Have a go at the Norfolk Name Game this Christmas

Keith Skipper is a big fan of The Norfolk Name Game and is encouraging everyone to give it a whirl t

Keith Skipper is a big fan of The Norfolk Name Game and is encouraging everyone to give it a whirl this festive season. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

Looking for a lively party exercise to test the old grey matter this festive season? I heartily recommend The Norfolk Name Game.

You can start off taking it seriously with genuine meanings. For example, Cromer is derived from crawe and mere, thus making 'crows' pond'.

Our ancestors chose names carefully to describe the people, wildlife or countryside where they lived.

Ashmanhaugh means 'the pirate's enclosure' and Bawsey hails from 'gadfly island'. I often cheat a bit and tell strangers our county's hallowed name was bestowed in days before hosepipe bans and drought warnings when water levels were extremely high – 'Noah-Folk'.

Right, that's the cue for you to let imagination run amok and treat every signpost as a juicy challenge. Here are a few suggestions to put you in the mood. Some of these come from good friends unashamed of their calling. The really clever ones are mine:


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Ashill – scene of Norfolk's most famous smoking concerts before they transferred to Hackford.

Bawdeswell– from the cry of residents who ran bed-and-breakfast establishments in Chaucer's time as pilgrims approached – 'Come ye and reste awhile … four groats wille afforde ye board as well'.

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Burston– home of the first pay-as-you-leave public convenience in the Diss area.

The penny later dropped in Puddledock and Riddlesworth.

Carbrooke – settlement strangely named after excuse for lateness proffered by Iceni taxi driver to an angry Queen Boadicea.

Ditchingham– village name derived from a social meeting place where former sweethearts met to divide any spoils they might have collected together.

Hockering– Predictably from 'Hock-a-ring', a 19th century pawnshop on outskirts of the village.

Lessingham– delightful example of Norfolk whimsy. The village earned its name from a famous declaration made by tipsy carol singers.

Poringland – derived from the location at heart of the East Anglian rain belt. Other heavy falls at Booton and the Raynhams.

Saxlingham Nethergate – named after a memorable reply from a farmer asked by his workers what they should do with items collected from his barn…'Sacks? Sling 'em near the gate'.

Shelfanger – named after pioneering do-it-yourself evening classes held here.

Sloley – quite simply, the settlement named in honour of the true Norfolk way of life.

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