The Beautiful Churches of Rural England

Doomsday is approaching for many rural English churches.

The Church of England has warned that dozens of churches will become redundant within 10 years unless it can attract new members.

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Fortunately, there are government bodies such as “Historic England” that are tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings and ancient monuments.

Instead of simply being demolished or left to ruin, many redundant churches that aren’t protected by Historic England find new uses as community centres, museums, or even homes.

Accounting for about 2% of English building stock and amounting to about 500,000 across the United Kingdom, “listed buildings” are those are on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

There are three types of listed status for buildings in England and Wales:
Grade I: buildings of exceptional interest.
Grade II*: particularly important buildings of more than special interest.
Grade II: buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them.

Most of the beautiful churches in our selection are Grade I listed buildings chosen from several counties across England.

For added atmosphere, consider playing the British patriotic hymn “I Vow to Thee, My Country”, a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice set to music by Gustav Holst.

Bedfordshire

Dating from the 12th century and made of coursed limestone rubble with ashlar dressings, the Church of All Saints, Riseley is designated a Grade I listed building.

Paired belfry windows, embattled parapets, crocketed pinnacles, and gargoyles give the 15th-century tower a classic gothic appearance.

Church of All Saints, Riseley, Bedfordshire. Credit Deni Bokej
Church of All Saints, Riseley, Bedfordshire. Credit Deni Bokej

Mostly 13th-century with various later details and reworkings, the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Salford is constructed of coursed rubble, a mixture of limestone and ironstone, and ashlar dressings.

Replacing an earlier tower, the gable of this Grade I-listed building is surmounted by a distinctive 19th-century bell-cote of heavy timbers topped with a spirelet.

Church of St Mary the Virgin, Salford, Bedfordshire. Credit Philip Jeffrey
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Salford, Bedfordshire. Credit Philip Jeffrey

Cheshire

English architectural historian, writer and TV broadcaster, Alec Clifton-Taylor includes St Mary and All Saints Church in Great Budworth in his list of ‘best’ English parish churches.

Mostly of the English Gothic style, with the older north transept of Decorated Gothic, a reference to a priest in Great Budworth dates back to the 11th century.

The oldest part of the present Grade I-listed church is the 14th-century Lady Chapel—a traditional British term for a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady”, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St Mary and All Saints Church, Great Budworth, Cheshire. Credit Joopercoopers
St Mary and All Saints Church, Great Budworth, Cheshire. Credit Joopercoopers

Originally built during the reign of Edward III in the 14th century, St Lawrence’s Church in Over Peover was later rebuilt in brick in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Round windows and arched bell-windows with pilasters characterize the tower’s three stages, whereas the south chapel has two bays, three buttresses surmounted by gargoyles, and a battlemented parapet.

During the Second World War, General George Patton and his staff worshipped in the church while stationed in the village at Peover Hall.

St Lawrence's Church, Over Peover, Cheshire. Credit Peter I. Vardy
St Lawrence’s Church, Over Peover, Cheshire. Credit Peter I. Vardy

Cornwall

Known as the Cathedral of the Moor, the Church of St Nonna is the second largest church on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.

Stood in the village of Alternun, meaning “altar of Nonn”, the Grade I-listed church is dedicated to Saint Non (or Nonna), who was the mother of St David, the patron saint of Wales.

Largely 15th-century English Gothic in style, it is known for its fine Norman font and fine old woodwork dating to 1684.

Church of St Nonna, Altarnun, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Church of St Nonna, Altarnun, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Of Norman origin with 15th-century additions, the Grade I-listed St Clarus’s Church at St Cleer is constructed of granite rubble with a slate roof and crested ridge tiles over the nave and chancel.

Saint Clarus was an Englishman who traveled to Cornwall to preach to local inhabitants in the 8th century.

Founding the church of St Cleer, he lived a saintly life until a local chieftainess fell in love with him.

Although he fled to France to escape her advances and continue an isolated saintly life, the spurned woman had him pursued and murdered.

St Clarus's Church, St Cleer, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
St Clarus’s Church, St Cleer, Cornwall. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Cumbria

Although dating from about 1500 in its present form, the materials from earlier churches have been incorporated into the Grade I-listed St. Andrew’s Church at Sedbergh.

Constructed in rubble stone with sandstone quoins and dressings, the three-stage tower features an embattled parapet with pinnacles at each corner.

The churchyard is said to contain a yew tree under which English Dissenter George Fox preached the Christain awakening from which came the Quaker movement.

Poet, American loyalist, and Anglican missionary to colonial South Carolina, Revd. Charles Woodmason is said to be buried here in an unmarked grave.

St. Andrew's, Sedbergh, Cumbria. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr
St. Andrew’s, Sedbergh, Cumbria. Credit Bob Radlinski, flickr

Constructed of rubble stone with a slate roof, the Grade I-listed St Michael and All Angels Church at Hawkshead was first established in the 12th century and extended in about 1300.

The tower features a doorway on the west side, with a two-light window above, a small window and a clock face on the south side, louvred bell openings with straight heads, and an embattled parapet with corner pinnacles.

St Michael and All Angels Church at Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Anne Roberts, flickr
St Michael and All Angels Church at Hawkshead, Cumbria. Credit Anne Roberts, flickr

Derbyshire

Dating from the 14th century and having a heritage designation of “Grade II*”, St Mary the Virgin’s Church at Newton Solney was restored between 1880 and 1882.

Recessed behind battlements atop the tower having narrow slit bell-openings on three sides, the octagonal stone spire features tall gabled lucarnes.

St Mary the Virgin's Church, Newton Solney, Derbyshire. Credit Gammock
St Mary the Virgin’s Church, Newton Solney, Derbyshire. Credit Gammock

Mostly 14th- and 15-century, but dating from the 11th century, St Michael’s Church at Breaston is a  Grade I listed parish church.

Some restoration work was completed in 1871 by noted English architect Robert Evans, with pews and choir stalls replaced, flooring and tiling work to aisles and re-leaded roof.

St Michael's Church, Breaston, Derbyshire. Credit Russ Hamer
St Michael’s Church, Breaston, Derbyshire. Credit Russ Hamer

Devon

Known as the Cathedral of the Moor due to its 120-ft tower and large seating capacity for such a small village, the Church of Saint Pancras was originally built in the 14th century in late gothic style.

Proceeds from the local tin-mining industry paid for several extensions over the years.

