Village Sign

The Chedgrave village sign was designed and made by Jack Barwick, a long serving member of the Parish Council. It was unveiled on the fifth of May 1991 by Adrian Gunson, County Councillor and was dedicated to the memory of David Clark, a former chairman of the PC. He had been a great community man and shared with several others an ambition to see a village sign in Chedgrave, so it was partly as a tribute to him that the PC went ahead with the project. The parish magazine, the Chet News, was used to publicise the idea in December 1988 and contributions of ideas and money were invited. Mr Ralph Cave, a noted local historian, was consulted and the old Scandinavian spelling of the village name- Scatagrava- and the Domesday Latin one- Chattegrava- were taken from his researches. After the consultation period the PC set the criteria for the final design brief: a) to be a three dimensional sign b) to be made in natural materials c) to incorporate the oldest part of the oldest building in the parish, the tower of All Saints’ Church and d) to include the old spellings of the village name.   The result was a unique structure of four name-plates forming a square supported by brackets and all strongly constructed from locally grown oak finished with varnish. The centre post is crowned with the carved  replica of Chedgrave Church tower “thatched” with lead.

Names on the village sign

Scatagrava ……..Chattegrava …….Chedgrave

The older spellings of the name of Chedgrave were taken from Mr Ralph Cave’s researches on local place-names. The article below was first printed in the Chet News of June 1977

Heritage from the past.                               How our Villages got their names

Those who want to know the meaning of their village name would find it advisable to seek out the earliest mention, since time has so often modified the pronunciation and even the spelling. Unfortunately, in the case of the three villages in which the Chet News is distributed, there is no surviving reference earlier than. the Domesday Book of 1086. Here the compilers recorded in Latin the answers which each village deputation gave in turn to a number of questions (About landownership, population, livestock, etc) , starting with a latinised version of the name disclosed by the village representatives.

Hardley and Langley were shown as Hardale and Langale (each pronounced as three syllables). Both have the same last syllable, representing the Old English leah, meaning originally a natural open space or a deliberate clearing in woodland, and later used for a tract of meadow. Hence the respective meanings would be Hard Clearing and Long Clearing.

Chedgrave’ was shown as Scatagrava. The initial consonants suggest that the spokesmen for the village were descendants of Danish settlers, since there were various Anglo-Saxon sounds which the Scandinavians were unaccustomed to and modified according to their own usage. Thus C (pronounced CH or SH) was altered to SK.

The next surviving documentary reference (in 1158). also in Latin, gives Chattegrava. The first two syllables represent the .East Anglian settler, Ceatta (Cheatta) after whom the village was originally named. But a difficulty arises in interpreting the last two syllables. The Latin form used in the Domesday Book and subsequent mediaeval documents does not disclose whether the inhabitants were using the short A sound (as in ‘back’), or the longer A sound (as in father). If the former, it meant a digging – or pit – or ditch; if the latter, it meant a copse or grove. So we are left with a choice – Ceatta’s Pit or Ceatta’s Grove.

When early in Elizabeth I ‘s reign. parishes were ordered to purchase chalices for use in the new Communion Services, the Hardley and Chedgrave churchwardens went into Norwich to give their order to the silversmith. They decided to have the parish names engraved on them, and in each parish this chalice is still in use. and gives us a guide to the pronunciation which was used. in 1560 and to some extent continued in both parishes to the present. One is engraved HARDLA; the other (using the I as a substitute for J – a common practise of the period) has IETGRVE.

 

R.Cave

 

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