The Park Hill Romance: True Story of Clare and Jason

A piece of graffiti, “Clare Middleton I love you will u marry me”, which is written on one of the “bridges” linking two of the blocks, was the subject of a documentary broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2011. The presenter went in search of the story behind the graffiti, eventually finding that Clare did not marry the author of the graffiti, a man named Jason. She died of cancer in 2007. As part of the refurbishment of the estate the developers have chosen to illuminate the portion of the graffiti reading “I love you will u marry me” in neon. Clare Middleton’s name has not been illuminated.

Even now, inhabitants of Sheffield are split on the matter of Park Hill; many believe it to be a part of Sheffield’s heritage, while others consider it an eyesore and blot on the landscape. Public nominations led it to the top 12 of Channel 4’s Demolition program. Other television appearances for the flats include Police 2020 and in an Arctic Monkeys video. A BBC program called Saving Britain’s Past sheds light on the building site’s past and discusses the listing from several viewpoints in its second episode, called “Streets in the Sky”. The 2014 film ’71 used the buildings to recreate Belfast’s notorious Divis Flats during The Troubles.

Park Hill has featured as a major source of inspiration for British artist Mandy Payne, with her paintings of the estate winning several awards.

Park Hill is referenced in the lyrics of Pulp’s song “Sheffield Sex City”.

Park Hill appears on the cover of Eagulls’ self-titled debut album.

The building was used as the location for Harvey and Gadget’s flat in This Is England 90.

The area and above-mentioned graffiti are the subject of the song “I Love You, Will You Marry Me” by South Yorkshire-born musician YUNGBLUD.

Park Hill is featured in the eleventh series of Doctor Who, as the family home of companion Yasmin Khan.

Truth of Sheffield’s ‘I Love You Will U Marry Me’ graffiti

It has been part of Sheffield’s skyline for more than 10 years.

Scrawled in paint on a bridge at the city’s grade II-listed Park Hill flats, “I Love You Will U Marry Me”, has been visible for miles.

Now, it has neon permanence, as “an invitation to the city”, by the firm restoring the flats in their 50th year.

However, many people do not know that the full graffiti declaration read “Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me”, or who created it.

But, after a decade a man called Jason has come forward to claim: “It was me, I did it in April 2001.

“I leant over with a paint can as far as I could.”

If they’re gonna keep it, they’ve gotta keep all of it. This wasn’t to anybody this was wrote specifically for ClareJason, Graffitti creator

Jason, who is not named in full, had been dating Clare for over a year, before made a public show of proposing to her, despite being scared of heights.

“You used to be able to see it from the Odeon cinema,” he continued.

“I took her there, she thought she was going to see a film and I said ‘I’ve got something to show you’ and I told her to look up and she read it.ADVERTISEMENT

“She said ‘yeh’. She thought I was mad.”

However, events did not end up running smoothly and the pair did not marry, splitting up three months later.

Ms Middleton, who has since died of cancer, was going to marry Jason, according to her mother.

“At the time she was in love with him,” she said. “[But] things went wrong. She did get married in the end but not to Jason.

‘He was obsessed’

“He used to follow her around town saying, Clare will you marry me, she kept saying ‘no’.

“I think he did love her. He was obsessed.”

In June this year Urban Splash, which is re-developing Park Hill flats, announced it was going to make a permanent feature of Jason’s proposal.

Ms Middleton’s stepfather says he “can’t believe that they’ve spent all this money doing up these flats up and they’ve left graffiti on it”.

“Clare would laugh, she would think it would be funny,” he said

The firm said it deliberately left off Miss Middleton’s name, but Jason is not happy with the decision.

Claire Wilkinson I Love You Will You Marry Me graffiti
Image captionUrban Splash said the graffitti at Park Hill was “iconic”

“They can’t leave one off without another, it was wrote as one purpose,” he said.

“If they’re gonna keep it, they’ve gotta keep all of it. This wasn’t to anybody this was wrote specifically for Clare.”

Urban Splash has described the declaration as “iconic” as well as an “invitation to the city.”

However, Ms Middleton’s sister Jackie, wishes “it would be taken down and washed off.”

“It’s a big part of Clare’s story and how Clare was and how very destructive her life was,” she said.

“It doesn’t represent what they think they want it to represent. Other people think it’ll be nice for her children to see it.”

Ms Middleton was described as “chaotic”, “happy”, “lovely”, “daft” with “problems” but despite her complicated life, which involved drugs and social services, “she loved a love story.”

Jason explains why he loved her: “There was something about her. She had really deep brown eyes, it was her mystical brown eyes.

“She was such a loving person.”

Ms Middleton died in March 2007.

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