While travel to the UK for pleasure might still be a ways off, there are plenty of things from Britain right here in the United States. By this, I’m not talking about the international foods aisle of your grocery store or your local pub, but places and items whose origins were across the pond before coming here. While you can’t visit all of the things on this list, most of them are available to see right in the United States. If there’s something you think we left off, let us know in the comments.
The Resolute Desk
Not likely something you’ll get to see if you go on a tour of the White House, the Resolute Desk is actually the desk that the President uses in the Oval Office. The HMS Resolute had been lost in the Arctic in 1854, itself looking for a lost expedition to the North Pole. An American whaling ship found it a year later, repaired it, and sent it back to the UK as a gesture of goodwill. Queen Victoria then had the timbers fashioned into a desk for President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. It’s been modified twice to add a door to conceal FDR’s leg braces and later a two-inch plinth.
While built entirely in America, Bacon’s Castle in Surry County, Virginia undeniably has its origins in the United Kingdom. It was constructed by wealthy businessman Arthur Allen in 1665 and is the oldest brick-built home in the United States. It’s also the oldest example of Jacobean architecture in America as well as possessing an excellent example of an English formal garden. It got its name for having been occupied by the followers of Nathaniel Bacon during Bacon’s Rebellion of 1675-1676, the first armed rebellion in the country’s history that ended a hundred years before the American colonies declared independence.
Several London Bridges have existed throughout history, with the first to bear the name being “Old London Bridge”, which was constructed in 1209. “New London Bridge” replaced it in 1831, but by 1967, it was replaced with the modern bridge that crosses the Thames today. “New London Bridge” was purchased from the City of London by Robert P. McColloch, who moved the entire thing stone-for-stone to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it remains today. A popular rumor suggested that McColloch thought he was purchasing Tower Bridge, but that was flatly denied by all parties.
Another British home located in Viriginia, Agecroft Hall, was actually built in the United Kingdom (originally, anyway). This impressive Tudor mansion was constructed in the late 15th Century, though the original house in Lancashire had stood since 1292. Eventually, the family line failed, and the hall fell into disuse and disrepair until it was purchased by Thomas C. Williams at auction in 1926 for $19,000 (about $293,000 today). There was a bit of protest from the local community and in Parliament over the sale, but it ultimately went through as it was felt that it was better to see it sold than demolished for good. Today, it operates as a museum in Richmond and plays home to annual Shakespeare performances.
RMS Queen Mary
Launched in 1934, the RMS Queen Mary is an ocean liner that once operated as an “express” ocean liner from Southampton to New York. It continued operation for another thirty-one years, barring when it served as a troop ship during World War II, until it was retired in 1967. That same year, it came to rest in Long Beach, California, where the city had purchased it prior to the ship’s last transatlantic voyage, and converted it into a permanently moored hotel, museum, and event hall. It recently re-opened after being closed during the pandemic and going through management changes.