Putney High Street, SW15

Place Name

Originally plain High Street. The name was changed sometime in the 1930s as efforts were made to reorganise street names to end confusing duplication. The name Putney itself has Anglo-Saxon origins and comes from two words pyttel meaning hawk, and hȳth (landing place), which may be a literal description, from early times there was a fishery based here, that may have attracted hunting birds. Another suggestion however is that it may be named after a person called Putta based on a nickname. Caroline Taggart in The Book of London Place Names writes: “More likely… Putta or his father or grandfather was given this nickname because he kept hawks, looked after hawks for the local lord or, equally plausible, had a hawk-like nose.” Either way, it was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 written as Putelei. This spelling, says John Field in Place-Names of Greater London “exhibits a number of Norman peculiarities, including the confusion of l and n, and an insensitivity to certain other consonant sounds” but having taken the country by storm 20 years earlier the Normans were perhaps less interested in native sensitivities. The name featured again in 1279 written as Puttenhuthe and Putneth in 1474. The first time the contemporary spelling came about was in 1639 when it was recorded as Putney al. Puttenheath.




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