What Was That Name Again?

Do you know – or have you ever heard of – any of these names?

  • Lacey Green
  • Stanley Wrenthorpe
  • Rodney Stoke
  • Mavis Enderby
  • Cherry Willingham

Well, I propose a little quiz for those of you who don’t know them. Are these

a) Musicians
b) Fictional characters
c) Actors
d) Places
e) Ships 
f) Artists

What do you think? Have you made an educated guess? Here are some more names in the same category:

  • Compton Martin
  • Burton Joyce
  • Askham Richard
  • Lach Dennis
  • Thornton Curtis

Getting warmer? Can’t you just imagine the dulcet tones of Lacey Green and Cherry Willingham performing their duet at Covent Garden Opera House, or Rodney Stoke’s unforgettable interpretation of Hamlet with the RSC? Mavis Enderby must surely be the heroine of a tragic Edwardian novel and didn’t you see those impressive paintings by Stanley Wrenthorpe at the Tate Modern? You probably heard about the disastrous cruise a few years ago when the Burton Joyce ran aground.

Has that jogged your memory? Or have you already resorted to Google and Yahoo, or asked Jeeves? Well, maybe you need another clue to put you out of your misery. Here are some more:

  • Catherine de Barnes
  • Wentworth Woodhouse
  • Clifford Chambers
  • Bishop Norton

And if that hasn’t done it for you, these must:

  • John O’Groats
  • Ben Nevis
  • Juan les Pins
  • Alice Springs

Got it? Bishop Norton has lots of relatives – Brize, Chipping, Midsomer and Hook to name but a few. Perhaps I could – at a pinch – add Mable Thorpe and Ashby de la Zouch?

Most of these places are in England, two in Scotland, one in France and one in Australia. I’ve always been intrigued by the name of the village Catherine de Barnes, seen on motorway signs near Birmingham airport, and which sounds like a Jane Austen character.


Photo credit: Wikipedia

A few years ago I was amused when I drove past Rodney Stoke near Bath, Somerset. Then as I searched for long dead ancestors in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, up popped Stanley-cum-Wrenthorpe, Wentworth Woodhouse and Mavis Enderby. I reaiised that many villages include Christian names that don’t have “St.” in front of them and started looking out for them consciously.Rodney Stoke

I suppose you could say that Ben Nevis is cheating, as it’s a mountain and not a village or town, but check out any large-scale map of British counties showing villages and hamlets, and among the very picturesque sounding names you’ll probably find a whole lot more that sound like people. Let me know if you do.


12 thoughts on “What Was That Name Again?

    • Surprisingly not! Catherine de Barnes (known to the locals as Catney) was originally Ketelberne, and Mavis Enderby was Malvyssh Enderby, though Enderby is a surname (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mavis_Enderby – this is a very interesting entry). Sometimes a family name was tacked onto a common village name, as in Rodney Stoke or Wentworth Woodhouse. Stanley and Wrenthorpe were two hamlets that merged, and probably the place name Stanley came before the family name. Cherry Willingham is lovely – “ing” = tribe or family, “ham” is homestead, so it’s the homestead of Willa’s family with a cherry tree (or orchard).

  1. I love the way you ruminate through your posts. I was plumping for actors. I have come across some interesting village names and I love them as you do. On Thursday I went up to York to say hello to Grandchild No1, and saw quite a few interesting names near York. Researching their origins is what Winter is for 🙂

  2. There are some great stories behind some of these names. Rodney Stoke is a Thankful Village because all its men came home from WWI, no fallen. I just found that Douglas Adams wrote a book called “The Meaning of Liff” where he gave definitions for many of these place names – also “The Deeper Meaning of Liff”. Must get it for Christmas 🙂

  3. Danke für deinen lieben Kommentar ja das war damals eine schöne Musik ich möchte sie sehr,war gestern bei meinen Enkelkindern die hatten Geburtstag sind 19 Jahre geworden.Ich wünsche dir noch eine glückliche Woche lieber Gruß Gislinde

  4. Compton Martin said something to me (where is it?!) and I got it at Wentworth Woodhouse – thanks, Dianne!!! – it’s fascinating stuff!

  5. Ha! Catherine de Barnes is very inventive! “Catherine de Barnes welcomes careful drivers” is a very welcome variety to “Please drive carefully through our village!”. (Luckily, they did not add “….the others should stay outside”)

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