The Big Smoke’s big romances
With so many centuries of history under its belt, London has seen its fair share of love stories. As Harry and Meghan put a ring on it, we’re retelling some of the city’s epic love stories – both world-famous and lesser-known – and where they happened.
Harry and Meghan – Nott Cott
Perhaps not the most romantic name for a love nest, Nott Cott (the rumoured nickname for Nottingham Cottage) will be just that for Haz Meggs (the rumoured nickname that we just made up) over the coming months. Nestled in the middle of Kensington Palace, on the surface this little house seems quaint and simple. This being the royal family however, this quaint, simple little house was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, one of Britain’s most renowned architects. We wouldn’t expect anything less.
Will and Kate – Westminster Abbey, Westminster
There was a time during the credit crunch when it was rumoured that Will and Kate would have a low-key wedding. In April 2011 however, the second in line to the British throne married a Berkshire commoner at Westminster Abbey in front of 1,900 guests, fulfilling the fairy tale wedding dreams of royalists all over the world.
Oswald Laurence and Margaret McCollum – Embankment Station, Charing Cross
Actor Oswald Laurence and doctor Margaret McCollum were married for 15 years. During his career, Oswald recorded the famous ‘mind the gap’ message for the Northern Line, but over 40 years the recording was eventually only played at Embankment Station. Oswald died in 2007 and Margaret regularly visited the station to hear his voice, but in 2012 it was replaced. Margaret contacted TfL to ask for a CD recording and they were so touched that in March 2013, Oswald’s voice returned to Embankment Station.
Paul and Linda McCartney – Old Marylebone Town Hall, Marylebone
The Beatle and photographer met at Soho’s Bag O’Nails club in 1967, parallel to the epicentre of London’s Swinging 60s scene, Carnaby Street. The club is still open, for members only, but for Beatles fans it’s worth visiting to see the commemorative plaque in the doorway. In 1969, Paul and Linda were married at Old Marylebone Town Hall, which will emerge from a major interior refurbishment in February 2018. Breast cancer took Linda’s life in 1998, and in 2011 Paul returned to the town hall to marry Nancy Shevell.
Victoria and Albert – The V&A Museum, South Kensington
Arguably the biggest London love story of them all, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s epic bond is in evidence on a grand scale in the city: The Victoria & Albert Museum was just one of the museums on Kensington’s Exhibition Road built by Albert (the area’s nineteenth-century nickname was ‘Albertopolis’). The money intended for building The Royal Albert Hall was diverted by Victoria following Albert’s death in 1861, so that she could use it to build the Albert Memorial just across the road.
Gilbert & George – Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch
Originally from Plymouth, George Passmore met his Italian husband Gilbert Prousch in 1967, when the pair began studying sculpture at Saint Martin’s School of Art (now part of the Central St Martins arts school). They have been inseparable ever since, as an artistic partnership that believes in ‘art for all’. The couple were married in 2008 and have lived in their restored, 18th-century house on Fournier Street in Spitalfields since 1968.
John Keats and Fanny Brawne – Keats House, Hampstead
It seems only right that one of English literature’s greatest romantic poets had an equally romantic (and tragic) love story. John moved to Hampstead in 1817, when he was 22. He moved into the smaller half of a house called Wentworth Place, and soon after the Brawne family moved into the larger half. John quickly fell in love with their eldest daughter, Fanny, and they became engaged in 1819. When John became ill with tuberculosis he wrote letters to Fanny, despite the fact that she was just next door.
Emil Zatopek and Dana Ingrova – Wembley Stadium, Wembley
This athletic couple were born on exactly the same day in the former Czechoslovakia, but didn’t meet each other until they were competing at the London Olympic Games in 1948. Emil was a runner and Dana a javelin thrower, and they both broke their personal best records on the day they met. During the games at Wembley, Emil won two medals (5,000m silver and 10,000m gold) and by the time the ’48 games were over, Emil and Dana were engaged. The couple continued to compete together and were together for 52 years, until Emil passed away in 2000.
Ruth and Richard Rogers – The River Café, Hammersmith
This love story began almost half a century ago: design student Ruth Elias met architect Richard in 1969 and they were married four years later. In 1987, Ruth and her friend Rose Gray opened The River Café, designed by Richard. Feeding the staff at Richard’s nearby architecture practice, the couple would walk back and forth to visit each other every day. Richard has since been forced to move his practice out of the neighbourhood, but their love story continues.