Day 326: Pratt’s Bottom

Near Badgers Mount in Kent is the village of Pratt’s Bottom, now part of greater London. In the eighteenth century it was called Spratt’s Bottom, but somehow the S was dropped from the name. It consists of a village hall complete with village green, two churches, a pub, a shop, a school, and a few side streets. Pratt’s Bottom is listed as number 77 in Rude Britain. Its inclusion is especially appropriate, since, as fans of slapstick comedy know, a pratfall is a mishap where the comedian falls and lands on his or her buttocks.

It didn’t take long for Laetitia and her group to see all the places of interest in Pratt. Fortunately an American woman had joined the tour because her surname was Pratt. She was a woman of some means who was unmarried and had made the genealogy of her family names her life’s work. Her genealogical search became the focus of the tour group.

Laetitia didn’t have the heart to tell her that she might have been better off looking for Spratt (like Jack who could eat no fat) in Pratt’s Bottom, but sometimes things done based on flawed logic do yield results. She found that the name Pratt is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word “praett.” The word translates as “trick,” and it might have been a name applied to a magician. She had also found Pratts (albeit spelled “Prat”) in Kent as far back as the twelfth century, and did find some Pratts living in Pratt’s Bottom.

According to Ms. Pratt, when she called on the townsfolk with the same last name, the family resemblance was obvious. Their body shapes resembled that of the schmoo, a 1940s cartoon character created by Al Capp that somewhat resembles a plump pear with legs. The Pratts were pleasant folks and were well accepted by their neighbors, but every so often newcomers made irksome jokes about their surname, the village name, and their body shape. They became the subject of the daily limerick.

Pratt’s Bottom’s a town that can claim
That it’s blessed with a memorable name
But its townsfolk named Pratt
Who are pear-shaped and fat
Are sure to be jokesters’ fair game.