The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
BRETON SIDE -- The last invasion that Plymouth suffered was by a party of Bretons in 1403, when the greater part of the Town was sacked, 600 houses burned and the inhabitants taken prisoner. The part of the Town that suffered most acquired the name 'Breton or Briton Side'.
CAMEL'S HEAD -- A relatively modern name. In 1827 Mrs George Collins of Ham House, Weston Peverel, who had been widowed the previous year, built a public house alongside the new road then under construction from Milehouse to St Budeaux, later named Wolseley Road. It was felt that it would be well to have a properly-conducted inn close to the waterside. The first landlord was a Mr James Rickard, who has been a loyal servant of the Trelawny family for some 27 years. The pub took as its sign the camel's head, off the coat of arms of the Collins family. This in time gave the name to the adjoining area. A special sign was carved by a Mr Bishop, of Devonport, for which he was paid £5. It later transpired that the camel's head was a misinterpretation of the family crest and some arrangement was made in 1911 with the College of Heralds to correct this situation. These facts were corroborated by Doctor Trelawny-Ross in 1937.
1860s map showing the Camel's Head
There is no evidence to support the oft-quoted theory that Camel's Head is derived from a Mr John Kemyll, who is said to have owned land in the area many centuries ago.
COMPTON -- Contona Domesday Book 1086; Cumpton 1284; Compton 1242; Comton 1284; Cumbeton 1285. A combination of combe and the Old English "tun" means 'a homestead in a narrow valley'. The manor was held by the Giffard family in the 13th and 14th centuries and gave rise to the later name of Compton Gifford.
COXSIDE -- Cocke syde 1591; Cockshedd lane 1605; Cockside 1661. There was a resident of Plymouth by the name of Richard Cokke in the 1468 Calendar of Patent Rolls, so maybe the area was associated with him or his family.
CROWN HILL -- The area was originally known as Knackers Knowle and is a modern name of circa 1880 to denote land at the crown of a hill. Nackershole 1765; Knackers Hole 1823. Origin uncertain but clearly what "Devon Place-names" describes as a 'term of contempt'. The first part could be connected with the present meaning of that word as a worked-out horse.
EFFORD -- Said to be derived from "ebb ford", a crossing place at the ebb tide. However, Ekwall gives the Old English for ford as as ae-ford, which could lead to corruption into Efford and simply mean 'a ford'.
EGG BUCKLAND -- Bochelanda Domesday Book 1086; Eckebokelond 1221; Heckebokelond 1275; Ekebokelond 1279; Hekebokelond 1284; Ecckebokelond 1308; Eggebokelond 1340. The first element indicates a personal name: the manor was held by Heca or Heche before the Norman Conquest (1066). The second element, "bocland" indicates 'land held by charter'.
ERNESETTLE -- Yernessettle 1281; Ernessetle 1282; Nythere Ernessettle 1320; Ernissetle 1321; Yernesetele 1383. Thought to be derived from the Old English 'ear' or eagle and 'setl' or seat, possibly referring to an eagle's restingplace. Alternatively, the 'Earn' might have been a personal name.
FORD -- refers to the natural feature of a ford across Keyham Creek. There were two early residents, Nicholas de la Forde 1238; and John atte Forde 1333. From the Old English Ae-ford, 'a crossing over the river'.
HENDER'S CORNER -- Former many years the junction of the Tavistock Road with what is now called Eggbuckland Road was known as Compton Lane End. That was the name used as the destination of the trams from Plymouth. However, nearby were the seed and flower nurseries of Messrs Hender & Sons, the property of Mr John Henry Hender and Mr William Thomas Hender, and eventually the junction became known as Hender's Corner.
HONICKNOWLE -- Hanenchelola Domesday Book1086; Haneknolle 1219; Hanknolle 1246; Hony Knoll 1737. Presumably Hana's or Haneca's knoll or Ekwall suggests possibly 'knoll frequented by wild cocks, "hana" being a 'wild bird' or 'cock' in Old English.
KEYHAM -- Keame 1629, 1643; Came 1765. Origin not known but possibly a personal name.
