How Poughill in Cornwall got its name 



 So how did Poughill really get its name?

 I'm sure it didn't come from puffing a lot when you walked up its hill!


 It's gets just a little bit confusing because there are so many different variations of the spelling quoted in different historical references. Even going back to the Doomsday Book in 1086 when it occurs very distinctly as "Pochehelle" and later in 1269 it appears as "Pohewille et Treglastan".

Doomsday Book Entry for Poughill


 By 1291, when the rectory of the church was valued, they called it 'Ecclesia de Pegwille' ANd on 6 May 1656 the Will of Thomas Pudner, Husbandman of the village, said he was from 'Panstocke' Cornwall.


 Some have speculated that maybe it had something to do with 'Ploughing a Hill'. Plough hill, which was misspelled at some time, I suppose it could have been used in that form nine hundred years ago.


But in the History of Cornwall, written by Mr. Fortesque Hitchins from 1824, he is pretty specific about where Poughill got its name from.

"It's Cornish" he announces very definitively, then changes its spelling to 'Pouguil' it means “the country frequented with gulls.” Which works for him I suppose if you see the farmers ploughing their fields being swamped by Seagulls, but in reality, therein is a problem. 

The word Seagull in Cornish I am reliably told is 'Goelann' so it can't be that simple, even though 'Pouguil' reads as Gul at the end. But I don't think that's the answer to the riddle at all.


John Speeds map of Cornwall in 1674 the village is spelled as it sounds, Poffyll  and 'Poffyl' in Norways old language is populus.


It also appears somewhat differnently again when Hubert De Burg, King Johns chancellor, ratified the gift of the lands around here to Cleve Abbey. Then it's called Pochewill and Treglaston. Does the first one sound familiar and the second, Launceston? It should because in the next breath he distributes the gift a little wider still, to Punderstoke as well .


 Pronounced these days as Poffle, I've just found another different spelling altogether, Poghaville!

 Now some of these many different variations around, it could be argued they were created by a simple mistake made by whoever wrote them down, with whoever that did so, thought it was how the spelling sounded and it was fine. The same applies with the surnames like, Smith, Smithe and Smythe, all being one and the same, but spelled differently by the recorder and that also could be because they were annunciated differently in the accent he heard it in?.

 Yet in the Book of Cornwall (1906) by S Baring Gould, he tells us that; " Poughill parish takes its name from a puck, or pisgie well"


 The answer to the name conundrum may be far simpler than you think and pre dates the Doomsday book by centuries.

 The name Poughill derives it name from an Old English pre-7th Century personal name,"Pohha" and "hyll", yes you got it, a hill.

Places often took their names made from variants of those who lived there and added some form of descriptor of what the place was like, or even where it was sited. Ford for instance explains the geography as does bridge.

So we have the answer to the second part of "Pochehelle" which is still in the villages name today, a HILL.

 Poche then, or the first part of our village name, could be what some historians have already suggested, a pouch and not a pouch in the stream that flows behind the Church either as some have speculated. Poughill is built into a large depression in the side of a hill and that resembled a pouch, is that it?

Look at the photo of the church above and you might see that we are not built atop a hill, but in a bowl set into one. Imagine it without the majority of trees and I think you will see it.

It doesn't translate directly from Latin, nor Old English either.

Confusing, I wonder if we will ever really know?


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How Poughill in Cornwall got its name, solved.

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