A History of Numbers

For the majority of homeowners the number of your property probably isn’t too big a deal – it’s just a way for the people delivering the post to identify your home from the one next door, and the one next to that. For others, however, it’s every bit as symbolic and even iconic in some cases as the badge on the shirt of their favourite football team or the hair on their own head!

House numbers have a real significance to people and some have even been known to opt against buying a property based purely on the number!

Depending on who you speak to and which source you visit, numbers were first introduced onto the front of properties in accordance with the Postage Act of 1765. However, there are also counter claims that house numbers were brought about in 1708 where houses were identified by numbers instead of the more typically used signs which were becoming less and less distinguishable as more homes were built and properties were expanded.

For those without an association with certain numbers through some kind of significance, a case of having a lucky number or something in their horoscopes; house numbers were not important and, as mentioned, were nothing more than a way of identifying a property. The (hypothetical) question is, we as people are not identified by numbers, so why are houses? This leads on to another, relatively recent, way of identifying certain properties – house names.

Homeowners have taken the interesting decisions to give their homes actual names based on distinguishing features or a historical reference to the property. Many will call their homes things such as Ash Tree House, based on the fact that there is an Ash tree in the garden. Others will call theirs The Old Post House as it used to be a Post Office before being converted into a residential property.

While these names make a lot of sense to people and also help to identify the property based on the features, other names have more of a reference to those living there than anything else. Some people choose to give their homes a name that has a genuine meaning to them and often take the property name with them when they move home, regardless of the existing name or number on the front door.

A house is more than just a home, that’s what people say. It’s a place where families come together, where futures are shaped and memories made. As such it’s easy to understand why people opt to give their homes something of a personality that resonates with them. “Do you remember when we lived at The Coach House and this happened…” for instance, might be something people talk about for years to come.

So the next time you walk past a house and think “that’s an interesting number” or “I wonder why they’ve called it that” it may not be the number it was given because it was the tenth house on the street, there might be a number of different stories that the house could tell you.

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