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Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
Taylor Swift. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV

Taylor Swift first touched down in Londontown in 2008 and more than a decade later she is saying “So Long, London” on her 2024 album, The Tortured Poets Department.

Swift caused a stir in February 2024 when she announced the TTPD setlist, including “So Long, London,” which is rumored to be about her split from English actor Joe Alwyn.

While the Grammy winner famously detailed her romance with Alwyn in Lover‘s “London Boy,” her connection to the city dates back to 2008 when she played her first gig across the pond.

“Now it’s raining, which I’m told happens a lot here,” Swift playfully revealed in a November 2008 vlog about her trip to London that September. “They say brilliant and lovely a lot, which is both brilliant and lovely.”


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The musician also dressed up as a beefeater, which are the guards that stand watch outside Buckingham Palace, for tea and an interview in the clip. Swift has since romanced several British celebrities, released songs about the iconic city and bought a home in the area.

Scroll down for a breakdown of Swift’s history with London:

When Did Taylor 1st Perform in London?

Swift first took the stage in London in October 2008 at King’s College’s student union. The show was part of her Fearless Tour. Sixteen years later, Swift will perform at both Anfield Liverpool and Wembley in London as part of her international Eras Tour dates for a combined 11 shows.

Hot on Harry Styles

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Swift sparked romance speculation with England native Harry Styles in December 2012 after the pair were seen getting cozy in New York’s Central Park. Us Weekly confirmed in January 2013 that the duo split while on a tropical vacation.

Two years after the breakup, Swift released 1989 in which she appeared to document her relationship with the former One Direction singer. “Out of the Woods” and “Style” are both speculated to be about Styles. Fans also believe that “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version)” from Swift’s vault is about the public romance.

Calvin Harris Connection

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
James Devaney/GC Images

Calvin Harris is not English, but he is Scottish, which is part of the United Kingdom, so his brief romance with Swift is another connection to the area. The twosome met through British singer Ellie Goulding in February 2015. Us confirmed in June 2016 that Harris ended things with Swift after 15 months together.

The Tom Hiddleston Timeframe

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
Palace Lee/

Swift moved on with Tom Hiddleston in summer 2016 after meeting at the Met Gala that May. They were photographed kissing on the beach in June 2016 near Swift’s Rhode Island home.

Hiddleston, who hails from Westminster, London, went viral later that year when he wore an “I Heart T.S.” tank top over the 4th of July. Us confirmed in September 2016 that the actor’s whirlwind romance with Swift had ended.

Brief Matt Healy Romance

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
David M. Benett/Getty Images for Soho House & Bacardi

Rumors surfaced in November 2014 that Swift was dating The 1975 singer Matt Healy after she was spotted at a handful of his concerts. Healy fueled the speculation by wearing a 1989 T-shirt on stage. Swift denied they were anything more than friends in December 2014.

Which Track From ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Are You Most Excited For?

One month after Swift’s split from Alwyn became public in April 2023, she was once again linked to Healy, who is from the northwest London town of Hendon. Healy was spotted getting dinner with Swift in New York City in May 2023 before attending an Eras Tour stop in Philadelphia. Us confirmed in June 2023 that the pair called it quits.

Swift reflected on her fling with Healy on several songs from her 2024 album, The Tortured Poets Department, including “But Daddy I Love Him,” “Down Bad,” and “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can).”

Her ‘London Boy’ Joe Alwyn

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
Jackson Lee/GC Images

The singer was first linked to Alwyn, who grew up in Kent’s Royal Tunbridge Wells, in May 2017. However, fans have speculated that they actually began dating in September 2016 after meeting at the Met Gala that May.

At the start of their relationship, Swift was spotted by an eyewitness packing on the PDA with Alwyn during London’s 2017 Jingle Bell Ball event. More than a year later, they made a joint appearance at British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards afterparty in February 2019. That same year, Swift dropped Lover, which detailed their romance with tracks like “London Boy.”

Swift teamed up with Alwyn, under his pen name William Bowery, to cowrite several songs during their romance, including hits off of 2020’s Folklore and Evermore. Us confirmed in April 2023 that Swift and Alwyn broke up after six years together.

The following year, Swift released TTPD, singing about the end of her relationship with Alwyn. Her tracks “So Long, London,” “Loml,” “I Can’t Do It With a Broken Heart,” “The Black Dog” and “Fresh Out the Slammer” all appear to touch upon their breakup.

London’s in the Lyrics

Outside of her relationships with some of London’s A-listers, Swift has paid homage to England’s capital in her music. She first referenced the location in her 2012 album, Red, which was later rerecorded as Red (Taylor’s Version).

“I guess you’re in London today, I don’t wanna need you this way,” she sang in “Come Back … Be Here.” Later in the track she adds, “But you’re in London and I break down ’cause it’s not fair that you’re not around.”

The artist didn’t sing about the city again until 2019’s Lover, which was released during the height of her relationship with Alwyn. “London Boy” detailed some of her favorite places to visit with Alwyn.

“You know I love a London boy, I enjoy walking Camden Market in the afternoon,” she revealed. “You know I love a London boy, boy, I fancy you.”

