Plas Newydd, in Wales, would be an “iconic place” for many gay couples to commit to each other because of the Ladies of Llangollen connection.
Aristocrats Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby eloped from Ireland in 1778 and lived an inseparable life in Llangollen together for 50 years.
The “ladies” scandalized contemporary society by leaving Ireland against their families’ wishes and setting up home in north Wales.
As well as transforming the house and garden, the ladies spent their time reading, studying foreign languages and corresponding with well-known figures of the day, including the poet William Wordsworth and the Duke of Wellington.
“They were really the first lesbian couple to come out in public,” Batten added. “We will be campaigning to make the house a venue for civil partnership ceremonies.”
A spokesman for Denbighshire Council, owners of the museum, said the council is “supportive” of holding civil partnership ceremonies at Plas Newydd. Stonewall Cymru said Plas Newydd is an ideal venue for many gay couples because of its place in lesbian history.
Matthew Batten, the organization’s policy and public affairs officer, said official figures show there were 3,648 civil partnership ceremonies in Wales and England in the first two months of the legislation.
“We are currently working with Proud Heritage, who are piloting three projects on single-sex tourism, and are looking at holding further civil partnership ceremonies at the building. However, we are a registered museum, and have a commitment for the house to be open and available for all our visitors.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 23, 2006.