Inside the intimate village wedding of Notting Hill’s Hot Priest, Pat Allerton
On a cloudy but warm summer day, Old Etonian Pat Allerton – famously known as the ‘portable priest’ – arrived at the sleepy country village church of Longparish, Hampshire on the 10 July to marry his South African fiancée, Kirsty Turnbull. Allerton’s fame as a much-loved London vicar swiftly came about during the early stages of the pandemic as he took to the streets of London, visiting residential areas, hospitals and prisons blasting out songs of hope and prayer for those in need. His dashing good looks and passion for the greater good, teamed with an infectious sense of humour, was all that was needed for the British public to embrace him overnight. As his lockdown celebrity blossomed, so did his romance with 33-year-old charity and social change worker, Kirsty Turnbull – much to the dismay of his ever growing female fan club.
Though the couple had desperately hoped for a much larger gathering, tying the knot sooner rather than later took priority, resulting in their nuptials being a much more intimate church service to comply with government guidelines. In order to overcome this, the couple went above and beyond, creating an online link for family and friends to attend the service remotely. As guests logged on, the event opened with a reading from John’s Gospel, with, ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love comes from God,’ followed by pictures and names of the wedding party from the bride and groom to the best men, ushers, bridesmaids and immediate family.
Allerton, 42, and Turnbull, 33, then appeared with a 13-minute pre-recorded message thanking loved ones for their constant support and help in getting them to this point. As they pointed out, building a relationship in lockdown had been far from easy – acknowledging that sadly there were still friends that each of them had still not had a chance to meet. They used the time to answer questions sent in by guests including what they were looking forward to most about being married. After this ended, a sign appeared on screen stating: ‘The bride has arrived please take your seats.’
Turnbull was driven to church in her cousin’s white Land Rover – affectionately referred to by the family as ‘Andy the Landy’ – while the groom drove himself to church in a Porsche loaned to him by a member of his own parish (which is currently motoring the couple around the South West of England on their honeymoon). The bride walked up the aisle to the African hymn, Ukuthula, which is a prayer for peace, appropriately referencing Allerton’s work as a vicar.
She wore an elegant lace and chiffon dress from the Notting Hill based French boutique, The Mews Bridal, with a veil by Tabitha Textiles which had a Bible verse embroidered within and wild flowers from both South Africa and the United Kingdom. Then, for Turnbull’s ‘something borrowed’, was a locket with both of her grandmothers’ pictures inside, tied around her bouquet. The church looked and sounded heavenly, awash with wild flowers by Miranda Fairhurst, with the first song that was played being Amazing Grace – notably the hymn that Allerton became famous for playing across London during both lockdowns. The couple exchanged rings with ‘Love always…’ engraved on the inside.
The newlyweds left the church on foot to walk across the fields to Allerton’s sister’s home nextdoor, where she hosted a garden party. The church served as a picturesque backdrop for the wedding reception with music by the Royal Academy Jazz Band by Finn Bradley. Rain forced guests to take cover during speeches – and just as they ended the sun broke through and a rainbow appeared, arching directly over the church. This, some saw, as symbolic – as biblically they represent God’s covenant with humanity. Plus, on a personal note, it was the perfect ending for the newlywed ‘hot’ vicar and his new branded ‘hot’ wife.
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