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.

Whimpwell Green

Early-attested site in the Parish of Happisburgh

Historical Forms

  • Hwampwella, Hwimpwella 1086 DB
  • Wimpenell 1231 Cl
  • Hwimpewelle 1240(p),1296 FF
  • Hevympewell 1250 ib
  • Wympewelle 1250(p),1306 ib
  • Wimpewell 1250 Ass 1400 B
  • Whimpwell 1257 ib
  • Wimpwell 1289 NfD
  • Quimpewell' 14 Bromh
  • Qwympewelle 1330 SR
  • Whympewell 1454 B


Whimpwell is one of the lost villages of Norfolk. One of the Domesday forms suggests OE  hwamm 'nook, corner' or the Scand counterpart hvammr 'a grassy slope or vale' Cleasby-Vigfusson.Cf. ModE (dial.) wham 'swamp, a marshy hollow' EDD s.v. The reason for the alteration of the vowel is obscure. The second el. is OE  wella. This explanation is also suggested in a brief note by Schram (whose Norfolk material rarely contains any etymologies and explanations) and, although it is based on one early spelling, it seems preferable.

Since the two spellings given in DB, Hwampwella and Hwimpwella , are contradictory, they have been checked specially in the 1862 facsimile edition of DB. These are the forms Schram quotes, and they are the spellings given in VH Nf II 144. Farley's edition from 1783 wrongly quotes both as Hwimpwella , which has not been corrected in John Morris' edition of 1984, although the last-mentioned edition claims to have corrected the few errors there are in Farley.

In DB Whimpwell was entered as the property of St Benet of Holme. The actual village site has long since disappeared, destroyed by coastal erosion (v. Blomefield IX301 and NfA 31: 160).