Couples who met at Oxford


Read how these alumni couples met in Oxford with tales of romantic meals in St Aldate's, college discos, and kissing in the bike shed!

Published: 14 February 2023

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Veronica and Adrian on their wedding day
Veronica Stokes (née Durham) (St Anne’s, 1951) and Adrian Stokes (New College, 1948)

In July 1951, Adrian and I were briefly introduced at a family wedding. However, it was halfway through Michaelmas Term before he got in touch, and had forgotten which college I was at. Meanwhile, I had (almost) forgotten our introduction. So the card which he mistakenly sent to the wrong college might have languished forever in the 'D' pigeonhole at LMH.

Luckily fate arranged that it was spotted by my friend, who took it up to 11 Norham Gardens. And so it came about that on a cold November evening I climbed the stairs to a room in New College Front Quad, with the sound of someone playing Chopin on a piano floating down to greet me…  

Three months later, on Valentine’s Day 1952, he declared his feelings – under a lamp post on the walk back to Norham Gardens following a romantic meal at ‘Elizabeth’s’ in St Aldate’s. Not long after his epic won-by-a-canvas Boat Race victory the following month, we got engaged. 

We married in Oxford two years later, after I finished Schools, and 2022 marked our 70 years together since that Valentine’s Day.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would say to my younger self: take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.


penny and craig
Craig Robinson (Keble College, 1982) and Penelope Robinson (née Minall) (St Hugh's College, 1982)

My wife Penny and I met on our 3rd day at Oxford in October 1982 at a disco at St Peter's College - neither of us was at St Peter's! I was at Keble (Mathematics) and my wife was at St Hugh's (History).

We have been together ever since and married on 27 May 1989 and have two grown up children. Penny is a History teacher and Head of Year and I am an author. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don't wait - do it now! And be true to yourself, always. 

Oh yes, and do stick with that girl you met at St Peter's College disco in 1982 - best decision of your life. 




Paul and Patricia
Paul Baskerville (St John’s, 1968) and Patricia Lawrence-Wilson (Somerville, 1969) 

Paul and I met on 1 June 1970 at a cast meeting for the St John’s College summer play, The Royal Hunt of the Sun. He played the sun god Atahuallpa and I was his ‘small, not famous wife’ Oello - upgraded from my original role of wardrobe mistress. The play was performed in St John’s beautiful gardens, the weather was kind and the after party was good fun.

We will celebrate our golden wedding anniversary in May this year. 

Any advice for your younger self? 

We both had a wonderful time at Oxford and regret nothing! We would just urge current students to enjoy themselves. It should be a great time in your life. 



Keith Parkin (St Catherine's, 1965) and Jane Parkin ( née Witherington) (LMH, 1967) 

My wife and I met as 'friends of friends' having coffee in a room at St Cath's in 1968. No mixed colleges then.

It was most convenient that St Cath's (my college) and Jane's (LMH) both adjoined the Cherwell. It was neat to punt from Cath's, take afternoon tea in pleasant company at LMH and spend the evening further upstream at the Vikki Arms.

Result - in 2021 we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. How else to celebrate but by taking an LMH punt down to Cath's and sharing a bottle of Cava suitably cooled in the bailing bucket. 

We liked and, not surprisingly, still do like, Oxford. 


Nancy and Eryl dancing together
Nancy Denby (St Hilda's, 1961) and Eryl Lloyd Parry (St Peter's, 1959) 

During Michaelmas Term 1961 as an overawed fresher at St Hilda's I spent many hours in the upper reading room of the Radcliffe Camera. I became aware of a man who often chose to sit opposite me. He seemed to stare at me, and occasionally smile, but we never spoke. 

One day in Hilary Term 1962 I was cycling up the High when someone stepped out into the road in front of me. I swerved to avoid him and when we had picked ourselves up I realised it was The Man in the Library. Our first words were apologies but at last we had been introduced. He said he was the President of the English Club and Margaret Rutherford was the guest speaker that night and would I like to come. Whenever I see her her films I thank her for arranging our first date. By the end of the Hilary Term he kissed me outside the Radcliffe Camera one moonlit night. 

We used to drive about in a 1930s Austin called Betsy. One day as we approached the roundabout at the end of the Woodstock Road he suddenly asked me to marry him. My startled and unromantic reply was, 'Just wait till I get round this roundabout'. 

It took some years to get round the roundabout but we were married in 1967 and last year celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. Our four children all went to Oxford so we were able to visit and relive the scenes of our romance. Our dancing days are over now but I still ride a bike occasionally, and look very carefully for people stepping out on the road. 

Any advice for your younger self? 

Eryl says he would tell his younger self not to be put off by people who look down on you, and I would say enjoy every day to the full and don't worry about the future. 


shelia and tim
Sheila Andrew, (née Cunningham) (St Anne’s, 1956) and Tim Andrew (Oriel, 1956) 

I went from Bradford Girls Grammar School to St Anne’s College in 1956 and in October my college arranged a dance with Oriel College, aiming to form friendships for first years perhaps. So there we sat when the music started. This handsome young man of a lofty six foot three inches asked me for a dance and we began to perform to Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock. As I was a mere five foot two inches we could certainly rock in all directions and he even tossed me over his shoulder!  

By February of our second year we were secretly engaged, though both of us had dates with others to make and keep friends.  We enjoyed punting, walking, dancing, talking about his photography work for the student paper, politics and our experiences. Yes, we joined the other couples kissing goodnight in the bike shed before the sister in charge locked the residence door at 10pm. Except for the night we were late back from a trip to Cambridge with his Athletics team and they all helped to push me through the corridor window a friend had kindly left open for me. Sister Superior later commented that she had a strange dream about me arriving late that way!  

Any advice for your younger self? 

We graduated in 1959. We rounded off our job qualifications. We married. We lived in Australia, Britain and now Canada. We explored a lot of countries, had a family and interesting careers. We are grandparents and step-great grandparents with 62 years of marriage to celebrate. I would congratulate my younger self on a good choice.   

Sophie and Christian

Sophie Panzer (née Wragg) (Balliol, 2010) and Christian Panzer (Balliol, 2011) 

My husband and I met at Balliol in 2011. It was at a bop - does any more need to be said? (To be frank, the details are pretty blurry...) 

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

You're on the right track, everything works out wonderfully.  







Rachel and Zubin
Rachel Patel (nee Smallridge) ( St John's, 1993) and Zubin Patel (St John's, 1992) 

My husband and I got together at St John's College in 1994. He was the year above me and we met in the bar there, in particular through playing pool, which was a very sociable part of college life at that time. We've been together for over 28 years now, married for 18 years this August, and we have two wonderful teenage children. We've been fortunate to have a very happy life.  

What advice would you give to your younger self? 

I'm glad I got into Oxford because as an 18-year-old from near Manchester, I rather wanted to go to Sheffield Uni with my Northern friends! It just shows you that you should grab every opportunity that comes your way, even if you're apprehensive, because it might take you somewhere you're rather pleased to be.