Friday 31 October 2008

Where is that place?

Did you know that -

  • Bedfordshire has its own California, Ireland and Stratford?
  • ‘end’ is probably the most common placename element (even more common than ‘green’) in Bedfordshire hamlets and that there are fourteen places called Church End and six called Water End?
  • St Peter de Dunstable was a parish in Bedford, not Dunstable?
  • many places have the suffix –hoe, –oe, -o or –ow (derived from the Old English hoh, describing the shape of a hill)?

This and much more fascinating information about places in Bedfordshire can be discovered from Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service’s website.

It is unfortunate that the websites of county record offices and public libraries are so often hidden within the complex structures of local government websites because many of them contain information treasures for the local historian. BLARS’ home pages are one such hidden treasure. They are subsumed under Leisure and Culture at and are vital for Bedfordshire’s historians. One of the most useful sections is the Guide to Bedfordshire Parishes within the section on Guides to Collections.

It lists the county’s ancient and modern parishes (as you would expect), dating many changes of status. It explains civil parishes and ecclesiastical parishes. It notes the effect of county boundary changes on the counties into which parishes or parts of parishes fall. It also lists ‘hamlets, townships, ends and localities’ - the small places, the dispersed settlements that seem to occur in all except the smallest of parishes and are often so difficult to locate. And it goes beyond the county by listing the 80-or-so contiguous parishes and hamlets in the counties adjoining Bedfordshire.

Altogether, a treasure trove for local place names and an example for other counties to follow.

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