Sunnyside: A History of British House Names

Laura Wright

This book discusses developments in the history of British house names from the earliest written evidence (Beowulf's Heorot) to the twentieth century. Chapters 1 and 2 track changes from medieval naming practices such as Ceolmundingchaga and Prestebures, to present-day house names such as Fairholme and Oakdene: that is, the shift from recording the name of the householder (Sabelinesbury, 'Sabeline's manor'), the householder's occupation (le Taninghus, 'the tannery') and the appearance of the house (le Brodedore, 'the broad door'); to the five main categories still in use today: the transferred place-name (Aberdeen House), the nostalgically rural (Springfield), the commemorative (Blenheim Palace), the upwardly mobile (Vernon Lodge), and the latest fashion (Fernville). The development and demise of pub names and shop names such as la Worm on the Hope and the Golden Tea Kettle & Speaking Trumpet are detailed, and the rise of heraldic names such as the Red Lion is explained. Chapters 3-5 track the house name Sunnyside backwards in time to prehistory, through English, Latin, Scottish Gaelic, and the influence of Old Norse. Sunnyside's ancient origins lie in the Nordic practice of solskifte, a prehistoric method of dividing up land according to position of shadows, but the name was boosted in the eighteenth century by Nonconformists (especially Quakers), who took it to America, and in the nineteenth century by American celebrity influence. The book contains an appendix of the earliest London house names to the year 1400, and a gazetteer of historic Sunnysides.


List of Abbreviations
List of illustrations
1 The Earliest London House Names
2 Victorian Villas
3 London's First Sunnysiders
4 Religion, Fame, and Sunnyside
5 Sunnyside and the North
Appendix 1 Pre-1400 London House Names
Appendix 2 House Names from William Porlond's Book
Appendix 3 Stagecoach Names
Sunnyside Gazetteer


Dr Laura Wright is a historical sociolinguist. As an undergraduate she studied English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, where she analysed the grammatical and lexical make-up of the Medieval Latin/Anglo-Norman French/Middle English mixed-language documents of London Bridge. She is currently a Reader in English Language at the University of Cambridge, where she has worked since 1996. She publishes on medieval mixed-language business writing, on the development of extraterritorial Englishes, on the language of London and trading, and the development of place-names.