And then it occurred to me that although I'm accustomed to houses in England having names, we've lived in our wonderful house for almost twenty years and we've never named it. I think houses should have names if they are well-loved and well-lived in, but what?? (That's our house on the right.) Our house was known for many years in our town as The Green House, because the people who lived in it for decades (although they were not the first owners) were named Green. But the house is not green, and Greens no longer live in it. We could call it The Wilson House (my hubby's name), but his grandparents' house (now owned by his cousin, also a Wilson) rightfully deserves that moniker.
I don't really like "bungalow", although our 1905 house is early Arts and Crafts. It's too big for a "cottage." So what is unique about it, I've been asking myself. The perennial garden is lovely, but I'm not calling it "Rose Cottage!" We have huge elm trees, and an enormous pecan. The back garden is a veritable glade, but "glade" brings to mind air-freshener these days. Sigh. We have hummingbirds, and songbirds galore, especially cardinals, always my favorite bird. But "Cardinal House" makes me think of the Vatican...
And then of course there are the two dogs and the (now) three cats... Oh, and the koi in the pond! And the over-abundance of squirrels in the trees... But I'm not calling it The Pound (although Squirrel Run would certainly fit my usual state of mind...)
And there is, of course, a writer-in-residence...
So, fellow REDS, do your homes have names? If not, should they? And what would you call them?
RHYS BOWEN: It's funny you should mention this, because we always lived in houses with names in England. I grew up in a house whose entire address was Britomart, Swanley, Kent. An old sea captain built it in the early 19th century and named it after the ship, the HMS Britomart. He also built it in the shape of a sailing ship, so it was long and thin with corridors great for roller skating down. And the garden was full of exotic plants he had brought back from around the world.
But I've never thought of naming a house here. We've lived in our current one for thirty years, but I can't say it has much personality. It's big and functional but it's only real selling point is the view. So maybe Hilltop House, but then the rest of our street has a similar view. The English House? because everyone knows we are English. Sometimes I'd like to call it Wit's End......
LUCY BURDETTE: Oh Rhys, I love Wit's End! We never had house names either, though we referred to houses by the address. The Sutton Drive house for example, where my sister and I are posing as forsythia branches. Or just plain Horseshoe Drive. I think in New England, it's more of either a vacation house thing (The Kabejz Patch is down the road from us) or something historical (as in the Deacon Grave house.)
Now that I think of it, I've never named a car either. I was stunned a couple of years ago when my stepson referred to his car as "Pablo."
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I love the British custom of naming houses, and I wish we had it here. It's enriched fiction as well - where would English literature be without The Burrow, Bag End, Brideshead and Bleak House? And those are just the Bs!
Lucy's right about vacation homes in New England. If you walk down a beach-side road in any coastal town, you'll see the names hanging over the porches and painted on mailboxes: "Bide-a-Wee" "Blueberry Cottage" "Sandy Toes" and "Time Away." It's always the small friendly shabby ones, too, the houses dating from a time when ordinary folks could buy a place on or near the water. Gradually, they're being bought and torn down and replaced by three-story McMansions squeezed onto the tiny lots - and those houses never have names.
If I were to name our house, I would call it Scribbler's Hill, as we are at the highest elevation of our road above the Saco River and, of course, because a writer lives here. We actually have a named house across the river in Hollis; Quillcote, (below) long-time home of Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Old PeabodyPew.
DEBS: Rhys, I adore Wit's End. I may have to steal it from you! And Julia, you are so right about house names in fiction. I can think of dozens more, but just have to add Dove Cottage, home of Wordsworth's sister Dorothy in the English Lake District. While not fictional, it has wonderful writerly associations. Or Virginia Woolf's Monk's House.
Or what about Manderley? Or Tara? Would those books be the same without the house names? And how can we not mention Downton Abbey!
So while I think I'll pass on Kabejz Patch, let's use some imagination on our neglected American homes--starting with mine! Give us a name, please, readers!
PS: Lucy, you and your sister were absolutely adorable! And Rhys, the house you grew up in sounds like something out of a story--has it crept into any of your books?