gold watch bracelet, and a Welsh pony, the bridegroom; three diamond stars, Sir Joseph and Lady Bailey; cheque, Mr Sergison; diamond necklace, Mrs Sergison, etc.

Amongst the presents to the bridegroom were three antique silver mugs, from the Glannsk household; silver centre piece, the Herefordshire tenants; four silver candlesticks the officers of the Grenadier Guards; pearl and diamond pin, the bride; cutlery canteen and cheque, Sir J. and Lady Bailey; cigar lighter, Mr Mitford; silver cup. Lord and Lady Waotage; silver salt cellars, Mrs H. Bailey; old Dutch cabinet, Mr HJ Bailey; silver candlesticks, Mrs F Bailey; four silver bon-bon dishes, Mr and Mrs Rankin; silver gilt sugar basin, Mr and Mrs Rolls; silver ash tray, Capt F Herbert; three sketches, Mrs Partridge; silver bracket brushes, Prince Duleep Singh; silver inkstand, Mr JP Gwyne Holford, etc.

Return from honeymoon

The following item from 'Clifton Society', 23 July 1891 marks a couples' return after a wedding to Cuckfield Park and the village, but probably not related :

Mr and the Hon. Mrs Sergison arrived at Cuckfield Park on Tuesday, on their return home from their wedding tour. The bride and bridegroom received a public reception, the town being gaily decorated. The local Volunteers formed a guard of honour. An address was presented to Mr Sergison by Mr Best, chairman of the Local Board, in the centre of the town, and from there the carriage was drawn by workmen on the Cuckfield estate to Cuckfield Park.

There were several hundred people present, and Mr and Mrs Sergison were showered with flowers during their progress. In Cuckfield Park the school children were placed, and they also showered flowers upon the home-coming Squire of Cuckfield and his bride.

The Cuckfield Town Band joined in the proceedings, and peals were rung on the church bells. The school children were entertained to tea. The Volunteers, the band, the ringers, etc., were also entertained. The weather highly favoured the interesting proceedings.



Engraving after The Wedding Day (1890) by Edward Lamson Henry 1890 (Philadelphia wedding at this time), a public domain image. The Sergison daughter would have been getting ready in rather grander surroundings at Cuckfield Park.

The wedding morning, John Henry Frederick Bacon, 1892. Lady Lever Art Gallery, a public domain image

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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