There’s a little track near us which actually has a name, Coldharbour Lane and I thought it was so unusual when I first saw it, and thought it was the proximity to the sea, and the wharf in our village in Uphill. Then I realised that there was also a Coldharbour Road in Bristol… so maybe it was a local name. The I discovered there were other Coldharbour Roads, in Hailsham, Gravesend, Tonbridge and Woking, plus Coldharbour Lanes in   Dorking, Maidstone, Bristol and Ashford… oh and in London. There are places just called Coldharbour…

  • Buckinghamshire
  • Cornwall
  • Havering
  • Surrey
  • Tower Hamlets
  • City of London
  • and the name occurs in Wiltshire at Blunsdon, Kington Langley, North Wraxall, Great Hinton, Warminster, Amesbury, Farley and Pitton, Collingbourne Ducis and Malmesbury.

…plus…

  • Coldharbour House, an estate in London
  • Coldharbour Mill Working Wool Museum, an industrial museum in Devon
  • Coldharbour Estate in south-east London
  • and a village in Surrey

Does it literally mean a cold harbour? Or does it mean something else and the original name has been changed and transcribed as ‘cold harbour’? Well, no-one seems to know. Every theory put forward is discounted by someone else.. here are just a few of the suggestions for the name’s origin:

  • a derivation from cool arbour
  • an uninhabited shelter for travellers, often along a well-known route, according to some an old Roman road
  • as above but along an old Neolithic trackway or road
  • of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning a cold place to stay, literally  ‘cald here-beorg‘, meaning ‘a sheltered place in the open’.
  • a winter shelter for cattle

There seems to be a consensus of its original meaning, if not its original actual name; what is certain is that it is very ancient, and quite often the place or area has a long human history.

Here is an article I came across:

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/dictionary-of-london/cockpit-court-coleharbour-lane

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