Sunday, 5 May 2013

Nottinghamshire Place Names

From my book Nottinghamshire Place Names comes two stories. In all my research I have never found anyone who earned the accolade of a place named after him more than James Hutchinson, the second of these tales. While his lifestyle would have been seen as unusual during his lifetime, today his choices seem quite extraordinary.

Two individuals whose eccentric behaviour certainly warranted them being immortalised in the sign showing the name of the place where they once lived. Darker's Court is named after an old miser, Thomas Darker, here in 1847. He became increasingly deranged, refusing to venture out of his single room other than to visit a nearby well under the cover of darkness. He repelled all who attempted to make contact, even his own brother was threatened with a gun when he resorted to breaking in. Eventually Darker went completely mad and, failing to treat a fever, he died. Later a search of his room revealed a large cache of gold and silver coins.

Back to what was then still known as Narrow Marsh for our second Nottingham street tale. For 76 years James Hutchinson had been a framework knitter working from his home, for the last 20 years the frame never left his window, nor did his seat move from alongside it. He lived to the ripe old age of 93 until his death in 1813. During his whole life he never ventured more than 7 miles from his home in Nottingham. He also had some strange eating habits. He was fond of proclaiming he had never even tasted tea and, most unusually for a time when water was considered unsafe to drink, drank no ale for almost the last 20 years of his life.

His diet was even stranger. In the same window as he worked were lined up 14 vessels, each containing a pennyworth of milk which he had purchased on 14 consecutive days. Each day he would consume the oldest of the milk, the more sour and clotted it was the more he liked it. During the warmer months in the window the clotted milk would often become too hard to swallow, he referred to this as 'cheesecake' and would boil it in order to make it liquid, and therefore drinkable, once more.

Such unusual behaviour did not affect him unduly. He lived until 1813 when he was 93 years old, leaving at least 30 descendants. For the meals alone he surely merited the name of Hutchinson Green.

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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