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.

Hormer Hundred

Hundred in the County of Berkshire

Historical Forms

  • Hornemeres (hundred) m.11th ASWrits c.1200
  • Hornimere 1086 DB 1087–1100,1100–35,1189(allc.1240) Abingdon 1188 P
  • Hornimera Hy1 ClaudiusCix c.1200
  • Hornemera 1175 P
  • Hornigmere 13th Abingdon
  • Hornemere 1220 Fees 1428 FA
  • Hornmere 1266 Cl
  • Hornemer 1450–1 ObAcc
  • Hormer 1569 Anderson


As stated by Anderson (214), this is OE  *Horningamere 'pool of the dwellers in the horn of land' (v. horna , -inga , mere ). The 'horn' is formed by the great loop of the Thames which encloses the Hundred.

The Horningas were probably a provincia like the Sunningas of Sonning, Pt 1132–3. The Abbot of Abingdon probably moved some people from this region to Curbridge O which he held a. 956; the two sets of bounds of Witney O in BCS 1230 and KCD 775 refer to part of the S. boundary of Curbridge as horninga mære 'boundary of the Horningas ', v. O 316.

The late Mrs G. M. Lambrick supplied the following note on the hundred meeting-place. 'Just short of the hamlet of Cothill there was, according to the Anglo-Saxon charter boundaries, a sandy ford the ford from which Dry Sandford received its name, and after which Sandford Mill, the old mill close to the ford, was called. From calculations regarding the water levels of the now disused mill-leat and mill-pond, it is clear that the original ford must have taken the traveller across the stream to the south of the mill, the road con- tinuing on in a direct line, south also of where the Fleur de Lys Inn stands today, to join the modern road immediately after it has twisted its way through Cothill village (information kindly supplied by Miss Laptain of the Nature Conservancy).

'In Henry I's time Abingdon Abbey was said to hold the hundred court of Hormer Hundred in Dry Sandford (Abingdon 11, p. 114); it can be assumed that the Anglo-Saxon meeting-place of the hundred was in the same spot, and that the meetings were held somewhere within the “vill” of Dry Sandford, near to a marsh, pool or mere, from which Hormer Hundred received part of its name. Immediately to the north of Sandford Mill and Cothill village there is a little valley fed by four streams which originally ran into the Sandford Brook near to where the modern road passes the mill today. The stratification of the ground thereabouts and the analyses made in studying it (A. R. and B. R. Clapham, “The Valley Fen at Cothill, Berkshire”, New Phytologist 1939, pp. 167–74) show that by nature this area must have been, at the driest, a peat bog; under wetter conditions (depending, for instance, on climate, the amount of cultivation in the surrounding countryside, and the rate at which peat accumulated there) the valley might well, in Anglo-Saxon times, have been filled or partially filled with surface water, to form a lake or pool. This peaty, fen-like area could be the mere of Hormer Hundred. There are additional reasons for thinking that the meeting- place of the hundred was close to this area, for there is good hard ground immediately to the east and north of it; many old tracks converged (and still do) near to the mill; it is in a sort of no-man's- land, a characteristic of such meeting-places, on the extreme western edge of Hormer Hundred and amid a confusion of three sets of parish boundaries; and the proximity of the sand-ford is significant'.