Berkshire is a historic and diverse county.
Its six cities have a wide and varied history. Some, like Reading, date back thousands of years and contain historic sites like Reading Abbey.
Others, like the town of Bracknell, are much more recent. But what all parts of the county have are the suburbs and villages.
Some of them have rather peculiar names that go back hundreds of years.
We’ve already looked at the names of the towns in Berkshire and why they have the names they bear.
Now we are going a little deeper into the smaller areas of the county.
We’ve picked some of the most named areas in each of Berkshire’s six Unitarian Authorities to take a closer look at what their names mean and how they came about.
From the wilderness of West Berkshire to the suburbs of Slough, we’ve looked at the history of each place to find out how these areas of Berkshire got their name.
Some reveal fascinating images, and others are not so exotic, more practical.
Here are some of the most unusual place names in Berkshire and their origins.
Whitley sits south of Reading and is one of the most disadvantaged areas in the city and indeed the entire county.
The name means “white glade,” which could refer to local geology.
He even appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 under the name Witelei.
Tilehurst is not a particularly special name, but our research shows that the borough of Reading generally lacks odd names.
The original name of the village was “Tigel-hurst” and refers to the kilns that have been used to make tiles since Saxon times.
Rumor has it that King Alfred himself fought the Danish Army at Dark Lane, when the Danish Army used Reading as their headquarters – then set it on fire.
The West Reading Estate has had a variety of names, with its current spelling being in use since the 15th century.
It was recorded in the Domesday Book as “Sudcote” and other names included “Sutcot”, “Suthcot” and even “Southcoat”.
Its name comes from the Old English “suth cote”, which means “southern cottage”.
Bracknell’s unusual feature is the various exotic street names dotted around the estates near the city center.
Drivers can find themselves in places like Oxenhope, Pickering, Brunswick, Wordsworth, Viking and Hubberholme.
To learn more, click here, but it’s the suburbs and villages we’re looking at.
Why not start with Bracknell himself? It comes from the Old English Braccen-Heale which means “Bracken covered Nook”.
Once you get out of the heavily urbanized city center, Bracknell is full of green space, which is why the borough is called Bracknell Forest.
The village is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Bracknell.
Its name is derived from “Wineca’s Field”. Wineca being an old English name meaning “Little Friend”.
While Great Hollands looks like something Robin would exclaim at Batman during times of conflict, it is actually a housing estate in Bracknell.
Very simply, its name is the same as that of the old parish known as Easthampstead on which it is built.
Wokinghamis a largely rural borough where you can very quickly find yourself in the countryside, far from the city itself and smaller areas like Woodley.
Norreys is a large housing estate just outside of Wokingham town center. It was once a detached part of Wiltshire, believe it or not.
It is named after the Berkshire Norreys family, who lived at Ockwells Manor in Bray and Yattendon Castle in West Berkshire.
Most of the houses were built in the 1960s.
Finchampstead is another affluent part of Wokingham and includes spectacular Wellingtonia Avenue – a road of huge houses lined with giant redwoods.
Its name apparently comes from the abundance of finches that have, and still make, the region their home.
Barkham is a quiet village on the outskirts of Wokingham.
Its most famous export is probably the very successful Barkham Blue cheese.
Barkham is an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning “Birch Tree Home”, which refers to the birches on the edge of Windsor Forest.
The town cruelly mocked in poems reflecting on the idea of bombing it into oblivion is emerging as one of Berkshire’s economic powers.
It has a lot of history and oddly named places.
In addition to its name, Langley Kedermister also has a very unusual library, built by Sir John Kedermister, which gives you an idea of why it is called that.
Langley itself comes from Lang, meaning long, and leah, which is a wood or a glade.
An urban myth connects the Colnbrook name to the brutal murders of a couple who ran the Ostrich Inn in the 1600s.
But it doesn’t, and the real name comes from the much less sinister reason it stood on the tributary of the River Colne – Colne Creek.
Windsor and Maidenhead
If you want an expensive home, move to the affluent towns of Windsor and Maidenhead.
The area is full of charming villages, some with strange names.
Pinkneys Green is a hamlet on the outskirts of Maidenhead dating from the early 1700s.
It is not known if he is named after the Norman knight Ghilo of Pinkney, or his family in general.
They were a wealthy family from Northamptonshire who also owned Pinkeys Court, a nearby mansion.
Once named Britain’s second richest village, Cookham is another charming riverside region.
His name is recorded in the Domesday Book as Cocheham, which could be derived from the Old English words meaning “cook” and “village”.
This means that it was likely that a good cook lived in the village at some point in the distant past.
West Berkshire is full of small villages and hamlets.
Some of them, much of it on the outskirts of Hungerford, are among the most secluded places in Berkshire.
Bucklebury is where none other than Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, lived before marrying Prince William.
His family and TV presenter Chris Tarrant still live in the village.
His name in the Domesday Book is Borgeldeberie, which has evolved into Bucklebury.
It means “fortified place of Burghild”. Burghild being the name of a woman.
A pretty village that most people think of as little more than a motorway junction, Chieveley has a rather charming meaning.
It simply means “chive clearing,” which stems from the abundance of wild chives that once grew there.
A wealthy village where many people go to buy their Christmas trees, Yattendon has a long history.
It was called Etingedene in the 11th century, then Hetingedon in the 12th century, before finally taking its modern name.
Its name means either “the valley of the people of Eata”, Eata being someone’s name, or the “valley of the people of the gate”.
The gate in question was apparently the entrance to a small neighboring hamlet called Everington.