Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Query: Crackpot Hall

Recently someone asked me where I came up with the name Crackpot Hall.

Alas, I didn't come up with the name--I just borrowed it.

The real Crackpot Hall is a seventeenth century farm house in the Yorkshire dales that is now in ruins. According to this webpage, a plaque at the site says that at one time there was a fifteenth century hunting lodge on the property, which was later replaced by the farm-house. The house was only abandoned in the 1950s, and I couldn't find out any information about who lived there. The ruins don't look like much now, but the farmhouse was once quite comfortable and expansive, tho' not as grand as its name might suggest.

According to its Wikipedia entry, the placename crackpot comes from the old Norse word kraka (crow) and pot (cavity or cave). (Back in the Day, this part of Yorkshire was riddled with Vikings, hence Yorkshire is riddled with Viking placenames.) Was there was once a hole full of crows there? Do crows even live in holes? Sounds rather like a dark and sinister place to me. Crows are sinister birds, after all, full of malice and tricks, attracted to carrion, and sometimes seen in the company of one eyed men.

Of course, today when most people use the word crackpot they mean a "whimsically eccentric person" or a "crank".

(I'll let you guess which meaning I prefer!)

I first came across mention of Crackpot Hall years and years ago, when I was still quite young--altho' today I don't remember exactly when or how. When I was thirteen, my parents and I took a motoring tour of North Yorkshire, perhaps we went by the site, or read about it in a guidebook. Anyway, the name, so deliciously strange, stuck in my mind rather firmly. When it came time to name the family home of the Fyrdraaca family, whimsically eccentric or cranky some, darkly sinister others, Crackpot Hall seemed to fit perfectly.

(I can hear Valefor saying in disgust: Fyrdraaca House, not Crackpot Hall!)

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