NAME VARIATIONS

The Anglo Saxons named their villages after natural features such as the dun (hill) at Dunham and at Elmham by the elms, the rough ground at Rougham or the wet soil at Weasenham.  While Mileham takes its name not as one might suppose from it’s length but an early mill.  In other villages the leader gave his name to the new settlement, so Wendels Folk became Wendling and Tyttels Corner, Tittleshall.

Villages with names ending in “ton” are usually later settlements than those ending in “ham”.  Then Beeston stood for beos (bent grass) and belonged to the Mileham people who made an outlying enclosure on the pastures of bent grass there.

These names are all old English and not Celtic or Roman as they were pastoral folk dwelling in scattered farmsteads tilling lighter lands and patches of small square fields, whereas the district is one of compact villages with recorded evidence of cooperative open field systems favoured by the Anglo Saxons.

Records show that the Launditch, or Lawendike, is post Roman being built across a roman road.  Lawen was the local village chief and his tribe is commemorated in the name of the hundred of Launditch and also the village of Longham (Lawingham) which appears  in the Doomsday Book (1086) alongside Litcham, which is given in three spellings;  Licham, Lecham or Leecham. A name derived from the old English word “lycce” (old German ‘luccha’ or old Norse ‘lycka’), meaning a piece of enclosed ground.

For the next 500 years the names Lucha or Lutcham were a far more common spelling than our modern ‘Litcham’, which surfaces briefly in 1310 only to be forgotten for the next four hundred years. The modern spelling finally becoming established on maps produced at the beginning of the 18th century.

Its seems our Norfolk ancestors liked anagrams as over the years a total of 20 different spellings have been ascribed to one small village.  The wealth of variations down the centuries quite is surprising as the simple two syllable name hardly seems capable of providing such variety.


Full list of known spellings:

1086  Licham         Doomsday Book:

            Lecham        'a Market Town in the centre of Norfolk'

            Leccham

1197  Lucham        Feet of FineTithe-Map.jpg

1254  Lucham        Val. Nch.

1310  Lucham        Feet of Fine 3rd edition II

            Litcham

            Leecham

1319  Lucham         Institution Book

            Lucheham

1415  Lytcham        Feet of Fine 2 Hy. V

1422  Lucham         Will

1433  Lutcham        Escht. Inquiry Letheringsett

1449  Lucham         Will

1464  Leytcham      Will

1479  Luccham       Feet of Fine 18th edition IV

1503  Lutcham        Will

1506  Lycham         Will

1534  Lycheham     Valor Eccles. Hy. VIII

1547  Lycheham     Fine of the Manor

            alias Luychesham

1552  Lycham         Inventory of Chattels and Goods

1574  Luchcham    Caxton's Map.

1626  Lugham        Local Bills

            Luckham

1688  Lytcham        Archdeacon's Visitations

            Lych'm

1724  Litcham         Molls Map

1749  Litcham         Bowens Map

1800  Litcham         (modern spelling)

Source:  Litcham Heritage Register

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Litcham Tithe Map