Saint Pancras Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Saint Pancras Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Legend has it that St Brannock’s Church in Braunton was founded by Saint Brannock in the 6th-century who was told in a dream to look for “a sow and piglets” and that should be the site to build a church.

Designated Grade I, the present church dates from the 13th century and has been described by historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as “one of the most interesting, and also one of the most puzzling in North Devon”.

St Brannock's Church, Braunton, Devon. Credit Dietmar Rabich
St Brannock’s Church, Braunton, Devon. Credit Dietmar Rabich

Dorset

Described as “one of the most exciting parish churches in the county”, St Mary’s in Puddletown’s has 12th-century origins—parts of the tower date from 1180–1200, and the 12th-century font has a notable tapering beaker shape, with diapering depicting crossing stems and Acanthus leaves.

Puddletown village provided the inspiration for the fictional settlement of Weatherbury in his novel Far from the Madding Crowd.

St Mary the Virgin's church, Puddletown, Dorset. Credit PaleCloudedWhite
St Mary the Virgin’s church, Puddletown, Dorset. Credit PaleCloudedWhite

Named after the statue of St Michael which still exists from the earliest structure in Norman times, this was Thomas Hardy’s local church and where he was baptised.

Stinsford is the original ‘Mellstock’ of Hardy’s novels Under the Greenwood Tree and Jude the Obscure.

Hardy truly left his heart in Stinsford, which is buried alongside the graves of his first and second wives.

St Michael's church, Stinsford, Dorset. Credit Martinevans123
St Michael’s church, Stinsford, Dorset. Credit Martinevans123

Essex

Standing for nearly 1,200 years in the little village of Greensted-juxta-Ongar in Essex, Greensted Church is the oldest wooden church in the world.

Dated to the mid-9th century, the oak walls are often classified as remnants of a palisade church or a kind of early stave church.

Church of St Andrew, Greensted, Essex. Credit Acabashi
Church of St Andrew, Greensted, Essex. Credit Acabashi

All Saints Church at Rickling is a 13th-century flint church known for its intricate screen and pulpit and designated as a Grade I listed building.

The chancel, south aisle, and west tower were built in 1340 and later alterations made in the 15th, 16th, and 19th centuries.

All Saints' parish church, Rickling, Essex. Credit Acabashi
All Saints’ parish church, Rickling, Essex. Credit Acabashi

Gloucestershire

Chipping Campden’s medieval gothic church of St James’s features extravagant monuments to local wealthy wool merchants hoping to ensure a place in heaven thanks to their largesse.

Standing 120 ft tall, the tower dates from around 1500.

St James's Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
St James’s Church, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

With a nave thought to be from Saxon times, a 12th-century chancel and 16th-century tower, St Michael’s Church in the Cotswold village of Duntisbourne Rouse is designated Grade I for exceptional interest and international importance.

St Michael's Church, Duntisbourne Rouse, Gloucestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze
St Michael’s Church, Duntisbourne Rouse, Gloucestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze

Still visible on the south wall of St Michael and All Angels parish church in Stanton is evidence of stone benches for the old and infirm, dating from when most of the congregation stood during the parts of the service that did not require kneeling.

Featuring columns from about 1200, early English Gothic pointed arches, and 15th-century font, porch and parvise, the church is designated Grade I.

St Michael and All Angels parish church, Stanton, Gloucestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze
St Michael and All Angels parish church, Stanton, Gloucestershire. Credit Saffron Blaze

Hampshire

Notable for its variety of architecture, the Church of St Lawrence in Alton, was also the site for the concluding action of one of the most savage encounters of the English Civil War (1642 – 1651).

Designated a Grade I listed building, repeated additions and extensions down the centuries have resulted in an amalgam of architectural styles, ranging from early Norman and early English to Perpendicular and Tudor.

Church of St Lawrence, Alton, Hampshire. Credit Ericoides
Church of St Lawrence, Alton, Hampshire. Credit Ericoides

Dating from the 12th century, Binsted’s Holy Cross parish church consists of stone walls, a tiled roof, and stone-slated porch and is designated Grade I.

Holy Cross parish church, Binsted, Hampshire. Credit Mike Cattell
Holy Cross parish church, Binsted, Hampshire. Credit Mike Cattell

Recorded in the Domesday Book under the name Cilbodentune, the parish church of St Mary the Less at Chilbolton in Hampshire dates back to the 12th century, on the site of an earlier wooden church.

Church of St Mary the Less, Chilbolton, Hampshire. Credit Andrew Mathewson
Church of St Mary the Less, Chilbolton, Hampshire. Credit Andrew Mathewson

St Mary’s Church at Breamore is noted for its Anglos-Saxon rood—the large crucifix above the entrance to the chancel of a medieval church.

St Mary's Church, Breamore, Hampshire. Credit Plumbago
St Mary’s Church, Breamore, Hampshire. Credit Plumbago

Lancashire

Protected as Scheduled Monuments, three well-preserved Anglo-Saxon crosses in the churchyard are evidence of a church existing on the site from before the Norman Conquest of England.

Dating from the 13th century and designated Grade I  by English Heritage, the current Church of St Mary and All Saints in Whalley was constructed from sandstone rubble with a stone slate roof.

The ancient parish church of St. Mary and All Saints at Whalley in Lancashire. Credit Craig Thornber
The ancient parish church of St. Mary and All Saints at Whalley in Lancashire. Credit Craig Thornber

Monks from Fountains Abbey had the Church of St Mary le Ghyll in Barnoldswick built in about 1160 to replace an older church on the same site.

Designated as Grade I, the stone and slate-roofed structure has a tower with diagonal buttresses and a stair turret.

St Mary le Ghyll, Barnoldswick, Lancashire. Credit Tim Green
St Mary le Ghyll, Barnoldswick, Lancashire. Credit Tim Green

Lincolnshire

Built on a hillside overlooking the Vale of Belvoir, the Church of All Saints at Barrowby suffered damage to stained glass windows and its rood screen during Henry VIII’s suppression of the monasteries.

Constructed from limestone ashlar and ironstone with a Westmorland and Welsh slate roof,  its tower is of Decorated style with six bells and an octagonal spire containing two tiers of lucarnes.

Church of All Saints, Barrowby, Lincolnshire. Credit Russ Hamer
Church of All Saints, Barrowby, Lincolnshire. Credit Russ Hamer

Greatford’s church dedicated to St Thomas Becket of Canterbury is built in the Early English style, and is Grade I listed.

