Cofferidge Close

Cofferidge Close is known today as a redbrick shopping precinct in Stony Stratford. Originally, it was a field bounded by the High Street, Horse Fair, Silver Street and the Market Square. It was called a close because it was an enclosed piece of land.

A map showing Cofferidge Close in 1680

Cofferidge Close (sometimes Cofferer’s or Coffereys) began to be developed, as far as we know, at the beginning of the 17th century. There were three cottages on the site of the George, which was built c 1610 or later, so there may have been houses on the High Street in the late 16th century.

How did it get its name? The answer is that we don’t know because it does not appear in any documents until the late 17th century. Some say that it was named after an official – a cofferer, that is a kind of treasurer, who, in an age before banks, kept money in a strong box – a coffer. Some have suggested that it might have been named after a man named Godfrey – hence Godfrey’s Close. Certainly, the name Godfrey (spelt “Godfree”, does turn up in the 17th century).

One completely unusual rendering of the name occurs in a document dated 6 October 1691, referring to the house of Thomas Fulford, “which house adjoins the Cow Fryers.”

Now, before we start conjuring up images of butchers cutting steaks and reaching for their frying pans, we should realise that this does refer to Cofferidge Close. Assuming that this was written down as it was pronounced in 1691, this must cause us to question once again the origin of the name. On the west side of the close is Silver Street, which until 1862 was known as Cow Fair. Was this close therefore leased by some friary and was, in medieval time known as the “Friar’s” and might, since Cow Fair was adjacent, been called the Cow Friars?

This is wild speculation on my part but it is still plausible. we know that Chicksands Priory and Luffield Priory once owned little pockets of land in Wolverton and Stony Stratford, so it is quite plausible that a Friary held some land to generate income.

So there are no conclusions here about the origin of the name. The place, however, can be identified with certainty.