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The Name Wootton is said to mean Woodtown, and to denote a clearing in the forest. A forest did not originally mean a lot of trees close together, but an open space of hunting ground. The term included waste lands, woodland, and pasture. As late as 1863 a Guide to the Isle of Wight compared Wootton to a clearing in the backwoods of America, with one house to every 150 acres, and one inhabitant to each 24 acres. Another suggested derivation is Wudu-tin, the Old English for “the farm by the wood.” The suffix “ton” is the most common termination of English local names, and it indicates an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Lisle family, who became Lords of the Manor here, were surnamed “de Bosco” – of the wood, to distinguish them from the other branch of the family who settled at Gatcombe. Obviously, then, this was a “Woodytown,” as in fact may easily be seen from the number of trees all around. The Lisles’ family name is perpetuated in Lisle Court, Woodside, Wootton Creek, and it is the original form of the Island names of Leal and Lale. Before the Norman Conquest the hamlet was known as Odetone, and was held by Queen Edith, wife of King Edward the Confessor. Domesday Book reads: - “The King holds Odetone and Queen Edith held it. It was then, as now, assessed at one hide. Four villains held three ploughshares. Its value is £3.”

The following list shows that there have been 37 different ways of spelling Wootton. If we include “Woodytown” and “Wooditon,” names used by Dr. J. Whitehead in the printed papers of the Hampshire Field Club, but for which I have not found any manuscript authority, the number of variations is 39.

Remarkably enough, it is a Swedish writer, Helage Kokeritz, who has done the most exhaustive work on the place names of the Isle of Wight, and many of the following dates are from his book, though some have been corrected.

Names and Spellings of Wootton
Odetone 1086 Woditon 1331
Wootten 1086 Woodytone 1355
Wodyton 1110 Wodynton 1374
Wodetun 1206 Woodyton c.1420
De Woditone 1248 Wodington 1445
Wodetone 1250 Wdarketon 16th cent
Wodynton 1263 Wdarkyton 16th cent
Wodyntone 1270 Utton Parke c.1536
Wotton 1270 Utton Bridge c.1536
De Wotton 1279 Wutton 1536
Woileton 1283 Wootton 1548
Woditone 1291 Utton 1549
Wodinton 1291 Wuttone 1559
Wodytone 1291 Woottone Park 1611
Wodeton 1298 Woottone 1627
Wodintone 13th cent Wottoon 1767
Woditone bi Westestret 13th cent Wooton 1795
Wdington 13th cent Watton 1815
Wodyingtone 1320 Wootton Bridge 20th century

The modern name, Wootton Bridge, dates apparently from the present 20th century when the ford at the creek was superseded by a bridge. The real reason for the name Wootton Bridge, however, is a Post Office one; to distinguish it from the other 19 Woottons in England. It will be seen from the list that the name Utton Bridge was in use about 1536 A.D. The earliest spelling of the modern Wootton is 1548.

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Source: Helage Kokeritz Place Names of the Isle of Wight Uppsala, (1940) (Nomina Germanica, 6)

This page was last edited on: 4th March, 2015 06:17:19

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Wootton Bridge Walks

Wootton Walk leaflet

If you are visiting the Isle of Wight you may be interested in our Wootton Walks leaflets which include a large scale route map.

These leaflets enable you, in a series of five walks, to explore some of our village’s history and beautiful surroundings. Enjoy your walk.

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