For those of you who are reading this blog we are seeking your advice regarding that old chestnut the possessive apostrophe and what to call our new house!!
One of the things that has puzzled us since we bought our house is its name: Minterne. Minterne Magna is a famous village in Dorset between Dorchester and Sherborne and is perhaps best known for Minterne House, the ancestral home of the Digby family and previously of the Churchill Family. The Minterne House is renowned for its Himalayan Garden and is available for private hire. However none of this sheds any light on why the house we bought in Beaminster is also called Minterne. Its modest proportions and tired 60s architecture could not be more far removed from the grace and splendour of its name sake.
In documents dating back to the 1700s that came with the purchase of the house we found the ordnance survey site of the house. The plot was recorded as reference 223, with an annotation noting it was previously referred to as “The Long House.” The reference to Minterne only started to appear in the 1960s when the actual house was erected. This however gave no indication as to the reason for the change of name, nor why “Mintern”, without the “e”, as it was spelled originally, was selected.
All came to light when we received the geological report for our water bore hole. The topographic map clearly showed that our house is at the base of Mintern’s Hill (without the e). I have yet to discover the history of why this particular hill was named Mintern’s but it got us thinking about the name for our new home. It now made sense as to why it was called Minterne, being at the base of the hill, but for some reason has been spelt incorrectly, leading to assumptions it is connected to Minterne Magna. We are thinking of applying to change it to Mintern’s Hill House which keeps the connection to its current name but firmly locates its relationship to the hill that rises up behind us.
Having reached this conclusion and having tried it out on a couple of friends Mark was listening to the “Thought For The Day” on the Today Programme which was all about the use of the apostrophe in grammar. Apparently John Richards, who set up the Apostrophe Protection Society, has decided he has lost the battle to protect the correct use of this grammatical signal so announced he is closing the society.
This misuse of the possessive apostrophe is often referred to as “the Grocer’s Apostrophe” as it is famously so frequently misused in shop signs. Some good examples are below.
There is therefore increasingly a view emerging that the apostrophe is better not used than misplaced. And there are many examples of possessive nouns that have dropped the use for simplicity, particularly in addresses: Parsons Green and St Pauls School to name a couple. Therefore for brevity and ease of use we are wondering whether to drop our apostrophe and apply for the name to be changed to Minterns Hill House – but guess what – when you enter Minterns in a Word document it does automatically try to reinsert the apostrophe – so maybe it’s not dead after all.
So do please take the short survey below to let us know your thoughts on this conundrum – to rename with or without the apostrophe or to remain as we are, or something completely different – it will only take one minute and could be fun!! Or if you prefer simply leave your views in the comments section below.
The survey can be accessed at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8F6QX3M
PS I hope dear readers you have noticed the careful use of its and it’s throughout this blog – which has different rules for the possessive!