There are two parts to this question and to its answer. The first is about why we want to create Foldehampton in the first place, and that’s another post–well two or three, actually. This post is about how Foldehampton got its name.
We began developing ideas for the village well before we knew where it would be. Many communities give themselves inspiring but rather hippie or religious-sounding names like “Earth Song” or “Ploughshares”, but we wanted something more down-to-earth, something that felt like it really belongs here, without any ideological agenda.
We’d have loved to take the name from the land itself–a local reference to a hill or stream or ancient site, but without knowing where it would be, that was impossible.
Nonetheless, we wanted a name that felt like it was rooted in the local place and culture, so we looked through Old English translation dictionaries for words that would convey some of the ideas relevant to the Village–everything from the promise of abundance, to hope, earth, bounty, community, and many more. Most were too difficult to pronounce. or sounded awkward and contrived, or just too Welsh for Hampshire!
Then, one sunny morning, James and I were having a discussion about how we want to buried. (You start to think about these sorts of things as time advances.) James wants a tree planted over him, preferably one from which his descendants can eat the fruit. Sadly, health and safety regulations probably forbid such an arrangement. He mentioned the alternative of the natural burial site at the Sustainability Centre in the South Downs National Park, but acknowledged that we don’t really have a sense of connection with that place, nor will our families. I felt an immediate and powerful visceral response. “No,” I said, “I want to be buried in home ground.”
Home Ground–that was it. It conveyed the essence of what we want the Village to be, for all of us who choose to live there. Home Ground: Home that we cherish and look after, home that provides us with shelter and connections with family and friends; and ground that supports and sustains us and in which we’re rooted.
Back to our Old English translation dictionary:
Folde: earth, ground, soil, terra firma, land, country, region, world
Ham: village, hamlet, manor, estate, home, dwelling, house, region, country
Ton: enclosure, garden, field, yard, farm, manor, homestead, dwelling, house, mansion, group of houses, village, town
And so Foldehampton was named. I especially like the “Folde” bit. It makes me think of a sheepfold, with its sense of shelter and protection. We’re also pleased to discover that there is no other place in the UK with that name: just our Foldehampton, Village for the Future.