Candlelit visits to traditionally decorated historic buildings, seasonal music performed throughout the village, an award winning film and mural at the new Rugby Visitor Centre & Theatre, and a traditional Victorian dinner combine to provide glimpses of 1880s Rugby Christmases. This annual holiday fundraiser will take place Dec. 8 at the British-founded museum village atop the Cumberland Plateau.
Six historic and reconstructed buildings open to visitors will be lit with candles and old-fashioned oil lamps. Beautifully decorated with holly, ivy, and evergreens, just as used by Rugby's early colonists, these buildings will transport you back to 1880s Rugby. The open buildings include the antique-filled founder's home, Kingstone Lisle, where Madame Margaret Hughes, the founder's mother (portrayed by Virginia Lovellette) will greet visitors. The fragrance of plum pudding steaming on the kitchen wood stove and parlor music performed by Michael Harris and Donna Hefner will fill the house. Enjoy cider and cookies while listening to Robin and Company harmonize in the Schoolhouse. Visitors will also be welcomed to 1880 Newbury House, the Victorian-furnished original boarding house now a bed & breakfast, where Zeb Turrentine will be performing classical guitar music.
The Harrow Road Cafe will serve a four-course Christmas dinner by oil lamp light at two reserved seatings - 5:45 and 8 p.m. Eastern Time. The menu includes Champagne punch, Clam Chowder, Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Roast Filet Mignon with Béarnaise Sauce, Twice Baked Potato, Antiqua Vegetable Medley, and Pumpkin Cheese Cake. Recipe handouts will be provided. For event and dinner tickets and area lodging information, call Historic Rugby toll free at 1-888-214-3400 or locally at 628-2441.
The award-winning history film, Rugby: The Power of a Dream, will be shown several times each evening at the Visitor Centre & Rebecca Johnson Theatre. A 32-foot wall mural at the centre shows Rugby as it looked in the 1880s.
Hot wassail will be served fireside at the Rugby Community Room where visitors can take part in old-time carol singing led by musicians Butch Hodgkins and Doug Piercy.
At the Rugby Printing Works, the 1880s Chandler-Price letterpress will turn out hand printed hot wassail recipes for visitors.
Visitors are invited to the historic Christ Church Episcopal, to visit with members and listen to the music of Thomas Howell on piano and Judy Newport on flute. The choir will also be performing there from 4:30–5 and 7–7:30 p.m.
Christmas treasure shoppers will find many gift ideas. The Rugby Commissary Museum Store, the Spirit of Red Hill Nature Art & Oddiments Shop next door, and the Painted Rooster and the Carriage House Gallery, both across the street, have a wide variety of items including ornate Victorian cards and decorations, cookbooks, British preserves and teas, hand-crafted pottery, quilts, woven rugs, stained glass, dolls and baskets, artwork and more. An authentically costumed St. Nicholas will give out candy to children of all ages.
Event hours are 4-9 p.m. Eastern Time. Event tickets are $12 and can be purchased in advance, or on Saturday at the Visitor Centre. Tickets for Historic Rugby members are only $9 and high school and elementary students are $5. Dinner tickets must be purchased in advance and are $29, tax and gratuity included. Call 888 214-3400 for event and dinner tickets and information on area lodging. Christmas At Rugby proceeds help support the restoration and preservation of the National Register village.
Historic Rugby is 70 miles northwest of Knoxville on State Scenic Highway 52, adjoining the Big South Fork National Park. It was founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes as an agricultural Utopia. Today approximately 20 of its 1880s buildings remain near a rugged, river gorge setting. The museum village is open daily through Dec. 31 offering building tours, historic lodging, food service, museum store and special events and workshops. More information is at www.historicrugby.org.