AN ACTION group trying to raise the profile of Arbroath Abbey say Historic Scotland have robbed the community the chance of tying the knot at the historic landmark.
Last month, the Arbroath Herald revealed that wedding ceremonies were no longer being permitted in the grounds of the Abbey.
Property owners Historic Scotland said this was due to an operational decision with the agency investing in improving wedding services at 22 other sites.
But the Arbroath Abbey Action Group, who are working to raise awareness of the Abbey and its history, say they are extremely concerned and very disappointed to learn of this decision and have called for it to be reversed.
In a letter sent to Historic Scotland by chairman of the group, Harry Ritchie says: “The Abbey has been available as a unique venue for weddings both for people from the town and visitors from abroad for a number of years and this decision will rob the community of the chance to take their vows in one of the most historically important sites in Scotland that stands right at the heart of Arbroath.
“Promoted properly, Arbroath Abbey could, and should, be the venue for weddings in Arbroath and district.
“What better place to marry than one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings, associated with a key aspect of Scottish history, the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath?
“We are aware of the fact that a wedding party may have photographs taken within the Abbey at a cost of £150, but that is not the same as actually being married within the Abbey itself.”
“In view of the above, we would respectfully request that you reverse your decision and not only allow weddings to continue to be held, but actively promote such events for the benefit of the Abbey and the local area.”
However, Historic Scotland have responded to the letter, saying demand for weddings at the Abbey is low but they will continue to monitor the situation.
A spokesman said: “Demand was a key factor in reviewing our range of wedding ceremony venues. Arbroath Abbey, since 2007, has hosted an average of two weddings a year, a relatively low figure compared to our more popular wedding ceremony venues.
“Only one wedding booking had been made at Arbroath prior to the introduction of the new arrangements on January 1, and this took place on June 23, 2012.
“While there are no more outstanding bookings for the Abbey, we will continue to review our range of wedding ceremony venues against consumer demand.”
“We are happy for couples to have their wedding photographs taken at Arbroath Abbey, as at all of our 78 staffed sites, which can be arranged by contacting our on-site teams.”
They also add that couples opting to have their wedding photographs taken at an Historic Scotland site are entitled to bring 15 guests onto the sites without charge.