HUSH-HUSH WEDDING WAS A BLUR TO US
This is Gloucestershire
10:30 - 06 May 2003

A Galaxy of stars descended on Sherborne for a celebrity wedding - but villagers didn't have a clue who any of them were.

The only inkling they had that something lavish was going on was when a fleet of Rolls Royces rolled through the lanes to their parish church. Inside the limousines were former Radio 1 DJ Zoe Ball and her estranged husband Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), chart singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Independent on Sunday editor Janet Street-Porter.

They were in the village, near Northleach, for the wedding of 34-year-old Alex James, bass player from pop band Blur, and video director Claire Neate.

The occasion was kept so hush-hush that many villagers didn't know anything was going on until they heard the bells ringing at the Church of Mary Magdelene.

When, the next day, they found out who had visited the village they were still none the wiser.

Many had never heard of the big name guests let alone Blur, whose lead singer Damon Albarn was at the ceremony.

Churchwarden William Tremaine said: "Apparently, it was some young man who's very well known. I hadn't heard of him."

A pensioner, who did not want to be named, said: "It doesn't mean anything to us. They weren't people from my generation."

Some of the mums and dads were familiar with dance music star Ms Ellis-Bextor, the daughter of 80s Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis.

The event caused more of a stir among Sherborne's younger residents.

A nine-year-old boy, who wondered what cars including Ferraris with blacked out windows, had been doing there said: "Everyone at school was talking about it. Everyone's saying Sherborne must be pretty famous.

"It's cool that people like Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Fatboy Slim came here."

Vicar the Rev Michael Selwood, who conducted the wedding, was not intimidated by his celebrity audience.

He said: "I don't know them because they're not in my circle. I'm an old fogey.

"It was no different to marrying anyone else. They seemed like a nice couple."

He added: "I was concerned for the couple because of the money they had spent on the wedding. I'm told it wouldn't have mattered to them."

The bride and groom had spent a fortune hiring Rolls Royces to ferry their guests to the church, which was decorated with archways of flowers.

Claire wore a long, gold dress and was accompanied by two grown-up and two child bridesmaids, who were also wearing gold gowns.

Mr Selwood said the donation the couple made to the church for using it was reasonable but added: "From what they spent on the reception I'd have expected more."

There are rumours that a member of Blur, most famous for the song Parklife, has bought a house in the village.

A 44-year-old woman, who lives in Sherborne, said: "Good luck to them. Gloucestershire attracts the famous."

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