District Notes

Houghton and Close House
“The name Merci Beaucoup carved in the door lintel stone of one of the cottages at Houghton may puzzle the passer-by as to its origin.

During the 1914-18 war, Holeyn Hall was used as a Military Hospital for wounded soldiers; this cottage was at that time unoccupied and Sir James Knott secured the tenancy of it. The cottage was suitable furnished, food and victuals provided by Sir James and was opened as a guest house for wives and mothers of wounded soldiers invalided in Holeyn Hall. On a rota system these relatives came for a short stay to visit their dear ones.

Sir James asked these women to partake in a competition to name the cottage with the sum of £1 as the prize; the ascription Merci Beaucoup won the prize and this name was duly inscribed on the door lintel stone”. Quoted from a book on Heddon on the Wall, handwritten, pages 233-4, author, date and other details unknown.