What’s in a (Place) Name?

Lillingstone LovellLillingstone Lovell.

There’s over 170 towns and villages in the North Bucks area, and each one has its own name. But what do these names all mean?

Nearly every one started off as a brief but clear description of a certain place, usually in the words of Old English, the ancient Anglo-Saxon language that was in use from the 5th Century until about about 1250 A.D.

There’s a dozen with ‘ford’ in their name, (this is an easy one to guess) but there’s 19 with ‘den’ or ‘don’, (both mean ‘hill’) and a massive 36 with ‘ton’ in the name. ‘Ton’ means a settlement or a farm, perhaps a village or an estate; a place with buildings.

Often somebody’s name would be part of the description; so Haddenham is Haeda’s village or homestead. ’Ham’ means nearly the same as ‘ton’.

Of all the places with ‘ford’ in their name, the ones with ‘Stratford’ in the name mean a ford where a Roman road or street crossed a river or brook. Fenny Stratford was a muddy or marshy crossing; Stony Stratford was a gravelly one.

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Norman is Well Preserved

Stewkley church is one of the most complete and remarkable Norman churches in the whole of England.

Unlike many other churches, it has retained its original layout and small Norman windows, and  although it was restored in Victorian times, they carried out the work with a light and sympathetic touch, even removing some dubious earlier additions.

The result is a church that looks very much as it did when it was first built, in the late 12th Century.

Stewkley church towerThis is one of eight carved figures at the top of the church tower. I don’t want to call them gargoyles because they contain no water spouts (the word comes from the French “gargouille”, meaning “to gargle”) .

But I hesitate to call them grotesques, the other term, as half of them represent the four evangelists, saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

This carving might be a portrait of a local; it was often the case.

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The Year in Pictures

Here we are in 2020, a new year but not a new decade, no matter what they tell you! Today we are having a look at some of the highlights from the last twelve months, and a few photos from the archives.

The HighlightsWeeding on the allotmentNew Year’s day last year was a fine day for a motorcycle ride. Though not too warm, it was dry and sunny. I rode up to the classic vehicle show at Stony Stratford, and when it finished just before lunch time I took to the back roads and ended up in Olney.

On the way I stopped at Stoke Goldington when I saw this fellow working on his allotment. I think he was starting the year as he meant to go on...

Detail  Earthly Messenger statue 03The only statue of David Bowie in the whole world is in Aylesbury, and it was a year old in March. There were strong links between Bowie and Aylesbury’s Friars music venue, and when David Bowie passed away in January 2016 there was a memorial event that drew over 3,000 people. A petition to create a Bowie statue was started that day…

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The Rest of Christmas

Snowing  and treeIn the Ouzel Valley Park, Milton Keynes

The North Bucks Wanderer (that’s me, folks) will be taking some time off, so there will be no post next week. But I will back to regular posting on Wednesday 8th of January, two weeks from today. (I’m posting this on Christmas Eve)

I will be selecting some of my favourite photos for an end of year revue on that first post of the New Year. Many will be ones already published in this year’s posts.

But a few will be photos that couldn’t be used although I liked them, usually because the post was already too long. There might even be a few photos from my archives, just because I want to show you them,like the first three photos here.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the first two are of the same tree. These two and the next one were taken in the Ouzel Valley Park, in Milton Keynes. The last one was taken just last week, at the tiny village of Grove, right on the edge of the county. It’s the lock keeper’s cottage.

Happy Christmas and all that. There will be some of you out there who find this time of year to be rather a struggle. To you especially, my best wishes.

Tree  snowIt's that tree again.

Winter trees  Ouzel valleyThough this seems to be out in the country, these trees are also in the Ouzel Valley Park, in the middle of Milton Keynes.

Xmas tree  at Grove  in BucksThe lock keeper's cottage, Grove.