Letter: Kentish lore

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The Independent Online
Sir: Avis Powell supplies one traditional etymology for the name Kentish Town, derivative of Cane or Ken Ditch, hence - Ken-ditch-ton, the Town by Ken Ditch or corruptly, Kentish Town. Another etymology attributes it to the old English Cainc or Caine meaning a green leaf, hence Cane or Kenwood, the Highgate location of one of the two principal sources of the Ken Ditch.

Mrs Powell implies that the Ken Ditch runs from Kenwood ponds only and then into the Fleet River. In fact, the entire system is the Fleet River, with its other main rising point being the Vale of Health in Hampstead. This 'lost' river, once navigable up to Kentish Town, has enjoyed over the centuries a variety of names, according to location (eg, River of Wells, River Bagnigge, Turnmill Brook and of course Ken Ditch).

Yours faithfully,


Totnes, Devon