Where willows and withies grew

We’re very happy that our children live quite near us, and my son has just moved over the last couple of days from one part of Bristol to another part, and the area, or a nearby area is called The Dings. Being interested in unusual names my attention was caught by this and I wondered about its origin. I’d not heard of it before my son moved there but I had heard of the parish of St Philips, which as I understand it (please correct me if you know better or more) overlaps it or is a neighbour to it. The area is being redeveloped for housing in a modern and quite stylish way, a very attractive area now. The flat my son is renting is lovely, spacious rooms and is a stone’s throw from the river where you can catch a water taxi to other parts of the city, the main Bristol station – and the best for him, a six minute walk from work! It has, however,  a rather difficult history:

The Dings, a notorious area of poverty and degradation in the St Philip’s area of Bristol, between Temple Meads and Barton Hill, was one of the worst slums in Bristol. In this district of narrow alleys and mean houses conditions were so bad that the health of the people was impaired and ordinary comfort became impossible. The only place for the man of the house to get away from such uncomfortable dwellings was to the local public house, where there was light and warmth and companionship, but where the very small family income could quickly be drunk away.
The Christian origins of Dings Crusaders” -The History Press

Many people in the wider Bristol area and beyond will have heard of The Dings Crusaders Rugby Football Club, one of the oldest clubs in Bristol and still completely amateur. It was started as a way to engage young men in sporting and healthy activity by a Christian Mission in 1897. The club is still going strong and in fact, on the Wikipedia page it mentions that after moving to a new ground, and ten years of development to get there, the first match in 2018, was against our home team of Weston-super-Mare who were beaten!

Back to the name, The Dings. All I can find is that it may have meant a meadow or marshy ground,  an area where willows and withies grew.  There are other places which begin with Ding:

  • Dingley: –  a village in Northamptonshire (where my cousin lives), it’s not certain what the name means, possibly Dynni’s wood or clearing or a hollow wood i.e a clearing
  • Dingwall / Inbhir Pheofharai: – the name Dingwall comes from the Scandinavian word Þingvöllr meaning meeting place, the Gaelic name means the mouth of the Peffery

and in the Republic of Ireland:

  • Dingle / An Daingean / Daingean Uí Chúis: – an Irish town in County Kerry, the Gaelic name means the fort of Ó Cúis

One other item of interest about The Dings in Bristol, there used to be a Jewish cemetery there. I don’t know if it is still there – I must find out!

My featured image is of a beautiful Bristol Byzantine building near the flat; it was the works of Gardiners of Bristol which I think were fancy iron work makers.

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