Happy Wedding Anniversary, Theodore and Mabel – 2nd August 1877

Wedding bells for the Bents… 2nd August 1877

Mabel in her “princesse dress of rich white silk, trimmed with a flounce of Carrickmacross lace, with veil to match, and a set of pearls, the gift of the bridegroom.” From a newspaper article (newspaper not recorded), August 1887. An undated studio photo, probably taken after her marriage (photo: The Bent Archive).

We don’t yet know how, where and when the young Theodore Bent (1852-1897) first met Mabel Virginia Anna Hall-Dare (1847-1929), although Mabel in an article reveals that they met in Norway of all places (see the press cutting that follows from The Citizen of 1907).* Theodore having graduated from Oxford, Wadham, in 1875. They married near Mabel’s family seat (Co. Wexford) on 2 August 1877 (Mabel 31, Theodore 26), in the little church of Staplestown, Co. Carlow.

Staplestown church, Co. Carlow, where the Bents wed in 1877 (wikipedia).


The officiating clerics were the Rev. Charles Lambart, uncle of the bride, assisted by the Rev. Henry Auriol Barker (old chum from Wadham, Oxford, and eventual beneficiary in Bent’s will) and the Rev. T. Hatchell. Theodore’s residence is cited as his manor at Sutton Hall, outside Macclesfield, Cheshire. As an only son and with both parents dead, his side of the church would have been thinly populated, in contrast to his Anglo-Irish bride’s. Who gave away the flame-haired Mabel remains a mystery, her (sympathetic) brother Robert having died of typhoid in Rome in 1876, while her (unsympathetic) father, also Robert, passed on in 1866.

The Bents’ wedding notice from The York Herald (Monday, August 6th, 1877).

(The post-scriptum to this wedding has to refer to the allotted span of 19 years and 9 months the pair were to have together for their explorations of the E Med, Africa, and Arabia. Theodore died of malarial fever complications on 5 May 1897. But, nevertheless, the couple did have their world enough, and time.)

* “Visitor of Outlandish Countries: Mrs Theodore Bent, who is just off to Jerusalem, has all her life been very much of a traveller. She first met her late husband in Norway, and she accompanied him in subsequent years to Abyssinia, Mashonaland and Arabia, and other out-of-the-way parts of the world, sharing in all the dangers, discomforts, and enthusiasms of his many archaeological expeditions. Mrs Bent, who speaks several languages fluently, comes of an old family of the name of Hall-Dare, well-known in Counties Wexford and Essex.” (From the Dublin periodical The Citizen or Dublin Monthly Magazine, Saturday, December 21, 1907)

The illustrations above include a wedding notice from The York Herald (Monday, August 6th, 1877), and Mabel in her wedding dress – an undated studio photo, probably taken after her marriage to Theodore, posed in the Baker Street studios of Thomas Fall (celebrated for his studies of the pets of the rich and famous – during the 1890s he was commissioned by the Princess of Wales, later Queen Alexandra, to photograph her with her dogs earning the company a Royal Warrant). The other photograph is of Staplestown church, Co. Carlow, taken from the website of the ‘National Inventory of Architectural Heritage’.

[Mabel Bent’s Travel Chronicles are available from Archaeopress, Oxford, in 3 vols.]


3 thoughts on “Happy Wedding Anniversary, Theodore and Mabel – 2nd August 1877”

  1. I wonder, did Mabel ever mention any of their anniversaries in her chronicles (if she was ever travelling at that time of the year)?

    1. Thank you Alan! Good of you to encourage us to look this up! In all their travels, it seems that the Bents were only away from England/Ireland once for their wedding anniversary (August 2nd): their preference was to travel in the winter months and be back in London (or visiting family in Ireland) for the summer and autumn. However, in 1891 they did spend nearly twelve months in southern Africa (for the trip sponsored by Cecil Rhodes to explore the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and other sites in ‘Mashonaland’. Here is Mabel’s ‘Chronicle’ entry for that day in 1891:

      “[Sunday] August 2nd [1891]. The blankets and limbo were given to the diggers and kitchen people. They danced beforehand because of the pleasant prospect. Only one has worked both months. The wagons were loaded. T[heodore], Mr. Swan and I went for our last work in the Circular Enclosure, measuring. T was outside the wall. Mr. Swan on the top and I inside. I could not help feeling sad at feeling I will never have a chance of seeing this place again. In the evening I developed photos and packed all my things in my little black tent. We had once more to undress on the boxes for the wagon is very full.”

      So, no reference to the wedding anniversary and we have to assume that they lifted a glass to each other over supper! They seem far too preoccupied with packing up don’t they? However, Mabel did like to make a note of birthdays and such family events in her notebooks – perhaps then they just forgot!

  2. I recall that somewhere on the tambent.com site, Mabel is referred to as an early blogger. It’s interesting to note the difference in style and content between this Victorian chronicler and today’s Facebook splurgers.

    Mabel mostly recounts events and people and, while often expressing her views, she seems to avoid exposing her inner feelings and emotions, even when their situation is absolutely dire. Victorian stiff upper lip I suppose. It’s a shame though – it would have added an extra human facet to the Bent’s incredible story.

    It would be nice to think that they celebrated their wedding anniversary in some tender way.

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