which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

The place names "Hollins" & "Lickpenny"

By George Wigglesworth

The following is an extract from a booklet written by George Wigglesworth entitled "The Hollins,
Lickpenny and Little London".

photo of Hollins Farm Hollins Farms at Plaistow Green


Map of Hollins


There are possible explanations for the names Hollins and Lyckpenny; none are beyond doubt. The words ‘hollin’ and ‘holly’ are cognate and in many cases hollins are associated with the growth of holly haggs to provide winter fodder for sheep and deer, for example in South Yorkshire. [Ref 1]. So one suggestion is that Hollins may just refer to an area of holly bushes. The ‘Dissolution Rent Book’ for Bolton Priory in 1538 records a rent of 3s 4p for ‘le browsyng from trees called holles’.

Another suggestion is that a bough of holly might have been displayed on a packhorse track to indicate an overnight stop was possible at a neighbouring farm (hence called ‘The Hollins’). [Ref 2] Such a farm would be near a packhorse trail, with a plentiful supply of water and perhaps two ways, to and from the trail, which may persist. There would be security for the goods and perhaps conviviality for the Packmen. The name ‘Hollins’ was in use in the village of Holloway before 1700 to define an area where a lead smelter was located. [Ref 3] One would expect it to be near a stream and the nearby Lea Brook is the biggest. Maybe ‘Hollins’ refers to the farm land or maybe to a hagg. The farm so named now is said to have been built along with four or five similar buildings in Holloway and is of an early style. Evidence of a trackway is suggested by the paved holloway down Birch Wood, across the River Derwent at Lea Ford to Lea Bridge and beyond, such as one up Lea Wood Lane (now Mill Lane) to the holloway from which the village name derives. There is another once paved way past Lea Hall and also the route through Bow Wood which is from before 1800.

There is another farm called “Hollins” at Plaistow Green. It is near the Dark Lane (another term for a holloway) and a path, long called the Causeway. Interestingly in 1840 the farm had a gate/door called ‘Hec door’. [Ref 4] This word (with or without a final ‘k’) was used in living memory in Yorkshire and Derbyshire for a fodder rack. It occurs in a 16th century Chesterfield inventory for a will. Such a rack might be significant in an area outside the actual farmyard or a place where unloaded pack-horse trains were accommodated.

Another associated point is the use of a holly bough by inn keepers of yore to advertise that their new brew of Ale was coming to a head, ready for drinking. The ‘Holly Bush’ at the top of the Via Gellia near Cromford springs to mind.

A more unfathomable matter is that arising from ‘Lick Penny Lane’ a road on Tansley Moor certainly on the route of a moorland track leading off Big Moor towards Plaistow where there is one of the Hollins farms. Here everything is conjectural. One thought is that it refers to the fee for overnight grazing, the walls are very wide apart in places, even today. However Tansley Moor is very high to overnight in olden times and was known as a dangerous spot. [Ref 5] Maybe it is connected with this upcoming Hollins farm under the scarp edge or maybe Cold Harbour, this latter even earlier name indicating a refuge. A further thought is that farmers would brew beer for their own use. Surely the packman staying over night would need refreshment as much as the beasts he used. I would! A poem probably written by Dan John Lydgate about 1400 is called ‘London Lick-penny’. [Ref 6] The phrase means something or someone expensive that ‘makes the pennies go’. The poem reveals the extent to which the time spent in London seeking remedy proved too costly. Maybe the charges for grazing and particularly beer made the profits of transporting goods ‘go’! All of this needs to be in mind when considering the 15th century use of ‘Lick Penny’.

However, although Jonathan Swift (1784) and O Henry (1908) used the phrase there is no evidence that the name survived for this lane over so many centuries, so maybe here it derives from the ‘luck penny’ given to seal the hiring of farm workers a custom that survives into living memory, give or take inflation raising it to a shilling. However again Tansley Moor does not spring to mind as an ideal place for hirings. Nearby Matlock Green had an animal fair and the necessary two or three pubs all in the valley bottom.

One can only conclude that the derivation of the name ‘Hollins’ remains unclear although I see some reason for supposing it might have been an overnight stop. Lick Penny perhaps recorded the expense for packmen.

Ref 1 Spray M, Holly as fodder in England, Ag.Hist.Review XXIX, 1981
Ref 2 Atkin M A, Hollin, Names in NW England, Nomina Vol XII 1988
Ref 3 Wood M, Lead smelting in Lea Derbys Misc Vol 9 Spr Pt 5, 1982
Ref 4 Brown M, [Ed G Wigglesworth] Childhood Reminiscences, Derbyshire Local Studies Library
Ref 5 Star Chamber Proceedings, 16 May 38 Henry VIII (1546)
Ref 6 Lydgate, Dan Johnn, London Lyckpeny, British Library MS Harley 542 fols.102r-104r and Manuscript #367

To read the full booklet click on the link: The Hollins, Lickpenny and Little London

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