St Thomas Becket parish church, Greatford, Lincolnshire. Credit Julian Dowse
St Thomas Becket parish church, Greatford, Lincolnshire. Credit Julian Dowse

Norfolk

Dominating the Market Place and surrounding area, the 98 ft tower of St Michael and All Angels parish church has a small spire on top that can be seen for miles around.

A fine example of Gothic architecture of the Decorated style, the nave, aisles, and chancel were built in the 13th century with the tower added in the 14th.

St Michael & All Angels, Aylsham, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
St Michael & All Angels, Aylsham, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

One of 125 existing round-tower churches in Norfolk, St Mary’s Church at Burnham Deepdale houses a Norman font.

St Mary's Church at Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
St Mary’s Church at Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Northamptonshire

Dating from about 1300, the Grade I Church of St Nicholas in Stanford-on-Avon is built from squared coursed limestone, lias and granite with ashlar dressings and slate roof.

It contains the oldest metal organ pipes surviving in Britain.

Church of St Nicholas, Stanford-on-Avon, Northamptonshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Church of St Nicholas, Stanford-on-Avon, Northamptonshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Built from ashlar, coursed limestone rubble and ironstone, the Church of St Edmund at Warkton has 12th-century origins with the tower added in the 15th century.

The 4-stage tower has plinth clasping buttresses, a quatrefoil frieze with gargoyles, and castellated parapet with corner pinnacles.

Church of St Edmund at Warkton, Northamptonshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Church of St Edmund at Warkton, Northamptonshire. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

Staffordshire

Containing the tombs of four Bishops of Lichfield, the 13th-century Holy Trinity church in Eccleshall is Grade I listed.

Showing two phases of English Gotic architecture, the tower is 13th-century Early English for most of its height, with the upper section of 15th-century Perpendicular style.

Holy Trinity church, Eccleshall, Staffordshire
Holy Trinity church, Eccleshall, Staffordshire

A church has stood on the site of All Saints’ parish church in Alrewas since at least 822AD, although construction of the current Grade I-listed structure was mainly from the 13th, 14th, 16th, and 19th centuries.

Believed to be made of timber, the original building was from a time when Alrewas was a flourishing settlement owned by Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia.

Replacing the simple wooden church with one of local stone, parts of the later Norman structure are still visible in the tower doorway, the north aisle door and the heavy rough hewn pieces of masonry in the north wall.

All Saints' parish church, Alrewas, Staffordshire. Credit Bs0u10e01
All Saints’ parish church, Alrewas, Staffordshire. Credit Bs0u10e01

Suffolk

Considered to be one of Suffolk’s finest churches, the parish church of Southwold is dedicated to St Edmund and renowned for its East Anglian flushwork, especially that of the tower.

Narrowly missed by a German bomb during World War II, the explosion destroyed nearby houses blew out most of the churches 15th-century stained glass windows.

St Edmund's Church, Southwold, Suffolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
St Edmund’s Church, Southwold, Suffolk. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

One of 38 existing round-tower churches in Suffolk, the 13-century St. Andrew’s Church in Bramfield has a separate 12th-century tower standing in the church grounds—the only example of its kind in the county.

Both the church and the tower are Grade I listed buildings.

St Andrew's Church, Bramfield, Suffolk. Credit Bernd Jatzwauk
St Andrew’s Church, Bramfield, Suffolk. Credit Bernd Jatzwauk

Sussex

Dating from the 12th century and made from Sussex Marble, the font is the oldest part of the Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick.

With a 13th-century tower, and most of the remaining structure dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, the church is designated Grade I in historical importance.

Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick, West Sussex. Credit Martinking73
Holy Trinity Church, Rudgwick, West Sussex. Credit Martinking73

Built in the 1370s, the GradeI-listed St Andrew’s parish church in Alfriston is known as the “Cathedral of the Downs”.

Thought to be the site of a pre-Christian place of worship, the church sits on a small, flint-walled mound in the middle of the village green.

St Andrew's parish church, Alfriston, East Sussex. Credit David Iliff
St Andrew’s parish church, Alfriston, East Sussex. Credit David Iliff

Surrey

Built during Anglo-Saxon and early Norman periods, records show that St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Godalming was a redevelopment of a prior Anglo-Saxon church.

Made from the local hard sandstone, the church has two integrated medieval chapels and is designated Grade I.

St Peter and St Paul's Church, Godalming, Surrey. Credit Hassocks5489
St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Godalming, Surrey. Credit Hassocks5489

Dating back to the year 1250, All Saints’ parish church in Warlingham is built of flint rubble with stone dressings and is designated Grade II*.

Local vicars maintain that long-serving Archbishop Cranmer began experimenting with the first Book of Common Prayer at this church.

All Saints' parish church, Warlingham, Surrey
All Saints’ parish church, Warlingham, Surrey

Warwickshire

Under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust as a Grade II* listed building, St John the Baptist church in Avon Dassett is a redundant church no longer used for regular worship.

Built in 1868 on the site of an earlier Norman church, the north wall of the chancel has a recess containing a 13th-century stone coffin with a lid.

St John the Baptist church in Avon Dassett, Warwickshire. Credit Steve Daniels
St John the Baptist church in Avon Dassett, Warwickshire. Credit Steve Daniels

St Leonard’s Church in Spernall is another example of a redundant church no longer used for service but of architectural and historical significance.

Under the care of a registered charity called “Friends of Friendless Churches” as a Grade II* listed building, much of the structure dates from the 12th century, although work continued until 1844.

St Leonard's parish church, Spernall, Warwickshire
St Leonard’s parish church, Spernall, Warwickshire

Wiltshire

Standing close to “Old Sarnum”, the earliest settlement of Salisbury, St Lawrence’s church in Stratford-sub-Castle is a Grade I listed building thought to have used much of the stone from abandoned buildings at the settlement during the 13th century.

Restored in various stages during the 20th century, the church was said to have been consecrated in 1326.

St Lawrence's church, Stratford-sub-Castle, Wiltshire. Credit Ashley Pomeroy
St Lawrence’s church, Stratford-sub-Castle, Wiltshire. Credit Ashley Pomeroy

Dedicated to a Norman saint, the Church of St Cyriac in Lacock is a 14th-century building designated Grade I and having Norman origins.

Prospering as an important market town on the Bath, Somerset sheep-droving route to London, substantial local tax revenues enabled the more extensive 15th-century rebuild that we see today.

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit WJournalist
The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, Wiltshire. Credit WJournalist

Worcestershire

Built in the 13th-century, the parish Church of St. John the Baptist reveals a close connection of the Sandys family who owned the manor at Wickhamford village with the American colonists.

