What’s In a Name?

Home Sweet Home

What’s in a name? That what we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare.

One of the delights of walking through any village here in the Cotwolds, whether our own village of Blockley or any of the others we’ve visited, is seeing the many different and creative names owners have given their homes or cottages. The variety is infinite, with some choices obvious and others less so.

 Many of the house names in Blockley appear to have a historical reference.

House naming in England apparently has a long history, beginning with noble and/or rich families naming their halls, houses, manors, castles, and lodges according to ancestry, location, and family titles. Gradually the less well-to-do began to name their homes as well.

There are plenty of residences named for trees, plants and flowers . . .

British house names fall into several categories: Animals and birds (Badger Cottage for example), trees (e.g. The Willows), plants and flowers (e.g. Honeysuckle Cottage), locations and views (e.g. Meadow View), historical (e.g. Coach House), fairytales and old favorites (e.g. Thimble Cottage), and holiday or beauty spots (e.g. Windermere). The most common house name, believe it or not, is simply The Cottage, with Rose Cottage a very close second (we have seen one in every place we’ve visited). Since 1765 all houses have been assigned a number and road address, but in a small village the name is often better known when it comes to directions.

. . . and many named for their location or view.

Our own cottage here has a somewhat unusual name: Glebe Cottage. A glebe was traditionally a piece of land given to the vicar or other clergy to help provide them with some additional income. In our case, instead of land, the vicar received two additional buildings next to the vicarage. More recently, the bigger house next door was rented to the village doctor, and our little attached building was the doctor’s surgery/office, but the buildings are old and before that, we have no idea what they were used for and no one else seems to know either.

As you may have guessed from the pictures, name signs don’t fall any particular rules. They can be carved into the building or built into the stonework, or a unique plaque made for the house. One residence in Blockley has its name carved into a ledge halfway up the side and wraps around the corner of the house.

What would you name your cottage? Brett and I have frequently talked about this during our walks, and finally came up with three names we liked:

  1. Brentford House (the name of the street I lived on as a child, with many happy memories)
  2. Sunset Cottage (as we’re entering the sunset of our lives)
  3. Little Hampton (a family name from Brett’s side)

We’ve even found a few whimsical names and the occasional mysterious ones.

We continue to find house names endlessly fascinating, as each house is unique and so are their names. Some, of course, are more interesting or mysterious than others but it remains a joy to read them and think about how or why a name was chosen for that particular house.

24 thoughts on “What’s In a Name?

  1. What a fascinating post! Thank you…..this is a question to ponder. It reminds me of naming a boat.

    Maybe Lilac Cottage since there are several on my property and I love them. Not very original though.

    I thought of you when I received an email this morning from Jacquie Lawson. She is a British artist with a website from which you can send electronic cards. Each year she does a new electronic advent calendar and the email this morning announced the 2019 calendar is set in a fictional Cotswold village! My first thought was I have been enjoying photos of life in the Cotswolds for two months now!

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    1. Lilac Cottage sounds lovely and would certainly fit right in over here.

      We are out of the village right now (in Bath) and I can’t believe how much I miss it, and we haven’t even been gone for 24 hours. I used to consider myself a “city mouse” but I think that’s changed (although Tokyo may change that back).

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  2. I have a penpal in Northampton whose family home was named “Wellside”. She and her husband lived in a home named “Kastania”. I would name my property “Morningside”.

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    1. “Kastania” is a name that would make me wonder about its origins every time I passed it or heard it. I think I can guess why and where “Wellside” came from and I like “Morningside” too – very pretty (even though I’m not a morning person).

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  3. With Instagram, you can name your home! When I first joined, we named our home Blust Haus, as a nod to our German surname. After I remarried, it became Chez Vermillion / Blust Haus. Even with the divorce, I’ve kept it that way for my stepsons as well. If I ever move, it will be fun to come up with a new name!

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    1. We’ve been known to call our house “Crazytown” – does that count? Actually, you got me thinking whether family names are used for homes and I don’t think we’ve seen any, at least not in Blockley.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! Our son named his home “Hill Manor”, so because we are west of him, we are “Hill Manor West”. But we only use it with tongue firmly in cheek. I like Valhalla, as it is our street address and has really grown on me.

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    1. Both your son’s and your house names would fit in perfectly here, tongue in cheek or not – they both sound very British. But Valhalla! It’s German but would be a great name to come home to .

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    1. I have been taking pictures of house names since we arrived, so many that I finally decided to write a post about them. It’s such a British thing; in the U.S. it seems the only houses that get named are B&Bs or huge homes of the very wealthy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here. There was a trend to call homes, ruo emoh, our home backwards. Half jokingly. Think it was early to mid last century. Old homes, which for us is anything older than about 70 years, have or get them from new owners to reflect the history. Otherwise it’s a bit pretentious. That said, I’m getting one. Our house is about 125 years old. I can’t give the name as it is a combination of my husband’s name and our street name.

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      2. I think that’s why most homes in the U.S. are not named because it comes across as pretentious (because large historic or famous homes or those of the wealthy are named). Wow – I did not realize your home was so old, and a grand dame like that deserves to have a name. The name turned backward is interesting because it sort of sounds to my untrained ear like a name of the original people.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Also have another correction to make. My house was built in 1925, so is 94 years old. I mixed up its age and its year of construction. Still, pretty old. It is heritage protected. Well, the front which is the old bit. Not the back half.

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      4. That really is an old house for Australia. Does heritage protection there give you a tax break, or does it just mean you have to maintain it or ???

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  5. Great post and great photos! Thank you for keeping us up to date with your travels and your adventures. I would probably name my home “Retiree’s Nest”. My wife and I use our home as a safe and secure spot to venture out from on our travels and daily life. It is our nest to always fly home to for sanctuary and comfort. Keep up the great work!

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    1. “Retiree’s Nest” is a fine name because it perfectly describes how you feel about your home. Brett and I liked the name “The Nest” for a cottage, although it seemed a bit too simple for us and “Nest Cottage” would be overkill from what we’ve seen here.

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    1. “Beggar’s Roost” seemed almost American in nature compared to most of the other names in the village – when Americans name their homes the names can be very tongue-in-cheek. Someone here with horses would be more likely to name their home “Pasturelands” or something like that.

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  6. Rom has always lived in a named house! And the mail carriers in the UK always find every house on their routes. Must be a challenge! (For his parents’ house, mail is addressed to the house name, then the street name – no number). We are always joking about names for our house; usually something combining our names or pet names with a more traditional word, like “Scratchy Cat Hollow!”

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    1. I would think going by the name might be difficult in a place like Blockley because it’s still growing and new names are being added. Also, I wonder if people change the name if they buy a house or cottage and don’t like the name and how that would affect things like directions, etc.

      Of course after I wrote this, and after we’d discussed names for weeks, if we ever bought a house again and settled down I think “Nomad’s Rest” would probably be the most appropriate.

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