A local delegation flew across the Atlantic this past weekend to celebrate the coronation in the English village of Arlington.
A group of about ten Arlingtonians, including an Arlington Heights Civic Association representative, made a quick trip to the village in Gloucestershire, England last week — at the invite of some villagers — for the crowning of King Charles.
They were greeted with the proverbial red carpet, including a banquet, music, and a gift of a painting showcasing the village’s famed “Arlington Row,” which is featured on United Kingdom passports and in the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary.
“It was awesome. When you share a name, you are cousins,” said Mark Murawski, who was part of the delegation as the civic association representative. “It’s important… to have this relationship, foster communication, meet new friends, and share new experiences. It’s a generational event. I wanted to be a part of that and I think it was great that they wanted to share it with us.”
Some believe that Arlington County is actually named after this 1,000-year-old village, as opposed to the more common understanding that it’s named after Harry Bennett, the 1st Earl of Arlington.
The county’s name actually comes from an estate owned by the Custis family near Williamsburg, Virginia, a number of locals say, with that name dating back to the Custis’ own ancestral hometown of Arlington, England.
Murawski is among those who believe this history. During the pandemic, he dove deep into local history and emerged convinced that Arlington, Virginia was in fact named after the small English village of under 1,000 residents in the parish of Bibury.
He said he approached the County Board about perhaps recognizing it as a “sister city” — like Ukraine’s Ivano-Frankivsk — but he was told the village was too small. So, Murawski turned to his neighborhood civic association to see if something could be formalized.
The Arlington Heights Civic Association and Bibury Parish both approved an official relationship earlier this year with Murawski being named the civic association’s Friendship Community delegate.
Then, the invite came for them to join the English community with the same name in celebrating the coronation of King Charles.
“It was an honor to celebrate this generational event with them,” Murawski said.
He hopes he can get the “Arlington Row” painting, commissioned by the village and done by a local English artist, to be approved to be hung on the wall at the Columbia Pike library. The local delegation brought gifts with them as well, including several books from the Arlington Historical Society detailing the history of the county.
It was a short trip, with the delegation arriving Friday morning, watching the coronation in the village center on Saturday, and flying back home to the United States on Monday.
This won’t be the end of the relationship though, Murawski said. Several members of the Bibury Parish Board — “essentially, their County Board” — have been invited to the Arlington County Fair in August.
“I think they are going to come,” he said.
Beyond occasionally traveling across continents for celebrations and county fairs, Murawski hopes that this continued relationship gets the county to add this history to its website and perhaps even designate the village as a sister city despite its small size.
“If an exception could be made, this should be it,” he said. “Because that is our namesake. It’s not that we would be twinning with a town that’s similar. We would be twinning with a town that we are named after.”
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Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to