Only in England
Having lived in Oxfordshire, England for seven years during the 80's and early 90's, this story put WayBack Machine near its redline: English place names shocking.
CRAPSTONE, England — When ordering things by telephone, Stewart Pearce tends to take a proactive approach to the inevitable question “What is your address?”I once lived in Duns Tew, and always wondered what kind of thing a Tew could be that would allow it to come in the varieties of Great, Little, and Duns.
He lays it out straight, so there is no room for unpleasant confusion. “I say, ‘It’s spelled “crap,” as in crap,’ ” said Mr. Pearce, 61, who has lived in Crapstone, a one-shop country village in Devon, for decades.
In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.
Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.
These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.
As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.
Many village names are picturesquely descriptive: Ascott-under-Wychwood (where I also lived), and Hinton-under-the-Hedges. Even the most cynical have a tough time dodging a wave of pastoral bliss when hearing them.
The article omitted a couple of my favorites. Whether for reasons of space or decency, though, it is hard to say.
For instance, Upper Dicker in East Sussex.
Or, my favorite for scaring the uninitiated, Horton-cum-Studley. Which is where, at the village manor-turned-restaurant, this picture was taken 19 years ago:
I have occasionally wondered about the etymology, only to conclude some questions are perhaps best not answered.