Monday, 31 October 2016

Not So Royal Residences

Found myself in Windsor Great Park recently and recalled an interview on BBC Radio Berkshire with Anne Diamond when I launched my Berkshire Place Names. Our chat had been interrupted due to a serious traffic problem in Windsor and we took the opportunity to define the place name which, as you can see below, has nothing 'royal' about it whatsoever.

Buckingham Palace replaced St James' Palace as the official residence on the succession of Queen Victorias in 1837. It had been used by royalty since Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, used it as her private residence from 1716. Although there have been a number of houses on this site, the core of the present building had been built for John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham in 1703. This dukedom takes the name of the county town of Buckinghamshire, a name not seen before the early 10th century and one from Old English inga hamm following a personal name, this is 'the land in a river bend of the family or followers of a man named Bucca'.

Clarence House is another royal residence to have taken its name from a dukedom. Built by John Nash between 1825 and 1827, it is named for the Duke of Clarence, the future William IV. Unlike Buckingham there is no place of this name in England, this example comes from the town of Clare in Suffolk, a manor held by Lionel of Antwerp, the first Duke of Clarence. As a place name Clare is derived from the river of the same name, a British or Celtic name meaning 'bright river'.

Glamis Castle has been home to the Lyon family since the 14th century, although much of the present building dates from the 17th century. The village of Glamis takes its name from the Scottish Gaelic Glamhus, literally 'wide gap' and a reference to the vale in which it is found.

Hampton Court appears as it does today largely through the redevelopment of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey around 1515. This favourite of Henry VIII fell out of favour 15 years later and the king made himself well and truly at home here. As a place name it is quite common and has three possible origins, this example coming from 'farmstead in a river bend'.

Holyrood House may be in Scotland but is an Old English place name, from halig 'holy' and rod 'cross'. This building was originally a 12th century abbey founded by King David I. Its most prized relic being the 'black rood', said to be a part of the True Cross and brought to Scotland by his mother, St Margaret.

Osborne House had been bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from Lady Isabella Blachford in October 1845, but soon proved far too small and what we see today is a reworking completed in 1851. The name of the place comes, once again, from Old English, here eowestre burna meaning 'the stream by the sheep fold'.

Windsor Castle, the name that first came to mind, comes from Old English windels ora and describes 'the bank or slope with a windlass'. Here, simply by defining the place name, we have an image of a steep and muddy bank where the only way to load and unload vessels on the river is by winching loads on a sled-like affair up and down the bank. Such names are those I particularly enjoy as it gives an image from history which no painter would commit to canvas and no camera could record.

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