Posts Tagged With: Penda

Penda

Penda

No this is not a typo, we are indeed talking about the name Penda, not Panda.

It’s a name that is not made up, either. During the 7th century, there was a notable figure by the name Penda; King Penda of Mercia has always held somewhat of a fascination for me. The reason for this is mostly obvious because the Kingdom of Mercia is today known as the East Midlands area of England, i.e. my little part of the world.

Mercia wasn’t the only Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of the time, as there were also 6 others:

  • Northumbria
  • East Anglia
  • Essex
  • Kent
  • Sussex
  • Wessex

Anyone familiar with English geography could surely hazard a guess about where those Kingdoms lie today in modern-day England.

At one point during his rule, specifically after he defeated Oswald at the Battle of Maserfield, he was the most powerful ruler in Anglo-Saxon Britain, but whilst Oswald’s name has survived to this day, his has not.

Point of fact, Oswald was given to 9 lads in England&Wales in 2011, whilst Penda fails to rank for either gender.

Kind of sad, when you consider the current furor surrounding the name Penelope.

And Penda rocks as a heritage choice.

Especially for we midland folk.

Many will probably cite the similarity with Panda as an issue. For me, however, there is a more sinister association: la peine de mort, with the peine de part of that phrase sounding an awful lot like the name Penda. What does the phrase as a whole mean? The death penalty. To be fair, the only reason I know the French for capital punishment is because it was a key word in my A-Level French syllabus.

Another issue to deal with is gender, because you see, one of the most famed bearers of the name was indeed male but there are grounds for the name being female as well.

When I say this, I’m not just going to say that the name sounds female as it ends-in-an-a. Nope, I’m actually going to cite Bulgaria. Why? In Bulgaria they have a pair of dolls known as Pizho and Penda, where Pizho is the male doll and Penda is the female doll. Now, these aren’t just dolls of the Barbie kind, but are actually tied to a traditional Bulgarian holiday.

It all kicks off on the 1st March, and the holiday in question is called Baba Marta where they celebrate the approach of spring. To mark the day, Bulgarians exchange martenitsi to wish great health, good luck and happiness to family and friends. The most popular type of martenitsi are the aforementioned dolls.

To end, what we have with Penda is an intriguing pick lost in the pages of history. Seems as shame really.

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Jubilee Fun

John Lewis Jubilee Sign

It’s a wonderful day to embrace a feeling of patriotism, so it feels apt to mark the Diamond Jubilee celebrations by looking at some patriotic choices. This is, in a sense, a re-run-come-update of a list I posted last year to mark the Royal Wedding.

This list includes inspirations from all realms of British culture, be it film, food or famed landmarks. Yes, I’m sure you can come up with names not on this list, and it would be wonderful if you flag them up in the comments for all to see.

Alba – The Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland

Albion – An alternate name for England, mostly used by the poetic.

Alfred – Sir Alfred Hitchcock pioneered many techniques in the realm of horror and suspense theatre.

Arthur – The name of one of England’s most famous folklore characters.

Audrey – Audrey Hepburn consistently ranks as one of the greatest actresses of all-time.

Aviva – One of the FTSE 100 companies listed in the London Stock Exchange, which is a well-known insurance company.

Azure – Perhaps an odd choice at first, but let us consider the second line of the patriotic song Rule Britannia, which states: arose from out the azure main [Britain].

Bell – Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the telephone.

Blake – The writer of the patriotic song Jerusalem (and did those feet in ancient time), was one William Blake.

Blighty – This one screams patrioticism, it is a slang name for England, often heard in Old War films.

Bournville – The village built by confectionary company Cadbury for its workers. Cadbury championed many things, such as pension schemes, joint works committees and a full staff medical service.

Brunel – Isambard Kingdom Brunel often tops the Greatest Britons lists. He was a Victorian engineer.

Calico – As in, the legendary pirate, Calico Jack.

Camber – Legendary first King of Cambria

Cambria – A classical name for Wales

Chaplin – Charlie Chaplin remains to this day one of the greatest silent film actors.

Clarence – Clarence House serves as the home of the Prince of Wales, and is another official royal residence.

Columba – St. Columba is one of the patron saints of Scotland.

Beeton – Mrs Beeton is one of the best known cookery writers.

Buckingham – Buckingham palace is the primary London residence of the Queen. Often referred to colloquially as Buck House, perhaps making the name Buck an option too.

Cambridge – The name of one of the top Universities in the world, located in England.

Cecil – Cecil Spring-Rice wrote the words to the patriotic song I Vow To Thee My Country.

Cole  – As in King Cole, he has been prominent in English legend and literature since the Middle Ages, there is also the popular children’s song, Old King Cole.

Daffodil – The national flower of Wales.

Darwin – After Charles Darwin, who put forward the idea of evolution. He appears on the £10 banknotes.

Douglas – Capital of the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea.

Eden – The lyrics of patriotic song There’ll Always Be An England calls this fair isle, Eden.

Elgar – A British composer who composed, amongst other things, Pomp and Circumstance, until recently, he appeared on £20 banknotes, these were withdrawn in 2010.

