Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 16:30 UK

Wedding licence for ancient caves

Kents Cavern: Pic Kents Cavern
Couples have the choice of four different-sized chambers

A Devon tourist attraction has been granted a marriage licence to hold weddings in its caves, which date back more than 500,000 years.

Kents Cavern in Torquay, Devon, is now allowed to carry out subterranean ceremonies.

The caves are one of Britain's oldest scheduled ancient monuments, with English Heritage designation dating back to 1957.

A piece of jawbone from Neanderthal man has been found in one of the caves.

The first humans are believed to have lived in the area alongside sabre-toothed cats, bears, hyenas and woolly mammoth.

Six-inch stilettos are banned - we don't want any broken ankles
Gilly Woodland, bride-to-be

The hillside, woodlands and the internal landscape of the caves are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest under the statutory regulations of English Nature.

Christine Howle, deputy superintendent registrar at Torbay Council, said the caves were a "unique and stunning venue".

Couples will be able to choose one of four caves to make their vows, with the largest chamber able to accommodate 80 guests.

Local couple Gilly Woodland and Alan Duckworth have already booked the venue for their wedding on 4 October.

"Essentially it was because we wanted to do something that was a little different," the bride-to-be told BBC News

"The choice in Torbay wasn't too great, so originally we'd planned to get married at the registry office in Oldway Mansion, then have the reception at Kents Caverns."

Climate control

The couple have chosen to exchange vows in the great chamber, which can hold up to 80 guests.

Ms Woodland said the invitations could turn out to be more like information booklets.

"The caves are kept at a constant temperature, but it's a constant of 14C, so we'll need to tell people about that.

"There will also be a warning on the invitations six-inch stilettos are banned - we don't want any broken ankles."


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