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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.

Jack Kinder


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