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

Murder memorial stone at Botley Station

Behind the Victorian Fountain at the entrance to Botley Railway Station (so called – it is of course in Curdridge) there is a cast iron plaque mounted on cemented stones :

murder-memorial

It reads :

This Stone is Erected to Perpetuate a Most Cruel Murder Commited on the Body of Thomas Webb a Poor Inhabitant of Swanmore on the 11th of February 1800 By John Diggins a Private Soldier in the Talbot Fencibles Whose remains are Gibbited on the adjoining Common

The Talbot – or Tarbet – Fencibles were barracked in Botley at the time. Private Diggins, with two other soldiers, had come upon Thomas Webb, a poor and elderly pedlar, somewhere near Kings Corner (Pinkmead) in Curdridge. They not only robbed him of what few shillings he had, but then – according to a contemporary newspaper report – stabbed him, threw him in a ditch and stamped on him. Despite his injuries, Webb was able to crawl to a nearby cottage and get help – including the removal from his body of six inches of bayonet by a local surgeon. He was also able to tell what had happened – before he died. Diggins was found guilty of the murder at Winchester Assizes and sentenced to be hanged. The other two soldiers were acquitted for lack of evidence. Diggins was hanged in Winchester and his body then gibbited – that is, hung to rot – on Curdridge Common, between the main road to Shedfield and Outlands Lane. Thomas Webb was buried in St Peter’s Church graveyard, Bishops Waltham.

Meanwhile, the stone referred to on the plaque is not the cemented stones on which the plaque itself is mounted, but the undistinguished stone, without inscription, which sits half buried behind it. This suggests that the plaque was a later addition, Victorian perhaps, by when local history had became a subject of much interest.

All this can be found in more detail in local historian Dennis Stokes’ Botley and Curdridge – A history of two Hampshire villages, published by the Botley and Curdridge Local History Society (2007) – http://www.botley.com/history-society

I became curious about the plaque when I came upon the following:

Hampshire Treasures, Volume 1 ( Winchester City District), Page 82 – Curdridge

Memorial Stone Site of murder. Culprit hanged on local gibbet, cast iron plaque removed to Portsmouth City Museum. SU 520 130
1904 27

(http://www.hants.gov.uk/hampshiretreasures/vol01/page082.html )

How can the plaque have been ‘removed’ to Portsmouth and yet still be present in Curdridge ?

I wrote to the Museum about it. Their reply was :

“The original plaque was donated to the Portsmouth City Museum before 1945 & is kept in storage there, although it has been used in a display at Southsea Castle. The plaque at Botley Station, therefore, must be a copy.”

Our plaque a copy ? Why, that practically makes it a forgery !

Or, perhaps, for some reason, two copies of the plaque were made at the same time? But why ?

History, it seems, is full of mystery . . .

Still, if anyone knows anything more about this matter, do let me know.

*

Another account of the murder can be found at : https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/the-gruesome-murder-of-thomas-webb-1800-curdridge-hampshire/

 

 

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Curdridge myth and legend – Kitty Nocks and the Curdridge Witch.

This is an article I wrote for our local  ‘Curdridge Parish News’ in 2013 :

For such a small village, Curdridge has a wealth of myth and legend.  Many of you will know the stories of Kitty Nocks and of the Curdridge Witch – although they are often confused together.  The following versions of these tales are taken from various sources, including the archives of the Botley and Curdridge Local History Society.   I am grateful to Dennis Stokes for making these available to me. 

Kitty Nocks.    

Kitty Nocks – or Nox – lived in a big house surrounded by a moat at the top of Kitnocks Hill, perhaps where the present Kitnocks House now stands.  She had a suitor of whom her father disapproved so their meetings had to be in secret.  One day she was found to be missing.  A search was made and her body was discovered drowned in the moat.  It seems she had been trying to join her lover to elope with him – although another version of the story has it that she drowned herself in a nearby pond after her lover abandoned her.   It was after this event that the hill came to be known as Kitnocks Hill.  But quite when the event took place no one knows.  Nonetheless, since then her ghost is said to have haunted the top of the hill.  Her most recent reported appearance was in 1978 when a lad got off the number 53 bus at Kitnocks Hill and was scared half to death to find himself accompanied by a lady-ghost as he ran home down Lockhams Road!  

