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So why Tuly Street? -
There is quite a bit of history bound up in street names and a better understanding of the history of a town can be gained by looking at their origin. Barnstaple has some quite revealing examples. Of the main thoroughfares, High Street requires little explanation and the Strand is clearly the riverbank, while Boutport Street is less obvious. When the town was walled, this was the way that went "about the port", in Old English: butan porte, the Old and Middle English 'port' meaning 'a town with a market'.
The curving line of Boutport Street echoes the course of the town wall. Newport was the Bishop of Exeter's 13th century 'new town and market' set up to rival Barnstaple. Cross Street was originally Crock Street and was inhabited by potters. Bell Meadow is thought to be the 'bailey meadow', which was presumably grazing land outside the town and somehow identified with the castle bailey, while Barbican Lane was probably marked by an outwork of the castle, perhaps a tax gathering point for traders entering or leaving the town by the route across Frankmarsh.
Litchdon Street commemorates the Iktun, the cemetery of Saxon Barnstaple. Bear Street was the road that led to or away from the bar or barrier at the east gate of the town (like Temple Bar in London or Bargate in Southampton). Magdalen Street lies in the vicinity of the Cluniac Priory of St Mary Magdalen, which lay immediately to the east of the town.
So what about that very odd name, Tuly Street?
A sixteenth century map of Barnstaple drawn by Bruce Oliver (Fig. 1) includes within the precincts of the castle the location of King Olaf's well on a site now occupied by the library and North Devon Record Office. Olaf, a scion of Norwegian aristocracy, fought on the side of the English king Ethelred II in his wars against the Danes in 1013. On his return to Norway he became king where his rule is mainly remembered for converting that country to Christianity. In 1030 he was killed in battle and from his grave, springs of water with healing properties flowed and miracles were reported. He was declared a saint and his cult became widespread in Scandinavian areas and in England too, especially in the 'Viking' parts. * There are over forty ancient church dedications to Saint Olaf mainly in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, East Anglia and the Western Isles of Scotland. In Devon there is one in Exeter and a chapel at Riddlecombe. And in Barnstaple there was King Olaf's or St Olafs well. In the course of time, Olaf's name became corrupted by the transfer of the final 't'of 'saint' to give 'Tolaf which eventually became 'Tooley' or 'Tuly' as it remains today in the name of Tuly Street.
(*Based on David Farmer: Oxford Dictionary of Saints)