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In 1804 Anne was sent to the Manor House School in York, in the King’s Manor buildings. Whilst in York Anne met her first love, fellow student Eliza Raine (1791-1860). Eliza was the illegitimate half-Indian daughter of an East India Company surgeon. Eliza and Anne shared a bedroom at the boarding school until Anne was asked to leave 2 years later. Together Eliza and Anne created the secret code that Anne would continue to use in her diary for decades to come. Eliza had expected to live with Anne as an adult, but when she learned of Anne’s relationships with other women she despaired, and became a patient at Clifton House Asylum in 1814. She was later transferred to Terrace House in Osbaldwick where she remained the rest of her life.

In 1832 Anne began to court Ann Walker, who would prove to be her greatest love. The two decided to exchange vows of commitment to one another on the 10th of February 1834. Though they considered this date their official union, they later exchanged rings on the 27th of February. To seal their union, the two attended the Easter Sunday service at Holy Trinity Church, Goodramgate in York where they took communion together. Despite the fact their relationship was not legally recognised, the two considered themselves married, and set out on a European honeymoon. Holy Trinity Church now displays a commemorative rainbow plaque, recognising the significance of what many consider to be the first known lesbian marriage held in Britain

Explore more about the LGBTQ+ Community in York

Anne Lister ‘The First Modern Lesbian’
Molly Houses
John Brown / Barbra Hill
Homosexuality in the Medieval Period
Gender Roles in Viking Culture
John / Eleanor Rykener