Penelope Washington, whose mother married Sir Samuel Sandys and moved to the Manor House, is buried in the church and was a distant relative of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.

St John the Baptist Church, Wickhamford, Worcestershire. Credit Philip Halling
St John the Baptist Church, Wickhamford, Worcestershire. Credit Philip Halling

St Peter’s Church in the village of Pirton, Worcestershire is a Grade I listed building thanks largely to its timber-framed tower—the only example in Worcestershire of a tower with aisles.

St Peter's Church, Pirton, Worcestershire. Credit David Evans, flickr
St Peter’s Church, Pirton, Worcestershire. Credit David Evans, flickr

Yorkshire

Corner pinnacle and gargoyles decorate the tower of All Saints’ parish church in Kirk Deighton, and an octagonal spire rises 100 ft.

Dating from the 11th century and mentioned in the Domesday book—the manuscript record of King William the Conqueror’s “Great Survey”—the church underwent restoration in 1849 and is a Grade I listed building.

All Saints' parish church, Kirk Deighton, North Yorkshire. Credit Tim Green
All Saints’ parish church, Kirk Deighton, North Yorkshire. Credit Tim Green

Built in the 13th and 14th centuries and restored in 1843 and again in 1913, All Saints’ Church in the village of Roos is designated Grade I.

All Saints' Church in Roos, East Riding of Yorkshire
All Saints’ Church in Roos, East Riding of Yorkshire

10 Fascinating Facts about the History of Tea in Britain

Tea’s rise in popularity in Britain coincided with a flowering of intellectual and creative thought that we call the Enlightenment.

By the middle of the 18th century, tea had replaced ale & gin as the people’s favorite beverage.

Is tea a magical elixir?

You decide as we look at 10 fascinating facts about the history of tea in Britain.

1. Tea was first offered in London coffeehouses in 1657

Blue plaque in Change Alley. Credit Basher Eyre
Blue plaque in Change Alley. Credit Basher Eyre

Chinese green tea was first introduced into the London coffeehouse scene in around 1657.

It was down these narrow alleys that the mercantile class of London would meet to discuss business in coffeehouses.

Opposite the Royal Exchange on Cornhill, there is an entrance to a network of alleyways called Change Alley (formerly known as Exchange Alley).

Nestled beside makers of fine wands, there was something else magical for sale: tea.

Ollivanders Wand Shop, Diagon Alley. Credit Rob Young
Ollivanders Wand Shop, Diagon Alley. Credit Rob Young

The owner of one establishment created a pamphlet and advertisement to explain the new beverage as an early form of health drink:

“That Excellent, and by all Physicians approved, China drink, called by the Chinese, Tcha, by other nations Tay alias Tee, …sold at the Sultaness-head, ye Cophee-house in Sweetings-Rents, by the Royal Exchange, London.”

How did the introduction of tea impact the city of London? It became the most powerful city in the world for 200 years.

Today, London vies with New York as the world’s most influential city.

2. Samuel Pepys wrote about drinking tea in 1660

“I did send for a cup of tee, (a China drink) of which I had never had drunk before.”

Samuel Pepys (1633 – 1703) was an English Member of Parliament and naval administrator who is famous for keeping a detailed diary for a decade as a young man.

Trivia: his work as Chief Secretary to the Admiralty would help position Britain’s Royal Navy as the world’s most powerful in years to come.

3. A Portuguese Princess made tea popular in Britain

Catherine of Braganza (1638 – 1705) was Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II.

Although Catherine didn’t actually introduce tea into Britain, she was instrumental in making it fashionable. Her use of tea as a court beverage, rather than a medicinal drink, influenced its popularity in literary circles.

Trivia: Queens, a borough of New York City, is thought to be named after Catherine of Braganza since she was queen when Queens County was established in 1683.

4. These could be the earliest British directions for how to make tea

Portrait of Edward Herbert, 3rd Baron Herbert of Chirbury (1633–1678) by Gerard Soest

In 1672, Edward Herbert, 3rd Baron Herbert of Chirbury sent directions for tea making, and warming the delicate cups, to Shropshire;

“The directions for the tea are: a quart of spring water just boiled, to which put a spoonful of tea, and sweeten to the palate with candy sugar. As soon as the tea and sugar are in, the steam must be kept in as much as may be, and let it lie half or quarter of an hour in the heat of the fire but not boil. The little cups must be held over the steam before the liquid be put in.”

5. Tea may have been instrumental to the English Enlightenment

A “eureka” moment for Sir Isaac Newton.

It was a summer afternoon in 1665 and Sir Isaac Newton was taking tea under the apple trees in the family gardens at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, England.

By chance, an apple fell from an overhanging branch, hitting him on the head and sparking the “a-ha” moment for his law of gravitation.

Whether precisely true or not, is it a coincidence that a flowering of intellectual thinking in Britain occurred at around the same time that tea was fast becoming the nation’s favorite drink?

By 1720, black tea had overtaken green tea in popularity and was generally taken with milk and sugar.

Could this magical potion be the brain stimulant of Newton, Locke, and Hobbes?

6. Did tea power the British Industrial Revolution?

Not only was tea powering the massive minds of some of history’s greatest thinkers, but some scholars suggest that tea played a key role in the British Industrial Revolution.

The stimulants in the tea, coupled with the extra energy from sugar and milk would act like today’s energy drinks and give workers a boost—helping them work longer hours.

Even today, “builder’s tea” is a favorite for anyone doing physically strenuous work as part of their job. A colloquial term for strong tea, builder’s tea is typically brewed in a mug, always has milk, and two (or more) teaspoons of sugar.

Furthermore, because water has to be boiled for tea, water-borne diseases like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid were killed.

7. Chelsea porcelain manufactory produced the first British teaware

Fashionable 17th-century tea drinkers used small porcelain tea bowls that were sometimes shipped with the tea itself.

Established in 1743, the Chelsea porcelain manufactory produced the  first successful porcelain equipages and were quickly imitated.

During the 1770s and 1780s, tea was sometimes drunk from saucers. Deeper than today’s, they were similar to the Chinese bowls of the 17th century. It is thought the practice came from Russia, where samovars kept tea very hot and strong. Pouring from cup into saucer was a quick way to cool the tea.

8. Victorian tea rooms helped women win the right to vote

During the Victorian era, tea rooms may have helped the women’s suffrage movement.

