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Many of the house names in Blockley appear to have a historical reference.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:
- Brentford House (the name of the street I lived on as a child, with many happy memories)
- Sunset Cottage (as we’re entering the sunset of our lives)
- 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.