No.2 in an occasional series

If you look in Wikipedia, you will read that there are "two parallel theories" about the derivation of the name Gateacre. The first explanation is that it denotes "the way to the acre field", and the second is that it means "a plot where goats are kept". On the Gateacre Society's website we have, up till now, supported the first of these theories, arguing that "the acre field" (of Much Woolton) is in turn derived from "Ac-lowe-feld" or "the hill of oaks". However, Stuart Rimmer has come up with a much simpler - and more plausible - explanation. He has concluded that the name arose (and is mentioned in 16th/17th century Court Rolls) as "the Gate Acre", meaning "the field by the gate". The gate in question was situated in Grange Lane, and the (original) Gate Acre was the piece of land west of Grange Lane and north of Gateacre Brow (or 'Creep Hole Lane' as it was once called).

Here is Stuart's explanation - which is set out in more detail on pages 30-33 of his book 'Lost Manors':

In times when the area was predominantly rural, parcels of land needed names by which they could be recognised and referred to. They were mostly given local or 'customary' names which were not necessarily permanent and could be subject to change through the generations. Pieces of land named after the owner or, quite often, the occupant, could see their names changed at the advent of a new occupier. Another way in which land was named was to reflect a physical feature, something which was on the land or nearby. Examples of this are the Mill Hey, the Brook Croft and the Bridge Meadow. The term 'acre' was used in a similar manner. It did not refer to land which was only one statute acre in size, but was a general term like 'close' or 'croft'. It therefore follows that the name Gate Acre is consistent with this common practice of naming land.

In the early 1600s the Halewood family are described as "of the Gate Acre", their house (on the west side of Grange Lane) being near "the gate". This gate across Grange Lane - referred to in the late 17th century as the Smithy Gate -  appears to have been something of a landmark, and is mentioned a number of times in the manorial records.

Stuart concludes: "As development progressed around the Gate Acre, the settlement began to take on its name. Over time a handful of dwellings, a court house and a chapel were built and the 'the' was dropped. Eventually the name Gate Acre merged into its present name of Gateacre, and the settlement became a village in its own right, with its own identity".

You can read about the book 'Lost Manors' in our May 2021 Newsletter.

To order a copy direct from the publisher, visit

- or you can buy the book from Amazon UK

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