Tea rooms were popular and fashionable social gathering places, especially for women.

British historian Sir Roger Fulford argued that tea rooms provided neutral public spaces to help women strategize political campaigns.

9. Thomas Twining opened the first known tea shop in London

Thomas Twining opened the first known tea shop in 1706.

Twinings holds the world’s oldest continually-used company logo and has occupied the same premises at 216 Strand, London, since inception.

A division of Associated British Foods since 1964, Stephen Twining now represents the company’s tenth generation.

Celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2006, Twinings launched a special tea and associated tea caddies.

Appointed by HM The Queen, Twining’s is a Royal Warrant holder.

10. Take a tea break—it’s the law!

In a working shift of six hours, British workers have the right in law to a minimum of a 20-minute break.

Described in government guidelines as “a tea or lunch break”, it is sometimes called “elevenses”, because 11 am is a good time to take a break, leaving two hours before the traditional lunchtime of 1 pm.

In Britain, where there is tea, there are usually biscuits too—it’s really hard to have one without the other.

Dunking biscuits in a “cuppa” (cup of tea) is a custom that Brits have exported around the globe.

McVitie’s biscuits are the most popular biscuits in the UK to “dunk” in tea, with McVitie’s chocolate digestives, Rich tea and Hobnobs ranked the nation’s top three favorites.

References
Wikipedia.org
Victoria & Albert Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Telegraph

Pubs: The Original Social Network

In today’s hectic life, there’s always too much that needs doing, isn’t there? And why are deadlines always set for yesterday?

It’s good to de-stress and get some light relief by connecting with hundreds of like-minded online friends through social networks.

Nothing better than pulling out our shiny smartphones as we’re walking down a busy street, bumping into people, and repeatedly saying “sorry”.

People using smartphones. Photo credits: Matthew Hurst, Ed Yourdon, Vladimir Yaitskiy.
People using smartphones. Photo credits: Matthew Hurst, Ed Yourdon, Vladimir Yaitskiy.

Yes, online social networking is a great way to catch up on news, views, and that all-important village gossip.

But did you know there’s another social network in Britain—one that’s been going strong for several centuries?

(Re)introducing “the Pub Network”

The White Horse, Woolstone. Image credit Dave_S
The White Horse, Woolstone. Image credit Dave_S

“The Pub Network” was one of the world’s first social networks.

Short for “public house” it’s open to the public as a kind of “home away from home.”

Anyone can join the Pub Network, and if they’re over 18, they can even partake in adult refreshments.

Many a problem has been solved or a solution found whilst “talking” (similar to texting and messaging) and drinking within the Pub Network.

Next to tea-drinking, talking and drinking in the Pub Network is probably the second-most-popular activity in Britain.

In fact, the Pub Network has expanded internationally, with branches in far-flung destinations like New Zealand, South Africa, and California!

British-style pubs outside the UK. Top left: the Penny Farthing Pub, Oak Bay, B.C. (credit dvdmnk). Top right: Fraunces Tavern, New York City (credit Wally Gobetz). Bottom left: English Pub, Gibraltar (credit Allan Watt). Bottom right: Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland (Raphael Schon)
British-style pubs outside the UK. Top left: the Penny Farthing Pub, Oak Bay, B.C. (credit dvdmnk). Top right: Fraunces Tavern, New York City (credit Wally Gobetz). Bottom left: English Pub, Gibraltar (credit Allan Watt). Bottom right: Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland (Raphael Schon)

The Pub Network used to be the focal point for the village community. But times change. Nowadays, there are several competing “online” social networks.

Thanks to advances in technology, the Pub Network is now fully compatible with all other social networks. So as you chat away over a pint, a gin and tonic, or even a lemonade, you can rest assured of having full connectivity to your other favorite networks—all within the Pub Network. Amazing, huh?

Let’s look at an example. This happy group of “Pub Patrons”, as members are called, is checking an online social network whilst talking over a drink in the Pub Network. The evidence of having a good time is several empty Guinness glasses, and the Pub Patron’s “pub talk”:

“Your round, isn’t it, Colin? Mine’s another Guinness. Cheers!”

Photo credit Phil Campbell
Photo credit Phil Campbell

When you first connect to the Pub Network, you’ll be presented with a comprehensive array of options with odd-sounding names like “Speckled Hen”, “Old Peculiar”, “Bombardier”, “Bishop’s Finger”, and “Old Hooky”.

Image credit David Woo
An array of British beers. Image credit David Woo

Don’t let this techno-talk intimidate you. Choosing your options is a very simple, intuitive process, with no training required.

But if you do need help, fear not—an organization called CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has worked with leading online networks to offer advice and useful tips. They can help you locate “Pubs” (these are nodes on the Pub Network) that carry special authentic beers, called “Real Ales”.

In addition to real ales, there are dozens of other options to choose from. Setting up your preferences can be time-consuming, but in surveys, 99.99% of people said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The history of the Pub Network

This is Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as Britain’s oldest pub, but one of several making the same claim. First licensed in 1756 and trading as the “Three Pigeons”, its octagonal appearance is due to its original use as a pigeon house.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks public house in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Photo credit guylaine_lheureux
Ye Olde Fighting Cocks public house in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Photo credit guylaine_lheureux

Text contains affiliate links.

If you enjoyed the 2010 movie “The Social Network“, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll really enjoy the story of the Pub Network.

In the 17th century, gin was a very popular spirit served in taverns across the Netherlands.

People would have so much fun talking and drinking, that they would fall about laughing.

A Dutch tavern scene by Jan Steen, late 17th century
A Dutch tavern scene by Jan Steen, late 17th century

Meanwhile, in 1689, a very strange thing happened. The head of the Netherlands—William III—became King of England, Ireland, and Scotland in a hostile takeover bid (well, there was a bit of insider trading, but that’s not important right now).

This gave him complete control of Britain’s alehouse network (the forerunner of the Pub Network).

As Chairman of the Board of the British Government, King William set about recreating the jolly environment of the Netherlands taverns.

He cornered the market in cheap grain that was unfit for brewing ale and instigated the opening of thousands of “Gin Shops” all over London.

Little did William know that his legislation had started a conspicuous consumption trend that became known as the “Gin Craze.”

Just as the Dutch taverns were filled with people bent double in rapturous laughter, it wasn’t too long before Brits were doing the same.

The English dance of death by Thomas Rowlandson, credit Wellcome Images
The English dance of death by Thomas Rowlandson, credit Wellcome Images

The city of London had an epidemic of “extreme drunkenness” on its hands.

