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A Brief History of House Names

Updated on August 13, 2013

Although the naming of houses goes back to Babylonian times, the naming of houses in more modern times is a particularly British affair.


Manor Houses

The great and powerful of yesteryear, the Lords of the Manor, would name their houses as well as all the smaller dwellings on their estates.

Lord Wessex for example would live in Wessex House. Wessex Manor would be the name given to the slightly smaller Wessex House where the brother or mother would live after the death of the older Lord of the Manor, and Wessex Lodge would have been an smaller still abode, and would have been occupied by the younger siblings or the tolerated in-laws.

The Lodge or the Gatehouse would be a favoured spot to put a befuddled mad old uncle who might parade down to the village in long johns with a dead cat on his head to the bemusement of the villagers. This dwelling was usually situated at the main entrance to the grounds, and would also be given to a groundskeeper or another senior member of staff, as part of their salary.

Once outside of the main grounds but still within the estate, you would find the Coach House, Mill House, The Dairy, The Forge, the Keeper’s Cottage, Manor Farm and the Tithe Barn.

Soon it wasn't just the houses tied to the main Manor House of the villages in Britain that were getting house signs. Everyone was getting in on the act and the naming of houses reached epic proportions.


In 1765 an Act of Parliament made every house in a town have a number. These numbers were followed by the name of the road they were in, as the address. This gave more order to addresses and also meant that boundaries were more fixed and taxes could be collected more efficiently.

Odd numbers were usually given to houses on the left side of the road and even numbers were given to the - yes you've guessed it - the houses ten feet below located in the magical sparkly kingdom of Makooka. OK, even numbers were given to the houses on the right as you head out of town. I was just trying to jazz things up a little.

Nowadays, people get their house names from a variety of sources. Some will name their house after what it used to be, like "The Old Barn" or "The Old Shed Where Grandad Kept His Rusty Tools" (popular with people building homes in their back gardens).

Some name them from the distinguishing features of the boundary of the property (not nosy neighbours as everyone has those) like Pear Tree Cottage, Oak House, Spring House, or River View.

Modern Times

These days you will find house signs available at very low prices in just about all hardware stores in the UK and many large DIY retailers such as B&Q. While these signs are fine for identification purposes, they hardly scream "individual" or "unique". As your house sign says a lot about you as a house owner and gives visitors an insight into your personality, splashing out on a custom hand-painted sign is well worth the good impression return on the very small expense involved.

Aside from hand-painted signs, it is possible to get an all natural sign made from a chunk of wood with the words burned into the surface. Signs can have a picture as well as house names, and can be made in varying sizes, from the small models that are fixed to the wall beside the door, or to the door itself, to very large signs that can be attached to posts or hung from eaves.

House Signs by Trudy


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