Reverend William Spooner
William Spooner, while not a native Cumbrian, spent his holidays in Grasmere. He stayed at How Foot, a Victorian stone house. The house is now owned by the Wordsworth Trust and is run as a bed and breakfast.
Born in 1844 in London, he became famous for his language “slips of the tongue” and contributed the word “spoonerisms” to the English language. He was an Anglican priest and the dean and warden of New College, Oxford, where he lectured in philosophy, divinity, and history.
Spooner was a hospitable and well liked man. He was considered to be very intelligent. His “spoonerisms” or slips of the tongue were contributed to the fact that his thoughts and spoken words didn't always mesh. Thoughts became jumbled between his brain and his tongue. Thus words came tumbling out of his mouth that had an interchange of first syllables or sounds. For example: “Three cheers for our queer old dean” instead of “Three cheers for our dear old queen” or “Come into the arms of the shoving leopard” instead of “Come into the arms of the loving shepherd”. This mixing of sounds was most notable when he was stressed or upset about something. Some statements attributed to him were not necessarily spoken by him, but examples of the kind of thing he would have said.
William Spooner died in August 1930. He had two sons and five daughters. His portrait hangs in New College, University of Oxford.
Photo courtesy of How Foot Lodge
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