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.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Carbon Footprint

There is no truth in the rumour that global warming is caused by the many journeys undertaken by scientists to conferences on the greenhouse effect. Similarly the film crews criss-crossing the planet looking at climate change here, there and everywhere probably have had little to do with the overall problem.

Burning of fossil fuels is generally accepted to be the problem but the question of who is to blame remains. Yet perhaps we should look elsewhere instead of blaming the motorist, the airlines, and industry. Look back and we find the ecologists started warning us during the 1980s, a decade which saw the advent (at least in the UK) of firstly breakfast television, then daytime television and, all within six short years, live coverage of the Houses of Parliament.

While I'm not singling out the BBC, it is worthwhile taking a look at a schedule which includes Homes Under the Hammer, Car Booty, To Buy or Not to Buy, Cash in the Attic, Escape to the Country, and numerous other examples of supposed entertainment filmed in 'ordinary houses'. I have no doubt these progammes are highly entertaining for some, including a certain elderly relative who insists on 'having them on in the background for company' when I'm visiting. Yet such individuals would be just as entertained if the programme makers turned the bloody lights off!. In every room in every house (and in broad daylight!) every single light is turned on. Maybe once good illumination was required for the cameras but not today.

I'm sure if we removed every ton of carbon produced by Lorne Spicer and her myriad lightbulbs the planet would be much better off.

Sunday 13 May 2012

A Childhood Memory

A title for a blog post I found online when stuck for an idea. Haven't been a child for some forty years, at least not chronologically speaking, yet recollections of those distant times are not entirely hazy. I did the usual things: hated primary school, almost entirely because of the teachers; quite enjoyed grammar school, acquiring a collection of scars (courtesy of rugby union, a hockey stick, and the school railings); and on reflection, albeit a bit of a loner, probably wasn't the most difficult of children.

One thing I do remember with affection is a particular Sunday morning when, as usual, I awoke to my weekly comic left at the side of my bed the previous evening by my father. This week pater had brought something new and very different. I cannot recall what I read prior to January 1963 but on this particular morning I discovered issue number one of Treasure, which I am told should be referred to as an 'educational magazine for young children' and not a 'comic'. Inside I found the usual comic strip format, featuring characters such as Willie Winkie, who had a ticket enabling him to travel anywhere, and the first part of a story I had never encountered before, Mary Norton's The Borrowers. Later other classic stories were given the same treatment, The Water Babies, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wind in the Willows. Added to this were snippets on wildlife, history, science, etc., a few puzzles and very little colouring (I loathed colouring, drawing, painting, and still do).

A little research revealed this magazine was published for just 8 years and 418 issues, although I stopped reading about 1967 I think. In 1971 Treasure was incorporated into World of Wonder and thereafter into Look and Learn. Difficult to say for certain but I've always thought this publication to have had a big influence on my childhood, perhaps it did stop me grazing knees while participating in games I had no natural ability or enthusiasm for and turned me into a bookworm, or maybe not.

What has always surprised me is how in the forty years since I have mentioned this publication whenever the subject of childrens' comics has been raised and, while everyone recalls Dandy, Beano, Jackie and the rest, nobody ever remembers Treasure. They have no idea what they missed.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Etymology of African Nations (M - Z)

Folowing on from last week's post, the origin and meaning of the remaining nations of the continent of Africa.

Madagascar is an old name and one not easily explained. The name is recorded by Marco Polo in the 13th century as Madeigascar. All we can say for certain about this name is it is not African for the native peoples originate from Indonesia to the east.

Malawi is a Chichewa word meaning 'flames', which is said to describe the reflection of the rising sun on any of the three large lakes.

Mali was the original name of the country from the 11th century, it comes from the native Malinke people.

Mauritania is an Arabic name which evolved through Greek translation to describe 'the land of the blacks'.

Mauritius was named by Admiral Van Neek in 1598, the Dutch admiral honouring Prince Maurice of Orange, the rule of what is now the Netherlands.

Morocco is a Spanish corruption of the former capital city of Marrakesh, itself from the Berber and meaning 'fortified'.

Mozanbique is said to be another African name of Portuguese origins. They settled on a coral island off the coast in 1508 and the local people spotted them and, according to Vasco da Gama, described the mosambuco or 'gathering of boats'. It must be said this does sound highly suspect etymology.

Namibia takes the name of the Namib desert, itself named from the Nama or Khoekhoe language to describe the 'vast place'.

Niger takes the name of the river, which in turn comes from Tamashek gher ngheren 'the river among rivers'.

Nigeria as above, this is 'the river among rivers'.

Rwanda is named from its inhabitants although the meaning of the word is uncertain.

Sao Tome and Principe was named by Portuguese sailors after St Thomas who landed here on his feast day.

Senegal is another taking the name of the river, which is yet another African name influenced by the Portuguese. The Berber name is Zenaga, thought to refer to the river as 'navigable'.

Seychelles was ceded top the French by the Portuguese, who knew them as the Seven Sisters, and promptly renamed after the French finance minister Vicomte de Sechelles.

Sierra Leone is the Spanish version of the Portuguese name coined by explorer Pedro de Cintra, who saw the land and called it Serra de Leao 'the lion ridge'.

Somalia is from a Cuchite word meaning 'dark, black'.

South Africa is indeed exactly where it says, the southernmost part of the African continent.

South Sudan shares its origin with the following.

Sudan is from Arabic biladas-sudan describing 'the country of the blacks'.

Swaziland is a corruption of the tribal name, which came from their warrior king of the 19th century MsWati III.

Tanzania is a combination of the two countries which united in 1964. Tanganyika is explained as kou tanganyika 'the meeting place (of the waters)' and refers to the lake, while Zanzibar is thought to represent a combination of Arabic zang and Iranian bar 'the country of the black skinned people'.

Togo is named after Lake Togo, a name of unknown origins.

Tunisia is named after its cpital, with Tunis of unknown origin. Often said to represent the Phoenician goddess Tanith, the name is known to pre-date the ariival of the Phoenicians.

Uganda is named from the Swahili name for the inhabitants, the Ganda.

Zambia is derived from the River Zambezi, itself meaning 'big river'.