Which English town celebrates the Fourth of July?

The Washington coat-of-arms might remind you of the Stars and Stripes (photo by Tomasz Steifer - CC-BY)

Every Fourth of July, a small town in the north-west of England gets out its Stars and Stripes flags. And the highest flag of all is the one that is flown from the church tower. This is Warton, Lancashire, a small town that’s very proud to be the ancestral home town of George Washington’s family. This fact is celebrated every July 4th, with flags flown in the streets, from the church, and of course from the George Washington pub.

George Washington’s family history is known as far back as 1180, when the family lived in the north-east of England, in a village called Washington (or Wessyngton if you go back far enough). In the 1300s a branch of the family moved to Warton. They are thought to have paid for the building of the tower of the church, and it carries the Washington family coat of arms, whose stars and stripes (“two bars and three molets”, in heraldry-speak) probably inspired the United States flag.

Members of the Washington family continued to live in Warton until 1823, and President George Washington’s grandmother (Mildred Warner Gale) is buried not too far away at Whitehaven.

So if you want to share in a little bit of July 4th celebration in England, catch a train to Carnforth station (just over a mile away) and join in the festivities.

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