KING'S TAMERTON -- Tambretona Domesday Book 1086; Kyngestamerton 1281; Kyngestomerton juxta Sutton Prioris 1339. The Tamerton part is derived from a homestead on the river Tamar. The manor was held by the King from as early as the Domesday Book and so it came to be known as his Tamerton to distinguish it from Tamerton Foliot.
LEIGHAM -- Legham 1242; Leyham 1318; Lygham 1365. This name comprises two elements, "leah" and "ham". The first probably meant 'an open place in a wood where the grass could grow', says Ekwall, but it could also refer to 'meadow' or 'pasture-land'. The second element is the Old English for 'village, estate, manor or homestead' but is commonly thought to refer to the first named. If Ekwall's assertion that "ham" is older than "tun" as a place-name is correct then maybe Leigham is older than Sutton and could refer to the place that Sutton was south of, given that Weston is to its west as well.
LIPSON -- Lisistona Doomsday Book 1086; Lipston 1238; Lippeston 1242; Loppeston 1284; Lepston 1303; Lipston juxta Compton 1346. It is thought to be derived from the Old English for "leap-stone", in other words a mounting stone. However, it will be noted that the second element here is "ton" as in Sutton.
MARSH MILLS -- The marsh in question covered most of the valley on the Eggbuckland side of the river Plym and the tributary that fed the Efford Mill. May's Marsh was between what is now Longbridge Road and the river, while Coypool Marsh was on the Plympton side of the river below Leigham Wood. In the 1860s there were corn mills on the Plympton side, which were fed by the Cann Quarry Canal. The mills were situated where the South Devon & Tavistock Railway built the up platform of Marsh Mills Station in 1860/61. As the old City boundary ran up the river Plym, Marsh Mills was therefore in the parish of Plympton St Mary. They were also known as Woodford Mills after the nearby farm.
MILLBAY -- The area was formerly known as Sourepol, 'sour pool'. There was an important mill in the area in 1387 - it was the Manor Mill - but the present name first appeared around 1550, when it was recorded by John Leland as Mylle Bay. It is, of course, the bay by the mill.
MOUNT BATTEN -- Previously this area was known as 'Haw or Hoe Stert'. During the Siege of Plymouth in the Civil War, this area was used by the Royalists to bombard the Town. The nearby Fort Stamford was eventually taken by the Parliament's forces and earthworks were constructed here, of which Captain William Batten was placed in command. He was later promoted to Admiral and was knighted in 1647. After the War, when the Royal Citadel was being erected, an embattled tower was constructed on the headland, the Town having realised the importance of defending this area from being taken by any future enemy.
MOUNT GOULD -- A comparatively modern name, derived from Colonel William Gould, who was appointed Governor of the Plymouth Garrison and St Nicholas' Island in the last week of January 1644, during the latter stages of the Siege of Plymouth. Colonel Gould died on March 27th that same year, possibly as a result of injuries sustained during the attack on the Cavaliers at Trinaman's Jump (Roborough) on March 20th.
MOUNT WISE -- The Wise or Wyse family came from Sydenham near Lifton in Cornwall and acquired the parish of Stoke Damerel, living in their Barton at Keame (Keyham). Sir Thomas Wise built a mansion on a small hill overlooking the entrance to the Hamoaze and called it 'Mount Wise' because across the water was 'Mount Edgcumbe'.
NORTH CORNER -- This was the name given to the most northerly extremity of the Borough of Devonport, at what is today known as Cornwall Beach. The there was a landing stage here for the boats plying the river Tamar to Calstock. Everything to the north of this point was in the parish of Stoke Damerel but not within the Borough of Devonport.
ORESTON -- Pronounced Or-es-ton not Ores-ton. Worston Passage 1466; Horstone mid-1500s; Oriston 1739. Appears to refer to a stone that was a navigation marker on the river Plymouth. The first element could be derived from "har".
PEVERELL CORNER -- This is the name for the junction of Outland Road (formerly Tavistock Road) and Peverell Park Road.
PLYM RIVER -- Plyme 1238; Plime 1244; Plymma 1292; Plym 1359. Back-formed from Plympton.
