Many of the places where we meet and fall in love might seem quite ordinary, but for us they are extraordinary.
Heritage leaves its mark on all of us, and there’s romance in everyday places. Many historic places have seen love against adversity; love kept secret, and love breaking boundaries. Here are some of our favourites.
1. The Tomb of Radclyffe Hall and Mabel Batten, Highgate Cemetery, London
A popular and successful novelist, Radclyffe Hall published her controversial lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness in 1928. The novel was a plea for tolerance and subsequently prosecuted by a court of law as obscene.
Radclyffe was laid to rest in 1945 in the vault of her lover Mabel Batten, who died in 1916. Radclyffe had since been in a relationship with Mabel’s cousin, sculptor Una Troubridge, who is also commemorated on a plaque inscribed ‘’And If God Choose I shall but love thee better after death – Una’.
2. Apethorpe Palace, Northamptonshire
A once-beloved royal residence, Apethorpe Palace (formerly Apethorpe Hall) played a particularly important role in entertaining Tudor and Stuart monarchs.
The 15th century Northamptonshire country house was regularly visited by James I, and it is said that he met his lover George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham there in 1614. James personally contributed to the extension of Apethorpe, and restoration work in 2004-08 revealed that a previously unknown passage had been built, linking the bed chambers of James and Villiers.
3. Islington Town Hall, London
At midnight, 29th March 2014, Peter McGraith and David Cabreza became one of the first couples in England and Wales to tie the knot under equal marriage legislation.
Both had been part of the campaign for equal marriage and were joined by fellow activists and supporters at the ceremony at Islington Town Hall.
Despite the only very recent legalisation of gay marriage, couples have been marking their union throughout history.
Landowner Anne Lister and heiress Ann Walker marked and celebrated their 1830’s partnership by the exchange of rings and attending Holy Communion at Holy Trinity Church in York. They saw this act as uniting them in an equivalent way to marriage.
4. The Shack, Mottistone Manor, Isle of Wight
Architects John Seely and Paul Paget ran one of the most noteworthy architectural firms of the inter-war years, completing their masterpiece Eltham Palace in 1936.
The couple were business as well as personal partners, their successes affording them a valuable degree of privacy. Set in the grounds of Mottistone Manor, where Seely and Paget would entertain guests, ‘The Shack’ was a separate and safe space where the couple would spend the night.
5. St Ann’s Court, Surrey
Gerald Schlesinger and architect Christopher Tunnard’s modernist Surrey home, St. Ann’s Court, was also designed (1936-37) with their privacy in mind.
The master bedroom features movable partitions used to separate the room in two so that the couple could maintain a pretence to visitors that they slept in separate bedrooms.
As part of our Pride of Place project, our campaign to recognise and celebrate England’s queer history, the list entry for St Ann’s Court was updated to reflect Schlesinger and Tunnard’s story.
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