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Bury St Edmunds historian Martyn Taylor explains the history behind the names of homes in the town’s Horringer Road





Modern day traffic passes by the redbrick terrace in Bury’s Horringer Road every day, with most people not noticing the name plaques on them, why would they after all? But numbers 7 to 27 represent the last few houses to be built in the town continuing this Victorian fashion, albeit in the Edwardian era.

The dates on the plaques show the houses were not necessarily built timeline-wise and possibly the same builder was not responsible for all of the properties.

Some of the house names are easily explained, others not so:

Many of the homes in Horringer Road Terrace have names
Many of the homes in Horringer Road Terrace have names

At no 7 is NELSON VILLA 1905: Admiral Horatio Nelson, Britain’s greatest naval hero, victor in death at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, 100 years before this house was built. He is buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

At nos 9-11 are ALPHA COTTAGES 1901: Alpha being the first letter of the Greek alphabet. Were these then the first houses in the terrace to be built?

At nos 13-15, REDVERS COTTAGES 1901: Named after Sir Redvers Henry Buller VC, 1839-1908. He had a distinguished career in the Army starting in China and Canada before winning his Victoria Cross in the Zulu War of 1879. In 1899 General Buller was appointed Commander in Chief during the Boer War (South African War) but was replaced in 1900 by the more popular and effective Lord Roberts.

At nos 17-19, BADEN COTTAGES 1902: Named after another Boer War soldier, Robert Baden-Powell, 1857-1941, or to give him his full title, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron of Gilwell. As a cavalry officer Colonel Baden-Powell successfully defended Mafeking for 217 days using a system of trenches and earthworks against a Boer force numbering thousands. His ingenious use of the town’s schoolboys as runners for communications led Baden-Powell to establish the Boy Scout movement in 1910, something that he devoted the rest of his life to.

A number of the homes are named after war heroes
A number of the homes are named after war heroes

At nos 21-23, CORONATION COTTAGES 1902: To celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria’s eldest son, the corpulent, philandering Edward VII, in August of this year. As his mother had given us the Victorian age so he gave us the Edwardian age. His reign of just over nine years personified the excesses he enjoyed as the Prince of Wales, travelling, horseracing, the theatre and of course, the ladies! This popular monarch and his wife Queen Alexandra visited Bury in 1904 arriving by train. They stayed at Culford Hall as guests of Lord Cadogan, with whom he enjoyed shooting parties. Edward died in 1910 aged 68.

At Nos 25-27, TITHE VILLAS : A Tithe, from the Hebrew word for atenth, was basically a tax levied on landowners and farmers of either cash or their produce mainly for the upkeep of the local church or towards the vicar’s stipend, the income for an ecclesiastical living. During periods of hardship such as droughts or crop failures tithes were looked upon with disdain eventually being abolished in 1936.

No 5, Horringer Road, MARGARET HOUSE 1901: Though not part of the terrace, this house at the junction of Horringer Road and Horsecroft Road was for many years the Horringer Road Post Office. As with so many post offices nationwide it closed after many years of service. However, when the large post office advertising hoarding was removed this plaque was revealed underneath. The question is, who was Margaret?

Naming homes was very much a Victorian concept
Naming homes was very much a Victorian concept

In recent years another new property, 7a, has been sympathetically added to the terrace, whilst adjacent, no 5a has been built in the garden of number 5.

Martyn Taylor. Picture: Mecha Morton
Martyn Taylor. Picture: Mecha Morton

— Martyn Taylor is a local historian, author and Bury Tour Guide. His latest book, Bury St Edmunds Through Time Revisited, is widely available.