English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.


Major Settlement in the Parish of Washingley

Historical Forms

  • Wasingelei 1086 DB 1286 For
  • Wassingelai, Wassingelea, Wassingele(ga) 1163,1167,1187 P 1198 P 1241 FF 1245 For 1292 Ipm 1294 Cl
  • Wassingle(y), Wassyngle(y) 1185 Templars c.1200 Ass 1260
  • Wassynghele 1260 Ass
  • Wassigleye 1261 FF
  • Washingle 1286 Ass
  • Wasinglee 1286 Orig
  • Wasshyngle 1429 IpmR
  • Wasshelyngle 1518 FF


The Washing - names in English place-names are not easy to explain. The essential material is found in Washington (Sx), Wasingatun , Wassingatun , Wessingatun in BCS 1125, 834, 819, all 12th cent. copies of Saxon charters, Washingford (Nf)DB Wasingaford , later Wasingford , Wassingford , Washingborough (L), DBWashingeburg and Washington (Du), with forms in Wess - and Wass - and, after 1300, in Wessh - and Wassh -, and one in Quess - in 1280. Washingborough also occasionally has forms with initial Qu -. In addition to these we must also note Washbourne (Gl) which is Wassanburna in 11th cent. copies of Saxon charters (BCS 236, 430) and Waseborne in DB, and also a lost Wasincham in the Norfolk Domesday, and a lost Watsingaham (Sr), BCS 693.

In interpreting these forms it should be noted in the first place that the history of Washbourne makes it practically certain that there was an OE  pers. name Wassa (cf. OGer Wassingun , Wassenstein , Förstemann PN) and that this might at a later date appear as Wash -, for it is impossible to believe that an OE  name with initial Wæsc - would appear in this form in the charters in question. The same is true with equal certainty of the old forms of Washington (Sx). We cannot be so sure in the case of the other place-names for which we have only ME  forms, for ss in ME  may represent the sh - sound. It should be noted, however, that, with the exception of Washingborough, forms with distinctive sh are late in appearance, and one may suspect that all except this originally had a pure s or ss . If that is the case we should interpret Washingley as 'leah of Wassa's people' and presume that Wassingley , like so many of these names, was changed to Washingley under the influence of the common word wash . On the other hand, it is just conceivable that here and in one or two other of the Wash - names, we have, as the first element, Wæscingas , 'dwellers on the wæsc or small stream,' and that the whole name means 'clearing of the dwellers on the wæsc.' In some cases there are clearly such streams and we need not look for anything like the Wash itself.

Places in the same Parish

Early-attested site