Shawford’s Lake, Curdridge

It has long been a puzzle to me why the stream which runs by Lake Road/ Silverlake, through Kitnocks Gully and down through Fairthorne Manor to the Hamble, is called Shawford’s Lake. It is in fact a perennial stream of very modest dimensions. It’s certainly nothing like a lake.

But it’s not the only local stream that’s called a lake – there’s also Ford Lake which joins the Hamble at the junction of Wangfield Lane and Maddoxford Lane; and there’s Posbrook Lake which joins at the old slipway on Church Lane in Botley. Just before the Hamble joins the Solent, there’s a tributary called Hook Lake.

Some while ago, I happened to be perusing the Ordnance Survey map of the Solent. I noticed that many of the tidal channels in Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester Harbours, are called lakes. The main channel of Portsmouth Harbour is fed, for example, by Fareham, Porchester, Spider and Bombketch Lakes. Langstone Harbour is similarly blessed with Broad, Russell’s and Sinah Lakes.

There was obviously a mystery here to be explored.

I consulted my friend David Chun, expert on and author of The River Hamble: A History.  It seems that the word lake has two different etymological origins. On the one hand, our usual and modern word lake comes, via French, from Latin lacus, meaning a lake, basin or tank. There is no suggestion there of a stream. However, the now dialect word used for our tributary streams and channels comes from Germanic Anglo Saxon lacu, meaning lake, pool and also stream. These words are of quite separate origin, but, unsurprisingly, they have become, over time, conflated and confused.

Puzzle solved.

However, another puzzle remains. Silverlake – which is not obviously silver nor a lake – derives its name from Anglo-Saxon Sulaford, which means ford of/at the boggy place. It was a ford on the important road from Botley, through Curdridge, to Shedfield and on to Wickham – before it was bridged – or rather, culverted. As Anglo-Saxon gave way to Middle and so to Modern English, Sula became silver and ford was replaced with lake, referring to the stream. But then how, why and when did it then become Shawford’s Lake ?

Kevan Bundell