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.

Flyford Flavell

Major Settlement in the Parish of Flyford Flavell

Historical Forms

  • Fleferth 930 BCS667 13th
  • Flæferð 972 BCS1282 c.1050
  • æt Fleferht 1002 KCD1295 13th
  • Flavel 1190 EveB 1212 1269 Wigorn 1315 Ipm 1428 FA
  • Flefrith 1316 FF 1317 Pat
  • Fleford 1420 IpmR
  • Fleford Flavell, Fleford Fluvell 16th,17th VCHiv.83


This place and Grafton Flyford infra 200 are about a mile apart on either side of the Piddle Brook, just a little way to the south and north of it respectively. We clearly have reference to the two settlements in the locissilvaticis ad Fleferth dextra lævaque illius rivuli qui vulgariter Piduella vocitatur (BCS 667) and in the locis siluaticis in utraque parte rivuli qui Piduella appellatur , huiusque agnomen loci æt Fleferht dicitur (KCD 1295). Fleferth or Flæferð is the name therefore of an old wooded district (cf. foresta de Flavel RBB , fo. 69) but why so-called it is not clear.The analogy of the lost Wenferth (supra 16) would suggest that it was a stream-name rather than a woodland-name. If so, it must be another name for Piddle Brook. It may be added that the phraseology of BCS 937 which, in giving the bounds of Phepson, speaks of them as running from Dean Brook 'on fleferð ,' tends to support this view, for in a list of bounds of this kind we should not be likely to have the name of a large district introduced. The ultimate etymology of the name must however remain obscure. On the other hand the phrases sub Fleuarth , under Flavel in the 13th and 14th cents. (v. Grafton Flyford) tend to show that by this time it was thought of as a district pure and simple.

The name Flyford Flavell is of a type that is probably without parallel. Anglo-Norman scribes and speakers, finding a difficulty in dealing with the name Flaferth or Fleferth turned it into Flavel (cf. IPN 106 ff.). In the meantime the word had undergone another corruption due to folk-etymology. The suffix -ferth , -verth , -varth was changed to the more familiar -ford and thus the two forms Flavell and Fleford (and possibly also Flaford ) were evolved as names of the same place, and the place now known as Grafton Flyford could be called alternatively Grafton-under -Flavell , Grafton Flavell , or Grafton Fleford .In the meantime the necessity arose for distinguishing the village on the south of the stream from that on the north and this was done by adding Flavell to Fleford (or vice-versa , for we cannot be sure which way the business was done) and so creating a pseudo-manorial name in which the two halves were really identical.

It should be added that Flyford Flavell probably also had its English name, for there is good reason for identifying it with the Ælflædetun , i.e. the farm of a woman called Ælflǣd , in BCS 1282.

Places in the same Parish