Monday, 30 April 2012

A History of House Signs and Names

It’s a sad fact that the majority of the time house signs are accepted as a part of our every day lives and so remain relatively unnoticed. If you are interested insigns, you will already appreciate just how important they can be. They are all around us, on buildings, at the side of roads, on houses and in too many more places to mention. In fact, when you think about it, it is difficult to imagine a world without signs. This is also because they are so firmly rooted in our history and have had significance within human society for thousands of years. So, where did the history of house signs all begin?

Carved signage has a history which spans back to the Romans. In Roman times, artisans chiselled lettering in wood and stone on their structures. Although the way in which we make house signs has greatly improved since these times, the reason behind the house sign remains relatively unchanged as a means of identifying where the occupants of the dwelling live. 

House naming may not be as old as house signs but it still has roots stretching back as far as 700BC. In England the naming of houses was primarily attached to the Upper Classes who named their estates as a sign of prestige and wealth. The names the gentry chose for their Halls, Houses, Manors and Castles would reflect their ancestry, location, fame and family titles. Many of these names remain unchanged today.

House numbers are even more modern than house names. The first street in England to be numbered was Prescott Street in Whitechapel in London in 1708. It was done by the residents of the street, concerned with deliveries. House numbering was officially introduced as a Parliament Act in 1765 as a means of better locating people’s properties but it was a long time before street numbers became commonplace. Odd numbers were usually assigned to the left of the street as you head out of town and even numbers to the right and in general this rule still applies. It also interesting to note that many streets, especially the old ones, omit the number 13 for superstitious reasons.

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