Romantic words often belie the truth. The St Bride of 'wedding cake steeple church' fame was chaste, while the history of Lovers Lane might not be as sweet as it sounds...
Valentines Mansion and Valentines Park
The family who built this 17th century country (now Ilford) pad were called Finch, not Valentine. They were in love with name though, calling a handful of properties in Australia — including a school — Valentines too. During spring and summer opening months, this east London setting should prove enough to make any beau swoon. It features a walled garden, dovecote, rococo grottoes (ideal for a surreptitious smooch) and a fragrant 19th century rose garden. You can get married here too.
St Bride's Church
Another romantic name, another place you can get married (should you fit the criteria). As most Londoners will already know, the church's steeple inspired a baker to invent the tiered wedding cake. That, though, has nothing to do with the church's name; St Bride's is named after the Irish saint Brigid of Kildare (Bride to her friends), who, some believe, founded the original 6th century incarnation of the Fleet Street church herself. Swearing an oath of chastity, it's probable Bride's only true love affair was with the man upstairs.
Lovers Walk — all three of them
There are also two official Lovers Walks in London — one in Finchley, the other in Greenwich Park. While the latter is a majestic, open parkland sweep — ideal for a Sunday stroll with your paramour and their chaperone — Finchley's is a secreted passageway, enclosed in part by creosoted fences. Make sure they're dry before doing anything up against them.
In 2012, The Dulwich Society took it upon themselves to romanticise Grove Walk, turning it into London's (sort of) third Lovers Walk. The idea was to echo the romantic Edwardian postcards in which the thoroughfare once starred.
Love Lane — all six(?) of them
Whereas 'Lovers Walk' might conjure bucolic scenes of parasol-swinging/sonnet reciting, 'Love Lane' is — in some instances, at least — a subtle nod to former brothels in the area.
For some reason, our A-Z only features one Love Lane (in the City, and the one which 16th century documenter John Stow said was "so called of Wantons"). But there are other Love Lanes in Pinner, Woodford Green, Norwood, Mitcham and Morden. We may have missed one or two. We can barely keep up.
Love Walk in Camberwell forms a nice Love Lane/Lovers Walk hybrid. Bearing the seedy etymology of above in mind, it buoys us to know there's a Love Walk dry cleaners (not to mention a laundrette on nearby Bellenden Road). Grow up.
Lovers should also seek out...
Try various branches of Snog (gaze into each other's peepers over a fro-yo); Kiss Gyms in Acton; Passion Hair in St John's Wood; and Honeymoon Chinese restaurant in Southgate. We're also intrigued its neighbour, Honeymoon Tights lingerie shop, which on Google Maps appears as a nondescript suburban house.
And now for the not-so romantic...
To return to our earlier point about naughty names: London's various Gropecunt Lanes might have been subject to 're-nosing' in the 16th century (while a petition to restore their former monikers failed), but Cock Lane still exists — and it ain't got anything to do with nearby Poultry. London's most unromantic place name, surely?
What really takes the unromantic biscuit is Cuckold Point's in Rotherhithe (whose name really does derive from that very activity). Surely THIS is the last place in London you'd want to take a date. Unless you're into that sort of thing.