Villagers living in Shi tterton refuse to be beaten by thieves with lavatory humour

The residents of the tiny Dorset hamlet of Shi tterton have decided to take matters into their own hands after the signpost announcing its name was repeatedly stolen by souvenir hunters with a fondness for lavatory humour.

In a big nod towards the Coalition Government's "Big Society", in which it aims to give more power to the people and stop them being as reliable on the state, a group of Shi ttertonians each chipped in £20 to purchase a one ton block of Purbeck Stone with the name of their village engraved into it. It will be now be very difficult for thieves to steal their sign.

Britain has a wonderful myriad of places with rude-sounding names, each one sounding as though it should feature in a Carry On movie.

This proud group includes Nob End, near Bolton; Thong, Kent; Cockermouth, Cumbria; Grope Lane, Shrewsbury; *****tone, South Yorkshire; and Scratchy Bottom, Devon.

The Victorian British were a very prude people, and they often went to great lengths to alter the spelling of rude-sounding placenames.

Shi tterton itself was often called Sitterton by the Victorians, and the Dorset town of Tolpuddle, famous for the six "Toldpuddle Martyrs" who were transported to Australia for forming a trade union in 1833 (organising groups in order to achieve better working conditions was illegal), was originally called Tolpiddle.

Shi tterton gets its name from the Norman French Scatera or Scetra, which was what the town was known as. That translates as 'a place on a sewer or midden'. It was given this name because the nearby brook was used as a privy.

Shi tterton and a sign of the times

Villagers living in Dorset hamlet of Shi tterton refuse to be beaten by thieves with lavatory humour.

By Stephen Adams
23 Jul 2010
The Telegraph

The proud villagers of Shi tterton in Dorset have clubbed together to erect a new stone sign at the entrance to their hamlet after the council signs were stolen by collectors. Photo: BNPS

The residents of Shi tterton have grown used to being the butt of jokes. But that doesn't mean they aren't proud of their pretty hamlet in the Dorset countryside.

So it was a source of great dismay that the signpost announcing its name was repeatedly stolen by souvenir hunters with a fondness for lavatory humour.

So bad was the problem that, three years ago, the fed-up district council stopped replacing the sign, meaning that drivers passing through the hamlet could be unaware that they were ever in Shi tterton at all.

Now, in a move that could exemplify David Cameron's Big Society, a group of public-spirited Shi ttertonians has decided to take matters into their own hands. They each chipped in £20 to purchase a lump of Purbeck Stone weighing more than a ton and had it engraved with the hamlet's "interesting" name to act as a proud, and permanent, sign.


  • Cockington, Devon
  • Nob End, nr Bolton, Lancashire
  • Twatt, Orkney
  • Thong, Kent
  • Pratts Bottom, near Orpington in Kent
  • Crapstone, Devon
  • Cockermouth, Cumbria
  • Piddle Valley, Dorset

Ian Ventham, 62, chairman of the parish council, who lives at Shi tterton Farmhouse with his wife Diana, 61, said: "We have lived here for the last 20 years and during that time the sign has been nicked at least three times. We think it was kids who would like to have it stuck on the wall in a den somewhere because it's quite an interesting sign.

"I don't think it was malicious, they just did it for fun, but it was exasperating for us. We would get a nice new shiny sign from the council and five minutes later, it was gone."

Not only was the lack of a sign annoying, he said, but "it could make life confusing for delivery drivers". "It was my wife's idea to carve it out of stone," he said. "We thought, 'Let's put in a ton and a half of stone and see them try and take that away in the back of a Ford Fiesta'."

Mr Ventham, a retired RNLI director, wrote to neighbours asking them to donate £20 towards the cost of the immovable sign. Of 50 households, well over half contributed.

After being told of the plan, Purbeck district council agreed to give £70 towards the cost.

Mr Ventham said he felt the project was a good example of community empowerment as proposed by the Prime Minister in his Big Society.

"I am not sure if he is expressly thinking about Shi tterton signposts, but I think he is talking about people getting off their backsides and doing things, rather than expecting them to be done for you," he added. Not all are happy that the name is now set in stone, however. A few in the hamlet, on the outskirts of Bere Regis, prefer the more genteel Sitterton.

Mr Ventham said: "In Victorian times prudes decided to call it Sitterton, so even today in Shi tterton we have Sitterton Close and Sitterton House. The rest of us prefer the rather more earthy Shi tterton."

Shi tterton: what's in a name?

23 Jul 2010
The Telegraph

Those who doubt the provenance of the name Shi tterton are on sticky ground.

For the title can be traced back at least 924 years to the 1086 Domesday Book.

Then, the settlement was recorded in Norman French as Scatera or Scetra.

That translates to 'a place on a sewer or midden'. It was given this name because the nearby brook was used as a privy.

The word is based on the Greek skor, or skatos, meaning dung, and as such shares the same root as the noun scatology, defined in the Oxford Compact English Dictionary as "a morbid interest in excrement".

The Old English scite – again meaning dung – was transformed into the Middle English schītte, and hence to its modern form.

Victorians tried to sanitise Shi tterton, as they did other place names – notable nearby Tolpiddle, famous for its martyrs, which became Tolpuddle.

But in the case of Shi tterton, the name stuck.

Who are you calling Ugley? Silly place names

The British Isles is dotted with a myriad of places seemingly named to amuse its inhabitants.

By Stephen Adams
23 Jul 2010
The Telegraph

*****tone, South Yorkshire

Three Cocks, Powys, Wales - Named after the 15th century coaching inn, still in business, which in turn took its name from the coat of arms of a local Welsh prince, Einon Sais.

*****tone, South Yorks - The market town is named after the Pennines, and should be pronounced accordingly. It's just a shame an 'n' got lost somewhere.

Scratchy Bottom, Dorset - Dorset again. A dry, chalky clifftop valley just west of Durdle Door, the name is thought to refer to a rough hollow.

Thong, Kent - This hamet near Gravesend was not at all funny until the invention of the G-string.

Grope Lane, Shrewsbury - Named after what used to be the Shropshire town's red-light district.

Ugley - A hamlet in Essex. Recorded in the Domesday Book as Ugghelea, it probably means “woodland clearing belonging to a man named Ugga."
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jul 25th, 2010 at 01:38 PM..
Ron in Regina
Holy Mackeral!!! Do you know what we call that kind'a grin on this side of the pond?

#3  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by Ron in ReginaView Post

Holy Mackeral!!! Do you know what we call that kind'a grin on this side of the pond?

Hey, give him a break Ron; he's just tryin' to match his grin to the name of the town, tryin' not to let the townsfolk down.

Similar Threads

Darfur villagers mourn slain children.
by Sassylassie | Nov 8th, 2006
More Corporate thieves
by mrmom2 | Jun 25th, 2005
no new posts