It provoked a moral outrage among the upscale French brandy-drinkers, with a legislative backlash that some compare to the modern war on drugs.

Brits were labeled a “drunken ungovernable set of people” by the Bishop of Sodor and Man.

And prominent English novelist and dramatist Henry Fielding blamed gin speculation for both increased crime and increased ill health among children.

Cruikshank's engraving of The Gin Shop (1829)
Cruikshank’s engraving of The Gin Shop (1829)

It was William Hogarth’s famous engravings “Gin Lane” and “Beer Street” that paved the way for a new era of beer drinking in the history of the Pub Network.

Hogarth contrasted the miserable lives of gin drinkers (left) with the healthy and enjoyable lives of beer drinkers (right).

Gin Lane and Beer Street by William Hogarth, 1751
Gin Lane and Beer Street by William Hogarth, 1751

In an effort to reduce public drunkenness, Parliament passed the Beerhouse Act of 1830 to liberalize laws governing the brewing and sale of beer.

Under the act, for a modest one-off license fee, any householder could brew and sell beer from their own premises—most often the front parlour.

Hundreds of new beerhouses opened in the first year alone, particularly in the industrial north of England.

By 1838, there were 46,000 beerhouses with some owners making so much money, they bought the house next door and turned every room of the beerhouse into bars and lounges.

Thwaites The Swan Inn (Pub) St James Street Burnley, image credit Robert Wade
Thwaites The Swan Inn (Pub) St James Street Burnley, image credit Robert Wade

By 1869, the beerhouse network had grown out of control and new laws led to several years of network consolidation.

Most beerhouses applied for new licenses to become full pubs on the Pub Network.

Pubs went through several evolutionary iterations to become today’s social gathering places.

  • Saloons were rooms inside of pubs where additional entertainment was offered for a small fee or higher prices of drinks. Singing, dancing, drama, or comedy could be enjoyed whilst drinks were served at tables with plush seating.
  • Public bars were a “lite” version of the saloon for a budget price. Also called the “tap room”, they had a rustic appearance, with hard benches, and sawdust on the floor to absorb spilled drinks and spitting (aka “spit and sawdust”).
  • Snugs were another innovation, sometimes called the “smoke room”. They were small and private, with frosted glass so passersby couldn’t see in. These were the “high-end version” of the early pub network, frequented by the well-heeled. Discretion was the operative word for secret lovers to rendezvous, or the local clergy to indulge in a late night whisky.
  • The Bar Counter was a step-change in productivity and convenience, offering a new way to serve the largest number of people in the shortest possible time. Ordering at the bar is the preferred way for customers to order drinks today.

“Propping up the bar” became a term for spending a lot of time drinking at the bar. It was used to great effect in the 1980’s BBC comedy sitcom “Only Fools and Horses“.

Today, pubs can be found all over Britain, from cute country pubs in the Cotswolds to grand Victorian pubs in London.

Clockwise from top left: The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds, image Credit JR P; Carpenter’s Arms Inn at Miserden, image credit Jason Ballard; The Rose, Vauxhall, London, image credit Adam Bruderer; The Boleyn at Upton Park, London, image Credit Ewan Munro
Clockwise from top left: The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington in the Cotswolds, image Credit JR P; Carpenter’s Arms Inn at Miserden, image credit Jason Ballard; The Rose, Vauxhall, London, image credit Adam Bruderer; The Boleyn at Upton Park, London, image Credit Ewan Munro

References and credits
Wikipedia.org
CAMRA
Cover image: Anguskirk

8 Surprising Facts About British Tea Traditions

There’s hardly a more British custom than a nice cup of tea. This magical elixir helps Brits get through the day and seems to make problems disappear … at least temporarily! It is said that tea was our secret weapon during the dark days of World War II.

80% of Britons drink tea and consume 165 million cups daily, or 60.2 billion cups a year!

Tea drinking in Britain has spawned several lasting traditions over the centuries.

Here are 7 facts that you might not know about British tea traditions:

1. 10th-century monks invented Cream Tea

Ruin of the abbey cloister at Tavistock, Devon, England
Ruin of the abbey cloister at Tavistock, Devon, England

Not much remains today, but these ruins were once a Benedictine Abbey at Tavistock in Devon.

There is evidence in manuscripts that Monks served bread with clotted cream and strawberry preserves to local workers who helped rebuild the Abbey after it was damaged in a Viking raid in 997AD.

It was an instant hit among the locals, and the monks started serving it to passing travelers.

The Devonshire cream tea was born.

Today, Devonshire cream tea typically comprises a pot of tea, along with scones, strawberry preserves, clotted cream, and sometimes curds and butter.

Credit Shane Global
Credit Shane Global

2. A hungry Duchess originated the tradition of Afternoon Tea

It was around four o’clock in the afternoon at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, England, during the early 1840s. Anna Russell, seventh Duchess of Bedford noticed she had a “sinking feeling” at this time of day.

Dinner would not be served until eight o’clock, so she ordered tea with bread and butter to help stave off her hunger.

Woburn Abbey. Credit Jason Ballard, Ljuba brank.
Woburn Abbey. Credit Jason Ballard, Ljuba brank.

When the Duchess asked friends to join her, the idea soon spread, becoming the popular social occasion of Afternoon Tea that we know and love today.

3. Low Tea is “posher” than High Tea

Isn’t tea just a drink?

Tea” is used to denote both a beverage and different types of meal.

Two terms sometimes used in the Victorian Era were “low tea” and “high tea“.

Low tea was served on low lounge chairs and sofas with low tables (similar to today’s coffee tables), and high tea was served on high chairs around a table.

"Low Tea" (Afternoon Tea)
“Low Tea” (Afternoon Tea)

But here’s the surprising part: “low tea” was enjoyed by the aristocracy and “high tea” by the working class.

Confusion has arisen because “high tea” simply sounds classier than “low tea“.

Which leads us to our next surprising fact …

4. High Tea is not the same as Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is derived from the social tradition started by the Duchess of Bedford. Taken at around 4 – 6 pm, it typically comprises Devonshire cream tea and an assortment of delicate crustless sandwiches, sweets, and cakes.

In short, this is the “posh” tea, served today in country tea rooms or city hotels.

