The Anglo Saxons named their villages after natural features such as the dun (hill) at Dunham and at Elmham by the elms, the rough ground at Rougham or the wet soil at Weasenham. While Mileham takes its name not as one might suppose from it’s length but an early mill. In other villages the leader gave his name to the new settlement, so Wendels Folk became Wendling and Tyttels Corner, Tittleshall.
Villages with names ending in “ton” are usually later settlements than those ending in “ham”. Then Beeston stood for beos (bent grass) and belonged to the Mileham people who made an outlying enclosure on the pastures of bent grass there.
These names are all old English and not Celtic or Roman as they were pastoral folk dwelling in scattered farmsteads tilling lighter lands and patches of small square fields, whereas the district is one of compact villages with recorded evidence of cooperative open field systems favoured by the Anglo Saxons.
Records show that the Launditch, or Lawendike, is post Roman being built across a roman road. Lawen was the local village chief and his tribe is commemorated in the name of the hundred of Launditch and also the village of Longham (Lawingham) which appears in the Doomsday Book (1086) alongside Litcham, which is given in three spellings; Licham, Lecham or Leecham. A name derived from the old English word “lycce” (old German ‘luccha’ or old Norse ‘lycka’), meaning a piece of enclosed ground.
For the next 500 years the names Lucha or Lutcham were a far more common spelling than our modern ‘Litcham’, which surfaces briefly in 1310 only to be forgotten for the next four hundred years. The modern spelling finally becoming established on maps produced at the beginning of the 18th century.
Its seems our Norfolk ancestors liked anagrams as over the years a total of 20 different spellings have been ascribed to one small village. The wealth of variations down the centuries quite is surprising as the simple two syllable name hardly seems capable of providing such variety.
Full list of known spellings:
1086 Licham Doomsday Book:
Lecham ‘a Market Town in the centre of Norfolk’
1197 Lucham Feet of FineTithe-Map.jpg
1254 Lucham Val. Nch.
1310 Lucham Feet of Fine 3rd edition II
1319 Lucham Institution Book
1415 Lytcham Feet of Fine 2 Hy. V
1422 Lucham Will
1433 Lutcham Escht. Inquiry Letheringsett
1449 Lucham Will
1464 Leytcham Will
1479 Luccham Feet of Fine 18th edition IV
1503 Lutcham Will
1506 Lycham Will
1534 Lycheham Valor Eccles. Hy. VIII
1547 Lycheham Fine of the Manor
1552 Lycham Inventory of Chattels and Goods
1574 Luchcham Caxton’s Map.
1626 Lugham Local Bills
1688 Lytcham Archdeacon’s Visitations
1724 Litcham Molls Map
1749 Litcham Bowens Map
1800 Litcham (modern spelling)
Source: Litcham Heritage Register