Historical Street Names: The Butts in Warwick

Peter Hallett as a 15th century archer serving Sir John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford (2012)
Anne Langley

The name comes from archery: a butt is either the target itself or a mound of earth behind it to safely absorb badly-aimed arrows. Archery was an important part of medieval warfare and in the 15th century Edward IV made the practice of archery compulsory on Sundays and holidays. Every town was required to set up butts for practice and streets so named will usually be on or near such a place (often just outside the town wall for obvious reasons of safety). Men between the ages of 16 and 60 were expected to possess a bow and could be called up to serve their country in the event of war. Other leisure activities (such as football or tennis) that might distract men from their archery practice were banned.

Butts elsewhere

There are other streets with ‘Butt’ in the title in Austrey, Coventry (city centre and Allesley), Harbury, Long Compton, Napton and Tanworth in Arden.

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