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In Full . . .

The house next-door

Posted on May 16 2011 at 10:48:53

The house captioned as Ceroso in Hail, Salubrious Spot, but which is, in fact, Chenda.

When you start getting into such details as the names of houses in Bittell Road, Barnt Green, 60 years ago it’s no wonder memories become hazy.

And so we had a debate in Village Views last month over the name of a house mentioned in Gavin Bantock’s book, Hail, Salubrious Spot, about growing up in that village.

Rosalind Morey (neé Wallbank), who lived in the house in question as a child, said it had always been called Chenda while her family lived there, and she had never heard the name Ceroso, as ascribed to it in the book. She was even more puzzled by its assertion that the house next door to hers was in fact called Chenda.

Following this so far?

Well, for what it’s worth, we think the mix-up has been explained to some extent by Michael Hastilow, now of Cofton Hackett, but who was born at 61 Bittell Road – now known as Ceroso – in the 1920s.

At that time, he tells The Village, the house was called Chenda. “My father bought the plot next door and built a new house and we took the name Chenda with us,” he explains. “When we moved into the new Chenda, in about 1939, my grandparents moved into the original Chenda and they called it Ceroso.”

So both the houses have been called Chenda at some time, which explains why they may have been confused in the Bantock book – although it does seem that Rosalind did grow up next door to a house called Ceroso.

As for the derivation of the names, a nice story is attached to “Chenda”.

Mr Hastilow explains further: “My parents met at Birmingham University in the post-First World War years. My mother was interested in drama and they were both taking part in a university production called The Fountain.

“The female lead, played by my mother, was called Chenda. So the name was highly romantic.”

For Ceroso, the only definition we can find is that it describes something “waxy”.

* Gavin Bantock adds: “Many thanks for making everything crystal clear. I now see that my error was starting with the wrong house. I began my description with the double-fronted house with Tudor decorations (now Chenda), whereas I should have started with the next house down (Ceroso).

So my explanation should be read the other way round, so to speak. Incidentally, I recently discovered that Chenda is a girl‘s name of Cambodian origin and means ‘thought, intelligence’.”

Above: The house captioned as Ceroso in Hail, Salubrious Spot, but which is, in fact, Chenda.


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