The place-names and field-names of Puttenham parish

The following upload is an amended version of a handout I put together for those who attended my talk ‘The Place-Names and Field-Names of Puttenham Parish’, given to the Puttenham & Wanborough History Society on 28th March 2014. There was no projector so, in view of the fact talks on name topics are deathly dull without any accompanying visual stimulus, I had to give the audience what it probably didn’t know it wanted (but I hope was glad to have in the event).

The Place-Names and Field-Names of Puttenham Parish January 2015

It draws upon some of the research I gave a public airing to in an SyAS Medieval Studies Forum presentation back in 2010, plus one or two other bits I’ve written over the years. Maybe one day I’ll get around to doing a full write-up of all the historic and contemporary names within Puttenham parish (though not to the same depth as Richard Coates’ excellent book on the names of the Sussex parishes of Rottingdean and Ovingdean – I’m not that good…). In its present form it would make more sense if it had at least a paraphrase of what I spoke about on the day, but I hope it serves to give a flavour of the broad range of place- and field-names found in Puttenham, and that, with careful treatment, we can perhaps begin to discern those of Old English origin from the greater numbers of Middle and Modern English formations.

My original talk handout came complete with an annotated map of the eastern boundary of Puttenham Great Common as it existed in 1765 (which is more or less the same as its present line). Its purpose is to demonstrate how the adjacent fields bore an admixture of names referring to woodland and heath/furze, which collectively go a long way towards evoking an original (earlier medieval?) wood-pasture landscape. I didn’t incorporate into the above pdf because, well, I thought it could do with a splash of colour to bring out the patterning more clearly. My wonderful girlfriend turned her graphic designer hand to it for me and here is the result.

Field-names along east boundary of Puttenham Common January 2015

Fields-names indicative of one-time woodland cover (the Woodhorns) are in green, while blue stands for former open woodland (Houndley, accepting Della Hooke’s reinterpretation of Old English lēah). Enclosures from ground once covered by furze (or which saw periodic encroachment by it) are coloured pink, while the derivation of orange-coloured Heath Field is self-evident. Finally, the fields whose names stem partly or wholly from Middle English breche, “newly-broken land”, are in yellow. In my mind’s eye there was more intermixing of these name-types than there turns out to be once they are differentiated by colour. All the same, it does add new emphasis to the point that the area saw considerable – and almost certainly piecemeal – enclosure between (by my most cautious estimate) the eleventh and sixteenth centuries.

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