This article came from the Chronicle published April 1985.  Page 28



Author: L.C. Hayward


The opening of Yeovil’s new shopping centre has aroused interest in its name, which in fact preserves the medieval form Vicarage Street. The records of Woborn’s Almshouse include a number of leases, usually in Latin up to the end of the 16th century, which mention “in quodam vico vocato Quedam. Strete” (i.e. in a certain street called Quedam Street. Later, this becomes “in quedam streete”, and in the 17th century, “Quidham (or Quedam) Street now called Vicarage Street”, a description still used as late as 1784. The changed of name resulted from the building of a vicarage house there early in the 15th century, on a site just below Frederick Place. Martin Strong, Vicar of Yeovil 1690 -1721, modernised it at considerable expense, but it was demolished in the mid 19th century. The name will be preserved in Vicarage Walk down the centre of the new shopping precinct.

The meaning of the name Quedam is obscure. The late John Goodchild told the present writer that Prebendary Bates-Harbin of Newton Surmaville and a distinguished scholar and antiquary, suggested that it arose from a misinterpretation of a phrase commonly used in early leases “in quedam via”, (i.e. in a certain street) without further description: a later clerk assumed that it was the actual street name. The spelling varies, and old Yeovilians may remember Quidham Place as the name of an alley adjoining the former Brethern Meeting House in Vicarage Street.

Perhaps a more tenuous but plausable explanation is that Quedam is derived from a dialect corruption of “Quadrarium” which was used to describe a quarry in medieval Latin of the 12th and 13th centuries. Quadrarium Strete” might then have meant “The road to the quarry”, which could in turn refer to the local source of stone used in the building of St. John’s Church.- Ed.

THE QUEDAM: FURTHER THOUGHTS (from Chronicle dated October 1985 Page 66)

If we are to indulge in speculation as to the origin of this place-name in Yeovil, may I be permitted to add one more explanation to those mentioned in the last issue of ‘Chronicle’?

Perhaps there is a case for a much earlier origin and that the first element is from the OE cwidu for mastic or resin, and the second ham – an enclosure. In other words, a place where resin (rosin locally!) was produced.

As a matter of interest, I have a postcard written by Prebendary E.H. Bates Harbin to the late John Goodchild on 30th March 1918, in which he says:


I am puzzled about the derivation of Quedam st. In Latin it means ‘some’. Can you suppose that the inhabitants consider it to be ‘some’ street in Yankee slang meaning?!

I am sure the reverend gentleman would think so if he could see the shopping centre which has replaced the former street.