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British Culture, British Customs and British Traditions

The Biggest Liar in the World Competition

Way back in the 19th Century, a famous Cumbrian called Will Ritson (1808-1890) was the popular publican who lived at the head of the Wasdale Valley in the English Lake District. In this remote and beautiful valley, Will always kept his customers enthralled with stories of the folk heritage of this delightful area.

The valley was already well-known for having England's deepest lake (Wastwater), the highest mountain (Scafell Pike),the smallest Church (Wasdale Head Church) and Will Ritson achieved its fourth superlative when he became - " THE WORLD'S BIGGEST LIAR"

Each year, in November, a contest is held to award the title of "The Biggest Liar in the World" to the person who is worthy of following in the footsteps of "Auld Will". The contest, held at the Bridge Inn, attracts world wide attention, and in recent years the audience has learned facts like how the Lake District was formed - not by ice or volcanic action, but by large moles and eels!

Cumbria 2003

The world's biggest liar competition, held annually at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, Holmrook in Cumbria, ended in chaos when the winner was accused of cheating. The new champion, South African TV professional Abrie Kruger, dubbed himself Lord Abrie Ritson Yon Marra Kruger and wore a kilt he was not entitled to.

As the drunken audience railed against the judges' decision, Howard Christie, landlord of the pub that hosted the ancient contest, said: "I think we left the bar open too long."

Abrie, 24, in Britain to shoot a documentary, won by reading a proclamation in the local Cumbrian dialect staking a claim to be the rightful ruler of the “kingdom of Wasdale.” He was joined on stage at the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, by his "queen,” fellow South African Anje Du Toit, and promised to build a castle on top of Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain (only 978m).

The judges' decision caused uproar as the audience started shouting “What a sell out! He's not Cumbrian.” The local Mayor George Clements retorted: “This is a world championship and is open to anyone in the world.” The defending champion George Kemp had a disastrous night. He forgot his lies and had to give up halfway through his tall story.

Abrie, the new champ, avoided the risk of forgetting his lies by reading from a script - one of the reasons for the allegation of cheating. Favorite John Graham - known locally as Johnny Liar - won second place but has threatened never to compete again. He said: ''Due to the poor organising and running of the event, I worry that there is nobody with any interest or knowledge of the rules of this ancient lying night."

Competitors are naturally supposed to cheat as elaborately as possible but, says Graham, they must not use a script or props (such as a kilt) and must not tell jokes - all of which Abrie was accused of doing. Abrie promised the locals: "This is Cumbria's trophy and it will always stay here."

British Culture