A Look At The Fascinating History Of British House Names

The British have a long-standing tradition of naming their houses, sometimes with rather intriguing choices. Here’s a look at where this tradition came from and what to do if you fancy giving your own home a unique moniker. 

Before the rapid urbanisation of the 19th century, many houses were in rural locations and most homes were identified by a wooden or metal house sign. As the population migrated to towns and cities and large numbers of new houses were built in close proximity, it became necessary to identify houses with numbers. 

During the early twentieth century, living in a house with a name was a status symbol because it signified that you owned property rather than rented, and that you could afford to live in the suburbs rather than a city centre. As home ownership increased during the postwar years, there was less cachet to naming a house and the practice fell away.

However, some properties retain their names because they have or once had a particular meaning, such as reflecting the name or original occupation of the owner, i.e. The Smithy and so on. Some reflected the locality or geographical location of the house, making it easier to find if it was in an isolated spot, such as Hillside. 

Some names were simply chosen because they were pleasant or mildly humorous such as Lilac Cottage or Dunroamin. 

What to do if you want to name your house

If your house does not have an existing name, then it should be a relatively straightforward process to name it. If it has a number, you will be legally required to continue displaying the number alongside the name of the house, for example in the address line and on the nameplate. All you need to do then is pick out a name that you like. 

If your property has an existing name, it is necessary to check with the local authority and notify them of your intention before changing the name. Only the owner of the house can make the request, and the information should include your full name; the full postal address of the property; the proposed new name and a site plan showing the location of the house.

You should also contact the Royal Mail’s Address Management Unit to check if the new name is acceptable and to ensure that it is registered. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to contact all the relevant authorities to notify them of the change, although some local authorities will do this on your behalf for a fee. 

According to Ideal Home, naming your house could even boost its value by as much as £5k. Speaking to the publication, Steve Rooney, head of Royal Mail’s address management unit, said: 'Naming one’s house not only looks stylish, but potentially adds value to properties too.’

'So, it’s not surprising that house naming is something we’re noticing more of – it’s a great way to add your own personal stamp to your home.'

Some of the more popular choices include Coach House, The Lodge, Orchard House, Woodlands, The Willows, The Granary, The Gables, and The Barn.