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That same year, Swift released “Beautiful Ghosts” for the Cats soundtrack, which had nods to London. “Too young to wander London streets alone and haunted,” the track goes. “I’ll never wander London streets alone and haunted.”

In 2020, Swift dropped a Folklore bonus track called “The Lakes,” which was rumored to be a love letter to Alwyn. “Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die,” is reportedly a reference to the Lake District, which is a romantic area in the U.K.

She also sings about “Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry / I’m setting off, but not without my muse.” Windermere is the largest lake in England by length, area and volume.

Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) vault track “Message in a Bottle,” which was released in 2021 also referred to the city. “How is it in London? Where were you while I’m wondering if I’ll ever see you again?” she sings.

The Ed Sheeran Effect

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Swift’s bond with English singers runs deep with pal Ed Sheeran, whom she first collaborated with in 2012. The pair have worked on “Everything Has Changed,” 2017’s “End Game” and 2022’s “The Joker and The Queen.”

Swift has also collaborated with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, who is English, for 2013’s “The Last Time” and Zayn Malik for 2017’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.”

Coming ‘Clean’

In June 2015, Swift told Elle that 1989’s “Clean” was written when she was “walking out of Liberty of London,” which is a store in the city.

“Someone I used to date — it hit me that I’d been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn’t thought about it,” Swift shared about the song inspiration. “When it did hit me, it was like, ‘Oh, I hope he’s doing well.’ And nothing else.”

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A BRITs Award Icon

Swift was nominated for her BRITs Award category in 2010 for International Breakthrough Artist. Five years later, she won International Female Solo Artist, her first trophy at the event. In 2021, Swift became the first female artist to win the BRITs Global Icon Award.

She’s Been Influenced by The Beatles’ Great Paul McCartney

Swift has an unlikely friendship with singer Paul McCartney, who interviewed her for Rolling Stone in November 2020.

Two years later, Swift hinted that she was inspired by McCartney and his late wife Linda’s romance for her Midnights track “Sweet Nothing.” She “liked” an Instagram post about the McCartneys in October 2022 with a quote about Paul’s marriage to Linda, which resembled the lyrics in Swift’s song.

London-based BFFs

Taylor Swift’s History With London Explained: From Her British Boyfriends to Songs About the U.K.
Elsa/Getty Images

In addition to her friendship with Sheeran, Swift has a close group of Brits in her inner circle. Swift has been close to model Cara Delevingne, actress and singer Suki Waterhouse and actress Sophie Turner since 2013, 2016 and 2019, respectively.

Inside Taylor’s London Estate

The “Exile” singer purchased a North London estate for roughly $13 million, The Sun reported in December 2023. The property will reportedly have a swimming pool, and greenery and will serve as Swift’s European home base once finished. Swift previously rented a six-bedroom house in Primrose Hill, according to Page Six.

Swift seemingly confirmed that she did live with Alwyn in the U.K. on her 2024 song “So, Long London,” referring to the “house by the Heath.”

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Where Does Taylor Frequent in London?

According to Swift’s “London Boy,” she has enjoyed time in Brixton, Highgate (where she “met all of his best mates”), Shoreditch, Hackney and Soho.

She’s also explored Camden Market “in the afternoon,” Bond Street and the West End, which is the home of London’s Broadway scene. Swift also revealed in the lyrics that she now loves “high tea, stories from Uni,” which is short for University.

London Through the Lens of ‘TTPD’

Taylor Swifts History With London Explained
Taylor Swift Republic Records

When Swift dropped TTPD in April 2024, she once again paid homage to London in her breakup ballad “So, Long London.” In addition to mourning the loss of her relationship, she sings about saying goodbye to the city she came to call a second home.

“I left all I knew, you left me at the house by the Heath,” she sings, referring to Hampstead Heath Park. “I stopped CPR, after all, it’s no use / The spirit was gonе, we would never come to.”

Swift expressed sadness over Alwyn seemingly tainting her London memories. “I’m just mad as hell ’cause I loved this place for / So (So) long (Long), London (London),” she says in the final chorus. “So (So) long (Long), London (London) / Stitches (Stitches) undone (Undone) / Two (Two) graves (Graves), one gun (Gun).”

The musician also referenced Welsh poet Dylan Thomas on the title track, “The Tortured Poets Department.” Thomas lived from 1914 and 1953 and is known for his poetry, charm and drinking habits, which Swift appeared to compare to Healy.

Taylor Swifts History With London Explained
Taylor Swift Getty images (2)

Swift’s “Peter” is a nod to the story of Peter Pan, which was written by Scottish playwright and author James Matthew Barrie in 1904. London’s Kensington Gardens is home to an iconic statue of the childhood character, who is best known for never wanting to grow up.

“And you said you’d come and get me, but you were 25 / And the shelf life of those fantasies has expired,” Swift sings on the track. “Lost to the ‘Lost Boys’ chapter of your life / Forgive me, Peter, please know that I tried / To hold on (Hold on) to the days (To the days) / When you were mine.”

She also references Wendy, who loved Peter but chose to stay in London and become an adult while he was off in Neverland. “But the woman who sits by the window / Has turned out the light,” Swift adds.

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