Sunday, 27 May 2012

Place Names of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire

Whether this place is found as Wendlesberie as in 1086, or Wenlingeburg in 1199, or as Wendlingburgh in 1220 the origin is undoubtedly a Saxon personal name followed by inga burh. Thus here we have an origin of 'the fortification of a the family or followers of Waendel'.

Street names include that of Winstanley Road named after Gerrard Winstanley, the founder of the so-called Diggers, an agrarian community of the mid-17th century whose history is hardly recorded, which suggests this was deliberate, while the street name comes from public knowledge. Furthermore the names of neighbouring streets suggests the name was probably chosen to commemorate some (unknown) act by Winstanley. Here Knox Road and Newcomen Road are named after John Knox, the Scottish Presbyterian clergyman, and Matthew Newcomen, a English nonconformist preacher. St Rochus Drive Ranelagh Road takes its name from the pub, itself from the Irish peerage; the earls Spencer, based at Althrop, gave their name to Spencer Road; and Palk Road, is named after Sir Robert Palk, cleric and politician.

Other streets have themes, golf being the basis for the names of Hoylake, Muirfield Road, Wentworth Avenue, Troon Crescent, and Gleneagles Drive. The Lake District provided the inspiration for the names which include: Coniston Drive, a town, a lake known as Coniston Water, and the fell known as the Old Man of Coniston; Penrith Drive is after the popular market town; Windermere Drive is named after the town (known as Birthwaite prior to the arrival of the railway) and the largest lake in England; Bowness is a road named after the town which stands on the Lake Windermere and is officially known as Bowness-on-Windermere, the town of Windermere itself being about a mile up the hill; and Thirlmere Drive is named after the two lakes, Leathes Water and Wythburn Water, which were dammed to create a reservoir to feed the city of Manchester in the 1890s.

There is also an avian theme, featuring Nest Farm Crescent, Nest Lane, Fulmar Lane, Gannet Lane, Kestrel Lane, Linnet Close, Heron Close, Guillemot Lane, Sandpiper Lane, Robin Lane, Osprey Lane, Swallow Lane, and Thrush Lane.

Appleby Gate is derived from the name of the lords of the manor by 1292, one Henry de Appelby who take their surname from the place in Leicestershire. Croyland Hall Farm is also manorial, referring to this being a possession by the Abbot of Croyland by 1199.

Pubs here include the Crown and Anchor, the symbol of the Lord High Admiral and worn on the sleeve of all petty officers in the Royal Navy, it is a favourite of retired officers who return to land as publicans.

The days when public houses were the equivalent of motorway service stations are commemorated by names such as Coach & Horses, Nags Head, Horseshoe Inn, and the Gloster which was a famous coaching service. Later came the railways and a new source of inspiration for names such as the Locomotive. Local landmarks are always are popular, for they can act as signposts to the pub. Here we find examples such as the Litten Tree, Cottage Inn, Priory, Park Tavern,

The nobility are represented by the Royal, Prince of Wales, Queens Head, and the Duke of York of nursery rhyme fame. The duke in question is Frederick Augustus (1763-1827), son of George III who commanded the English army in Flanders. However the rhyme does the man no favours, for while he may well have been 'Grand' he certainly was not old for he was only 31 at the time. Neither did he lead 10,000 men up or down hills, for there are no hills around here and he had a minimum of 30,000 men under his command. Patriotic names include the British Arms and the George Inn, after the patron saint.

Heraldry is always a popular theme, the image seen outside the Cannon could refer to any of the children of Henry VIII who ascended to the throne after him, Edward VI, Queen Mary, or Queen Elizabeth I. The Star Inn is a religious symbol, often portrayed as the star of Bethlehem, it also refers to the Virgin Mary. The Eagle has been used to represent more families than any other image; the Golden Lion represents either Henry I or the Percy family, dukes of Northumberland; the Ranelagh Arms after that Irish peerage; and Vivian Arms comes from the barons Vivian.

The Boot Inn is named to remember the old boot factory, a major local employer for many years. This industry is also the reason for the Crispin Arms, St Crispin being the patron saint of boot makers. The Volunteer is named for the soldiers who offered their services in the two world wars and the Napoleonic wars. The Hind Hotel is the former home of Sir Christopher Hatton, lord of this manor. He was a sponsor of Sir Francis Drake on his voyages, Drake naming one of his ships the Golden Hind from the heraldic symbol on the family crest, a vessel which had left on the first circumnavigation of the globe as the Pelican and was renamed during the voyage.

The Red Well, which differs from the place name of Redwell, is named after the 'reedy spring' where King Charles I brought his 19-year-old consort Queen Henrietta Maria in 1628. To partake of these waters was said to be be an excellent remedy for fertility problems. Whether they are or not is unrecorded, yet by the time they returned nine years later they had had four children. The Dog and Duck is another with royal connections for Charles II in particular was fond of this hunting method, where ducks with clipped wings were released on to a local pond. Unable to escape by flight, they would attempt to avoid the dogs by diving. In later years the name is often interpreted as the more easily recognised modern duck hunter with his faithful retriever.

The Ock 'N' Dough is a pub name chosen from suggestions by locals. Just after the Millennium celebrations had ended the new pub was open and named for a traditional local delicacy. This consists of a pork hock (or 'Ock) with potatoes in a vegetable stock which, when baked in a pie, produces a soft pastry (or 'Dough') base and a crisp top crust. While a change of owner means the pie is sadly no longer on sale here, it is still savoured by the community.


  1. In my memory, and that of my late father-in-law, hock and dough was also attributed to two major companies in the town - Saxby's (hock) and Whitworths (dough).

    Interesting post.

  2. rather a random train of thought I'm afraid, looking at the bird names, that Suffolk may boast largest number of bird names in common use as surnames; Partridge, Sparrow[e], Pigeon, Wren[n, Sheldrake. Only Sheldrake is included on Guppy's list of peculiar names but I think the largest concentration of the others are in Suffolk & possibly Norfolk.