Sunday, 7 February 2016

Victorian house plaques

Over on facebook people are talking about plaques that appear on many Victorian houses in the town. I've long been interested in these, but rarely seem to have time to do any investigation and research that I could blog about.

In my post about Middleton Place, I mentioned the house names and the carved stone plaques, for example:

"Others (61, 63, 65 & 67) all had bay windows, were slightly taller than 53-59, with rounded arches over the doors, and with the house name carved into shaped stone above the door (Sunnydene, Lyndene, Rosedale & Avondale)."

and:

"Numbers 77, 79, 81 and 83, have very similar doorways to 61-67 and, like 61-67, the house names – Mystrayla, Jesmond, Danesford, and Cresford - were carved into a stone block above the doorway, but these were a more plain rectangular shape."  

These names do appear in the pictures that are on my Middleton Place page, but they are difficult to see, and I haven't had a chance to take further pictures. Nor have I been able to come up with any plausible solutions as to what the house names mean, nor why they were used. To date, all I've managed to come up with is:

Mystralya - spelled Mistralya seems to be the name of an elder god in a role playing game, Never Winter Nights, specifically from the Known Lands. Now, I may be wrong here, but I think this role playing game is a whole lot more recent than the house on Middleton Place!!

Jesmond - appears to be an area of Newcastle! Is this significant to Middleton Place? I personally don't know. Oh, and there are also places called Jesmond in Australia and Canada. Now, there is a place called Jesmond Dene, an important wildlife corridor that leads into Newcastle city centre: given the house names of numbers 61 and 63, is this significant in any way?

Danesford - is a small village in Shropshire, so why would a Loughborough house be so named?

Cresford - well, there's a Cresford Road in London, and a place called Cresford in Australia and Toronto, but why there is a house with such a name in Loughborough is a mystery to me,

Sunnydene - ok so "dene" could mean a sandy tract near the sea, or a steep-sided wooded valley. Maybe this house is situated in a sunny valley?

Lynedene - this name is found as both a forename and a surname. Or, lyne is a variation on the word line or lind. Or, linden is the name for a lime tree. Looking a bit deeper, lind could be mild or gentle, a lime or linden tree, to grow, or feed, a wellspring, to give birth or to bear, soft or thin, a bird, Spring, supple, vineyard's bud, sprout, plank, etc.. 

Rosedale - appears to be the name of a city in Maryland, and is also a name.

Avondale - appears to be the name of a city in Arizona, and is also a name.

To briefly return to the plaques ...

Sometimes plaques are quite ornate, but with minimal information, like a date, or the initials of the architect or builder. Nos 85 and 87 Middleton Place have a plaque bearing a date, whereas on Ashby Road and Chestnut Street, there are plaques with initials and a date, with house names and a date, and a variety of others. 







Next time you are driving along Epinal Way, do take a look at the elaborate carving on the side of Field House - swags and green men!
Well, this started as a blog about house plaques, and has ended mentioning green men - answers to the former on a postcard please, but don't mention green men ...


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If you have found this post interesting or have any questions about any of the information in it do please leave a comment below. I might not be able to answer immediately, but I will reply as soon as possible. Thanks for reading the blog.