What's in a name?

Driving around Southsea you can’t fail to notice the delightful house names and ornate stained glass windows that
adorned many a Victorian home. From grand villas to more humble terraces, the names can still be seen painted above the front door.

But how did this all begin?

Professor of Design History at the University of Portsmouth, Deborah Sugg Ryan, is an expert on the history of the home.

Best known for her involvement with the popular BBC 2 series A House Through Time, Deborah is the series consultant, and she will be appearing on our screens again with a third series in the new year.

The glamorous professor has a deep rooted fascination with all things related to the home.

“Houses associated with aristocracy and royalty have always had names, and that’s where the fashion came from originally,” explained Deborah.

“When they first started building houses in Southsea, they had names and not numbers.

“I live in Southsea but the glass panel above my door is no longer there. I used the census records to find out that my house was called Minden House. after the Battle of Mionden in 1759

“It dates back to the 1870s and it was owned by a Captain in the army.”

Southsea has a long military association and that is why many homes bear the names of
famous battles.

Exotic place names were often chosen due to the influence of the British Empire as well as cities, animals, birds, trees, or plants.

“When houses were built, just like new houses now, the new owner could choose fixtures and fittings, and that is why you find houses with slightly different front doors and a wider bay window.

“The choice of what to call the house was also given to the first owner and that would appear on the original glass above the front door.

“In Southsea you often find cases where the builder was also the landlord. The landlord speculator would build a house for themselves and the rest of the terrace or row were built for rent,” she said.

Deborah revealed it is considered bad luck to change the name of a house - and some people may adopt a tongue in cheek approach to naming new homes.

“In the 1930s there was a trend for calling your home ‘Dunroamin’, and I recently heard of a
house in Cornwall called ‘Dun-facebookin.’

“Nowadays it can be seen as a little vulgar to name your home, and it still seems a little posh to have a name rather than a number.

“But personally I rather like it,” she added.

Tell us about your house name… Do you love your house name? Did it seal the deal for buying your home? The team at Chinneck Shaw would love to hear from you - share your house name with them on Instagram @chinneck_shaw or Twitter @ChinneckShaw