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Rocky Mountain Food Tours

Little London: A Glimpse into How British Influence in Colorado Springs Shaped Architecture, Culture and Cuisine

Colorado Springs, a city nestled at the base of the Rockies, holds a charming nickname – “Little London.” This moniker harks back to a bygone era when the city’s early years were infused with British culture and influences. In this blog, we’ll delve into the captivating story of how London’s essence left an indelible mark on Colorado Springs, exploring elements like Bobbies (policemen), Victorian architecture, savouries, and more that defined this unique period in the city’s history.

 

The History Behind Colorado Springs' Nickname "Little London"
Colorado Springs “Bobbies,” or Police. Photo Courtesy of Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

 

The British Connection

Colorado Springs’ journey towards becoming “Little London” began nearly 150 years ago when it was still a fledgling community. At that time, a significant number of residents hailed from Great Britain, ranging from wealthy sheep ranchers and doctors to haberdashers and purveyors of fine food and drink. Notably, the city’s founder, Gen. William Jackson Palmer, had strong British ties through his marriage to a woman from an English family. Palmer’s colleague, “Dr. Willie” William Bell, was equally British in his heritage.

Palmer’s vision for Colorado Springs was to create an attractive destination for the elite from across the United States, blending sophistication with the charm of the “wild west.” He made the city accessible via rail and sought to make it as hospitable and luxurious as possible to entice investors and build a thriving community.

 

The History Behind Colorado Springs' Nickname "Little London"
Photo Courtesy of Briarhurst Manor Estate

 

Victorian Elegance and The Briarhurst Manor

In the 1870s, Colorado Springs began adopting Victorian-style architecture, echoing the opulence of London during the same period. Dr. Willie Bell and his wife, Georgina, constructed the impressive Briarhurst Manor in Manitou Springs, a mansion at the forefront of technology as the first to install electric lights. Today, the Briarhurst Manor stands as a privately-owned property with a public restaurant and serves as a venue for weddings and large events.

 

The History Behind Colorado Springs' Nickname "Little London"
Cork & Cask’s Charcuterie Board | Photo Credit KV Photography

 

Victorian Dining and Savouries

During the Victorian era, dining was a grand affair characterized by elaborate meals, social separation of men and women, and the tradition of savouries. Savouries, small and flavorful bites, were an integral part of late-evening gatherings for British gentlemen. These delectable treats featured strong flavors, spices, and creamy textures, making them perfect accompaniments to whisky and fine spirits. Deviled eggs, for instance, were a popular savoury dish, featuring a spicy “devil sauce” made with ingredients like red and black pepper, mustard, cream, and Tabasco sauce.

 

The History Behind Colorado Springs' Nickname "Little London"
Photo Courtesy of Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

 

Other British Traditions

Beyond architecture and dining, Colorado Springs embraced various other British traditions, including sports like cricket, rugby, and polo. Umbrellas became a common accessory, and fox hunts, with or without a fox, found a following among the residents. Elaborate, formal meals featuring at least eight courses became a hallmark of Victorian dining.

 

Little London Cake Shoppe Cake
Little London Cake Shoppe Cake | Photo Credit: Little London Cake Shoppe Facebook Page

 

Little London Lives On

The legacy of “Little London” persists in Colorado Springs today, with many local businesses proudly bearing the name. The Little London Market, Little London Cake Shoppe, and the Little London Show, a podcast celebrating all things local, all contribute to keeping the spirit alive. The city even boasts a street called Little London Drive and a band named the Little London Winds, based in Manitou Springs.

 

Cork and Cask Colorado Springs
Cork and Cask Colorado Springs | Photo Credit: Cork and Cask Facebook Page

 

Savouries in Modern Colorado Springs

While savouries were once exclusive to Victorian gentlemen’s late-evening gatherings, times have changed. Savouries are no longer restricted to cigar-smoking gentlemen, and you can find them paired with an extensive selection of whiskey at Cork & Cask, a downtown gem. For those looking to recreate the Victorian experience, the Savory Spice Shop on Tejon Street provides all the essential spices.

 

McAllister House Colorado Springs
McAllister House Colorado Springs | Photo by Rocky Mountain Food Tours

 

Conclusion

“Little London” remains a cherished part of Colorado Springs’ history, a delightful reminder of the city’s British influences, Victorian architecture, and elegant traditions. Today, as you explore the city’s vibrant culture and culinary scene, you can still sense the echoes of a bygone era when Colorado Springs embraced the sophistication and charm of London in the Rockies.

Hop on a food tour to discover more about the incredible history and cuisine of downtown Colorado Springs!

Cheers, Your Rocky Mountain Food Tours Team

(So, what’s a food tour, anyway…?)

 

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