"That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Well actually there can be quite a lot in a name, if we only know what we're reading. In Juliet's case being a Capulet prevented her from loving a member of the rival Montagues because of the history between their families. And when it comes to other names they often contain much more history than first glance would suggest.
This week, to join in with Amy's Five on Friday at Love Made My Home, I'm looking at street names and the kind of stories they often hold.
Two weeks ago we looked at William Wilberforce and noted that Hull has named a street after him as a memorial to his achievements. Many such streets exist around the country (and probably the world) and often the memory of what the person did is long forgotten. But the fact that it represents a person is usually obvious. Other names are less clear. Let's have a look at a few.
This one's in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, and although you can't see it easily in the photo the street is called Moat. It's one of the last remaining signs, other than the village name itself, that a castle ever stood in Donington. There are other strange street names in Donington that might be assumed to be castle references, for example The Biggin, which just translates from Middle English as "the building". But one never knows.
The Mutton Shut
This one's in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. The word 'shut' refers to a shortcut and is one of many such terms used to describe this kind of narrow alley. Depending on where you live in the UK you might know such a way as a snicket, a ginnel, a jennel, a jitty. Often the words describe the narrow walkway leading to the rear of a street or house. In Hull, for example, where we have spent the last two weeks of Five on Friday, it's called a tenfoot. Other places call it entry, jigger, pend or ennog. In Much Wenlock's case the Shuts give you a clue to what you'll find at the other end. Often they are named after pubs! The Mutton Shut connects up with George and Dragon Shut, if anybody fancies a pint.
This one is fun. In spite of being a very old (and narrow) street in Lancaster, the name is relatively new. Its previous moniker Swap Cunt Alley, was much more open about what went on there. It was renowned as the place to find a prostitute - useful information for a sailor newly disembarked from a long voyage.
And while we're on seedy subjects here's a lovely illustration of the phrase "where there's muck there's money". A coprolite is fossilised animal dung. It translates from the Greek and basically means 'shit stone'. Coprolites have been known as a potentially rich source of minerals for many centuries and garden product manufacturer Fisons exploited the local source around Ipswich in Suffolk for its phosphate content. Near the docks, where part of Fisons factory once stood you can still find Coprolite Street - though that's not what the students at nearby University Campus Suffolk (UCS) call it!
And now let's go back to Hull. This is probably one of the oddest names you'll ever find. Writer Winifred Holtby (South Riding) used it as the title of one of her novels, but it pre-dates her as a street name. A blue plaque nearby says its origin "remains a mystery". Fun though, isn't it?
Now take yourself off to Love Made My Home to see what other fives are on offer this Friday.