Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Osbournby church

click photo to enlarge
There's no easier way to announce yourself as an outsider to this area of Lincolnshire than by pronouncing the name of the village of Osbournby phonetically, just as it's written i.e. "Ozbornbi". For reasons that I'm sure few, if any know, the local pronunciation is "Ozzenbi". In an attempt to get to the bottom of why this is so I delved into the derivation of the placename.

The Domesday Book of 1086 gives two spellings - Esbernbi and Osbernedebi. Also used in the eleventh century was Osbernebi. It is thought that these come from the combining of an anglicisation of an Old Danish personal name - Aesbiorn (changed to Osbeorn) - with the Old Danish "by" meaning farmstead or village. So, the settlement was named after this person who founded it or was of importance within it. All very interesting, but as far as the current local pronunciation goes, not a great deal of help. The elision, contraction or slurring of the "bourn" part and its replacement by a "zz" sound is the interesting change that needs explaining. In fact, Osbournby is not alone in being subjected to this particular corruption. Just over five miles south, down the A15, is the village of Aslackby where the "zz" sound replaces "lack" to give the local pronunciation, "Azelbi" (as in Hazel where the "h" isn't sounded). I'll have to do a bit more digging if I'm to come up with an explanation for all this.

We passed Osbournby's church the other day as a light wind was blowing the chestnut and beech leaves of the churchyard trees on to the closely cut grass. This particular building, that dates mainly from the fourteenth century, is quite hard to photograph in summer from the south east with sunlight on it because of those tall trees. Their shadows fall across much of the aisle, nave and chancel. However, on this autumn afternoon the trees had shed enough leaves for light to filter through and give the scene both illumination and interest, so I took my shot.

For a photograph of the fine medieval bench ends that the church is famous for see here.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -1.00 EV
Image Stabilisation: On