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.

Whitchurch Down

Early-attested site in the Parish of Whitchurch

Historical Forms

  • Werydon 1488 Rental 1613 Recov
  • Werydown 1518–29 ECP5,558
  • Whitchurch downe 1653 Recov
  • Whitchurch Down oth. Werry Down 1803 Recov


The forms are too late for certainty, but wer (r )y may go back to OE  wearg , 'outlaw, criminal,' and the name refer to a hill on which a gibbet was erected. Cf. Wreighill (PN NbDu 220).