Sunday, 16 December 2012

Cheshire Place Names

Recently published by Fineleaf , both as a paperback and now as an ebook, my look at the place names of Cheshire includes the town of Nantwich. As a taster here is something from this new book.


Recorded as Wich in 1086 and as Nametwihc in 1194, this name unites Old English wic and Middle English named and tells of 'the famed or renowned salt works'.

Barker Street is an earlier name than one which could refer to a barker or market trader, this comes from barkere straet and describes 'the lane of the tanners'. Cart Lake is from kartr laec 'the bog or stream where carts are seen', the same watercourse crossed by Beam Street as it becomes Beam Bridge and tells us it was constructed from 'wooden beams'.

Castle Street was named after an old castle, not a trace of which remains, earlier it was known as Pudding Lane which tells us it was known for its 'entrails, offal' which littered the street. Hospital Street was the site of the Hospital of St Nicholas, founded in the 11th century. First Wood Street and Second Wood Street were both where supplies of cut wood were stored; Barony Road is the last surviving clue to the once extensive holdings of the Malbano family; and in 1621 Sir Roger Wilbraham founded the Wilbrahams Almshouses for six poor men of the town.

Public houses of Nantwich include the Boot & Shoe, a welcome to leather workers producing footwear in the area. The Swan With Two Necks makes a nice image, hence why it was used by the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Dyers' Company, and several others. Similarly the Leopard is an heraldic symbol representing the Weavers Company. The Frog and Ferret has no true etymology, it is a name which is quite suited for a pub name for it represents aliteration and two items which are otherwise unrelated.

The Wilbraham Arms features a family which have been associated with the place since Richard de Wilbraham was Sheriff of Cheshire by 1269. The Wickstead Arms remembers the family who came to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. The Cotton Arms is named after the family who were resident at Combermere Abbey, the inn dates back to the sixteenth century and was built in part using ships timbers.

I would welcome any suggestions for themes or subjects, or even specific words to examine the origins, meanings and etymologies. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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