£1.5m Refurbishment For The Famous Blacksmiths Gretna Green Experience

● The Famous Blacksmiths Shop to be transformed into an immersive, storytelling experience at the heart of the iconic Gretna Green destination
● UK’s first attraction dedicated to love and marriage will open in late April 2022
● Visitors to embark on a journey of the ‘World’s Greatest Love Story’

Gretna Green, The Home of Romance, rebellion, and runaway marriages, has given its iconic Famous Blacksmiths Shop – the jewel in the crown of Gretna Green since 1754 – an impressive £1.5 million transformation to create a modern and immersive new experience that tells the fascinating story of this world-famous destination.

At the heart of the scenic village, and fondly nicknamed the ‘land of love’, the famous wedding destination and tourist attraction oozes history and tales of love and marriage dating back many generations. The aptly named ‘Gateway to Scotland’ has been operating for over 250 years and has hosted thousands of weddings since its very first ceremony back in 1754.

Now, at the heart of Gretna Green, the Famous Blacksmiths Shop is set to become the UK’s first immersive visitor attraction dedicated to love and marriage. The newly transformed ‘The Famous Blacksmiths Gretna Green Experience’ will open on 28th April allowing customers far and wide to be a part of The World’s Greatest Love Story. The renovation has seen a full internal building makeover, including the brand new museum experience, as well as the launch of a new wedding room, named The Forge.

The creation of The Famous Blacksmiths Gretna Green Experience will future-proof many more love stories. As part of the new attraction, guests will be taken on a magical journey of true love. From showcases of historic weddings, to explorations of what it means to get married today and getting the chance to add their own love story to the wedding wall. They can even experience a ‘sneak peek’ of a wedding in action!

Historically, the prestigious Scottish landmark was a popular hotspot for eloping couples due to its location on the Scottish border and the strict Marriage Act in place in England, resulting in couples travelling across into the neighbouring country to tie the knot. Originally and traditionally known for shoeing horses, Gretna Green blacksmith Joseph Paisley quickly realised he could make more money marrying star crossed lovers escaping the marriage act in England and reinvented himself as an ‘anvil priest’. With marriages being deemed official solely by declaration up until 1940, the self-declared ‘anvil priests’ at the Blacksmiths shop had stumbled on a new line of business.

Over the years the venue has developed and grown dramatically, drawing in customers from every corner of the globe and becoming a five-star award-winning visitor attraction. Today, Gretna Green houses a luxury retail shopping experience, restaurant, a food hall, three hotels – Smiths, Gretna Hall in Gretna Green and Greens at Gretna – an award-winning online retail business that ships to 55 countries worldwide, and at the heart of the destination remains the historic Famous Blacksmiths Shop.

A family-run attraction established in 1885, the business has been handed down through four generations and remains family-run to this day. The investment into the attraction will enable future generations to continue to enjoy the magical experience already discovered by so many.

Isabel Rhodes, CEO of the Gretna Green family estate, said: “We are the home of runaway love – what could be more romantic? We wanted to fully tell the fascinating story of our destination and the recent investment is our way of paying tribute to that.”
Susan Houston, family director of the Gretna Green family estate, commented: “Since the family took on the estate in 1885, we have built a successful visitor attraction whilst maintaining the compelling appeal of forbidden love and romance. We offer something very unique with the abundance of history.”
Lucy Houston, family director, added: “The Famous Blacksmiths Gretna Green Experience is a huge milestone in our history and we are excited to welcome everyone so that they too can experience the World’s Greatest Love Story.”

About Gretna Green

The home of weddings and the wedding capital of the UK, the Famous Blacksmiths Shop, in Gretna Green, has over 260 years of history and heritage, joining couples since 1754, and is now a world-class, award-winning wedding destination, with a 5-star visitor attraction, shopping and three hotels. Through four generations of ownership, since 1885, this family-owned and operated business has been at the heart of Gretna Green and Dumfries and Galloway local history for over 130 years.

A brief timeline of wedding history
1754: Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act introduces a minimum marital age of 21 without parental consent in England but it does not apply to Scotland;
1856: Lord Brougham’s ‘Cooling Off’ Act stipulates a three-week residency in Scotland prior to the marriage for at least one half of a marrying couple;
1929: The minimum age for marriage throughout Britain is set at 16 although the disparity between England and Scotland regarding parental consent remains;
1940: Marriage by declaration is outlawed in Scotland. Weddings can only occur in either a church or registry office and blessings ‘over the anvil’ become popular;
1977: The marriage age in England without parental consent drops to 18, the ‘Cooling Off’ Act is repealed and religious weddings can happen outside a Scottish church;
2002: In Scotland civil weddings are allowed outside a registry office in approved premises;
2005: Same-sex couples aged 16 and over can now enter into civil partnerships in the presence of a registrar in the UK;
2013: The UK Parliament votes to allow civil and religious marriages in England and Wales for same-sex couples. The Church of England and the Church in Wales are prohibited from conducting ceremonies but other religious organisations can opt in.
2014: The Scottish Parliament passes the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill enabling same-sex weddings to take place in Scotland. Religious bodies can opt in to perform the ceremonies.

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