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Yew Tree Cottage; the yew in local place names

Yew Tree Cottages
Introduction
Landmarks & Roads named after
Yew Trees & Yew Tree Cottages
Yew Trees in the Garden The
Suburban Yew, Yew Topiary
History of Yew Tree Cottages
and their Yews

Yew Tree Farms and Yew
Tree Pubs

Conclusion
Appendix

Yew Tree Cottages

Yew Tree Cottage, Broughton, Hampshire
Yew Tree Cottage, Broughton, Hampshire

Introduction

This is a work in progress. It began in May 2006 with a plan to locate and visit local place and house names in a single English county that feature yews, which might then indicate whether a wider study would be rewarding.

It has not proved easy to find and investigate local place names with any scientific certainty. Place names are by their very nature idiosyncratic; they have been adopted haphazardly from of a variety of stimuli acting upon a host of people across many centuries. And, of course, this process continues still. Furthermore records are not conveniently accessible. House names in particular seem not to have attracted serious study. So I’ve spent a long time poring over maps and on computer searches to find yew landmarks and yew named properties. I have now traced over a hundred yew named properties and sites and have visited more than half of them. Conclusions are emerging, which the convenience of easily updating computer databases means that they can be fine-tuned as still more information is obtained. So whilst my site visits continue, now seems as good a time as any for this study to be placed on the Ancient Yew Group’s website.

Background

Place names can be fascinating signposts to past events or to historic landmarks – but how much do local references to yew trees in place names actually reflect the existence of major yews?

This is a simple question to ask but not exactly easy to answer.
What I had read in Robert Bevan-Jones’s “The Ancient Yew” (Windgather 2002) had alerted me to the possibility that 200 yew tree cottages might exist in England and some may be centuries old. With this thought already in my mind, I came across a Yew Tree Cottage near to where I live in Hampshire which contained a large veteran yew in its garden. It was then that the idea occurred it might be worthwhile searching to see how many other old yews were growing in Yew Tree Cottages in Hampshire.

I had hoped that there might be unrecorded huge yews just waiting to be discovered, however, it wasn’t long before I realised that such expectations were rather unrealistic. As what I began to discover about place names were different results to what I was expecting. Much like most searches really; what you often find turns out to be something you weren’t looking for.

But my search started well, I traced more place name references, especially of Yew Tree Cottages, than hitherto I had suspected. Yet upon actual visits these names and their locations were not so revealing of ancient yews. Nevertheless a range of smaller scale discoveries were revealed; which have been very pleasurable to uncover. Let me explain further…

The Scope of the Search

I began quite simply; I wanted to check for the occurrence of yews in town names, road names and as names for houses, pubs, farms and local landmarks such as hills and heaths. My self-imposed limit was to seek yew place names throughout Hampshire, in which I know yews are frequent and locally common. Firstly, I searched for villages or towns on maps, whilst road names were looked up on street atlases. This I hoped would give me quick results and might indicate the existence of prominent yews in the urban scene as well as in the rural landscape.

Road sign on approach to Ewshot, but sadly not a yew to behold
Road sign on approach to Ewshot, but sadly not a yew to behold

Of towns or villages only 2 yew sounding villages exist in Hants. Ewshot and Ewhurst are the 2 locations concerned and their names sound impressively old. Both locations are in the north of the county and both settlements are small. Ewhurst is scarcely a hamlet, more an estate with a park dating to the Georgian era. Sadly, a site visit there revealed no large yews in the neighbourhood. Ewshot, near Farnham cannot be termed a village. It mainly consists of a series of modern, affluent properties in a woodland setting with a small Victorian church and pub - yet with no sight of any prominent yews in its vicinity. Not a very satisfying introduction to my project.

Yew Tree Cottages
Introduction
Landmarks & Roads named after
Yew Trees & Yew Tree Cottages
Yew Trees in the Garden The
Suburban Yew, Yew Topiary
History of Yew Tree Cottages
and their Yews

Yew Tree Farms and Yew
Tree Pubs

Conclusion
Appendix

<< Area surveys of Non Churchyard Yews