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 Nevill Holt

Historical Forms

  • Prestegraue c.1130 LeicSurv a.1150 Peake p.1150 l.12 12 1365,1368 1427,1428 ib
  • Prestegrawe e.13(p),e.14(p) ib
  • Prestesgraue 1173 ChancR
  • Prestesgraua 1174 P 1175 ChancR
  • Prestgraue a.1250 Peake l.13 1322 1499,1505 ib
  • Prestgrave 1416,1419 Cl 1444,1537 Peake
  • Presgraue 1519 Peake
  • Presgrave 1525 ib


'Grove of the priests', v. prēost (prēosta gen.pl.), grāf . The Abbey of Peterborough held Prestgrave from the middle of the 11th cent. It formed part of the c.1041 × 57 grant to it by Earl Ralph of Hereford, kinsman of Edward the Confessor. Hugh Candidius, writing in the mid 12th cent., notes that Raulfus comespropinquus Eduardi dedit Eston et Brinninghurst et Prestgrave et Dreitun et Glathestun , i.e. the gift to the abbey of Great Easton with neighbouring Bringhurst, Prestgrave and Drayton in Leics., and Glaston in Rutland.

Historians have identified the unique Abegrave (v. grāf ) of the Domesday Survey of 1086 with Prestgrave , but this identification presents problems. The specific of Abegrave appears to be the OE  masc. pers.n. Abba . If Abegrave was renamed Prestegrave , a possible explanation is that Abba endowed the proceeds from this woodland to help support a community of priests serving a number of churches on his estates, cf. Prestwold, Lei 3180. However, the change of name may have occurred after Prestgrave became the property of the Abbey of Peterborough. Although it is most unlikely that the specific Abe - of Abegrave is a much reduced form of abbaye 'abbey', the prēosta of the later place-name could refer to the community of the abbey, especially if, as an early minster, the abbey provided priests for a wide area including a church in Prestgrave . A simple explanation of these difficulties is that Abegrave of 1086 was not the later Prestgrave . Either that or the name Abegrave was a local folk-memory at the time of the Domesday Survey and perhaps the subject of popular etymology in relating the name of the eventual township to the abbey.

Nichols 2 ii 523 notes, There are nearly 200 acres of this depopulated village in what is called at this time Holt lordship.' He observes that in his day there were foundations and earthworks visible and places the settlement south-east of Nevill Holt, north of Drayton and west of Great Easton. Presumably Prestgrave eventually became an outlying grange belonging to the Abbey of Peterborough.