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Berlioz and Harriet Smithson were married at the British Embassy on 3rd October 1833. Berlioz had borrowed 300 francs from one of his friends, Thomas Gounet, to pay for the expenses. Bartholomew Stritch*, Robert Cooper, Jacques Strunz and Liszt were their witnesses. The couple went to Vincennes near Paris for their honeymoon.
In a letter to his younger sister Adèle, dated 6 October 1833, Berlioz writes (Correspondance Générale no. 347):
Yes, my dear Adèle, it is all over. The ceremony took place last Thursday following French and English practices. Henriette was afraid I might become emotional, and had urged me to keep complete control of myself in front of so many witnesses; I followed her instructions so well that I kept my calm superbly and it was she who wept. I am staying with her at Vincennes in a pretty little country cottage, far away from all indiscreet looks. On the day of our marriage her sister left us alone and we had our wedding feast in the most comical manner you can imagine. There were no servants to wait on us, and we had our dinner brought to us from the Vincennes restaurant. As for the dessert we picked it in the garden; the weather was delightful – sunny, mild, gentle, altogether wonderful. In short it was pure bliss.
* We thank Professor Peter Bloom for the correct first name of this witness.
The first picture below is an 1830 engraving showing the Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg St Honoré, from A. Pugin’s book Paris and its Environs, published in London in 1831, in our collection. The next two images show the certificates of Berlioz’s marriage registration, at the British Embassy in Paris, and at the office of the Mayor of the first arrondissement. © Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin. All rights of reproduction reserved.
The six modern photos of the British Embassy on this page were taken by Mr
Christopher Follett in 2009. ©
Christopher Follett for the 2009 photos. All rights
We are most grateful to Mr Follett for sending us electronic copies of the photos and for granting us permission to reproduce them here.
This is an 1830 engraving showing the Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré, from A. Pugin’s book Paris and its Environs, published in London in 1831, in our collection.
The original copy of this certificate is in the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) in London.
The original copy of this certificate is in the library of the Paris Conservatoire.
The marriage ceremony between Berlioz and Harriet Smithson took place in this room.
© (unless otherwise stated) Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin for all the pictures and information on this page. All rights reserved.
© 2009 Christopher Follett for the 2009 photos. All rights reserved.
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