As I will be speaking in the county in the near future on the subject of place names, I offer a quick taster taken from my book published a couple of years ago.
This delightful name was listed as simply Torp in the early 13th century, a Scandinavian term for a farmstead. Shortly after this we find a Middle English manorial addition in contesse, which means this is 'the outlying farmstead belonging to the countess'. The name of Buckingham Road comes from a former resident of the orphanage in Countesthorpe. William Buckingham went from a small boy reliant on the charity of the Leicester Board of Guardians, to fighting for his country in the Great War of 1914-18. William lost his life during World War I, but not before his acts of bravery earned him the highest of military honours, the Victoria Cross.
Other streets in Countesthorpe named after individuals include Barnley Close from Dr E Wynne Barnley who in 1925 was one of the few ladies to have achieved such a position. She had help in running the surgery by Miss Lindsey Stanyon and her efforts are remembered by Stanyon Close. Beechings Close is on developed land which was formerly the line of the railway track and among the thousands of miles torn up as being uneconomical following the now infamous Beeching Report. Elliotts Yard stands on what was once Eales farmyard, the personal name probably refers to William Elliott who was a yeoman and churchwarden in 1753.
Ladbroke Grove recalls the 13th century lord of the manor William de Lodbrok, former factory owner Leopold Wacks and his generous investments in Countesthorpe are commemorated by Leopold Close. A former 20th-century headmaster of the school Mr Edward Marston gave his name to Marston Close, and former Leicestershire and England cricketer Maurice Tompkin to Maurice Drive.
Former landowners have always been a favourite for street names. Bassett Avenue recalls William and Christopher Bassett who were here by 1851 the latter gentleman also giving his name to Christopher Close, while a century earlier John Benskin owned 109 acres of which Benskyn Close formed a part. Although Edward Ludlam certainly held land here in 1680 he was never a resident but the family is still marked by the name of Ludlam Close. Any history of the village cannot fail to mention the Tebbs family who have been recorded here since the late 18th century and are marked by Tebbs Close. Countesthorpe is twinned with the French town of Mennecy and this is marked by Mennecy Close.
Four pubs in Countesthorpe have names originating from four different areas. The Bulls Head is a common name which would originally have been a part of the coat of arms of the lords of the manor. We also find the Railway Inn, predictably close to the site of the station, and a King William IV which was likely built or named such at some significant point in that English king's reign. Lastly the Axe & Square which was named such by a former landlord who had earlier worked as a carpenter, a welcome and imaginative diversion from the usual names associated with this trade.
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.