What’s in a name?…Tooting

The name of the south London suburb of Tooting has nothing to do with the railways or trains. In fact, its origins go back to Saxon times.

The area was recorded under the name of Totinge in 675 and in the Domesday Book compiled in the years after the Norman Conquest of 1066. By the late 11th century, the Abbey of St Mary Bec in Normandy was recorded as holding the manors of Tooting Bec and Upper Tooting.

The name apparently derives from the Saxon name Tota and the word ‘ing’, which literally translates as ‘the people who lived at’ – hence the name in its original form means something like “the place where Tota’s people lived” with Tota being a local Anglo-Saxon chieftain.

It’s also been suggested – perhaps less likely given the absence of hills in the area – that the name could be derived from the words ‘to tout’, meaning ‘to look out’, and relate to a watchtower that stood here on the road to London, the word then literally meaning something like “the people of the look-out”. (Interestingly, there was a major Roman road here – running from London to Chichester, Tooting High Street is now built upon it).

The suburb of Tooting largely owes its development to more recent times – it grew rapidly during the Victorian era and then again in the Twenties and Thirties.

PICTURE:  © Roger Whiteway (www.istockphoto.com)