Rugby founder Thomas Hughes calls
his Rugby venture "the last castle in Spain I am ever likely
In 1880, amid world-wide publicity, English
author-social reformer Thomas Hughes launched his new colony in
America. Calling Rugby a "lovely corner of God's Earth,"
he urged colonists in his opening day address to treat it lovingly
and reverently while working cooperatively for the good of all.
He also stressed that Rugby was not meant to be exclusively English
and that private ownership of land and freedom of religion and
expression would prevail.
Rugby both flourished and floundered for a decade
reaching a peak population in 1884 of around 450. Some 70 buildings
graced the townscape, many with the high peaked roofs, gabled windows
and decorative millwork of the Victorian era. A tastefully designed
and furnished hotel (shown above) was built in 1880 by the
founding corporation, The Board of Aid to Landownership. Named for
the Tabard Inn of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, it quickly became
the social center of the colony. In the future, Rugby visitors will
find lodging at the Tabard Inn, scheduled for reconstruction on
it's original foundation.
Today's Rugby is a small community determined
to protect it's greatest asset-it's rural, historic identity.
Seventeen of the original buildings still stand in rugged, river
gorge surroundings and are on the National Register of Historic
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