Is This Street Misnamed?

New Road

When we went along to Rockmass on Sunday it was the first time in a long while that we had been to the church there in the light.

Recently there has been a new estate built on land directly opposite the Church, with two little streets, one of which is called ‘Steeple View’, which I have to admit struck us as a bit odd, considering what the church actually looks like. However having looked into it a bit further, it does pose an interesting etymological debate over the meaning of the word ‘steeple’.

From my understanding of what the word ‘steeple’ means, it is an ornate pointed roof on top of a tower, also known as a spire – something that the church in Thatcham doesn’t have. Indeed the Wikipedia entry for Steeple seems to back that up by saying that it is something that generally caps bell or clock towers. The reference again says it is synonym of spire, as does the Oxford English Dictionary.

The View

From a random straw poll I did, most people seem to regard a spire and a steeple as the same thing, however not everybody agrees. The Chambers dictionary reference says that a steeple is ‘a tower, especially one with a spire’, so this seems to back the choice of name for the street. Steeple being a synonym for tower is also backed by one friend with a bit more architectural knowledge.

Of course, all this etymological discussion is really just an excuse for a gratuitous use of another nice picture of a church… 🙂

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