by Richard Coates
Richard Coates put in a guest appearance on “Word of Mouth” (BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 12 April, 16.00, repeated Monday 18 April, 23.00 and available on catch-up, short clip http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qtqdr, full whack http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b076hrcn). This show is hosted by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (a UWE honorary doctor, incidentally) and Dr Laura Wright of Cambridge University. You might expect something heavyweight after the appearance of the world-famous Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University on the programme the previous week, but, true to the very wide-ranging concerns of the series, it was an informed discussion of the history of English house-naming. Informed, but easy on the ear.
Richard didn’t get a chance to discuss two of his favourite house-names: the heroes’ hall in the Beowulf poem called Heorot ‘Stag’, and the earliest name of an English house that wasn’t a pub, dating from the 16th century: The Vyne, a stately home in Sherborne St John, Hampshire. The owner knew his Bible – see if you can work out an explanation!