Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lincolnshire Place Names

With the up-coming release of Lincolnshire Place Names, courtesy of Fineleaf Editions, talks in the county on that very subject are on the horizon. Thus here is a taster.


A name found in Domesday as Lude, although the earlier form of Hludensis monasterium in 790 tells us much more. The name comes from Old English hlud, itself given to the River Lud and describing itself as 'the noisy stream'. Those from Louth are referred to as Ludensians.

The name of the Lincolnshire Poacher may allude to those who lived off the game from the lord of the manor, but here the reference is to the tradition song of The Lincolnshire Poacher. The Miller's Daughter is a typical rural pub name, the sign featuring a young lady with a windmill in the background. The Massingberd Arms is named after the family who have held land here and been resident at nearby Gunby Hall since around 1700.

Louth's most obvious feature is St James' Church or, more correctly, its 295 feet high spire is one of the tallest in the land. The ascent of this daunting climb was made to repair the weathercock and on another occasion the spire itself following lightning strike. However it is the unofficial climbs which are of more interest. In 1771 Anthony Fountain, a sailor from Doncaster, went up and came back down quite safely, although the purpose of this exhausting venture is unknown.

However we do know the reason for Louth cobbler Benjamin Smith climbing the church on 5th May 1818, it was to win a bet he had made with a pedlar. Smith, having just consumed no less than ten pints of beer, boasted he could climb the church without any trouble whatsoever. Up he went, right to the very top where he daringly danced a hornpipe on the top stone of the spire. On the way down he paused to climb and recklessly balance on only one leg on the very point of one pinnacle. When he finally reached the ground he found the joke was on him. The pedlar, whom he left holding his jacket and the stake money, had vanished and he returned to the pub where he still had to pay for his ten pints!

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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