Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Place and streets names often derive from the person who founded them or lived there and so forth.   Some names are just curious whilst others have a story to tell :





Llywelyn was Prince of North Wales back in the 13th century and he had a palace in a lovely valley not far from Caernarfon.  One day the Prince went hunting leaving his faithful dog, Gelert, to guard his baby son.   When he returned the dog, covered in blood, sprang to meet his master.   The Prince was alarmed and when he found his son’s cot empty with bloodstains everywhere he assumed that the dog had savaged the child.  He promptly killed the dog with his sword.  He then heard a child crying and found the boy unharmed but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain.   The Prince buried the dog nearby and the village, near to the stone which marks the grave, is called Beddgelert.






John  O’Groats


A tombstone preserved in the church at Conisby in Caithness is that of one John De Groot, a Dutchman who settled in the area in the 15th century.  He ran a ferry across the Firth of Orkney for which he charged a fare of 4d and this little silver coin became known as a ‘groat.’   So this man not only gave his name to a coin but he also gave it to that famous village known today as John O’Groats.       De Groot built an octagonal house there – the story goes that in order to settle a dispute and quarrels over precedence amongst his seven sons, he built the house with eight doors to enable himself and each of his sons to enter the house by his own door, and he furnished it with an octagonal table so that each could sit at the ‘head’.    The site in marked by a mound and a flagpole.   In 1875, a hotel with an octagonal tower was built nearby.

John O' Groats 







In 1853, on his 50th birthday, Sir Titus Salt opened his visionary textile mill and workers village on the bank of the River Aire near to Shipley in West Yorkshire.  The mill had 4 beam engines supplied with steam by 14 boilers, which powered 1200 looms capable of producing 30,000 yards of cloth a day.   The village, called Saltaire, comprising 22 streets, 850 houses and 42 alms houses, provided almost luxury accommodation for his workforce.   There were no public houses, but a Club and Institute which cost £25,000 to build, catered for the moral and physical welfare of the community, together with reading rooms, a theatre, a library and several shops.   A School of Arts also contained a gymnasium and a billiard room, whilst wash houses were complete with washing machines and drying facilities.   There was of course a school for the worker’s children and a very fine Congregational Church which cost £16,000 to build.   The village even had its own fire brigade, was serviced by gas, and had a canal and a railway station.  Allotments were provided and the worker’s had full use of a dining room where they could bring their own food and have it cooked, or they could purchase food at very low cost.  Curiosities within the village are the four stone lions to be seen on guard outside the Literary Institute and the schools.  They had been commissioned for the embellishment of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square but in the event they were considered to be too insignificant for the purpose and were subsequently bought By Sir Titus Salt.  Landseer’s lions were of course chosen for the London site.

Although times have changed, the whole complex is now preserved and in 2001 became a World Heritage Site.   It is still a living community, but the houses, the mill and other premises are privately occupied.  The church, one of the nation’s most precious Victorian architectural gems, is now a Grade 1 listed building and the Italianate religious architecture is a sight top behold.







Salts Mill



Titus Street









On the western outskirts of  Pickering in North Yorkshire alongside the A170 road, is a large pond known as Keld Head Spring.   Legend has it that this was a favourite haunt and bathing place for the young King Pereduras, whose palace was on the banks of the pond.     The story goes that the King lost a ring, a heirloom passed from father to son to continued the royal line.  Apparently he accused a young servant girl of stealing the ring.  Some time later the King was served at dinner with a huge pike which had been caught in the nearby pond and as he cut open the fish, Pereduras found the lost ring inside the fish.  His triumphal discovery gave him the idea to call the town Pike-a-ring.    Of course, he married the servant girl and they all lived happily ever after.


Keld Head Spring





The Yorkshire Dales are a well known National Park in the north-west of the county. However, the dales of Yorkshire are widespread in all corners of the county.  One count revealed as many as 562 dales in Yorkshire.

No less than sixteen dales run into the hamlet of Thixendale on the Yorkshire Wolds.  The name of course means sixteen dales:  Waterdale, Williedale, Blubberdale, Courtdale, Honeydale, Buckdale, Longdale, Middledale, Breckondale,  Warrendale, Broadholmedale, Pluckhamdale, Millandale, Fotherdale, Bowdale  and  Fairdale.



Llanfair  P.G


Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch  is the longest place name in Britain.  It means St Mary’s church in a hollow by the white hazel close to the rapid whirlpool by the red cave of St Tysilio.’  It is said the name of this Anglesey village consisted of only 20 letters until it was renamed by a local man in the 19th century, making the name 58 letters long.  It is better known as Llanfair P.G, although tourists flock there to see the full  name in all its glory on the railway station platform.

 Llanfair PG







The small village of Flookburgh nestles on the northern edge of Morecambe Bay.   The weathervane on top of the church tower depicts a large fish – a flounder – which gives a clue to the unusual name of this village.   A Flook is the local name for a flounder, still caught in these parts.

St David’s


On size alone, St David’s in South West Wales, is no more then a large village with a population of some 2,000 people, but its cathedral qualifies it as the smallest city in the United Kingdom and it was so designated by Queen Elizabeth 11 in 1994. The cathedral was founded by St David, the patron saint of Wales in the 6th century but the present fine building dates from the 11th century. A casket behind the altar is said to contain the bones of St David and St Justian.
City of St David's



St David's Cathedral
St David's Shrine

Curious  place  names


A signpost on the A614 road at Holme-on-Spalding Moor in East Yorkshire, tells us that  The Land of Nod  is just 2 miles distant.  This remote spot consists of just two farmsteads.

Dull  in Perthshire is paired with Boring in Oregon, USA.

Come to Good  is the name of a hamlet in Cornwall near Truro.

Sixpenny Handley  is a village near Blandford in Dorset.

Sloley  is a hamlet near Worstead in Norfolk.

Great and  Little Snoring  are twin villages near Fakenham in Norfolk.

Cold  Christmas  is off the A10 between Ware and Wadesmill in Hertfordshire.

Fryup   is a name to be seen in the Eskdale area of North Yorkshire.

A Place called  Idle  is now a suberb of Bradford.  The local club comes in for a bit of stick – The Idle Working Mens’ Club!

A small place  called  Ugley  in Essex has a similar problem with  The Ugley Womens’ Institute!

I don’t know about  Sexey  in Devon.

Curious  street  names

The shortest street in York has the longest name – Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate.   In 1505 it was called Whitnourwhatnourgate, meaning ‘what a street.’    Known as the street of punishment it is said to have derived its curious name from the place where petty criminals were whipped, or even to relate to the custom of dog whipping on St Lukes Day – but nobody seems to know the truth.
The Land of Green Ginger  is the name of s street in Hull in East Yorkshire.
Paradise  is situated near the castle in Scarborough in North Yorkshire.
If you are in the Lake District look for  Leather, Rag  and  Putty Street in Hawksworth.
In Cornwall you can find  Squeeze Guts Alley  in Truro, and  Squeeze Belly Alley  in Port Isaac.
There are many alleys and yards in Whitby in North Yorkshire – look for Arguments Yard and Loggerheads Yard ?
Meanwhile do be careful if you are in the vicinity of Puddletown or Piddletrenthide in Dorset – a lane in nearby Cerne Abbas is called  Piddle Lane  which is where the puddle probably came from.




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