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.

Oakengates

Parish in the County of Shropshire

Historical Forms

  • Okynyate 1535 VE
  • Okenyate 1577 Saxton 1695 Morden
  • Oaken yates 1655 PR(L)
  • Okenyeats 1679 PRShifnal
  • Oakenyats 1686 ib
  • Oakenyates 1688 ib
  • Okenyates 1688 ib
  • Oken Yeats 1693,8 ib
  • the Oaken Yates 1735 PR(L)
  • the Oaken Gates 1707 PR(L)
  • Oakengates, Oaken Gates 1735 PRShifnal
  • ye Oaken Gates 1772 PR(L)
  • Oakengate 1765 PRShifnal 1801,8 PR(L)

Etymology

The name is traced back to 1414 in VCH XI, p. 286: the precise spelling is not quoted there, but Dr. G. Baugh informs me that it is Okenʒate juxta Wombrygge . The hamlet is of late medieval origin, but the name is probably older. It means 'pass characterised by oak trees', from the OE adjective ācen , and geat 'gate, gap, pass between hills'. The settlement lay on Watling Street, at the mouth of a narrow valley running to the south, which was followed by railways and canals. The topography is shown clearly on the 19th-cent. hachured maps. The plural form and the substitution of modern gate for yate are relatively late developments.

VCH XI gives an account of the evolution of the place.There were a few cottages here in 1535-6, owned by Wombridge Priory. Settlement grew with industry and mining between the 16th and 19th centuries, and Oakengates assumed an urban role in the mid-19th century when a market was established and the railways arrived. It became an urban district in 1898 and a civil parish in 1934.

There is not likely to be a connection between this name and that of Uxacona , the nearby Romano-British settlement.

Oakengates became a civil parish in 1934. The settlement was earlier a late-medieval hamlet on the eastern edge of the demesnes of the Augustinian priory of St Leonard, founded c.1135 in a clearing in Hadley wood. The ecclesiastical parish of Wombridge developed from these demesnes, but the small settlement of Wombridge was dwarfed by the town which grew up at Oakengates in the mid-19th century, and in 1898 Wombridge parish was incorporated in the new urban district of Oakengates, which also included the civil parishes of Priorslee, St George's and Wrockwardine Wood. Small portions of Hadley, Wellington Rural and Shifnal were added to Oakengates when the civil parish was formed in 1934. The whole area is now in Telford.

Major Settlements