Sunday, 14 February 2010

Oddities of Minor Place Names

While researching origins of various place names this week I found some unusual examples.

I had long known the Butts Lanes of a number of towns and villages have been said to represent where archery was practised, the 'Butt' being the wicker target used when poor Englishmen were forced to hone their skills. However much more common was the unploughed strip of land at the edge of the arable land where the plough team would turn and which would remain untilled. This was also referred to as 'the butt' and is certainly the more common origin for this street name.

One very unusual name was Cabbage Street, here most often associated with the vegetable which was said to have been grown here - or, more correctly, in the area alongside this thoroughfare. This week I found another possible origin for this name, for those who produce gloves, hats, clothing or all kinds had what was often referred to as 'perks', the off-cuts from the cloth after the basic pattern had been cut out. In some areas, I found this to be in the eastern counties around the fenlands, these off-cuts were referred to as 'Cabbage' and there was no doubt the area I had been researching was derived from this 'Cabbage'.

Around the same fenland I found fields referred to as Undertakers and Adventurers. These date from the time when the ditches and drains were dug to drain the fenland. The Adventurers backed the project financially, giving those who did the work, the Undertakers, an income until the work was completed. After the land had been drained it left much fertile land which was allocated to both groups and named for both.

Unusually for me I have given a number of talks in February, thankfully I did not book any in January and so was not prevented from attending by the bad weather we experienced nationwide during the first month of the new year. It is the chance of inclement weather which normally means I have tried not to book dates before March each year. To those who have invited me to speak, and those who have attended, may I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for making me feel so welcome.

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