Curdridge and Curbridge – the same or different ?

          

                 Curdridge                                                       Curbridge

I have often wondered whether the two Curs in our parish[1] are the same or different. That is, are they of same etymological origin, or are they just an historical coincidence ?

The first thing I noticed when I began to explore this mystery is that the first edition of the Ordnance Survey 1 inch map of South Hampshire solved the problem by deciding that they were one and the same. According to the map there is no such place as Curdridge. Everything is labelled Curbridge – not only Curbridge itself, but also Curbridge Common (the fields from the top of Station Hill to Lockhams Road, Curdridge Lane and The Plantation) and Curbridge House (now Kitnocks House at the top of Kitnocks Hill). They should, of course, be Curdridge Common and Curdridge House. Either the surveyors got confused or maybe someone in the office decided that the surveyors had made a spelling mistake. Fortunately, this was all corrected in later editions.

The next thing I did was e-mail my friend, and local historian, David Chun. He has written a fine book on the history of the River Hamble and its surrounds so I thought I’d ask what he knew about Curdridge and Curbridge. He advised me that he had read that ‘place name interpretation is complex, and not something that an amateur should dabble in!’

However, he also referred me to ‘The Place-Names of Hampshire’ by Richard Coates (1989). He then pointed out that there was a copy available on Amazon for 79p. I bought it at once. The postage was a good bit more of course, but still, it was a good purchase: it answered my question.

Curdridge originates from an Anglo-Saxon name meaning Cuthred’s ridge. In other words, some chap called Cuthred ‘owned’ or had otherwise been granted possession of what we now know as the village of Curdridge, which lies – largely – on a ridge.

Curbridge, meanwhile, was variously known – or at least spelt –as Kernebrugge, Kerebrigge, Kernebregge and Cornebrigge. These names – or spellings – do not obviously have any connection to our man Cuthred. The common cur component in the two village names is, it would seem, a coincidence.

But then there is another mystery. Mr Coates is not at all sure what the meaning of Curbridgde’s Kerne, etc, might in fact be. He is convinced on historical-linguistic grounds that it comes from the Anglo-Saxon for quern – that is, the lower stone of a hand-driven grinding mill, once a common domestic item. He is then understandably unconvinced that anyone would try to build a bridge over a river with a collection of quern-stones. It is, he says, a question he prefers to leave open.

One possibility, of course, is that kern does not refer to – or describe – the bridge, but was, as it is now, the name of the river. But then why would you name a river after a grinding stone ?

My reluctant conclusion is that what David read is right and that this is not the sort of thing an amateur should dabble in.


Kevan Bundell

  1. The Parish is Curdridge, of which Curbridge is a hamlet.

Frog Mill or Paper Mill ?

Frog Mill or Paper Mill ?

A few months ago I mentioned in the Parish News that Frogmill Track – off Wangfield Lane – is so-called because it leads, by footpath, to the now derelict Frog Mill. This was a paper mill, not a corn mill. Rumour says that it used to make paper for Bank of England bank notes, or for the Morning Post newspaper. After my comment appeared I received a phone call from Miss Katherine Stone, formerly of `The Elms’, Outlands Lane, now living in Botley. She was keen to tell me that the correct name of the mill is Paper Mill, not Frog Mill. Her grandfather lived there and always called it by that name.

Here was a mystery. It is certainly known as Frog Mill, or Frogmill, nowadays, and is named as such on OS maps. But even within living memory it was also, it seems, known as Paper Mill. I immediately contacted Dennis Stokes of the Botley and Curdridge Local history Society to see if he could help solve the conundrum. He sent me a paper from the Society’s archives, researched and written by John Hammond , which tells the following story :

Just a quarter of a mile upstream from Frog/Paper Mill sits Durley Mill. In the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries this mill was owned by a family called Frogge. Furthermore the deeds of this mill called it `Frogmill’ right up to the 20th century. Our mill, meanwhile, was, from its earliest record, in 1648, `called a Papermill’ and it was not until 1738 that it is first referred to as Frog Mill. By 1834 it is clearly referred to as `a paper mill known as Frogmill’.

There was obviously some confusion over the centuries and the name Frog transferred from Durley Mill to the Paper Mill, despite the name Frogge remaining on the former’s deeds. John Hammond suggests that Durley Mill `was, no doubt, referred to generally by the name of whoever the owner at that time might be’. This would explain at least why it lost the Frog name over time, leaving the name free to float downstream.

By 1862 Paper Mill was, according to its deeds, `long since disused’, although people continued to live in its associated cottage. John Hammond reports that Jesse Bannell (who was Ms Stone’s Grandfather) and his family lived there from 1871 until at least 1891 and that Walter Henry Elliott and family lived there from 1901 until the 1920s. By 1938 the cottage was no longer occupied and by 1965 the building were all derelict.

It remains a minor mystery how it was that while everyone else followed the confusing of the names and mills, those who lived there still knew very well that the `correct’ name was in fact Paper Mill. We must thank Miss Stone for keeping this knowledge alive !

Kevan Bundell

11.08.15