02 November 2023

Timor Court is a sunny
corner and a hidden
gem off the High Street
in Stony Stratford

Timor Court off the High Street … a colourful corner of Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

Timor Court, off the north end of the High Street, close to the Cock Hotel is a colourful corner of Stony Stratford.

A narrow archway between Topfrock and Lovely Living on High Street leads into Timor Court is easy to miss, making this a hidden gem that many visitors to Stony Stratford may not notice as they stroll along the High Street. It includes a delightful, traditional tea room, a colourful flower shop, a friendly barber shop, a clothing and accessories outlet and a beauty salon.

Timor Court is also the venue for a weekly traditional market on Saturdays that sells fruit and vegetables, bread and cakes, household goods, clothes, gifts, plants and fresh fish.

But, since I moved to Stony Stratford early last year, I have often wondered why Timor Court is named after an island in south-east Asia.

Timor Court is a sunny, colourful corner when the sun rises in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Timor Court was developed in the 1970s by a local estate agent Peter Star and in her valuable Street Names of Milton Keynes (Chichester: Phillimore, 2006), Anne Baker says that local tradition believes Timor is the word for ‘Star’ in the Malay language. However, it seems the name of the island of Timor is a variant of timur, the Malay word for ‘east.’ The island was given the name because it lies at the east end of the Lesser Sunda Islands.

The island of Timor is at the southern end of South-East Asia, in the north of the Timor Sea. Mainland Australia is less than 500 km away, separated by the Timor Sea.

Timor was once divided between two colonial powers, the Portugues in the east and the Durch in the west. Today, the island is divided between East Timor in the eastern part, which has been an independent sovereign state since 2002, and West Timor in the western part of the island, which is part of Indonesia in the western part. Within West Timor lies an exclave of East Timor called Oecusse District.

The island is about one-third the size of the island of Ireland and it covers an area of 30,777 sq km (11,883 sq m). The name is a variant of timur, the word in Malay meaning ‘east.’ So, the island is called Timor because it lies at the eastern end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, an archipelago in south-east Asia, between Java and Australia.

Mainland Australia is about 500 km away, separated by the Timor Sea. Yet East Timor, officially known as Timor Leste and with a population of 1.1 million, remains one of the most isolated countries in the world.

Because the name ‘Timor’ or word timur means ‘east’ in Malay, this creates a tautological place name so that East Timor literally means ‘East East’. In Indonesian, the name Timor Timur was used as the name of East Timor when it was ruled as a de facto Indonesian province from the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1974 until full independence and sovereignty were achieved in 2002.

The name Timor Leste is now used officially to refer to the independent country, and in Portuguese the country is called Timor-Leste, but this name remains tautological. In Tetum, the island’s language, the state’s name is Timór Lorosa’e – Lorosa’e can be literally translated as ‘where the sun rises.’

The narrow archway linking the High Street and Timor Court is easy to miss (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

When the sun rises in the east in Stony Stratford on sunny mornings, Timor Court is a pretty place, with its small, cosy welcoming shops, flowers being set out in front of Back to the Fuchsia and tables getting ready for morning coffee at Miss Havisham’s Tearoom.

Miss Havisham’s celebrates the traditions of the Victorian era, with solid wood dressers, lots of antique china, lace curtains and traditional artwork.

I had my hair cut earlier this week in JJ’s Barbers, run by Terry and Steve and with an interesting collection of vinyl records and guitars on the wall. Other outlets in Timor Court include the Crone’s Cabin and Stunning Beauty.

The weekly Market in the cark park at Timor Court takes place every Saturday from 8 am to 3 pm, with parking nearby in the car park of the Cock Hotel.

There are similar hidden gems along High Street, including Odell’s Yard, Stratford Arcade, Telegraph Walk and Swinfen’s Yard, all contributing to the charm and delights of Stony Stratford.

The Saturday market in Timor Court last weekend (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

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