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
b) Fictional characters
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.
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.
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.