Michael and Tania (nee Johnson) Heape were married at the Duke Of Marlborough in Russell in January – 85 years after Tania’s great-great-grandparents owned the famous hotel. Photo / Supplied
Getting married is always a special day, but when the nuptials are at a world-famous, historic hotel your great-great-grandparents owned 85 years ago it’s even more significant.
Michael and Tania (nee Johnson) Heape were married at the Duke Of Marlborough Hotel in Russell on January 14 – 85 years after Tania’s great-great-grandparents John and Lucy English owned the famous hotel from 1925 to 1938. Wises New Zealand Guide states the Duke held the first hotel licence issued in New Zealand, dated July 14, 1840.
Tania said the couple got engaged at the Duke a year ago and at the time were also considering if it would be a suitable place to get married.
Tania was oblivious to the fact her ancestors had owned the hotel, and wasn’t made aware of this until she told her grandmother Brenda Ferguson – the English’s granddaughter – about the engagement.
“At the time we talked about it possibly being a good venue for the wedding too. Then Gran told me about the family connection and that made it certain that it would be the right place for the wedding,” she said.
“It was such a great connection and so wonderful to have that historic link there. They named English Bay (on the other side of the Bay of Island from Russell) after them too. They used to row over to there for picnics.”
Tania said there were several generations of the English’s descendants at the wedding, which made the day particularly unique.
“That family connection definitely made the day so much more special. It’s such a unique connection and was very special.”
The new Mr and Mrs Heape are both Northland-raised and think it’s amazing to have such an unmatched link to their wedding venue.
“That connection made the day even more precious for Michael as well. We couldn’t have chosen a better place.”
They initially chose the Duke as their engagement site because of its history, and position in the outstanding Bay of Islands town, but discovering the family link meant it was the only place for their wedding.