A Little Bit of Switzerland in Regency England!

Ye_Olde_Swiss_Cottage_pub_Swiss_CottageNicola here. When I was a student in London, I lived near the Finchley Road. This was one of the main roads that led North out of the centre of London and it was often very busy with traffic. At one large roundabout there was a sight that always struck me as very odd: A Swiss chalet in the middle of the road. It was a pub and it was called, perhaps unsurprisingly, “Swiss Cottage.” The roundabout and the nearby underground station were named after it, and for such a busy and modern place it looked total incongruous.

I didn’t realise then that when the original “Swiss Tavern” was built there in 1804, it was part of a Switzerland vintage
larger fashion for recreating Swiss landscapes in England and elsewhere as part of the Romantic movement. Yes, as is often the case, the poet William Wordsworth had a hand in bringing back the idea of “Swissness” as something that represented freedom and beautiful scenery. In 1790 he and a friend took a walking tour of Switzerland and he was awestruck by the landscape and also by a scale model he saw of Lake Lucerne, the mountains and the alpine cottages. He brought home the idea of creating little Switzerlands in the English countryside.

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