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 Sampford Courtenay

Historical Forms

  • Honechercha 1086 DB(Exon)
  • Honecherde (sic)
  • Hunichirche 1238 Ass
  • Hunichurch' 1242 Fees784
  • Honycherche 1261 Ass 1303 FA 1378 IpmR
  • Honychurche 1316,1428 FA 1425 IpmR 1535 VE
  • Hunecherche 1244 Ass


Honey is found in Devon in many modern p.n.'s in combination with cyrice , clif , cot(e) (3), croft , land , tun (2), wielle (2).In most cases there is not enough evidence to decide between OE  hunig , 'honey,' and the OE  pers. name Hūna , the sole exception being Honiton infra 639. Where compounded with wielle the epithet may refer to the sweetness of the water or to a stream where bees swarmed in pollarded willows and the like (cf. Honeybrook PN Wo 12, and Addenda to PN NRY xliv).In combination with other elements the name may refer to a place where bees were kept. The present name is more difficult, but the Rev. G. D. Melhuish notes that it might have referred to bees swarming under the eaves of the church, and Mr R. P. Chope notes that such honey-making still takes place in the church at Hartland. The preponderance of early spellings with medial i or y , moreover, seems to be against a pers. name Hūna in this name.