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Ten lovely London sites with a love connection

By
Katie Wignall
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Whether you're rolling solo or come as a pair, Valentine's Day could be a great chance to explore the city's lovey-dovey sites. Start with these ten.

1. St Brides' Steeple, Fleet Street

In 1703, a young patisserie chef named Thomas Rich was daydreaming about his upcoming wedding. His shop was on Ludgate Hill and as he gazed out of the window at the nearby steeple, he came up with the idea of a multi-tiered cake, which is the now iconic wedding cake design.  

Photo by Look Up London

 2. The Meeting Place, St Pancras Station

When Paul Day was commissioned to create his iconic 30ft bronze sculpture in 2007, he was told to create something that reflected the romance of a bygone era. But here’s a tidbit: one of the panels around the base apparently displayed a man falling to his death in front of a train driven by the grim reaper. Funnily enough, TfL wasn't keen on the idea and it was replaced.

Photo by Look Up London

3. Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington

The whole building was a big gift from Queen Victoria to Prince Albert when it opened in 1857. Our smitten Queen Vic also wanted to name it simply The Albert Museum, but the powers that be managed to persuade her this wasn't sensible. 

Photo by Look Up London

4. Young Lovers, St Paul's Cathedral

Sitting in the Festival Gardens surrounding St Paul's, this sculpture was installed in 1973 and shows two young lovers so smitten and entwined that they're literally fused together. 

Photo by Look Up London

 5. William and Catherine Booth, Whitechapel Road

Famous as the founders of the Salvation Army, the original Catherine and Wills power couple were passionate about social reform. Deeply religious, they worked together sharing the Christian message and helping vulnerable members of society. Here they're shown facing one another, both preaching to an invisible crowd. 

Photo by Look Up London

6. The White Horse, Poplar High Street

This lone white horse atop a pole is the last relic of a famous pub, established in 1690 on this spot. By far the most notorious owners were James East and his wife c.1740, but not all was what it seemed. 'James' was in fact Mary East, a young lady who – after her highwayman lover had died – had sworn never to love again. Thankfully just a few years into her vow she met another lady who was in the exact same situation. They decided the sensible thing to do was to flip a coin and for one of them to live life as a man. The Easts ran the profitable pub and (apart from a small hiccup with a blackmailer) the local punters kept coming.

Photo by Look Up London

7. Watts' Memorial Plaque, Postman's Park EC1

There's plenty of tales of lovers sacrificing their lives, but what about good old-fashioned friendship? The stories from Watts' Memorial Plaques are bound to make you thankful for your mates – none more so than the story of Daniel Pemberton who sacrificed himself to save his friend in 1903.

Photo by Look Up London

8. Eros, Piccadilly Circus 

Think you spy a little cupid up above your eyeline? Wrong. Known the world over as 'Eros', this actually depicts 'Anteros Eros', sensible twin brother and god of selfless love. The sculptor Alfred Gilbert described Anteros as portraying 'reflective and mature love' as opposed to Eros (cupid) 'the frivolous Tyrant'. This better represented the philanthropic nature of The Earl and the official title of the sculpture is 'The Angel of Christian Charity’. So yeah, not as romantic as you probably thought.

Photo by Look Up London

9. Spirit of Soho Mural, Broadwick Street

In this jumble of famous faces tucked under St Anne's skirt you might be able to spot the notorious Casanova in a red coat with gold buttons. Stick around for the clock to strike the hour and you'll see our cheeky cad blowing a series of kisses to the actress and opera singer Theresa Cornelys who gives him a wink. 

Photo by Look Up London

10. A Conversation With Oscar Wilde, Duncannon Street, WC2N

Life was all dandy for man-about-town Oscar Wilde, that was until Lord Alfred Douglas – known as 'Bosie' – his eventual betrayer entered his world. If it all goes wrong on Valentine's Day it might be worth bearing in mind this quote from the man himself, carved into the memorial: 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.' 

Check out more art to see on Valentine's Day.

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