PLYMOUTH -- Plymmue 1230; Plimmue 1231; Plimmuth, Plinemuth 1234; Plummuth 1281; Pleymuth 1292; Plemmuth 1297; Plumpmuth 1307; Plymmuth 1318; Plenmuewe 1322; Plympmouthe 1353; Plummouthe 1377; Sutton Prior vulgariter Plymmouth nuncupatur 1450. 'Plym' is generally accepted as being a back-formation from 'Plympton', which is older. The place at the mouth of the river Plym. The name 'Plymouth' was first officially substituted for that of Sutton in the Charter of King Henry VI (1440).
PLYMPTON -- Plymentun 904; Plimtun 1131; Plimpton 1225; Plintona 1086; Plinton 1179; Plumpton 1238. This is thought to be Old English in origin and mean the 'plum tree town or farm'.
PLYMSTOCK -- Plemestocha Domesday Book 1086; Plumstok 1228; Plimstok 1244 and 1281; Plimpstok 1284. Although the 'plum-tree stocc' has been put forward for the origin of this place-name (see Plympton above), it is more likely 'the stocc near the river Plym'.
St BUDEAUX -- Bucheside Domesday book 1086; Buddekeshid 1242; Seynt Bodokkys 1520; St Budox 1624; Saint Budeaux or Saint Buddox 1796. The earlier name for the parish appears to have been what we now call 'Budshead'. This is derived from the 1242 spelling, meaning 'Budoc's household'. The church is dedicated to the Celtic saint Budoc.
SPOONER'S CORNER -- The retail premises of Messrs J Spooner & Company were at the junction of Old Town Street and Bedford Street. This prominent site, directly opposite St Andrew's Church and St Andrew's cross, quickly became known as Spooner's Corner.
STOKE DAMEREL -- Stoches or Stoke Domesday Book 1086; Stoca 1174; Stokes 1242; Stok Aubemarl 1281; Stokedaumarle 1311, 1382; Stoke Daumarle 1316. The Old English "stoc" is thought by Ekwall to have originally meant simply 'place' but later acquired the meaning of 'cattle or dairy farm'. It is unusual to find the name Stoke on its own; there is usually another element. Hence Stoke Damerel refers to the fact that the Manor was held by Robert de Albamarla at the time of the Domesday Book 1086 and by Ralph de Aubemarle in 1238 in the "Feet of Fines" for Devon.
STONEHOUSE -- Stanehus Domesday Book 1086; Stanhus 1238; Stonehouse 1314; Eststonhouse juxta Sutton Prioris 1356; Esterestonhouse 1370; also a Westestonhouse 1480. A stone house presumably existed here. West Stonehouse is said to have been across the Hamoaze at what is now Cremyll.
SUTTON -- Sutona Domesday Book 1086; Sutton or Suttone or Sudton 1201; Suthton 1264; pola de Sutton 1275; Sottone 1291; Sytton 1319. Ekwall states that the Old English "tun" denoted 'fence' or 'enclosure' but soon developed into 'enclosure round a house', from which the accepted derivations of 'homestead', 'village' and 'town' come from. The first element in the name is 'South'. Sutton was the original name of the area now called Plymouth, although the name was originally applied to the harbour area only.
TAMERTON FOLIOT -- Tambretone Domesday Book 1086; Tamerton 1242; Tamereton Foliot 1262. Like King's Tamerton, it is a homestead on the Tamar but in case this held by the Foliot family from around 1242 and so called to distinguish it from the King's held Tamerton.
TURNCHAPEL -- Tan Chapel 1765; Turn Chapel 1827. There was formerly a chapel here dedicated to St Anne so it is thought this is a curruption of St Anne Chapel (s'tanne chapel and then evenutally turnchapel).
WHITLEIGH -- Witelie and Whiteleia Domesday Book 1086; Whytelegh 1242; Wittelegh 1284; West Whyteleghe 1405. A white leah.
WIDEY -- Wida Domesday Book 1086; Wythy 1242; Widie 1282; Wythey 1428. This is thought to be derived from the Old English word for willow and occurs elsewhere in Devon at Widdecombe.
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