From the Thorley Archives

Thorley's Road Names

Over the years the origins of road names have evolved from informal custom and practice to formal consultation procedures.

The modern process by which road names are selected starts with the developers of the houses. They then submit these to the East Herts District Council who forward the selection to the Parish or Town Council for comment. After approval, the names have to go to the Post Office as a check against name duplication or confusion. After their confirmation the names are then passed to 38 other statutory authorities e.g. Fire, Police, BT, Gas, before being finally adopted by the EHDC.

Before the age of the developer, road names had a particular geographical significance e.g. a road that went in the direction of a particular village, town or city - London Road, Great Hadham Road or a lane leading to a place e.g. Church Lane, Moor Hall Lane and Butlers Hall Lane. Other names within the parish of Thorley, with local settlement significance, include Twyford (the place of two fords), Clay Lane, Pig Lane, Oxcroft and Obrey Way.

In more recent times names have been chosen with a particular local historical connection, such as,

Proctors Way - named after of the Rectors of St. James The Great, Thorley - Canon J.M. Proctor 1883 - 1909 and Canon J.E.I. Proctor 1909 - 1938.

Penningtons -Thomas Pennington was the Rector and a landowner in Thorley 1798 - 1853.

Ellenborough Close - after successive Lords Ellenborough 1810 - 1895 - Lords of Thorley Manor.

Whittington Way - Richard (Dick) Whittington - London merchant and three times Lord Mayor. He held joint title to Thorley Manor 1393 - 1414.

Magnaville - Geoffrey de Magnaville was the Lord of the Manor at the time of the Domesday Survey.

Pynchbek - joint titleholder to the Manor 1393 - 1414. Variously spelt in historical documents as Pynchebek, Pynchbeck and Pinchbek. The authorities obviously chose a hybrid spelling for this road.

With the building of estates within the parish of Thorley, and the need for the naming of many roads, developers have chosen themes e.g. trees - Broadleaf, Ashdale, Cedar, and trade names - Wheelwrights, The Thatchers, The Shearers. When Mr Boyd Gibbons developed the Twyford estate in the 1950s, he chose names of his own family and friends for several of the roads - Audrey Gardens, Grace Gardens, Pamela Gardens, Hayley Bell Gardens and Mary Park Gardens.

The two modern 'spine' roads running through the Thorley Estate are named after our twin towns in France and Germany - Villiers sur Marne and Friedberg respectively. The original spine road that connected the many settlements that comprised Thorley ran from London Road to the Green Man pub on the Great Hadham Road. Rose Monk recalls that the first part was originally known as Bird's Lane. This led into Rectory Hill before becoming Thorley Lane. Today these stretches may be traced as Thorley Lane, Whittington Way, Obrey Way, Thorley Lane East and Thorley Lane West, Thorley Lane having been cut by the St. James Way bypass.


The eastern end of Thorley Lane that was known as Bird's Lane


This next length of Thorley Lane was originally Rectory Hill


Further research into the reasons for the choice of other 'modern' Thorley road names is limited at the moment as the local council papers are in the process of being archived. I would welcome readers' local knowledge of other Thorley road names.

Bill Hardy
December 2003

From the Archives