Interesting Field Names In and Around Bovey Tracey
Frances Billinge 2022
The field names of holdings in Bovey Tracey can be traced using documents such as medieval records, manor rent rolls, the Norden survey of 1613, the Gulielmus map of 1641, and the tithe apportionment of 1841.
The names can be divided into those describing the land, wild or domesticated animals on the land, vegetation, local industry, and people.
The meaning of each field name has been researched using Gover, Field, the English Dialect Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary as well as other sources. If you are interested in a particular farm or field and want to know more please do get in touch.
Below is a list of the more interesting names.
Bladder above Mary Street, and at Whitstone. Land where water rushes down and possibly where bladders were washed.
Cost and Lost at Pullabrook , Costelost at Hawkemoor, Costilost at Parke. Work on these fields was not financially worth the effort expended.
Pixey Park at Higher and Lower Cridiford. A bog or marshy ground.
Pladda meadow at Challabrook. ‘Plud’ means the swampy surface of a wet ploughed field, or a puddle. Pludda near Bovey Bridge is an area which floods.
Quillet at Elsford and Indeo. Narrow strip of land
Spiruxe, Spiricks , Higher, Spirucks at The Biberies on the road to Hennock just past the parish church. ‘Rix’ is Old English for rushes and the ‘spur way’ element means a bridleway running close by these fields.
Whistle Field at Shute and Whistlewell. Whistling referring to a noisy spring.
Whitstone Cleave, Whitstone Meadows and Whitstone Rock Plantation at Whitstone. Probably ‘at the whetstone’.
LIVING FROM THE LAND AND ANIMALS:
Baxhay Meadow at Little Bovey probably indicated a hay meadow at the back of the holding. The English Dialect Dictionary refers to ‘backsay’ as a cut of meat with the saying, ‘a backsay of beef’ which could refer to pasture for fattening- up animals.
Bibery at Churchstile. It is thought to mean the place where beavers were, from Old English bebr or Old German bibar.
Brockhill at Coombe Reeves and Middle Coombe suggests a noticeable presence of badgers.
Court Close at Woodlands, Southbrook, Bucks Barn and Soldridge. A grass plot around a house; also in Devon cattle are usually reared in enclosed open spaces called ‘court’.
Otterishes at Beera farm. Gover maintained that Ottery was Od(d)a’s tree but Field considered the term referred to otters.
Stray Park was the pen for collecting stray animals. It was on the edge of the historic borough, now on Avenue Road. Owners had to pay a fine to release their stock.
Ullacombe on the Haytor Road and Owlcombe at Plumley and Hatherley. Owl valley.
Woolley at Higher Woolley; Woolley Marshes at Lower Marsh and Meade Wully at Aller. Wolves wood or clearing.
Cuckolds Park in Little Bovey. Cuckold is the fruit of the Greater burdock, Arctium lappa, which used to grow more plentifully in the area.
Five Witches on the Haytor Road. Witch hazel is not a native plant locally so this more likely refers to Hazel, Corylus avellana or Witch elm, Ulmus glabra.
Folley near Indio. A clump of trees on the crest of a hill or on a stretch of open ground. The name was used by the earlier pottery business.
Kelly at Elsford . Means ‘bare clearing’.
Rixey Close at Shapter, The Rix Plot at Challabrook, Rix Parke at Scottway near Le Molay Littry estate and Rixey Parke at Wifford. ‘Rix’ refers to rushes.
Coles Pits at Lower Coombe suggests mining.
Pittlande at Stickwick farm; Pit Park at Plumley and Pit Meadow at Beera. Refer to some of the many mining areas around Bovey Tracey.
The Bowshoote at Lower Credford refers to archery training.
Castle Down Meadow at Higher Coombe suggests the site of an ancient ‘castle’ or perhaps hill-fort.
Henstreet Ochard and Henstreet meadow. Henstreet was previously called Hind Street/ Behind Street as it ran behind the main street in Bovey Tracey.
Vagabond Stoneborough at Brimley is the site of an historic borough boundary stone referred to in beating of the bounds.
Scotta Cliffe at Hethercombe, Scothill Cleave at Middle Coombe and Scotway Meadow on the Molay Littry estate. ‘Scot’ probably refers to payment for a customary tax in the Manor rental.
Pullabrook has had many different spellings over past centuries. Gover’s view was that Pullabrook as a place name was likely to derive from the personal name ‘Polla’ because of the ‘ll’ spelling, rather than from the Old English word ‘pol’ meaning pool.
Most of the fields were named for landscape features. This was followed by fields named for their location. Living from the land, and woodland were the next most common.
It is unknown what some of the names mean and this requires further research, For example Casseldon suggests an ancient use. Borough Park, far from the historic borough, suggests a boundary. It is not known where the Donacote stone was sited on the historic manor boundary. Was Sanshill on sandy soil, or was it a pun to describe flat land? Are the Spirux fields by ancient bridleways? What is the soil like of Dough Park? Is Yarner Cast still evident, and what was it for?
Thanks to Oliver Padel for his seminars which have taught me so much about the complexities of field and minor place names.
 London Metropolitan Archives. John Norden , 1615-16 Survey of Devon manors CLA / 044/05/04 , on line www.lma.gov.uk; Devon Heritage Centre, Gulielmus Map of the Manor of Bovey Tracey c. 1640 2802Z/1; Devon Heritage Centre /DEX/4/a/TA/50/Bovey Tracey 1839, Tithe Apportionment, on line www. devon.gov.uk-tithe map; Devon Heritage Centre 1058M Bovey Tracey Courtenay of Powderham manor rolls.
 Gover J.E.B., Mawer A. and Stenton F.W. The Place Names of Devon, 1932, reprinted 1992 (Nottingham, The English Place Name Society); Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A., Stenton, F.M. eds 1992. The Place Names of Devon Part I and II (English Place-Name Society, 1sr issue 1931, reissued 1986, reprinted 1992) pp. 466-9..; Gover 1932; John Field 1993, A Dictionary of English Field- Names (Harlow, Longman Group UK Ltd); Joseph Wright, 1898. The English Dialect Dictionary (London, Henry Frowde) on line www.archive.org; Oxford English Dictionary on line www.oed.com .