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Plans for Keats House weddings on hold as neighbours pledge to raise shortfall

12:30 02 May 2014

Crocus' at Keats House. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Crocus' at Keats House. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Plans to host weddings at historic Keats House to boost its ailing income have been put on hold after its neighbours pledged to raise the funds themselves.

Three campaigners opposed to weddings at the house in Keats Grove, where Romantic poet John Keats lived between 1818 and 1820, have come together to try to raise the money the weddings would have generated with lavish fundraising events.

In response, the City of London Corporation, which runs Keats House, has postponed its application for a wedding licence.

Vicky Carroll, principal curator, said: “We were impressed by the residents’ plans and their commitment to supporting Keats House, so we have decided to put our application on hold whilst we work with them to implement these fundraising initiatives.

“We are hopeful that these new initiatives will raise significant income to support the upkeep of the house and our events and education programmes.”

Keats House, where the poet wrote Ode to a Nightingale, is mostly funded by the City but the body wants to swell the income it gets from events at the house, which currently include conferences, poetry nights, talks and children’s activities.

At a consultation with neighbours, residents said weddings would cause an influx of traffic, noise pollution and even road accidents. It is hoped the fundraising events, which will include a luxurious dinner at Tower Bridge in October, will go some way towards securing the house’s future.

Campaigners Diana Gore, Robert Gore and Michael Sternberg, who all live nearby, are calling on volunteers to get involved.

But Myra “Bubbles” Polya, a former Camden councillor who lives behind Keats House in Heath Hurst Road, will not be joining them.

She said: “I admire them and I wish them good luck, but I do think the City has the resources to keep up the house. If they stop spending on dams on the Heath, they could look after it.”

She added: “I’m not sure I will be paying for dinner on Tower Bridge. My feeling is that Keats, Fanny Brawne and their whole history shouldn’t be vulgarised and I think that is what has happened to Keats House.”

But curator Ms Carroll added: “In order to ensure that Keats House is financially sustainable, we need to increase the income which we receive from other sources. We are delighted that our neighbours are behind us and are proactively supporting our fundraising efforts.”

To become a member of the campaign team, email diana@igore.org, robert@igore.org or wisebarrister@hotmail.com.

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