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FROM ALABAMA TO CALIFORNIA to Singapore to Thailand to, of course, Scotland, the societies of Scots, descendants of Scots, families of Scots, and admirers of Scotland and its culture are sprinkled around the world. In the United States, St. Andrew’s societies dot the map. Many were founded in the 19th century to aid the settlement of Scottish immigrants. The one in New York City claims to be the oldest. Its predecessor society, the Scots Society of New York [City], was founded in 1744. The St. Andrew’s Society of Washington, D.C., is only a little younger, founded in 1760 in neighboring Alexandria, Va. Other St. Andrew’s societies have been around for just a decade or so. The things they all have in common are fostering—and enjoying—Scottish traditions and culture and doing charitable works. Societies may also support pipe and drum corps or give scholarships for Scottish dancing or Scottish studies. Most societies have full calendars of activities, beginning each year with a Robert Burns supper in late January on the weekend nearest the Scottish bard’s birthday, January 25. The ceremonial centerpiece on the menu is the haggis, Scotland’s national dish—a necessary mainstay of the menu. Toasted oatmeal, onions, suet, minced liver and seasonings, mixed together and boiled in a sheep’s stomach, yield a much-maligned but tasty main dish. April brings Tartan Day on the 6th, a date officially recognized by the U.S. Senate since 1998 as “a celebration of the contribution generations of Scots-Americans have made to the character and prosperity of the United States.” Each society likely holds an event on St. Andrew’s Day, November 30, and a Christmas get-together. Other events that the societies participate in, sponsor or attend are ceilidhs, Highland games, parades, special church services marked by bagpipe music, formal parties where the gentlemen wear dress kilts, golf tournaments, fundraisers, trips and single-malt tastings—the list differs from group to group. Membership requirements also vary. At least one, in Washington, D.C., accepts only men, though it has many activities that include spouses and families. Some societies insist that a prospective member prove he or she was born in Scotland, or document descent from someone who was. Others have different levels of membership for the Scottish or the merely interested. Like many social clubs, St. Andrew’s societies may require that prospective members be sponsored by members in good standing. Sometimes they offer to help prospects meet members who will sponsor them. Annual dues are modest, usually less than $50, but the enjoyment to be had and the good works to be done are great—all for the love of Scotland. For a list of St. Andrew’s societies in the United States, along with contact information, see www.scottish-coalition.org. The Web site also includes other Scottish-American organizations.
[caption id="CabbagesandKingsfromBrightontoEdinburgh_img1" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The bedroom in which Sir Winston Churchill was born can be seen as part of a visit to Blenheim Palace in the Oxfordshire village of Woodstoc.[/caption]
[caption id="NantGwrtheyrn_img1" align="aligncenter" width="661"] The Welsh Development Agency (WDA) supports a variety of initiatives that enhance the economy of rural Wales.[/caption]
THIS ISSUE, WE PUT on the bookshelf tales that offer a vision of life in the British aristocracy between the two world wars. The first of these is the next in our series of glimpses at those books our readers’ poll indicated were the most British books of all time: Brides head Revisited,by Evelyn Waugh. Upper-class England gets a very different treatment with the unique humor of novelist P.G. Wodehouse. And what better time in history to revisit the story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. What each of these grand reads shares in common, characters and authors alike, is that they all probably crossed the Atlantic on RMS Empress.
[caption id="LastOrdersPlease_img1" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Heat exhaustion fells this guardsman on the Horse Guards Parade during the Trooping the Colour ceremony in 1957.[/caption]
Hampshire County, rolling wooded hills preside over a rich agricultural landscape punctuated by picturesque villages. It is essentially a rural county, where stately homes and bustling market towns reflect the land's fecundity. For centuries Hampshire also has been fertile soil for many of England's greatest writers: Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Keats and Conan Doyle, to name a few. Today its meandering byways invite the visitor on a literary sojourn to locales associated with these celebrated authors.