A Home by Any Different Title

A House by Any Other Name

The custom of naming a house goes back centuries. As long as the inhabitants of the British Isles had four walls and a roof over their heads, they gave these apartments a name. And what was good for mansions was good for more humble digs. Sometimes these names were inspired by the surroundings of a property, sometimes by the occupation of the owner.

According to the Land Registry, the division that records property ownership in England and Wales, 1.4 million of the 26 million homes across England had names in 2011, the last year such statistics were collected. The top names combined with "house", "cottage" and "view" include the words orchard, meadow, sunnyside and rose.

In due course, the tradition of house names traveled across the ocean, taking root in places like Newport, R. I., and on the Philadelphia Main Line to the south and southwest. "In Texas, people have long referred to their ranches as a way to help people find their property or, if they are raising cattle or horses, a way to build their brand," said Wilk.

In the United States, as in England, vanity house names fall into several categories. Foreign phrases; Puns; Inside joke; spiritual allusions (for example sanctuary and paradise) have their fans. Some are inspired by the location of a property. They live on a remote dimple. So why not "Hidden Valley"?

Others have come up with a name that is very close to where they come from – their own name.

Craigmoor, for example, is the handle that landscape architect Craig Socia has given to his three-acre area, a collection of three parcels, in East Hampton. (For the record, the "moor" piece of the name came across Wildmoor, the Hamptons house where Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis spent several childhood summers and where Mr. Socia did landscaping early in his career.)

"The name unified the property and made it very personal," said Mr. Socia, who made it official by writing Craigmoor in wet cement on the driveway.


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