Sunnyside Gardens, RM14

Place Name

Laid out over the grounds of Cranham House, this was part of a housing development laid out between the wars. The name is likely to be a reflection of its aspect, as the south facing gardens which are literally on the sunny side. It goes back, as Dr Laura Wright, a linguist at Cambridge University, explains in her book Sunnyside: A Sociolinguistic History of British House Names, to the Nordic practice of solskifte, a prehistoric method of dividing up land according to the position of shadows. Its popularity as a house name however began in the 19thCentury after Washington Irving, the American author of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow chose it as the name of his New York property having been inspired by trips to Clarty Hole, Scotland, the palatial house of contemporary, Sir Walter Scott. The name criss-crossed the Atlantic and became popular in London among rich industrialist Nonconformists (especially Quakers) with Scottish family ties in the 1870s for their own grand suburban residences.

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