Cropwell Bishop Streets: — Mercia Avenue (25-7-20)
Have you ever wondered how the name of your street was chosen: No? Well, I have to agree that there are more pressing concerns in life but, never the less, I’m going to let you into the secrets of street naming.
Last year Stackyard Close was opened and before that there was Kerrs Close, Shelton Gardens and Barlows Close. In the coming years dozens of new streets will have to be named, so what the process?
Our Parish Council is central to street naming. No doubt you have attended recent monthly meetings online using Zoom and recognise your councillors, and you have watched them discuss matters and reach decisions: No? Not to worry, you are not alone.
Back to street naming. The Parish Council put forward their suggestion for a street name to Rushcliffe Borough Council who, almost invariably, approve it but they may make modifications to ensure consistency within the Borough.
For example, they asked for “The Stackyard” to be named “Stackyard Close” and they would have alerted us if there was a similar name in the vicinity. Also, I believe, apostrophes are not allowed in names.
But how does the Parish Council choose a name? Well often they don’t; Cropwell Village residents do. They put forward their suggestions for consideration.
However, before you think of putting forward the name of your dog, favourite holiday resort or much-loved food, be aware that the Councillors will certainly exercise their own judgement.
Names like, Tinkerbell Way, Benidorm Close and Spaghetti Avenue are not likely to stand the test of time or be popular with some owners. Imagine selling your house and trying to attract viewers to 8 Spaghetti Avenue!
Let’s consider the history of street naming in Cropwell Bishop – there are patterns to be found.
Look at a map of Cropwell Bishop streets and one thing we discover is that many are named after people, although many of us do not recognise the names. Also, these people are all dead – another apparent restriction on street name choice.
The oldest streets follow a different pattern. Roads leading out of the Village were never chosen, they just evolved naturally; Nottingham Road, Cropwell Butler Road, Kinoulton Road and Colston Road all lead to a place (there is one outgoing road that does not). Some roads within the Village follow the same pattern, Mill Lane for example.
Let’s look at the streets at the southern end of Hoe View Road and also a map from 1804. These streets were named in the 1970s: can you see where the Parish Councillors got their inspiration from?
Marshall Road is on land that John Marshall Senior owned in 1804, Brownhill Close is (approximately) on land that George Brownhill owned, and Mercia Avenue is on land owned by …
Oh, there isn’t a landowner named ‘Mercia’ but there is one called ‘E. Mercier’. So Mercia Avenue was named after E. Mercier.
The councillors who named these roads are no longer here, but I think it is safe to assume that there was a good reason for the change - or maybe somebody made a mistake; we shall never know.
All the other landowners on the map were local people but Mercier was different. E. Mercier was a woman and an extremely wealthy one but she never lived in Cropwell Bishop.
She was born as Everilda Wordsworth in 1739 to rich parents in Hemsworth, Yorkshire. By the time she was 5 years old, she had 3 sisters and a brother but then her father suddenly died when he was just 35 years old.
Her mother quickly remarried and had 3 more children with Thomas Sunderland but then in August 1749 she and her husband died just 2 days apart. She was 38 and he was 32. Everilda was only 10 years old and had already lost 3 parents.
By the time she was 30, she was married to William Stainforth in Yorkshire. Records show they were a wealthy couple but they had no children. In 1784, when Everilda was 45, William died.
In 1790 she married wealthy Frenchman, Francois Mercier, and they lived in Southwell. In 1803 Francois died.
Everilda held in trust substantial land, Leasehold and Freehold in Cropwell Bishop which, after her death, would go to other members of the family.
Everilda eventually went to live in Soissons, France where she inherited her late husband’s real and personal estate and she died there in 1815 at the age of 76.
It is ironic to think that a woman as rich as Everilda Mercier is remembered in name by one of the smallest streets in Cropwell Bishop – and even then, her name is spelt wrongly.
Her wealth may have bought her comforts, but she seems to have experienced more than her fair share of sorrow.
Particular thanks to Anne Terzza and Pam Barlow for their help with this article.
Here is Mercia Avenue today. I wonder if current residents would prefer the more accurate, French sounding name, Mercier Avenue.