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St Peter's College Valentines

13 February 2024

Helen and Jon
A smiling couple standing outdoors

St Peter's College Valentines

This Valentine's Day, meet some of the sweet alumni couples whose love stories began at St Peter's College.

We asked alumni to share their love stories with us in honour of Valentine's Day. We hope you find their stories as heartwarming as we do!

The mediaevalist and the drummer are definitely NOT dating

I matriculated for my MPhil in 1992, and was placed in the grad student house up on St Margaret's Road. There were 15 of us from all over - of course British students, a few of us Americans, a Romanian, a South African, a Welshman installed in the potting shed in the garden, and a few Canadians.

There were four or five medievalists of various stripes, which was particularly nice because none of us had ever met another aspiring medievalist. The sensible people stayed away from us for a few weeks while we geeked out, until we got it out of our systems.

One of the Canadians moved into one of the attic rooms, followed by a gigantic drum kit. Really, the thing was gargantuan, it took up half the room. The rest of us, still making our introductions and trying to play nice, didn't say anything but there were some worried sidelong glances. 

We all settled in, and after a few days the Canadian guy disappeared upstairs and started playing. And ... it was fine! He was actually really good, so it was just like someone had the radio on. We were all distinctly relieved. (He also considerately didn't play after the dinner hour, so there was that.)

So, that was how I met my husband Hunter Taylor - we spent two years "definitely not dating" while I was at Oxford, and then I left for law school in NYC while he stayed behind for his DPhil in medical and scientific history. We didn't like that at all, so we got engaged over that first Christmas, and married three years later in '97. Still married, two kids, and living in my native Colorado. He still plays drums in several local bands. (Not on that kit, though - he left it behind in Oxford and so far as we know it is still in the basement at St. Margaret's Rd.)  

- Hunter Taylor (1992) and Kathryn Luke Taylor (1992)

Penny and Craig
A young couple in fancy dress

‘They don’t even go here!’: a St Hugh’s and Keble meet cute

My wife and I met at St Peter's College on our third day at University at a disco there in October 1982, and have been together ever since, marrying in 1989, and having 2 wonderful children in 1992 and 1994. Neither of us attended SPC. I was at Keble (Maths) and my wife, Penny, was at St Hugh's (History). But SPC always has a special place in our hearts - we met there by chance, and the rest is history, as they say!

After we met at the SPC disco, Penny wrote her address on a scrap of paper. I still have it (pictured below).

- Penny Robinson (St Hugh’s, 1992) and Craig Robinson (Keble, 1992)

Craig said, 'After we met at the SPC disco, Penny wrote her address on a scrap of paper - I still have it and here it is!'
A picture of a handwritten note
Rebekah and Ben
A couple standing outdoors wearing formal clothing and holding a diploma

Where it all began...

Ben and I are just coming up to our seventh anniversary after meeting at St Peter's where both of us did master's degrees. Mine was in English 1550-1700 and he did Philosophy of Physics. Ben asked me out at a College BOP in 2017 and we now live in London having moved around the country together doing various jobs and further studies. He is now partway through a PhD at King's College London in Glaciology and I have just finished my PhD in English at Cambridge. 

- Rebekah King (2014) and Benjamin Graves (2014)

Helen and Jon
A smiling couple standing outdoors

'It's a set-up!'

We both came up to St Peter's in 1980, Jon reading History and Economics, and Helen, French and Philosophy. SPC had only started to admit women the previous year so there were only 20 female undergraduates in College.

At the beginning of our second year, a mutual friend, Charles, asked us both if we’d like to go to the cinema with him to see The French Lieutenant’s Woman. So, we both turned up at the ABC in Gloucester Green at the appointed time, but Charles failed to show…and as they say, the rest is history! Romance flourished and also survived through our third year despite Helen being in France while Jon did his finals, and through the year after with Helen doing finals and Jon starting accountancy training with PW in London.

In 1985 we married and moved to Yorkshire where Helen started teaching languages. We think it may have been the first SPC undergraduate wedding – and the birth of our eldest daughter four years later may also have been the first SPC baby but we’re happy to stand corrected! Skip forward to today, we are still in Yorkshire and have two grown-up daughters and one grandson, with another grandson due this spring.

We both look back on our undergraduate days with great happiness and have relished revisiting college many times over the years. We keep in touch with a number of SPC friends, four of whom are also SPC couples from our year. Jon is still in finance and Helen is now an artist but both looking forward to imminent retirement. We met up with Charles at a birthday party 10 years ago and asked him about the cinema date. He denied all knowledge of it!

- Jon Riddle (1980) and Helen Riddle (née Chatterton) (1980)

Duncan and Helen
A couple smiling and embracing

Love at first sight: the brutal truth

It was beside a brutalist concrete pillar on the sticky floor of the bar that we first met on our second night at university. For one it was love at first sight, for the other, there was a bit more bureaucracy. But, it’s been a shared journey since then (25-year photo attached). Today, many of our friends who met at SPC remain happily together.

- Duncan Hooper (1997) and Helen Hooper (1997)

Ruth and Stuart on their wedding day
A man and woman in wedding attire smiling

'Calculus for grumpy geologists'

Stuart and I both matriculated in 1993. I was a geologist, he was doing Engineering Science.  We’d got to know each other whilst using the climbing wall at Iffley Road gym.

I am not mathematically inclined and was struggling with some calculus I needed as part of my course. Stu very patiently nursed me through ‘calculus for grumpy geologists’. We started going out in the beginning of Hilary term and never looked back (and I passed my Prelims).

We got engaged in my final year and got married when he finished his four-year course. We celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary this September. We were in Oxford before Christmas 2023 to see Eddie Izzard – so we dragged the kids in to see the famous automatic doors at SPC (do you still sing about them?).

- Ruth Smith (1993) and Stuart Williams (1993) 

Where to next?