I still find I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, now broadcasting series fifty-something, one of the most amusing of radio programmes. One of the rounds which continues to endure is the delightfully entitled Mornington Crescent. For those who are unaware, the teams spoof strategy games as they alternately name London Underground Stations, the object of the game being to end with Mornington Crescent.
While listening to the list of names, my toponymist's mind began to contemplate the origins of the place names. Here is the result of a little 'digging', the first of four parts of a list given in alphabetical order and which is certainly not complete.
Acton Town - 'the farmstead marked by oak trees'.
Aldgate - 'the older geat or way'.
Aldgate East - 'the old way to the east'.
Alperton - 'the farmstead associated with a man called Ealhbeorht'.
Amersham - 'the homestead of a man called Egmonde'.
Angel - named after the Angel Inn, which dates from around 1638.
Archway - is named after the Archway Tower, a 195 feet high architectural misdemeanour from 1963.
Arnos Grove - an area associated with the fourteenth century family of Margery Arnold who lived nearby.
Arsenal - the Woolwich Arsenal gave its name to the famous football club who have, in turn, given a name to the station.
Baker Street - after builder William Baker who laid the street out in the eighteenth century.
Balham - 'the smooth or rounded enclosure'.
Bank - exit to street level and facing is the Bank of England.
Barbican - comes from Latin barbecana 'a fortified gateway'.
Barking - 'the settlement of the family or followers of a man called Berica'.
Barons Court - not after Earl's Court but inspired by the Baronscourt estate in Ireland, connected with Sir William Palliser developed thus area. Palliser Road and many of the side roads are named after members of the family.
Bayswater - 'the watering place for horses'.
Becontree - 'the tree of a man called Beohha'.
Belsize Park - 'the beautiful seat or residence'.
Bermondsey - 'the dry ground in a marsh of a man called Beornmund'.
Bethnal Green - 'the nook of land of a man called Blitha'.
Blackfriars - is named after the Blackfriars Bridge, itself taking the colour of the habits worn by those who lived at the former Dominican Priory here.
Blackhorse Road - is named after a former inn, the Black Horse.
Bond Street - was developed by Sir Thomas Bond.
Boston Manor - is the manor house built in the seventeenth century on an area already known as 'the tun or farmstead of a man called Bord'.
Bow Church and Bow Road - named for the road and the district, it ultimately takes its name from a bridge. Tradition has it that in 1110 the River Lee was being crossed on horseback by Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I, when she took a tumble. Immediately she ordered the building of a bow-shaped bridge with three arches. Whether the tumble is true or not, the distinctive shape of the bridge is undoubtedly the origin of the place name.
Brent Cross - named after the River Brent, itself a Celtic river name meaning 'the holy one'.
Brixton - 'the stone of a man called Beorhtsige', the stone is probably a marker showing the meeting place of the local Hundred.
Bromley-by-Bow - while 'Bow' is explained above, Bromley is a common name describing 'the woodland clearing by the broom trees'.
Buckhurst Hill - either 'the wooded hill where he-goats graze' or 'the wooded hill associated with a man called Bucca'.
Burnt Oak - is a marker, a large tree would stand out for a very long time if burned so as to kill the outer living portion but keeping the central heartwood intact.
Caledonian Road - named after the Royal Caledonion Asylum, built for the children of poor Scots families.
Camden Town - the place is named after Earl Camden, who held the manor before his death in 1794.
Canada Water - takes its name from the lake, a section of the former docklands where almost every vessel that berthed here came from Canada.
Canary Wharf - again taking its name from the former docklands, itself taking the name from berth number 32 of the West Wood Quay. This was operated by a Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Island fruit trade.
Canning Town - was after Charles John Canning, the first Viceroy of India who ended the Indian Mutiny, thus in the news around the time this area saw major development.
Cannon Street - nothing to do with gunfire or the church, this is a corruption of 'candle wright', hence where candles were produced and/or sold from at least the twelfth century.
Canons Park - this refers to the canons of the Augustinian Priory of St Bartholomew in Smithfield, London.
Chalfont & Latimer - from the four villages it serves, Chalfont St Giles, Chalfont St Peter and Little Chalfont, all sharing an origin of 'the spring frequented by calves'; while Latimer has a manorial origin, the Latymer family being here by the fourteenth century.
Chalk Farm - may seem to refer to chalky soil, however the name is a corruption of its Saxon name referring to 'cold cottages'.
Chancery Lane - comes from the road being home to the office of the Master of the Rolls of the Chancery from 1290.
Charing Cross - named after the cierring or 'bend' (here in the River Thames) with the addition of the Queen Eleanour Cross erected here in the fourteenth century.
Chesham - comes from ceastel hamm 'the hemmed in land marked by a heap of stones'.
Chigwell - 'the spring or stream of a man called Cicca'.
Chiswick Park - from Old English ciese wic, the suffix should correctly be defined as 'specialised farm' even though it is almost always a reference to a dairy farm. Here the first element simply confirms it, for this is 'the farm where cheese is produced'.
Chorleywood - 'the clearing of the freemen or peasants'.
Clapham Common, Clapham North and Clapham South - all share a name speaking of 'the homestead near the hills'.
Cockfosters - which began life known for being 'the home or estate of the chief forester'.
Colindale - takes the name of a family who were here by the sixteenth century.
Colliers Wood - no surprise to find it is named from a wood, itself nothing to do with coalminers but referring to charcoal burners.
Covent Garden - was named for it being walled off to isolate arable lands for Westminster Abbey from around 1200, when it was known as 'the Gardens of the Abbey and the Convent'.
Croxley - was 'the woodland clearing of a man called Krokr', a Scandinavian personal name.
Dagenham East and Dagenham Heathway - share a name coming from 'the homestead of a man called Daecca'.
Debden - from Old English deop denu 'the deep valley'.