12 Days of Christmas

In anticipation of Christmas, we thought we would pay homage to the classic seasonal track 12 Days of Christmas by finding some fun OS facts about Great Britain for each line.

To avoid typing the whole song out as we know you know it already, we have just written the last paragraph here to jog your memory.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

Within Great Britain, there are 12 roads in total with the term ‘drum’, ‘drumming’ or ‘drummers’. While Drummer Lane occurs twice, Drummer’s Lane and the other 9 such as Drummermire and Drummery Lane are unique.

Perhaps more than you’d expect, there are 98 different names which include the word ‘piper’, ‘pipers’, ‘piper’s’ or words with ‘piper’ in it, all adding up to 305 roads collectively. Did you know, 49 of these are ‘Sandpiper Close’ while ‘Sandpiper Road’ claims 20. Pipers Close and Pipers Lane follow with 18 and 14 respectively and at number 5, we are back to the common ‘sandpiper’ prefix with Sandpiper Drive (14).

For 10 ‘Lords a Leaping’ line, we found all the unique road names with the word ‘lord’ in them as well as those that are part of another word such as lordship or lordswood. While there are 190 different names, overall there are 385. In the lead by some way is Lord Street with 99 occurrences within Great Britain. Lords Close is second with a low 14 while Lord’s Lane is at 9. Our personal favourites though are Overlord Close (3) and Lordsleaze Lane (1).

Lord’s Hill Way in Southampton – can you spot our HQ?

For line 8, we looked up both ‘ladies’ and ‘dancing’. The former we found 5 different addresses including White Ladies Close and The Ladies Walk while the latter was a dead end. We instead looked up ‘dance’ and found only 3; Ribbon Dance Mews, George Dance Place and River Dance Drive.

For the next one, we decided to specifically research the cow element of ‘8 Maids a Milking’. Surprisingly enough, there are only 14 different road names including the word ‘cow’ and 15 in total as Spotted Cow Lane occurs twice. Our personal favourite is Cushy Cow Lane while 6 out of the 14 began with ‘Dun Cow…’. A fun fact about this is that supposedly ‘dun’ is a dull shade of brownish grey and the phrase is a common motif in folklore.

To mix it up, we looked up something slightly different for the line about swans. According to Purely Poultry, swans require an estimated diameter of 20 inches or 6.1 m of space to be able to adequately swim in a body of water. With this in mind, we looked at the amount of inland waters (i.e. lakes) larger than 20m^2 in area that are technically large enough for swans to swim in. We found 1,363,671 bodies of water – that’s a lot of places swans could be!

Swans are often spotted at Loch Lomond in Scotland.

As ‘geese’ only came up with two results in terms of road names, Geeseness Lane and Wild Geese Way, we also decided to look up the result of the aforementioned laying. Did you know, 37 organisations in Great Britain include the word ‘egg’ in their name? Our favourites are The Broken Egg Café, Fluffy Egg Web Design, The Egg Man and Knockin Egg Farm.

For the unforgettable ‘5 Golden Rings’, we decided to research how many National Heritage sites in Great Britain include ‘ring’ or ‘circle’ in their name, and it is more than we anticipated! Overall, there are 19. We particularly love the sound of Ring of Brodgar in Orkney, Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria and Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.

Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.

Turns out after some research online, the famous calling birds is often said to have originally been derived from ‘colly birds’. The meaning of the word ‘colly’ is the colour black, so it is assumed this line refers to blackbirds. In total, there are 66 road names which include ‘blackbird’ in their name and within this 24 are unique. All are fairly ordinary like Blackbird Drive and Blackbird Place, however we had to share with you the more notable Blackbird’s Bottom!

3 French hens are all very well, but we could only find one mention of a hen in terms of road names! We instead opted for the more popular ‘chicken’, although even this only came up with 8. The best out of a rather normal bunch is Whipchicken Road and Chickenley Lane.

Turtle doves was a bit too specific for a search, so we chose to simplify and look up ‘doves’. This threw up 23 results which we expected to be a lot higher. All of these road names are unexciting but to name a few lesser known suffixes, we found Dovesdale Grove, Doves Croft and Doves Yard.

Finally, we’re almost there! While there are 33 unique road names that include the word ‘partridge’, there are 187 in total, with Partridge Piece being one of our favourites. Collectively, roads with the word ‘peartree’ and ‘pear tree’ were plentiful with 290 results and within these 51 unique names. While Pear Tree Hey was a particular highlight, others included Pear Tree Avenue, Pear Tree Crescent, Peartree Hill and Peartree Farm Close.

Pear Tree Hey located in Yate, Bristol.

Summary of methodology

Two members of our Consultation and Technical Services (CaTS) team were responsible for compiling these facts. They were able to retrieve these findings by using AddressBase Premium, OS MasterMap and OS MasterMap Highways Network.

An example of how they did it was that they selected the ‘designatedname’ field in the roads table of OS MasterMap Highways where the text string contained ‘ladies’ or ‘dance’.  A similar methodology was used for addresses from AddressBase Premium where the ‘delivery_point’ table of an database was searched where the building_name, sub_building_name, organisation_name or department_name would return any of the desired inputs such as ‘egg’.

We hope you enjoyed this bit of merriment and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Read more about our year in our Top 10 Blogs of 2018.

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