Left: Afternoon Tea, Fairmont Château, Lake Lousie. Credit Elsie Hui. Top right: Afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel. credit Su-Lin. Bottom right: Victoria Sponge slice. Credit Carwyn Lloyd Jones.
Left: Afternoon Tea, Fairmont Château, Lake Lousie. Credit Elsie Hui. Top right: Afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel. credit Su-Lin. Bottom right: Victoria Sponge slice. Credit Carwyn Lloyd Jones.

High Tea is traditionally an end of day meal for the working class, comprising things like cold meats, pies, salad, pickles, bread and butter, cakes, and a pot of tea.

Usually shortened to just “tea”, the term is still used in the Midlands and the North of England.

If you visit the north of England today, you may hear someone say, “I’ve got to get home and make the tea for the kids”, or the northern tendency to personalize with “our/us”, as in “what’s for us tea?”

"What's for us tea?" Credit Paul Townsend
“What’s for us tea?”

5. Cream Tea in Devon and Cornwall are different

Anyone trying Cream Tea for the first time may wonder “do I add the cream first or the preserves?”

Thanks to the rivalry between Devon and Cornwall, it doesn’t matter. Phew, that’s a relief!

A subtle distinction between the way Cream Tea is eaten in the counties of Devon and Cornwall is the order of applying the silky-smooth clotted cream and the delicious strawberry preserves.

Left: the Cornish scone method. Right: the Devon (or Devonshire) method.
Left: the Cornish scone method. Right: the Devon (or Devonshire) method.

But in Devon, the clotted cream is applied first, with the strawberry preserves second.

6. How you pronounce “scone” says a lot about where you’re from

481
How do you pronounce “scone”?
Research conducted by YouGov

According to global market research and data analytics company YouGov, the pronunciation of the word is influenced by two main factors: region and social grade. Individuals in the North (60%) and Scotland (80%) predominantly pronounce scone like “gone”, whereas those in the Midlands (56%) and London (50%) are more inclined to opt for pronouncing scone like “bone”.

Social class also influences the pronunciation. Those in the working class (semi-skilled/unskilled/unemployed) tend to be evenly split on how they pronounce “scone”, whereas those in the middle class (professional/skilled) tend to favour pronouncing scone like “gone” by a significant margin.

7. For a “proper cuppa”, add milk last

Milk Last. Credit Matt Baume

If you really want to drink tea like they do on Downton Abbey, you will add your milk last.

Inferior china cups were inclined to crack when hot tea was poured into them, but the finest china was much stronger and didn’t crack.

So putting the milk in last became a way for the upper class to show they had the best china.

Milk in last also lets you judge the strength more easily—too much milk can ruin the perfect cup of tea.

8. “Pinkies Up” is out

According to etiquette expert William Hanson, an outstretched little finger has apparently become one of Afternoon Tea’s most common faux pas and is considered rude in most social settings. One misconception is that it somehow helps balance the cup.

Here’s a video from William giving us some useful etiquette tips on how to enjoy Afternoon Tea the “proper” way.

Sources and Additional Reading
Wikipedia.org
Were cream teas “invented” in Tavistock?
Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History by Andrea Broomfield

The British Pork Pie—History and Tradition

In cockney rhyming slang pork pies, porkie pies, or just porkies, means lies.

But rest assured it’s no word of a lie that Brits love pork pies!

Pork pies are made with roughly chopped or minced pork and pork jelly sealed in a special pastry used for making savory pies called “hot water crust”.

Pork Pie from a Farmer’s Market. Credit Su-Lin

The jelly helps preserve the pie’s freshness by filling in air gaps within the pie, which is usually eaten cold.

Porkies. Credit Ian ‘Harry’ Harris

On a sunny day, it’s difficult to beat sitting at a bench in a pub garden and tucking into a ploughman’s lunch and a pint of ale, or a hearty sandwich with pork pie and Branston, or even pork pie on its own with Branston pickle and mustard. Oh yes!

Ploughman’s Board of pork pie, scotch egg, mature cheddar, artisan bread, pickled onions, Branston pickle, and celery. Credit Matt, flickr
Pub lunch of ale, sandwich, pork pie & pickles. Credit Sebastien Cevey
Pork Pie with Branston Pickle and Mustard. Credit Kake, flickr

Pork pies can be found all over the UK under various brand names in supermarkets. But there is one place that is so special, it has its own signpost.

Pork Pie is Important. Credit Rob Watling

Melton Mowbray Pork Pies

There are pork pies and there are Melton Mowbray pork pies.

Named after the market town in Leicestershire, Melton pies have been handmade in Melton Mowbray since the late 18th century.

The uncured meat is chopped rather than minced and the crust is formed by hand to give an irregular shape. Unlike molded pies, the pies are cooked free-standing so that the sides bow outwards during baking.

Unwrapping a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. Credit ben dalton, flickr

Melton Mowbray is a beautiful town surrounded by ancient monuments and hundreds of buildings with special historical interest.

The name “Mowbray” dates back to the Lords of the Manor of feudal Norman rule—namely Robert de Mowbray, described by English chronicler and Benedictine monk Orderic Vitalis as,

Powerful, rich, bold, fierce in war, haughty, he despised his equals and, swollen with vanity, disdained to obey his superiors. He was of great stature, strong, swarthy and hairy. Daring and crafty, stern and grim, he was given more to meditation than speech, and in conversation scarce ever smiled.

It’s a shame pork pies hadn’t been invented yet—they would have given him reason to smile more often.

St Marys church, Melton Mowbray. Credit Russ Hamert
View of Burton Street, Melton Mowbray. Credit Russ Hamert

There lies an ode to the Melton pie in the 1961 book Eating and Drinking – An Anthology for Epicures

A Melton Mowbray Pork-pie
Strange pie that is almost a passion!
O passion immoral for pie!
Unknown are the ways that they fashion
Unknown and unseen of the eye.
The pie that is marbled and mottled,
The pie that digests with a sigh:
For all is not Bass that is bottled,
And all is not pork that is pie.Richard Le Gallienne.

In the town center sits Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe with the black and white fronted Half Moon pub next door.

Dickensons and Morris Pie Shop Melton Moybray. Credit Russ Hamer
Dickensons and Morris Pie Shop Melton Moybray. Credit Russ Hamer

The shop is home to Dickinson & Morris who have been baking pork pies in Melton Mowbray since 1851.

Since 2009, Melton Mowbray pork pies have enjoyed PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication), which means that only pork pies made in a zone around Melton can use the Melton Mowbray name on their packaging.

A British tradition lives on!