The Curdridge Witch.

As I’ve mentioned, there is often confusion between Kitty Nocks and the Curdridge Witch.   She is sometimes known as Kate Nocks – or Nox – and it is said that Kitnocks Hill is named after her.  However, what  seems more likely is that the Witch was an elderly woman called Kate Hunt, who lived, sometime in the 17th century, on Mill Hill, or thereabouts, near Pinkmead and the road to Botley. 

There are a number of stories told about the witch :

One day some trees were cut down and fell across her garden.  She was not at all pleased.  The next day the trees were found lying in the opposite direction, across the road.

She was also said to have flown to Bishops Waltham and back on a field gate ! 

Meanwhile, a servant girl used to travel regularly by horse taking milk and eggs to Bishops Waltham.  On her way she would deliver a pat of butter to Kate Hunt.  However, when the Witch repeatedly failed to pay, the girl was instructed to stop delivering to her.  Kate Hunt became furious and declared that the girl would get to Bishops Waltham quicker than she had ever done before.  The horse then set off at a gallop and didn’t stop until it reached ‘Clark’s Shop’, where the frightened girl found all her eggs broken and mixed up with the butter.

It was also believed that the Witch could turn herself into an animal, most frequently a large white hare.  It was finally decided that, as a witch, she could not be allowed to live.  The hare was tracked down and shot with a silver bullet – the only way to kill a witch – and Kate Hunt was later found at her home wounded.  She then died. 

There is also a ghost story associated with the Witch.   Many years later, a lady riding in a carriage with friends near where Kate Hunt used to live saw a woman wearing a red cloak, but no one else saw her and it was agreed that such a cloak was an unusual sight.  However, it seems that many years before it had indeed been common for elderly women to wear red cloaks.

 Confusions.

The confusions between these two characters are not just in relation to their names and to the origin of the name of Kitnocks Hill.  One story is that people used to visit the grave of the Witch Kate Knox in a churchyard near Kitnocks Hill to seek her advice.   They would go alone at midnight and intone her name three times and then listen for her reply. 

It seems clear that this practice must in fact have related to Kitty Nocks the drowned girl and not to the Witch.  There has never been a graveyard on or near Kitnocks Hill.

There is also confusion as to the identity of the gargoyle on St Peter’s Church tower which faces towards Kitnocks Hill and shows a woman – not obviously old – with her face displaying great distress.  Some say this is the Witch, but surely it was intended to be Kitty Nocks – unless of course those who designed the tower in the 1880s were also confused !

Kitty Noakes.

There is a third tale, not so well known, concerning Kitnocks Hill.  Commander Richard Phillimore, born and brought up at Shedfield House a couple of miles from Kitnocks Hill, told me the following brief story, learnt when he was a boy in the early 1900s :

There was a servant girl called Kitty Noakes.  One night, on her way home from work, she was murdered on the hill by a footpad [i.e. a mugger] and robbed of her wages.

I have not found this story written down anywhere before, but if you have heard it, or something like it, I would very much like to know.  Indeed, if you know any other versions of or additions to these stories please contact me so that I can add them to the store of Curdridge myth and legend for future generations of Curdridge folk to enjoy !

*

Kevan Bundell

kbundell@yahoo.co.uk

 

Sources :

Beddington, Winifred G., Christy, Elsa B., It happened in Hampshire,  Hampshire Federation of Women’s Institutes, Winchester, Fifth edition 1977,  p121  (This was first published in 1936).

Botley and Curdridge Local History Society archives, The Curdridge Witch (1693/1 – 3)and The Legend of Kitnocks (1693/4 – 5).  Taken from material collected by W S J Cooke.

