Coniston(s) Around the World
Can you Name them all? There are a ConisTON!
What’s in a name? Camp has certainly had its share! Yet to Conistonians, those three simple syllables always seem to conjure up special memories made and lessons learned. But we aren’t the only ones! Let’s take a look at some other Conistons to see what that name means to others around the world!
Perhaps one of the most well known “Conistons,” Coniston Water is a 5 mile long lake in the English Lake District, the third largest of the district. Much like our Lake Coniston, Coniston Water is a beloved location for boaters, and especially canoers and kayakers. Nevertheless, if you prefer a bit more horsepower out on the water, Coniston Water was home to several waterspeed records through the 20th century, and still hosts “Records Week” in November.
The village of Coniston was originally a scattered agricultural community that became a centralized town in the 19th century. By then, the town began to center geographically around a 16th century farmhouse called “Coniston Hall,” and economically around copper mining. Presently, the village is a tourist destination that offers boat launches and many notable sites. Perhaps one of the most famous is The Old Man of Coniston, a dramatic cliff face that provides a prominent geologic backdrop for the town. Another well-known site is the nearby Coniston Fells.
But where did the name Coniston come from? The original inhabitants might have known the town as “Coningeston” in the 12th century. It’s believed that this name is derived from the Old Norse word for king, konungr, and the Old English term for a village or farm, tūn, meaning the name originally translated into “the king’s estate”. Therefore, the etymology and location of Coningeston often leads to the speculation that this area could have been the center of a small-scale mountain kingdom of Scandinavian origin.
Other “Conistons” in England include Coniston, East Riding of Yorkshire, and Coniston Cold, in North Yorkshire.
Even though you won’t see it on any top-seller lists today, author Winston Churchill published his popular novel Coniston in 1906. Not to be confused with his distant cousin, famed prime-minister Winston S. Churchill (who once described himself as the “less famous” Churchill), author Winston Churchill wrote Coniston as a progressive critique of post-Industrial Age corruption. The work became the best-selling novel of 1906 and was listed in 1925 as one of the top five most important books of the century by Publishers Weekly.
The popularity of Coniston made Churchill the most well-known writer at Augustus St. Gaudens Cornish Artist’s Colony, now New Hampshire’s only National Historic Site. He was even recognized by Woodrow Wilson, who used Churchill’s home as a “summer white house,” and Teddy Roosevelt, who counted Coniston among his favorite reads.
Churchill’s fictional Coniston isn’t the only one in the United States. It’s across the country from the real one! Coniston, California is a small, unincorporated community on the Sacramento River, just south of the city of Sacramento. The community is primarily agricultural and home to several wineries.
Historically referred to as “Long Pond,” our lake has been known as “Lake Coniston” since 1943. But it’s not the only one; you might be surprised to hear that the other Lake Coniston isn’t even a body of water: It’s a horse!
Lake Coniston was a British Thoroughbred racehorse that successfully competed in the 1990s. Throughout 1994-’95, Lake Coniston earned several big wins, with an especially remarkable performance in the 1995 July Cup, which you can watch below (he’s #2). He died in South Africa in 2014, at the age of 23.
This community has never existed as an independent entity, even dating back to its 1905 origin. However, along with a collection of other communities, it has been included as a section of several towns, and today is officially a part of Sudbury, Ontario. The population of 1,814 enjoy the Centennial Park, community center and curling club that all share part of our camp name.
Conistons in Australia & New Zealand
There are plenty of Conistons to visit in and around Australia and New Zealand! After arriving at the railway station in New South Wales, you could explore a suburb of Wollongong, stay in a popular hotel, or even watch the local football team… all named Coniston! Just an hour south of Sydney, there is plenty to do. The other Coniston in Australia is even more populated. By cattle! The Coniston cattle station (a cattle station in Australia is similar to a ranch in the US) is about 150 miles north of Alice Springs. The surrounding area was the site of infamous raids against the Warlpiri, Anmatyerr and Kaytetye people in autumn of 1928. Today, thanks to its remote location it is perhaps the most difficult Coniston to visit!
A rural community in New Zealand also shares the name.
…And one impostor:
Don’t be fooled by this Coniston impostor in the rural countryside of North Yorkshire, England. Although they don’t get to enjoy being members of the “Coniston” club, villagers in the peaceful town of Conistone do get to enjoy scenic byways and tranquil countryside.
How many of these Conistons have you been to? Did we leave any out? Surprised that Lake Coniston is also a successful racehorse? Comment below!