Covid-19: Grandmother returns to St Albans wedding venue for jab

By Alex Pope
BBC News, East

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image copyrightClifford Turnbull
image captionJim and Wendy Lewis held their wedding reception at Batchwood Hall on 28 July 1962 after being married at St Alban & Stephen Catholic Church

An 81-year-old grandmother has returned to the venue of her wedding reception to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Wendy Lewis, of St Albans, had her jab at the city's former nightclub, Batchwood Hall, which closed during the first lockdown in 2020.

Being back in the main hall for the first time in 59 years, "brought it all back", she said.

The building is currently being used by the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG).

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe nightclub's chandelier is still in place as well as most of its fittings

Mrs Lewis, a grandmother of four, said: "As I sat on a chair by the staircase, I looked up and I remembered that's where I threw my bouquet to my bridesmaids. It brought it all back.

"It was the first time I'd been back since 1962, for a friend's wedding reception, shortly after mine.

"It's a beautiful venue; it was lovely to go see it again, but it was very different as they had it all set up for vaccination with little alcoves."

Her husband, Jim Lewis, died in 2012 and Mrs Lewis said she was "very happily married" for 50 years.

image captionWendy Lewis said her wedding was a "wonderful day" and she was "really pleased" to receive her first vaccination
image copyrightFamily photo
image captionMrs Lewis leaving Batchwood Hall to start her honeymoon in Torquay

Anthony Rowlands, portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm at St Albans City and District Council, said: "Batchwood has a fascinating history and has been an impressive residence, a golf clubhouse, a restaurant and a nightclub.

"We are proud this council property has been used as an NHS vaccination centre for the benefit of Mrs Lewis and many thousands of residents."

Batchwood Hall was designed and built by Sir Edmund Beckett, later Lord Grimthorpe (1816-1905), and was bought by St Albans Council in 1935.

It became a nightclub, Club Batchwood, in the 1980s, and Kanye West performed there as a DJ.

A council spokesman said the nightclub leaseholders left during the Covid restrictions.

Mrs Lewis is waiting for her second jab and said "if they call me tomorrow, I will be there like a shot - the sooner the better".

image copyrightHVCCG
image captionCouncillor Anthony Rowlands said he hoped the visit "brought back many happy memories" for Mrs Lewis

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