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Name that house

Houses in England often have names in addition to street numbers. Sometimes, they have names in place of street numbers, with the mailing address simply saying something like “Barton House, Gloucester Road”.

This throwback practice is still very much in use in rural parts of the country, but even in central London, every respectable building is likely to have a name proudly displayed above the entrance or near its gates.

In our suburban neck of the woods, many streets are full of named houses. As I have been regularly strolling around the neighborhood streets of late, trying to justify the purchase of a pedometer, I inconspicuously took snapshots of some of the house signs with my pocket camera. Please feel free to click each picture to embiggenate.




  1. John the Scientist

    Japan names its buildings, too. But since the street numbering system in Japan was designed by several cruel Shinto gods, it becomes even more important there.

    The Japanese divide their city into small neighborhoods a few blocks in area, and then the first building that gets built is #1. The second is #2. And so on. However, since the first houses are built far apart from each other and subsequent ones fill in the gaps, #3 might be in between #27 and #42. Once you’re in the local neighborhood, even taxi drivers don’t know how to find a place without a map. o.O

    I got really good at giving directions in Japanese when I lived there.

  2. Ilya

    I suppose “neighborhood” means several blocks both east-west and north-south? In which case, #3 may not even be on the same street as #1 and #2, right?

    Venice’s old numbering systems (still used for postal service, I believe) is across a quarter, but I think that the adjoining houses would have consecutive numbers…

  3. John the Scientist

    You are correct, they may not be on the same street. The “blocks” are usually not rectangular, and the irregular edges make it even more interesting. Most streets do not have names, although the big ones certainly do.

    This is my old neighborhood. It’s a little more regular than most, but you can see as you wlak up the street at the top of the screen, you go from Ooyama Cho 2, 3, 17. Those are the “block” numbers, the actual buildings with in them have numbers, too, and those are even less regular in their assignment than the clock numbers.

  4. jason

    The practice of naming houses rather than simply giving them a sequential street number is immensely frustrating when you’re trying to find something, but I have to admit that the names themselves are wonderfully romantic. I like “Grayholme” above, especially. It sounds like something from Tolkien…

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