Monk Frith

Monk Frith
Monk Frith

I want to add a garden gate, and in thinking about design ideas I wondered, yet again, if I could use the name of the house in some way – ‘Monk Frith’ .

While we all understand ‘monk’ the internet tells me that the Greek monos meant ‘alone’, or ‘solitary man’.

‘Frith’ is apparently derived from Old English friðu, which is related to the Dutch vrede. ‘…Frith is inextricably related to the state of kinship, which is perhaps the strongest indicator of frith. In this respect, the word can be coterminous with another significant Anglo-Saxon root-word, sib (from which the word ‘sibling’ is derived) – indeed the two are frequently interchanged. In this context, frith goes further than expressing blood ties, and encompasses all the concomitant benefits and duties which kinship engenders…’.

And this interesting article goes on to say: ‘..The main point to be made here is that the frithstead or frithyard was not only intended to be a place where peace was enforced. It was also a reminder and a commitment to the fact that Heathen folk are in a relationship with their deities and friendly spirits: a relationship of frith, that involves trust, respect, mutual benefit, and mutual obligations, including but not limited to behaving in a peaceful manner toward one another…In essence, frith is not an absence, but a presence. It is not the absence of strife; rather it fills the spaces between people with something that is stronger and more important, more meaningful, than strife. That “something” that fills in the spaces is frith: a closely woven relationship with a distinctive pattern to it. If frith were merely an absence of strife, we could not speak of frithweaving: how does one weave a vacuum? One weaves a fabric, filling empty space with substance, pattern, and tensile strength that is created by the interweaving of many threads into a strong whole…’.

It is an unusual name for a house, however. Was there a monastery in the area? There is an ‘Abbey Farm’ nearby, but the nearest abbeys were in Dunwich and Leiston. I need to dig further!


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