Tuesday, February 27, 2024



There is nothing village dwellers like more than tradition: say anything against morris dancers and woe betide you; have a go at horses leaving manure on the roads . . . well, lock up your doors.

There are plenty of other ways of life we cherish and protect fiercely: if we want to light a bonfire in our garden, don’t start telling us that you didn’t do that where you moved from; and then you decide to put up big, solid fences around your new “place in the country” . . . oh, come on!

One very public way we embrace our sense of tradition is in the names of the places where we live. Some of them may be fairly funny, from Lickey End to Twatling Road and Mearse Lane; some of them with great historical significance, such as Alvechurch, which derives from the Saxon saint Aelfgythe.

When someone at the district council mis-spelled the name of a Saxon monarch as Althestan rather than Athelstan on a road sign in Alvechurch, we were told that it wasn’t worth changing, which led to much muttering into pints.

There is currently confusion over a new development at the corner of Old Rectory Lane and Birmingham Road, Alvechurch, being called St Laurence Meadows by Barratt Homes, because St Laurence Church itself is a mile away at the other side of the village.

At least it is in the same village. The one that has got everyone scratching their heads, if not laughing out loud, is the street name installed at the end of the new Cala Homes development where it leads off Fiery Hill Road in Barnt Green.

We can just about understand them deciding on Foxhills for the name of the development as a whole; it’s on a hill and there probably are foxes around there somewhere.

But where, in tradition, in relevance, or simply in fact, did they get the name Butterwick Close? “Butterwick” has no meaning anywhere we can find apart from being the name of a village in Lincolnshire and a hospice in the north east of England.

We suspect the name has been chosen by someone in a marketing department who thinks it has the ring of something English and villagey – a hamlet with a creaky windmill and a fire station where the daily roll-call is a public spectacle.

At the same time, an unknown villager has taken it upon themselves to put up their own street sign to make sure Alvechurch villagers don’t forget that the passageway from Red Lion Street to Bear Hill is called Bob Hopping Street.

We don’t know who has done this, or who or what Bob Hopping was, but we applaud this attempt at restoring and retaining village traditions – and wonder if it is too late to change the name of Butterwick Close.