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Friday, April 3, 2020

Naming English Houses

by Donna Hatch

The Holburn Museum, Bath Copyright Donna Hatch
As an American, I find it fascinating that so many historical houses—mostly in Europe—are named rather than simply numbered. The practice has charm and suggests history and longevity. Nowadays, it would seem a tad presumptuous, or at least eccentric, to name a home. However, in one of my favorite historical novels, the heroine goes to live in a place called Green Gables. Austen characters are well acquainted with places such as Pemberley, Longbourn, and Hartfield. Indeed, house naming has a rich heritage.

Anciently, the nobility named their houses, halls, castles, and lodges as a matter of practicality, since homes weren’t numbered until 1765. Usually, those names reflected their surnames, family titles, and locations. These led to names such as Belvoir Castle, Evesham Manor, Haynes Park, and Norfok House.

Homeowners sometimes named their abodes after places they enjoyed visiting such as Ambleside and Windermere. Many house names describe the building’s original use, giving rise to names such as Bedford Abbey. Over time, tradesmen named their houses after their use like The Barn, The Gatehouse, The Forge, Millhouse.
Dove Cottage copyright Donna Hatch
Another common practice was to name one’s house after trees or plants, or even animals frequently seen in the area. Quaint names include Rose Cottage, Birch Park, Dove Cottage (pictured), Fox Hollow, Robins Nest, and Squirrels Leap have cropped up.

Here are some hints to help you name your British house:

How big is it? A cottage, a lodge, a manor, a mansion?
What is your family name? Or, if you had a title, what would it be?
What do you see from the house? A valley, a park, a woods, a river?
What color is the house? Does it have colored gables or shutters?
Do plants or trees grow nearby? If so, what type?
How would you describe the weather in the area? Sunny? Windy?
Are local animals often seen in the area?
Was the building used for something else before it became a home such as an inn, a bakery or an abbey?
If I were to name my house, it might be something like Crepe Mytle End, or White Lodge, or Sunnyside.
What would you call your house?

copyright Donna Hatch

1 comment:

The Victorian Girl said...

My family lived in England in the late 60's. The first house was named Friar's Rise and the second was Whytecotte (White Cottage). I loved reading all the names of the houses!