The Village Gentry

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
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Trip End Dec 25, 1998


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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, May 15, 1998

Go with me? We're headed north to Rugby, as we explore more of Tennessee and our British background during the month of May. After all, we wound up speaking English here, though we modified the accent a bit!

Rugby was carved into the wilderness of the Cumberland Plateau in 1880 by English author Thomas Hughes. He wanted to "open a town...in this strangely beautiful solitude." Victorian houses were built in a rugged river gorge setting; the church and school and library created "a centre of human life." Lawn tennis grounds were established and tea was served daily at 4.

The early years were tough, however, and by the turn of the century Rugby existed as a farming community. Restoration began in the 60's, tourism followed, and today Historic Rugby is on the map as a delightful destination.

Hughes' home, Kingstone Lisle, is open to view. A stop in the Schoolhouse Visitor Centre gets us oriented to the town; there we join a daily walking tour to the home, the Free Public Library, and Christ Church Episcopal.

Year round we can tour, hike trails to such gentrified spots as the Gentlemen's Swimming Hole, shop in the Commissary, eat in the wood-beamed dining rooms of the Harrow Road Café, or stay overnight in a B & B.

But this weekend we can take advantage of a two-day festival too! There's music and Maypole dancing; good food, and storytelling. And since this festival celebrates both British and Appalachian culture, demonstrations range from chair caning to 19th century letterpress.

Proceeds from the Spring Festival, the Fall Pilgrimage, and the Christmas Tour are used to continue preservation of this unique English village. See you there.

Rugby, Tennessee
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