Alli is a freelance writer and blogger who has contributed to the lifestyle sections of publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph. She regularly researches and writes articles for a local newspaper and happily reviews products and events
Published June 28th 2013
The other weekend my boyfriend and I were strolling through the streets of Manchester, basking in the rare summer sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere. Suddenly he turned to me and grabbed me by the shoulders. Shocked I looked at him trying to make out what was wrong. His face had crumpled and tears threatened to spill out of his brimming eyes. 'Marry me' he blurted, 'please, marry me'. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. We had been together a long time but being older and already having children, marriage had never been on the agenda. Don't misunderstand me; I was ecstatic and of course I said yes. For me, the proposal was perfect; unplanned, spontaneous and in my favourite city but it got me thinking about where Manchester's greatest places to propose might be.
Located on Victoria Street, Manchester Cathedral is steeped in history and the impressive building could provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic proposal.
The present church was built in 1215 but has been and continues to be extensively restored. However, it really is an achievement to be recognised that this building remains standing in any shape or form. In 1940, 2 days before Christmas, a German bomb destroyed most of the North East of the Cathedral and caused extensive damage to the rest of the building. The restoration took almost 20 years to complete and less than 40 years later it was damaged again when the IRA bomb exploded close by. Despite all of this it has managed to retain some original features; the stonework remains mostly Victorian and the woodwork is original to the 15th and 16th centuries.
For the inquisitive lovers, the Cathedral hides many delights. Embedded in one of the Cathedrals walls is a small carving of an Angel with a scroll. This is known as the Angel Stone and is evidence of an early Saxon church in Manchester. The medieval misericords are reputably some of the finest in Europe and the creative carvings underneath the mercy seats are definitely worthy of inspection.
For lovers who share a head for heights and an appreciation of well-mixed cocktails, the Cloud 23 – Hilton Skybar could be the perfect venue. The bar is located at the top of the Hilton Hotel in the Beetham Tower. There are 20 floors above the bar, housing apartments, but it claims the highest drinking point in Manchester and definitely boasts the best panoramic views of the landscape.
The staff is great and really look after you. Prices are acceptable and the surroundings are sleek. One word of warning though, this location is probably best for the proposers who have planned in advance and pre booked, otherwise you might find yourself proposing in a queue.
How about a paranormal proposal during a ghostly tour around the unknown underground of Manchester?
Amongst other things you will learn all about the Manchester Blitz, the heavy bombing of Manchester in the Second World War and how the people took refuge in the underground. You may be told the tragic tale of the Manchester Rat People; twin children brought up by rats after having been unsuccessfully juggled by a drunken Inn keeper who dropped them into the sewer and was later hanged for his ale induced misdemeanour. You will also have the unique opportunity to summon some of the spirits who wander the underground on a regular basis. Will they offer you their blessing?
Lovers of television might consider proposing at MediaCityUK? The complex houses both BBC and ITV in various buildings along the waterfront. The BBC offers tours of their facilities providing the unique opportunity to see behind the scenes. You could propose by the Blue Peter garden? Or hang your proposal on a life size Dalek?
If you want to be part of a production you can apply to be in the audience of various shows such as A Question of Sport or Jeremy Kyle.
The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is housed at MediaCityUK and has an amazing studio in which they stage both live and recorded concerts
A rather impressive swing footbridge links MediaCity with The Lowry and The Imperial War Museum. There is a good variety of shops on offer, a cinema and packed cultural timetable.
There are loads of places to eat and drink and you could even make it an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn.
There may be no better place in Manchester for academics to propose than the John Ryland's Library; an amazing neo-Gothic building with a romantic beginning.
Stephen Richards / Wikimedia Commons
John Ryland's Library is a great British landmark and is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It was built in the 1890's by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, John Ryland. John was the owner of the largest textile manufacturing concern in the United Kingdom, and subsequently Manchester's first multi- millionaire. Enriqueta had been John's third wife. She received the bulk of his estate which was said to be the greatest left by any other cotton manufacturer to that time.
Enriqueta purchased many books for her collection from Lord Spencer at a cost of £210,000 in 1892. Her original collection included many rarities and upon opening in 1900 the library had 70,000 books and just short of 100 manuscripts. In 1972 The John Rylands Library merged with the University of Manchester library and special collections which had been built by both libraries were amalgamated.
The library now houses an amazing collection of works and archival items.
For all football fanatics The National Football Museum has got to be the place. It's the world's biggest football museum and can be found in the Urbis building.
I have to admit to not being a particular fan of football but even I got caught up in the excitement of the game when roaming this museum. There is a really interesting collection of artefacts and archives that include trophies and shirts and plenty of information about historical events. The running commentaries coming from various screens bring the exhibitions alive and recreate the atmosphere. There are areas dedicated to some of the most outstanding players and loads of interactive bits.
Currently, for £5 you can have your photograph taken with a full size replica Premier League Trophy or the FA Cup. Hold it with your new ring on show and you have a perfect memory of your proposal.
On 15.6.96 at 11:17 hours, a bomb, positioned by the IRA in a parked van exploded on Corporation Street outside the 'Marks and Spencer' store. 212 people were injured but miraculously there were no fatalities. Buildings were damaged beyond repair and several had to be demolished and rebuilt.
Despite being only metres away from the explosion, a red pillar box survived the blast. It still stands. On it is a brass plaque that reads:
This post box remained standing almost undamaged on June 15th 1996 when this area was devastated by a bomb. The box was removed during the rebuilding of the city centre and was returned to its original site on November 22nd 1999.
A proposal at the site of this pillar box could symbolise a marriage with an enormous strength and resilience to any of life's upheavals. It could signify a partnership that promises to stand together no matter what is happening around it.
The possibilities for romance are endless in this city. Every corner has a tale to tell and a lesson to learn. It has remained strong, proud and vibrant through hardship, change and divergence. Perhaps, most importantly it has never forgotten how to have fun and how to accommodate those who love it.
I fervently hope the same for my marriage.