Walham Grove, SW6

Place Name

The origins of the name have, to quote Charles James Feret, author of Fulham Old and New: An Exhaustive History of the Ancient Parish of Fulham, not yet been satisfactorily explained. Although they are important since this was the former principal name for the area around Fulham Broadway. Daniel Lysons in Environs of London, writes: “Walham Green takes its name from this manor (Wandowne); it was formerly Wendon Green, and was afterwards varied to Wandon, Wansdon, Wandham, and at last Walham Green.” Indeed the name lived on down the centuries and only really stopped being used in 1952 when the addition “formerly Walham Green” was dropped from the Tube station’s name. The first theory is that it is said to be a corruption of a local family called (de) Wendon who held a manor near here in the 13thCentury, their name occurs as early as 1274. This however seems unlikely since it would have been a matter of public record and so easily found. Another suggestion is that it is “either so-named because the traveller had to wend his way through it to Fulham, or because the drainage from higher grounds ‘wandered’ through it to the river”. Feret forwards another idea: “A theory, which has, at least, the merit of ingenuity, has been advanced to the effect that the name Wendon, has come from some such primitive form as Wodnes-dun or Woden’s-down, the down or ‘hill’ dedicated to Woden, the chief god of northern mythology. It is to Woden and to his wife Friga that we are indebted for the style of two days of our week, while the  name of the former is probably enshrined in such place-names as Wednesbury, Wednesfield in Staffordshire, Wodensbury in Kent, Wedensbury in Suffolk, Wansdyke in Wiltshire, etc. It has also been urged that we should remember that, though the worship of Woden spread over all the Scandinavian lands, it found its most zealous followers in Denmark, where the god still rides abroad as the wild huntsman, rushing over land and water in the storm-beaten skies of  winter. The Danes, as we have historic evidence to show, did sojourn at Fulham during the winter of 880-1, so that it is not impossible that a party of their followers may have taken the opportunity of journeying a short distance inland, along what we now call the Fulham Road, there to erect to their ‘All Wise’ god, Woden, a rude altar before which they might worship and beg for the success of their expedition.” Feret then dismisses the idea and after breaking down the various spellings concludes: “The probability is that the name signifies a wide, open depression.” The Walham connection with the area was first recorded in 1386 as Wendenegrene in 1386 and then Wedenesgrene in 1397, Wandenesgrene around 1410, Wanam Grene in 1546, in 1686 Wollam, Wanham Greene in 1688, Wallan Green in 1710 and Walham Green in 1819. “The successive changes,” says Feret, “which have been rung upon this name were due, doubtless, to ignorance and a slovenly pronunciation.”

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