House numbering was only introduced in 1765 when the house number followed by street number convention became the norm. Older roads often have odd house numbers on the left hand side of the street and even to the right as you leave the centre of a town, although nowadays newer developments are often numbered consecutively.
Prior to this, the custom of naming houses arose when people with money began naming their castles, halls, lodges and manor houses. The chosen property names were often drawn from family titles or ancestral lines.
These days house names more often reflect the setting in which the property was built. The top ten house names include: The Cottage, Rose Garden, School House, Hillcrest, The Bungalow, Hillside, Orchard House and Ivy Cottage. In this respect, the most popular house names simply state the obvious and it is fairly likely that one of these will be located in a place near your own home.
You might wonder where some of the more exotic house names originated, many of which are to be found on buildings of historic importance or belonging to the wealthy. Castle Drogo was named after discovering that the land was owned by a Norman baron named Drogo de Teign, from whom the owner claimed to be descended. A little more down to earth is The Old Nick (we found ten properties with this name, including The Old Nick in Belper, Derbyshire, which in a former life was Derbyshire’s police headquarters and still has an iron barred cell door in the study).
Named houses are not uncommon in the UK, indeed there are over 300,000 homes with just a name and no house number. Most are in London although many of our older towns have several thousand, including Norwich, Bristol and York. Inspiration is often drawn from nature, location and views, a building’s former use, favourite places or even TV programmes (including hundreds based on Game of Thrones).
Be careful how you choose as not all names will fill home buyers with confidence. For example, you might like to avoid the names Crumbledown or Sinking Wood. Your choice should also be made with new owners in mind, as not everyone would want to live at Llamedos (read it backwards) although there are ten properties listed by Royal Mail with this name.
The rules around naming houses are fairly relaxed but you should first get in touch with Royal Mail and your local council. You may need to pay up to £40 to have the name formally recognised and the renaming certificate should be sent to Land Registry, electoral registration and your local council tax and planning department.
Apart from the fun you might have choosing a name there are other benefits – your choice could actually add value to the property, sometimes thousands of pounds. One property expert suggests that choosing the right house name could add a £5,000 premium to the value of your home, while others have seen property values increase even more.
Don’t be fooled into paying too much for your fancily named new property; ask a Chartered Surveyor for a property valuation before you proceed with your home purchase.