A Map Of Camden Place Name Origins

By M@

Last Updated 09 February 2024

A Map Of Camden Place Name Origins

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A map of Camden etymology
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The London Borough of Camden was created in 1965 by merging together the former boroughs of Hampstead, St Pancras and Holborn. It wasn't always going to be called Camden. "Fleet" was a leading suggestion, after the buried river that runs through the borough for most of its course. According to various online sources, "Penhamborn", 'Bornhamcras" and "Hohampion" were also floated. Those would have been silly. Camden was eventually selected as a short, snappy label, free from the baggage of the former borough names, and neatly poised on the midriff of the new administrative area.

Because it includes such disparate and distinct areas as Hampstead Heath, Bloomsbury and bits of Kilburn, Camden can feel like a large borough. In fact, it's way down the table as the 26th largest. Many of its place names are truly ancient, such as Hampstead, which is Old English for homestead, or Belsize which evolved from the Old French for "beautifully situated". Other names are more recent, like Fitzrovia (1930s) and (to a lesser extent) Camden itself, which was first used only in the late 18th century. Many more examples can be found on the map.

A note on sources

Etymology is fraught with difficulty, given the patchiness of sources from the early-to-mid medieval period from which most London place names stem. Some of the derivations in the map are best-guesses by experts rather than definitive. We used a variety of sources to compile the map, but found the English Society of Place Names site to be particularly helpful, and the nearest we have to an authority.

Camden is admirably served by the wonderful Camden History Society. Its members have pieced together an exceptional free resource (PDF) that gives the origins of every street in the borough. So if you don't see your local street or area in our map, then you'll find it there.


Etymology of the London Borough of Southwark