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.

Chain Fm

Early-attested site in the Parish of Littleport


Chain Fm (TA ). Cf. le Charre 1306, 1334ElyCouch , Lytilport Chaire 1548 Imb, ye Chayer 1591Hayward , Lyttleport Chayre 1608AddCh , the Old Chaine 1662BLAcct , Littleport Chayne 1674 Fen, Littleport Charer 1677 ib. It lies at a sharp bend in the Old Croft River (supra 9) and the term chare , originally applied to the bend, may have come to be used of the river itself as in Chear Lode supra 150. It seems to be used of the river in the following passage: “A myle beneath the Old Chare , the new Chaire wch is a great Navigable River falleth into the said river of Owse and out of the said New Chare falleth a great parte of the West Waters under Earyth bridge, descending northward by Sutton, Mepal, Wicham, Coveney and so to Downham hithe by the frythe ditche” (1530Draining , f. 182). Here it seems to be an alternative name for Byhee (v. Byall Fen supra 211). The reason for the change from chair to chain is obscure. The ferry may have been worked by a chain. See however Chainbridge infra 254. For interchange of char and load cf. Brangehill infra 239. v. Addenda lx.