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  • Writer's pictureRoyston Nicholls

Funny British Place Names – the Odd, Rude and Downright Silly

This summer, Jodi and I have been searching for a new place to live and at one point we looked at a house in the village of Sixpenny Handley, in Dorset, much to the amusement of Jodi’s siblings, Donna and Rob. This reminded me of an occasion, many years ago, when I discovered two tour members giggling at various place names in my road atlas of the UK. And there are some rather strange names.

Sixpenny Handley in Dorset. The numbers are the map grid reference for that spot.

Photo: Roy Nicholls

In Dorset, where we live now, there is a River Piddle and along the river are the settlements of Puddletown, Tolpuddle (famous for its martyrs), Affpuddle and Briantspuddle. These villages once had the prefix Piddle-, but this fell out of favour in Victorian times. There is a Piddle Brewery, which has some wonderful advertising slogans! And to perhaps compliment these, there is the village of Over Peover (also known as Peover Superior) in Cheshire.

Another Dorset village, Happy Bottom

Photo: Pubclic domain

Britain also seems to have a fixation on bodily parts. Hence you have Boggy Bottom in Hertfordshire, Happy Bottom in Dorset, Booty Lane in North Yorkshire, Bottoms Fold in Lancashire, Broadbottom in Cheshire, Bedlam Bottom in Hampshire and Charles Bottom in Devon. There is also Bachelors Bump in Essex, Backside Lane, in Oxfordshire, Clay Bottom in Bristol and Bareleg Hill in Staffordshire. There are far too many places with the prefix Cock- to mention (although I do like Cock Lane, near Tutts Clump in Berkshire), and there is a hill called Brown Willy in Cornwall, three villages called Willy and a road in Oxford called Crotch Crescent. I was also amused to discover that there is a Fanny Hands Lane in Lincolnshire, a Feltham Close in Hampshire and a Grope Lane in Shropshire.

Crotch Crescent in Oxford

Photo: Public domain

Norfolk is a favourite holiday destination for us, and we have stayed in the delightfully named villages of Great Snoring and Little Snoring a couple of times. In Leicestershire there is the small village of Barton in the Beans (it is described as having a chapel and a phone box). Leicestershire was once noted for cultivating the broad bean (Vicia faba) and in this way the bean has been perpetuated in place names. In the 19th century there was a saying, ‘Shake a Leicestershire man by the collar and you may hear the beans rattle in his belly’. And to perhaps compliment this are the villages Belchford in Lincolnshire and Brokenwind, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The village of Little Snoring in Norfolk. The village sign commemorates the existance of an RAF airfield during World War 2

Photo: Roy Nicholls

Barton in the Beans, Leicestershire. Obviously a quiet place

Photo: Public domain

There were obviously many people who did not like where they lived, because there is the famous Dull in Perthshire, Scotland, Nasty in Hertfordshire, Twatt in Orkney and Shitterton in Dorset and Shittington in Bedfordshire. Also ambivalent about where they lived, were the founding fathers of Crudwell in Wiltshire, Wetwang in Yorkshire, Blubberhouses, also in Yorkshire, Splatt in Cornwall and Ugley in Essex. Whereas the villagers of Swell in Somerset, Stop-and-Call in Pembrokeshire, Wales and Come-to-Good in Cornwall are obviously proud of where they live. But what possessed the residents of Thong (Kent), Upperthong (Yorkshire), Pant (Shropshire) and Mudford Sock (Somerset), I am not sure. And honourable mentions should go to Stow cum Quy in Cambridgeshire (I am not even sure how to pronounce this) and Shingay cum Wendy in Buckinghamshire. And in Kent there is a hamlet called Ham. The nearest town is called Sandwich.

The world-famous Dull in Scotland

Photo: Public domain

Thong. What can one say?

Photo: Public domain

And everyone's favourite, Ham in Kent

Photo: Public domain

And I can assure you, these are all genuine places and there were many others that did not get a mention because I was worried about your delicate sensibilities. And finally, my apologies to all the residents of these communities, I am sure they are exceptionally fine places to live!

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