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Inside the most exclusive hotel in Cheshire: what really happened at the Duke of Westminster’s pre-wedding bash last … – Tatler

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Suddenly, a splash hits my arm. Water is gushing from the ceiling of the hotel onto a handful of diners. Did one grooming guest leave the bath running? The waitresses are quick to the rescue with brass buckets and blue water towels. It all feels very dramatic, like this could be a good omen for the couple.

But the guests remain unfazed, laughing and joking. Some are Olivia’s friends from the Dragon School in Oxfordshire and Marlborough College, while others are long-time friends of the Westminster family, like the Chichesters and Lichfields. Leonora, Countess of Lichfield, radiant in a blue dress, sits in the corner, enjoying dinner.

Some had caught the train from London that day or driven and helicoptered in from various places around the country. On the train from Crewe to Chester an excited woman had explained in earshot of the carriage that she had known the first duke from her time working at Whites members club in St James. One woman divulges that the family would be providing free ice cream for punters the next day…

The floral display being constructed outside the cathedral

Hubert Cecil

Two hours earlier, outside the hotel, wedding bells had filled the evening sky, played from the cathedrals adjacent bell tower. Crowd barriers already lined the streets for the swarms of well wishers that will gather tomorrow to catch a glimpse of the couple. Outside the redbrick cathedral (made from the same stone as Eaton Hall, the duke’s impressive stately pile up the road, where celebrations will be had tomorrow night) lorries filled with flowers are parked. Florists on ladders pin white and purple blossoms into masses of green leaves. The lawn outside has been perfectly mowed. The union jack flag waves from the top of the tower. Everything is set for the big day…

Back in the hotel and guests are winding down for their beauty sleep. Tomorrow they’ll have plenty of time to party at Eaton Hall…

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