Subtlety is not this Sussex street’s strong point, that’s for sure. There are a couple of theories floating around about the origins of this idyllic country lane’s unfortunate name. The first involves a mute woman who used to live there, dispensing herbal remedies to the locals – a vocation that was significant enough that the lane be renamed in her honour. The second, and more macabre version, tells the tale of a poor woman who witnessed contraband goods being hidden in the area – the road was once a thoroughfare for smugglers from the 14th to the 19th century, who brought in lace, brandy and tobacco from France – and ended up getting her tongue cut off to keep her quiet!
Two far duller explanations are offered for the unusual name of this little Yorkshire village. It either means ‘field for the trial of a legal action,’ or quite simply ‘wet field.’ Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and John Lloyd (producer of the television series) have officially designated ‘wetwang’ as ‘moist penis’ in their spoof 1983 dictionary, The Meaning of Liff. Fun fact: Richard Whiteley of Countdown fame was made the honourary mayor of Wetwang by its villagers, after making an on-air joke about its name.
Favourite selfie spot for people who no doubt also enjoy a good ‘I’m with stupid’ T-shirt, this small Orkney settlement’s name comes from the Old Norse word þveit, which simply means ‘small parcel of land.’ And since all good things come in pairs, there is another Twatt to be found nearby in the Shetland Islands.
The origin of this Dorset hamlet’s name is every bit as unappealing as the name itself; dating back at least a thousand years (it was recorded in the Domesday Book), ‘Shitterton’ means ‘farmstead on the stream used as an open sewer,’ derived from the Old English word, scite, for ‘dung.’ While the Victorians once tried to rename the hamlet to something less vulgar, residents in general are very happy with their unusual name – although a very expensive side-effect is that their sign gets stolen every few years by trophy hunters. The shits.
Probably the rudest of them all – it just paints such a vivid picture. The Essex village’s colourful name is actually even more anatomical than it first appears. The ‘-ing’ part of the name refers to ‘the people of,’ ‘hoe’ to a heel of land (the village is set in the bend of a river, which may be the heel in question) and ‘fingr’ to a finger of land, such as between river tributaries. So, the people living in Fingringhoe are basically the people of Finger Land.
This crass village may not have a way with words, but one of its former residents most certainly does. The English poet William Wordsworth was born and went to school there, in the heart of the scenic Lake District. The village’s name has a simple explanation – it sits at the point at which the River Cocker joins the River Derwent.
Actually, we’ve changed our minds; Minge Lane is definitely the worst of the bunch. This Worcester street name is consistently voted the most embarrassing in the country, and you can see why. Just imagine what it’s like to give your address out. Apparently, though, the people willing to put up with such profanity on their doorstep are handsomely compensated with, on average, a cool £84,000 off the cost of a house.
Okay, we’ve definitely reached a Scottish peak here – literally. The Bastard is a rounded hill peak on the coast of Argyll near Sheanachie in the Scottish highlands, once home to a dun fort – also nearby is The Cock of Arran. On this occasion, we’ve no idea where this unusual name comes from, but perhaps some things are best left a mystery.
Another rudely-named hill, this time down in Cornwall, Brown Willy stands proud as the highest point of Bodmin Moor and the Cornish county as a whole. The name is even worse than it first appears too, given that the first half is apparently supposed to mean ‘breast,’ and a meteorological phenomenon that occurs above the hill is now known as the ‘Brown Willy effect.’ Back in 2012, some of the more prudish locals mounted a campaign to rename the hill ‘Bronn Wennili,’ as it was originally known, a move that was resisted by others – The Daily Telegraph even chimed in, running an editorial entitled ‘Hands Off Brown Willy.’
Finally, an honourary mention has to go to this gem. Sadly, the residents of this Doncaster street were lacking in the funny bone department, and the name was changed to something altogether more respectable (and dull) back in 2009. In fairness though, it seems like they did have a bit of a tough time – after an article spread online, literal busloads of tourists would pitch up to take photos, often with mooning involved, and services like taxis refused to serve them, believing that they were being pranked. Wouldn’t you?