“The Fairy Tale Has No Landlord”: On the Enchantments of Kitnocks Hill ( https://thegrammarofmatter.wordpress.com/the-enchantments-of-kitnocks-hill/ )

Moutray Read, D.H. 1911. Hampshire Folklore. Folklore Vol.22,No.3, p314.

Stevens, F.E. 1934. Hampshire Ways. London: Heath Cranton, p.51.

Summers, M. 1946. Witchcraft and Black Magic , London and New York: Rider and Co., p.192.

 

Kitnocks – the origin of the name.

(This article appeared in the April 2014 edition of the Curdridge ‘Parish News’).

You may have seen my article ‘ Curdridge Myth and Legend –  Kitty Nocks and the Curdridge Witch’ published in the March 2013 edition of the ‘Parish News’.   (If not, it is available at www.kevanbundell.co.uk[1] ).   That article tried to sort out the common confusion between the two characters in question.  This article is an attempt to go beyond the legends and explore the historical origin of the name Kitnocks.  So if you prefer myths and legends to historical ‘facts’, you should stop reading now !

*

Kitncoks Hill is a significant feature of the village of Curdridge.  Local knowledge has it that the name of the place derives from Kitty Nocks,  a young girl who lived and was drowned on the hill while attempting to elope with her lover.  Exactly when she lived  is not known.  The alternative explanation is  that the name comes from the so-called Curdridge Witch, but this seems unlikely as her name was probably Kate Hunt and she probably lived elsewhere in the village sometime in the Seventeenth Century.   Folklore writers appear to have confused the two characters.

Here is what we know  about the name Kitnocks from documents held in the Hampshire Records Office :

  • ·         In a document called ‘Customs of the Hundred of South (i.e. Bishops) Waltham’, dated 1259/60 there is mention of a Thomas Kutenok.  The implication is that Thomas was a tenant in the Hundred (an administrative area of land).[2]
  • ·         In the Rentals of Bishops Waltham for 1332, a Richard de Cutenok is listed as the tenant of a ‘1/2 virgate’ of land.[3]
  • ·         In the Rentals of Bishops Waltham for 1464, under the heading ‘COURDRYGGE’,  we read  : ‘a messuage [house] and 1/2 a virgate of bond land called Kotenokes, formerly Richard de Cuttenoke’‘Formerly‘ here means  that Richard was a previous tenant.   This is the first reference to the land itself being known by a name.  Elsewhere in this document  we find references to ‘the land of Kutenokes’ and ‘formerly Kuttenokes’.

The spelling is all over the place, but it is clearly the same name that is being referred to.   It seems clear that the name of the place that we have today has come down to us all the way from the name of the tenant family that held the land since at least  the Thirteenth Century. 

As for the name itself,  a little research reveals that ‘Cutte’ means ‘son of Cuthbert’ in Anglo Saxon,  and  that ‘Knock’ or ‘Nock’   is a shortened version of the phrase ‘atten oak’  or ‘at the oak’  (just as the name Noakes is ‘at the oaks’ or  Nash is ‘at the ashes’).   On the other hand it could be ‘atten nock’ , at a hill or knoll.

Be all that as it may,  if you have read this far and still prefer the legend of Kitty Nocks or the Curdridge Witch, you must not of course be swayed by my research.  Especially if you are in need of advice.  According to one Folklorist’s account it was customary to visit ‘Kit Knox Hill’ at midnight and to circle Kit Knox’s  grave three times,  ‘Then listen for the answer . . . council and guidance will always be given.’   I assume this custom has now died out, but do let me know if you know differently. I will then be sure to let whoever moves into the new houses just built on the top of the hill know – and tell them not to worry should they find folk wandering round their garden in the middle of the night !

Kevan Bundell

 

 

 

 

 


[1]http://kevanbundell.co.uk/2014/02/24/curdridge-myth-and-legend-kitty-nocks-and-the-curdridge-witch/

[2] Hampshire Records Office COPY/761/1

[3] 1332 & 1464  Rentals of Bishops Waltham Manors, Harold G Barstow, 1992.