Elizabeth – A name borne by both the present Queen, and one of England’s other notable rulers. There is also Elizabeth Fry, who championed the rights of the inmates of British prisons.

Eton – Famed boy’s school, and where the traditional dessert of Eton Mess originated (it’s a mix of strawberries, meringue and cream).

Fawkes – For Guy Fawkes, the man who tried to blow up Parliament. He is respected by many, despite his intentions. A Yeoman Warder once said to me on a tour that he is the only person to enter Parliament with noble intentions, and the tools to carry it out. Bonfire Night is celebrated every 5th November in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot.

George – St. George is the patron saint of England, and also the name of a handful of past Kings.

Glory/ Gloria – There is the patriotic song, Land of Hope and Glory. The lyrics of God Save the Queen also call her to be glorious.

Godiva – Lady Godiva, a noblelady who rode naked through the town in order for the people of it to be released from her husband’s heavy taxations.

Grenadier – There is the patriotic song, The British Grenadiers, which is also a marching song for the grenadier units of the British Military.

Harper – The Royal Coat of Arms features a harp, which symbolises N.Ireland.

Jack – The Union Jack is the flag of Great Britain, so perhaps not a completely patriotic choice for England, but it also does not scream patriosism.

Jenner – After Edward Jenner, the man who created the vaccine, and thus saved more lives than many others.

Joule – After James Joule, who helped to develop the first rule of thermodynamics.

Kedgeree – A Victorian breakfast item, created from flaked fish, rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, curry powder and cream.

Kiel – The Angles who settled in England back when were originally from the Bay of Kiel.

Kipper – A breakfast item in British cuisine. Also, British slang for a short sleep is kip.

Leo – Especially for the football loving of you, we have Leo, the Latin word for Lion, of which three appear on the Royal Banner, and Three Lions is also a popular football song.

Lilibet – The childhood nickname of the Queen

Lloyd – The name of a well-known high street bank, also a member of the FTSE 100.

Loegria – Another alternate name for England, not in wide usage.

London – If you want to make a statement about your love of the English, this is always a good, obvious choice. There has been a flurry of celeb-babies named London of late.

Madeira – A madeira cake is a popular sweet item in the UK.

Mercia – One of the ancient kingdoms from days gone by which was located in the midlands.

Mona – Early records record the name of the Isle of Man as Mona.

Morris – After the great traditional dance from up North – Morris Dancing.

Narcissa/Narcissus – The national flower of Wales is a daffodil, for which the Latin name is Narcissus.

Ness – As in, the legendary beast of Loch Ness

Nevis – Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Great Britain.

Newton – The surname of Mr. Gravity, Sir Isaac Newton. He is frequently referred to as Newton in the Isles, making Newton the obvious choice if you want to honour a prominent figure in British history. He appeared on Pound Sterling banknotes of £1.

Oak – The oak tree is a symbol of England, and also appears in the song Rule Britannia.

Oxford – The name of one of the top Universities in the world, located in England.

Penda – One of the famed Kings of Mercia.

Penny – Another name for 1p, there is the popular saying I haven’t got a penny. Pre-decimalisation, 12 pennies made a shilling.

Piccalilli – The British cuisine take on Indian pickle.

Pixie – A common mythical creature from folklore.

Richard – For Dick Turpin, a famous English highwayman. I don’t advise Dick, but Richard also honours King Richard the Lionheart.

Robin – For Robin Hood, a notable figure in English legend.

Rose – The Queen’s personal flag features the letter E encircled by a ring of roses.

Runnymede – A hard name to pull off, but it is the location where the Magna Carta was first sealed, an important charter which pioneered the idea of limiting the powers of the King by law, thus protecting the priveleges of his people.

Russell – The British Museum, one of the world’s greatest museums, is located on Great Russell Street.

Saltire – The name of Scotlands national flag, which date from the 9th century, making it one of the oldest flags in current usage.

Sandringham – Sandringham Palace is a country home of the Royals, which they privately own.

Scotia – Originally a Roman name for Ireland, nowadays an old name for Scotland.

Severn – The River Severn is the longest river in Great Britain.

Smith – The most popular surname in England.

Sterling – The name of the British currency is Pound Sterling.

Syllabub – A traditional dessert in English cuisine. It’s basically cream mixed with wine.

Tate – One of the best known art galleries in the UK.

Tea – One of our best-loved beverages.

Thames – The name of the river which flows through London.

Trent – The name of a river which flows through the midlands.

Tudor – The tudor rose is the national floral emblem of England, and whilst Rose is frequently used by many, Tudor is not, and was the surname of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and some other notable monarchs of England.

Victoire – From the lyrics of God Save the Queen, when it is sung for God to send her victorious.

Victoria – The name of the famed Queen Victoria and thusly popular cake Victoria Sponge.

Wren – One of the most acclaimed architects in history was Christopher Wren, who was English.

Wyvern – A legendary winged reptilian with a dragon’s head, two legs and a barbed tail. Frequents British coats of arms, and was notably the standard of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia.

Yeoman – An odd choice, but the Yeoman of the Guard are one of the oldest British military corps in existence today. The Yeoman Warders are the ones at the Tower of London, completely different group of retired military men and ladies.

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