Monday, 18 March 2013

Name-holdings

There's a t-junction nearby known as Bonkers corner, derived from Bank House Corner. Bank House Farm being at the end of the lane. That particular Bank House is still there. There were at least three other Bank House Farms (Upper and Lower included) around here once. Plenty of embankments.

Most of the farms have kept the names of their tenant farmers from years ago. So Tomlinson and Gardener's Farms don't have the Tomlinsons or Gardeners living there anymore. The previous inhabitants are as part of the landscape as the buildings. Waymarkers, inscribed on maps.

So when people moved into School Villas (down the road from where the old school was) and changed it to 'Chick Villas', it seemed a casual disregard, almost insulting, of the place. As if their smallholding of chickens took precedence over the previous role of the house. I don't know if someone said something, but a month or so later, the new plaque was removed and the old name reinstated. I might be imaginging the curse, but I always thought it bad luck to rename houses.

Crook Cottage, however, neighbour to Crook Farm, was originally Mill Cottage (housing the nearby Abbey's mill). Perhaps it was sold to the farm after the abbey was dismantled for family or workers and so became Crook. Crook Farm is so-named for its location in the crook of the estuary.

Our place is called Lighthouse Cottage, despite the (replacement) light having been demolished in the nineties. The old fireplace still stands in an external wall, and the stone flags that would have been the foundations of the light are still, in part, visible. But no light. In name only.

As with the fields, layers of past activity and residents are sometime evident, other times not. Not everything can remain to honour the past. There isn't the space. As with memory, the reasons for forgetting can also be lost.

It's a kind of hording, reminding me of an attic crammed with old clothes, photographs, toys and momentos. Does my clinging to names, suggest a reluctance to allow it to become past? Aware my own presence here could be lost, like the mill. And yet, I've renamed all our outbuildings: the shed of shame, the shed of danger, the garage of retirement (already renamed to the garage of redemption), creating new histories in the small time we've been here, despite their previous purposes of housing fishing tackle, cows and the lighthouse oil. I'm busy making a new cartography for the place. An aural map, which of course will always be incomplete.

3 comments:

Mick North said...

Small world. My mother's/grandmother's family were all Cockerham farmers, and Bank House Farm was owned by her cousin, Donald Cornall. We didn't see much of them, but for several years during my childhood we'd drive over to collect a freshly killed Christmas turkey.

jane eagland said...

Love the idea of naming your outbuildings! And what intriguing names. What one wonders gave rise to the 'shed of shame'....?!

Sarah Hymas said...

How funny, Mick! So you'll remember those 90 degree corners in ice then! Bonkers Corner indeed!

And, Jane, the naming of sheds I think will have to wait for another post... long and sorry story :)