Historic Rugby Historic Site

Nestled among tall pines and oaks just south of the Big South Fork National Park, lies Historic Rugby, Tennessee; a British-founded village whose Utopian dream of a better life in America has never quite died. This is the story of the Rugby Colony- an aspiring Utopia.

British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes, famous for his classic novel  “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” dedicated the Rugby Colony amid great fanfare on October 5, 1880. He envisioned this new community as a place where those who wished could build a strong agricultural community through cooperative enterprise, while maintaining a cultured, Christian lifestyle, free of the rigid class distinctions that prevailed in Britain.

The Rugby community today is made up of a diverse group of people with many varied interests. We even have a few folks who are descendants of the original colonists from the British Isles and the Appalachian families who settled here previous to the 1880’s. About 85 residents live here full or part time.

This community is involved in everything from beekeeping, playing bridge and quilting to writing poetry, hiking and gardening to countless other activities and interests. There is a monthly potluck, a monthly history club, a book club, a Quilt Guild, and English Country dancing classes. Our residents include novelists and artists, musicians and crafters, lawyers and academics. Many other professions and trades are represented in our community. Our diversity is what makes us strong and unique!

Historic Rugby offers tours of our historic buildings, plus lodging, shops, and dining. We are also connected to a National Park and State Natural Area, with hiking trails ranging from easy to challenging.

We host a series of events each year, ranging from guided hikes to car shows to formal Victorian galas.

Restored 1880's British Village includes guided tours of historic buildings such as Christ Church, Thomas Hughes Library & Rugby Schoolhouse and 20 minute award winning movie.  Audio tours available for the Massengale Homeplace located in the Rugby State Natual Area and the historical Laurel Dale Cemetery.

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Latitude: 36.363517 Longitude: -84.704802 Elevation: 1440 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Brenda Duke

About this Establishment

Historic Rugby's Mission:  Historic Rugby works within a living historic community to (a) restore, preserve and interpret the cultural and natural resources and British Isles and Appalachian heritage of Rugby and the Cumberland Plateau region; and (b) acheive architecturally and environmentally appropriate new community development; for the educational and economic benefit of this and future generations.

Time Period Represented


Hours Open

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Eastern time

Visitor Fees

Adults $7.00 Seniors $6.00 Students (K-12) $3.00 Members Free

Seasons Open

Mid-April - December (Weather permitting)

Price Style for this Establishment


ADA Accessibility Notes

Visitor Centre, Theatre and site is ADA Accessible - Historic Buildings are not.

Pet Friendly Notes

No pets in Visitor Centre or historic buildings

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