| Why is "NORMANDY" so called?
One of the questions often asked of Normandy Historians by newcomers
to the district is why a collection of scattered hamlets should be graced
with the name of the homeland of the great William?
The local pub is called "The Duke of 'Normandy", as seems
appropriate, but the irony is that when it was built in the 1860s it was
not even in Normandy but in the hamlet of Willey Green which was then part
of the parish of Worplesdon.
All sorts of explanations have been offered as to how the village got
its name. The favourite story is that it once belonged to the Abbey of
Waverley whose monks, nostalgic for their homeland, saw a certain resemblance
to it in the local countryside. Unfortunately, the lands of Waverley reached
only as far as the nearby hamlet of Wanborough.
The name does not feature in the Domesday Book although Wyke which is
now a constituent part of the village appears under the name "Wucca",
which has been interpreted as meaning a dairy farm, although there are
suspicions that it can also refer to witchcraft or religion and may be
connected with the recently discovered remains of the Romano-British temples
on the border with Wanborough. Henley which is now represented only by
Henley Park appears in the Domesday Book as a manor covering large parts
of Ash as well as what is now Normandy.
The Society has been fortunate in coming into the possession of photocopies
of the Court Records of' the Manor of Cleygate that included almost the
whole of the present parish of' Normandy. The earliest mention in these
records to the name "Normandy" refers to repairs to "Normandy
Causeway" in 1604. Earlier in the records the causeway is apparently
called "Frimsworth Causeway". Also in 1604 there is a reference
to "a messuage with a garden in Normandy abutting upon More Meade
in Asshe". According to the records the names "Normandy and "Frimsworth"
co-existed for some time but referred to different parts of the village.
The settlement known as Frimsworth, Fryinsworth or Frymlesworth was
centered where the "Anchor" pub used to stand. The site is now
a group of houses called "Anchor Close".
It would appear that the name of "Normandy" is a comparatively
recent appellation and it originally referred only to the area around Normandy
Common and the present Manor House previously called "Normandy Farm"
when William Cobbett held the lease in the early 19th Century.
The question remains as to the origin of the name "Normandy".
A possible clue is inferred by several references in the Cleygate records
to a part of the Manor in the north and west "lately called Noebodies
Common". Where the boundaries of two or more neighbouring manors met,
the area would in all probability be barren or of little value and would
be termed "No Man's Land" possibly later corrupted to "Normandy".
Normandy Historians welcome any contribution to this intriguing and
ongoing debate to provide a more convincing explanation.