Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Beggars Bush Gorton, Manchester 1869

W.C. Hazlitt, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases (London, 1869, p.82) gives:

Beggar’s bush, Briton’s row:
Fox Fold, Garton Ho.

G. L. Apperson, English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases: A Historical Dictionary (London, 1929, p.89) gives a variant Fox Row.

This seems to record a colloquial derogatory reference to a Briton’s Row in Gorton, Manchester, which would fit the derogatory use. However, it appears to be an error. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »


Sticky: Anthologies – why the OED and Brewer’s Dictionary were wrong

The Oxford English Dictionary gives under Beggars:

8. Special combinations. . . “beggar’s-bush, a bush under which a beggar finds shelter (name of ‘a tree near Huntingdon, formerly a noted rendezvous for beggars’ – Brewer), fig. beggary, ruin;”.

This is taken from E. Cobham Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1868 and all editions until recently when the entry was dropped) which gave;

“Beggars Bush. To go by beggar’s bush, or Go home by beggar’s bush – i.e. to go to ruin. Beggar’s Bush is the name of a tree which once stood on the left hand of the London road from Huntingdon to Caxton; so called because it was a noted rendezvous for beggars. These punning phrases and proverbs are very common.”

This is partly true and partly false – perhaps more correctly this was false when it was first published, but through the influence of these two reference works has become common usage. It has been applied as a post facto explanation for the existence of the place name — see for example Donnybrook, Dublin and the histories of Dublin). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: October 18th, 2011 | Filed under: Writers, Speculations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


Beddington, Surrey Beggars Bush 1819

There are a number of references to this site in Surrey Archaeological Collections (SAC). Vol. 1,p.211 refers to it being on the summit of a hill, on an old trackway leading up from Cold Harbour, which was cut below the ground surface and crossed Mear Bank, an ancient raised ridge, just before Beggars Bush. The track formed the boundary between Croydon & Beddington, going on to Foxley Gate.
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Posted: April 4th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , | No Comments »


Godmanchester Huntingdonshire Begersbusshe 1576

This is the best known Beggars Bush site, though for the wrong reason, and through unusual  sources. The site was on Ermine Street, which was the main northern road west of the fens. John Walker’s The Universal Gazetteer (London 1798) lists two Beggars Bushes, including this one and another in Middlesex at Enfield.

It is now the site of the Wood Green Animal Refuge, at King’s Bush Farm.

It is on a summit standing at 138ft above sea level in an area where the average height of the surrounding country is closer to 50ft. From London it is the last of a series of rises, and in both directions the trees on the summit stand out against the skyline. It would be widely visible, not only from the Great North Road, (A1198) but from the roads to Stevenage & London (A1) and the road to Cambridge (A14). It would be passed by travellers from London to the north of England.
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Posted: March 13th, 2011 | Filed under: Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »