Have you heard of Rugby?

I mean Rugby, Tennessee, of course.

I had meant to write a little piece about that town but it seemed as though I got sidetracked what with current events. But it’s good to get away from the depressing stories for a moment.

I wish I could say I’ve been to Rugby, Tennessee; it looks fascinating to me. The town was founded by English writer Thomas Hughes, in 1880. Rugby is on the Cumberland Mountains plateau, in East Tennessee, and according to what I’ve read, is rather off the beaten path, not near a main highway.

Thomas Hughes is best known as the writer of the Victorian-era book, Tom Brown’s Schooldays.

Hughes also printed a small weekly newspaper during his time there, The Rugbeian. Its stated purpose was “To promote a cordial feeling of brotherhood not only between the two branches of the English-speaking race but also between the different sections of the country.”

The linked article tells you the rest of the story, and includes illustrations of the site. The unfortunate thing is that ultimately the project failed due to a number of factors, which the article explains. The remoteness of the site, as well as harsh climate, crop failures, and so on eventually defeated Hughes’ plans.

Hughes hoped to strengthen ties between England and the people of Tennessee. The people of that time were aware of their English (or British, for those who insist on Scots-Irish settlements as dominant) roots. It would have been nice if the town could have prospered and become a sort of intercultural center.

As it is, Rugby is still a place of interest. It has the only surviving Victorian library in the United States, which contains 7,000 volumes, contributed by both British and American literary donors.of the time.

The site of the boarding house at Rugby, Newbury House, is said to be haunted. I suppose that’s a tourist draw.

The pictures are beautiful. Take a look at them, and if you live in the area I envy you; I would visit if I could.

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