The Book of London Place Names by Caroline Taggart
Those who like to have access to basic trivia about places they live or visit.
In a nutshell:
Author Taggart provides some history in an accessible way.
“…no one seems to be sure, but there was probably once …”
(Seriously, it seems like for half the names, this is the answer.)
Why I chose it:
Moved to London. Wanted to learn more.
I think this is the last of the books I bought on sort of a whim when I first moved here and wanted to learn as much as I could about London. Considering I’ve been here for well over two years and am just getting to them now, clearly I didn’t dive right in.
I’ve now read a few books like this one, and I think overall it’s probably the easiest read. It feels a bit repetitive at times, but that’s because most of the places have similar stories – they are names for someone royal, or for someone no one can remember, or for a geological feature.
I appreciated that Taggart didn’t include stories about ever street or every part of London – she picked some highlights. Now, I’m not sure how much cultural awareness went into her decision-making; it’s entirely possible that she systematically left out areas that might have significance to BAME groups or immigrants. But she did at least cover London south of the river, which I think some folks forget even exists. To that end, I live and work (when I’m not in lock-down) in south London, so I especially enjoyed learning about the history of the places I used to walk by every day.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: