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.


Early-attested site in the Parish of Ilfracombe

Historical Forms

  • Hela 1086 DB
  • Hele 1311 Ass
  • Helemyll 1525 AOMB


This is the first example of a name which in the form Hele or Heale is very common in Devon, and is occasionally found in Somerset. None of the Devon examples is found in a pre- Conquest form, but Heale in Curry Rivel (So) is found in a charter of Athelstan in the Muchelney Cartulary (38) in the form (of ) east heale , and this makes it clear that the name goes back to OE  hēale , the dative singular of healh . Hele would be the natural ME development of this in a stressed syllable, though in an unstressed syllable, with shortening of the vowel, OE  hēale might become ME  hale . Elsewhere in England in the fairly numerous places called simply Hale or Hales we have the distinctively Anglian form going back to OE  hāle , without breaking of æ to ea before original lh . In non-Anglian England the hale -forms go back to an unlengthened OE  hĕale or are due to the influence of the extremely numerous names with final unstressed -hale .

We have a few examples of hale in Devon. There is a Hale Farm in Honiton infra 640, which shows curious variation between the specifically Devon types and the more common one found elsewhere. So also we have traces of the hale forms in unstressed syllables in Cripple, Black Hall and Worthele infra 170, 304, 274.