Other pork pie shops worthy of note

J Stanforth – The Celebrated Pork Pie Establishment in Skipton, North Yorkshire. Credit robert wade
Eley’s Pork Pies of Ironbridge, Shropshire. Credit Matt Brown

The Pork Pie Hat

The pork pie hat refers to several styles of hat popular since mid-19th century—and bearing an uncanny resemblance to a pork pie!

A classic brown felt men’s pork pie hat from the 1940s. Credit KDS444

Men in Kilts—The History and Tradition

A very odd thing happens when a lady sees men in kilts.

She stoops, she crouches …

A humorous caricature depicting Scottish soldiers, wearing kilts, in Continental Europe ca. 1815.
A humorous caricature depicting Scottish soldiers, wearing kilts, in Continental Europe ca. 1815.

… and there’s a burning question at the back of her mind.

You guessed it—where can I buy some of this fine cloth?

An Italian woman inspects the kilts of Pipe Major William MacConnachie and Pipe Major William Boyd in the Colosseum of Rome, 6 June 1944.
An Italian woman inspects the kilts of Pipe Major William MacConnachie and Pipe Major William Boyd in the Colosseum of Rome, 6 June 1944.

Image contains affiliate link.

A kilt is a type of pleated skirt originating from the 16th-century dress of men in the Scottish Highlands.

Kilt is a Scots word that has Scandinavian origins—derived from the Old Norse word kjalta, meaning “fold of a gathered skirt”, or “lap”.

The first kilts were belted plaid, which was essentially a large blanket that was wrapped around the body and belted at the waist. A part of the plaid formed the kilt, and the rest was gathered up, thrown over a shoulder and secured in place—ready to be used as a cloak when needed.

A belted plaid (rather than a kilt) as worn by a reenactor of Scottish history.
A belted plaid (rather than a kilt) as worn by a reenactor of Scottish history.

In around 1720, following the suppression of the first Jacobite rebellion, an enterprising English Industrialist named Thomas Rawlinson built an ironworks in the Scottish Highlands.

He noticed that the belted plaid was “a cumbersome unwieldy habit to men at work …” and decided the solution was to convert the lower part into a separate item of clothing that was more convenient to wear at work.

The “little kilt” was born, which formed the basis of today’s modern kilts.

Kilt of the Royal Highland Regiment (known as the Black Watch)
Kilt of the Royal Highland Regiment (known as the Black Watch)

When Rawlinson’s partner—chief of the McDonell Clan of Inverness—started wearing the new kilt, its use spread like wildfire among the highlanders.

In 1745, there was a second Jacobite rebellion, culminating at the Battle of Culloden. The highland clans led by “Bonnie Prince Charlie” were defeated and an act of parliament—the Dress Act 1746—banned the wearing of tartan and other symbols of highlanders for 36 years.

The Battle of Culloden, oil on canvas, David Morier, 1746.
The Battle of Culloden, oil on canvas, David Morier, 1746.

When the ban was finally lifted in 1782, there was a groundswell of interest in all things Highland.

Wearing a kilt became more than a tradition. It was a symbol of Scottish national pride, of freedom, and identity.

To all those who were forced to flee Scotland and establish roots in other countries, Scottish poet Robert Burns had some words for them.

“Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North, The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth; Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.”

Robert Burns.

The modern Scottish kilt worn with formal evening wear
The modern Scottish kilt worn with formal evening wear
The British Army's 21-member Pipes and Drums corps of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards put on a world class performance of piping, drumming and highland sword dancing. Credit J.D. Leipold
The British Army’s 21-member Pipes and Drums corps of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards put on a world class performance of piping, drumming and highland sword dancing. Credit J.D. Leipold
Dog and bagpiper, Bowen, 1921. Studio portrait of a bagpiper in traditional highland dress. A dog sits to the right of the picture, 1921.
Dog and bagpiper, Bowen, 1921. Studio portrait of a bagpiper in traditional highland dress. A dog sits to the right of the picture, 1921.
Boy (wearing kilt) and girl with two dogs and a handcart wagon
Boy wearing kilt and girl with two dogs and a handcart wagon
The Highland Shepherd by Rosa Bonheur, 1859
The Highland Shepherd by Rosa Bonheur, 1859
The Crown Prince of Prussia and Prince Wilhelm II. - Balmoral Castle. - Oct. 1863
The Crown Prince of Prussia and Prince Wilhelm II. – Balmoral Castle. – Oct. 1863
Sir David Wilkie's flattering portrait, painted in 1829, of King George IV in kilt during the visit to Scotland in 1822
Sir David Wilkie’s flattering portrait, painted in 1829, of King George IV in kilt during the visit to Scotland in 1822
Bagpipes at the Strawberry Festival, Virginia State Parks staff
Bagpipes at the Strawberry Festival, Virginia State Parks staff
Bagpiper credit xlibber
Bagpiper credit xlibber
Newly wedded couple standing outside a church in Scotland
Newly wedded couple standing outside a church in Scotland
Married on the beach. Credit Ronnie Macdonald
Married on the beach. Credit Ronnie Macdonald
The Black Watch (Royal Highland) Regiment of Canada, pulling against the competition for the Highland Regiments tug-of-war trophy at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville Ontario
The Black Watch (Royal Highland) Regiment of Canada, pulling against the competition for the Highland Regiments tug-of-war trophy at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville Ontario.
A Guard posted on the Esplanade outside the entrance to Edinburgh castle, during the week when the Queen is in residence in the Palace of Holyroodhouse
A Guard posted on the Esplanade outside the entrance to Edinburgh castle, during the week when the Queen is in residence in the Palace of Holyroodhouse
An 11-foot high bronze statue of a Black Watch soldier by William Birnie Rhind commemorates over 200 members of the Regiment who were killed or wounded in the Boer War of 1900-02
An 11-foot high bronze statue of a Black Watch soldier by William Birnie Rhind commemorates over 200 members of the Regiment who were killed or wounded in the Boer War of 1900-02
78th Highland Regiment. Credit Ann Baekken
78th Highland Regiment. Credit Ann Baekken
Massed Pipes & Drums Credit Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Massed Pipes & Drums Credit Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Credit edintattoo.co.uk
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Credit edintattoo.co.uk
(Left) Sean Connery with members of the United States Air Force Reserve's Pipe and Drum Band in Washington, DC. (Right) British Actor Simon Pegg. Credit Andre Luis
(Left) Sean Connery with members of the United States Air Force Reserve’s Pipe and Drum Band in Washington, DC. (Right) British Actor Simon Pegg. Credit Andre Luis