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In England, love is in the air. The country may be small, but it is riddled with history from both days of yore and modern life, from stories of royals to romantic comedies. Plenty of cities, neighborhoods and tourist destinations are connected to a love story from ancient tales or modern movies.
Following are six locations in England that have links to famous love stories.
Kenilworth CastleKenilworth Castle is famous for its role in the unrequited love for Queen Elizabeth I. Robert Dudley, the first Earl of Leicester and an English statesman, is said to have loved the queen so much that he restored the castle in hopes of impressing her — building ornate bedrooms, a grand hall and a garden. (She supposedly visited him at the castle four times, with her last visiting spanning 19 days.)
Most of the castle is now in ruins, but certain areas as well as the gardens have been restored for visitors. Occasional events offer a sneak peek into what it’s like to live in a Tudor castle, from swordplay to dressing up as a lord or lady.
LondonThe 2003 romantic Christmas film, “Love Actually,” claims that “love, actually, is all around” — but most of the filming took place in one city: London.
Clients can kick off their “Love Actually” tour immediately upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, where the film's emotional opening and closing scenes take place. Other locations include Grosvenor Chapel, where Peter and Juliet get married; Gabriel’s Wharf, which features the bench where Sam tells his father about his heartache; and St. Luke’s Mews in Notting Hill, where Mark uses cue cards to confess his love to Juliet.
Notting HillThis real-life neighborhood was made famous by the 1999 film “Notting Hill,” starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, about the unlikely love between a movie star and a bookseller.
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Clients can visit the film’s familiar blue door outside Will Thacker’s apartment; however, they can also live out a romantic comedy of their own by exploring the neighborhood’s Portobello Road Market, Rosemead Gardens and the site of the Travel Bookshop, which is now a gift shop.
Stourhead GardenFor fans of the 2005 period drama “Pride and Prejudice,” there are a variety of castles and mansions in England that were used for filming.
Among the most beautiful places is Stourhead Gardens, which is featured in a romantic scene with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy at the Temple of Apollo. Since opening in 1740, the garden has been lauded as a work of art. Visitors can take a guided or self-guided walking tour and experience the romance of a garden with hundreds of years of history.
Stratford-upon-AvonWilliam Shakespeare wrote some of the most beautiful sonnets and plays honoring love, and fans can visit where Shakespeare’s own loved bloomed. He courted his future wife, Anne Hathaway (not the Hollywood actress, of course), at her cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the site is open to tourists today.
Other famous areas to visit include Shakespeare’s birthplace; the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Stratford-upon-Avon butterfly farm.
Thornbury Castle HotelThornbury Castle Hotel was home to a few love stories before it was turned into a hotel. In the 10th century, the castle saw the love triangle involving Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror and Brictric, son of Algar. King Henry VIII later claimed the castle and honeymooned here with his wife, Anne Boleyn.
Today, it is a luxurious castle hotel, complete with Tudor furnishings and a dungeon dining room. Guests can also play croquet on the lawn, try their hand at archery or learn about falconry on the hotel grounds.