Jack Valentine, Leap Year Proposals, and the Perfect Wedding Venue

Jack Valentine, Leap Year Proposals, and the Perfect Wedding Venue
Heacham Blogs

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, meaning couples the world over will soon be exchanging tokens of affection in celebration of their love for one another. Valentine’s Day is not the only romantic tradition taking place this month, as 2020 is a Leap Year, which historically was the only time of year in which a woman could propose marriage to a man.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of these romantic traditions and their origins, as well as the perfect Norfolk wedding venue.

Jack Valentine


One of the most curious local romantic traditions in Norfolk is the ritual of Jack Valentine. Also known as Old Father Valentine, Old Mother Valentine, or, more commonly, just 'Jack’, the tradition lives on in many parts of Norfolk to this day. Part giver of gifts, part prankster, 'Jack Valentine' is known to visit children and adults alike, knocking on their door and leaving a surprise gift before disappearing, a bit like a Valentine’s Day Father Christmas.

No-one knows the true origin of Jack Valentine in Norfolk, but it would appear to derive from a broader tradition of gift-giving at Valentine’s Day. In the modern world, Christmas is the main gift-giving event of the year, but in Victorian times more money was often spent on Valentine’s gifts than Christmas presents. Gifts were often exchanged clandestinely, by leaving a present on a doorstep and leaving before you could be seen. The tradition was widespread and was often used for mischief as much as courtship, with one cruel custom said to entail the leaving of huge, but completely empty presents which contained nothing but a mocking note!

Leap Year Proposals


One of the most enduring romantic traditions is that of the marriage proposal. In modern times we are proud to see barriers of the past broken down, the redefinition of gender-roles and legalisation of same-sex marriage. Proposals are now open to all,  but it is the Leap Year that originally introduced the tradition of women proposing marriage.

In Ireland, the tradition is referred to as Bachelor's Day, and is said to have begun when St. Brigid encouraged St. Patrick to allow women to propose in response complaints from frustrated women that their partners were reluctant to pop the question! Of course, men had the right to refuse such a proposal, but another tradition dictated that they would have to buy the lady a silk gown or fur coat by way of apology.

A similar tradition sprung up in Scotland, but with a slight twist. A man who rejected the Leap Day was obliged to buy the lady a pair of gloves so that she could conceal from view the ring missing from her finger.

The Dream Wedding Venue


Will this leap year be the year you propose to your loved one? Or are you already engaged and on the lookout for your dream venue?

Look no further.

Situated on the beautiful North Norfolk Coast, Heacham Manor is a luxury Elizabethan hotel licensed for wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships for up to 120 guests. In Autumn 2020 a brand new country club venue will open, catering for larger ceremonies of up to 150 guests.

With breath-taking grounds, stunning accommodation and award-winning catering, Heacham Manor have all the right ingredients to make your wedding a day you and your partner will never forget. 

For more information on tying the knot at Heacham Manor, call Sarah on 07384248848 or email spegden@heacham-manor.co.uk, or visit our Weddings page.