Historic Rugby

Saturday, August 4th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Travel

En route to our evening’s accommodations, we were stunned to pass through Allardt, Tennessee (population: about 650), whose “downtown” consisted of just a smattering of storefronts… until we arrived at Rugby, Tennessee, population: about 85.  That’s eighty-five!

Located on the Cumberland Plateau, at the southern edge of the Big South Fork National Park, Rugby is an authentically restored Victorian village. It was founded in 1880 by British social reformer and author Thomas Hughes, best known for his novel Tom Brown’s School Days, and named for his beloved alma mater Rugby School in Warwickshire, England. Hughes envisioned the new Rugby as a cooperative, class-free, agricultural community for the sons of British upper class families, who due to economic recession, could not find local placement in traditional professions. Rugby is now comprised of some 20 preserved buildings, including workshops, overnight lodging (cottages and inns) and the Harrow Road Café whose menu still caters to traditional British Isles specialities: shepherd’s pie, fish (well… catfish) and chips, bangers and mash, and an off-the-menu welsh rarebit (or originally: “rabbit”) which the owner kindly offered to whip up for us to take to back to the Newbury House’s kitchen when we arrived just as the restaurant was closing, having miscalculated the region’s shifting time zones.

Watch Mark Bittman make one – essentially an embellished cheese on toast.

Welsh rarebit

Having lived just about my entire life in New York City, I have to admit, I was unsettled by the utter remoteness of our evening’s accommodations. The complex would have been absolutely impossible to locate without the GPS. (In fact, even after being alerted by Garmin to our destination, we still missed it at first pass.) We never officially “checked in” with anyone: our keys were left for us in an envelope in a basket on the porch outside the house. (Not very secure, I could not help noting. You can take the girl out of the city…) All around us was darkness; in my paranoia-tinged state, the environs felt to me like the setting of every horror movie I’d ever seen: shadowy dirt paths, chirping cicadas, an eerily tranquil lake, a looming, quiet house, creaking staircases, darkened rooms laden with antiques…

It was all I could do to turn down S’s offer to share a bed with me, leaving J to fend for himself in a room down the hall.

In the early light of day, the house and grounds were far less foreboding, and actually quite lovely.

Newbury House

Newbury House

Newbury House

Breakfast at the café was included with our stay: more country ham, biscuits and still more country gravy!

Rugby breakfast

Rugby biscuits

To catch up: backfilling a few July posts

There are 3 Comments ... Historic Rugby

August 10, 2007

i’m hungry

August 10, 2007

HYB – Those were great eggs this morning.

August 10, 2007

The best eggs I’ve ever had in my life were at bills in Darlinghurst, Sydney — fluffy as clouds, creamy… almost like an airy custard in texture. Bill Grainger is a genius with scrambled eggs. (The hot chocolate was pretty amazing, too.)

And now I’m hungry. I really have to backfill those April posts as well…

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