IT’S a long paddle from New Jersey, America, to Evesham, England, but what a wonderful story it would be if in the 1700s a canoeful of Delaware Indians made it all the way across the Atlantic to pitch up on the banks of the River Avon at Crown Meadow.

Highly unlikely obviously, but not necessarily all that daft. Well yes it is, but let’s dream for a minute.

Because back in 1758 an Indian reservation called the Brotherton Indian Reservation was set up in Evesham Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, with John Brainerd appointed reservation superintendent and guardian four years later. According to American historian CA Weslager the place name Brotherton was selected by the local area governor, a man called Bernard, “to connote brotherliness, although he gave no reason for the choice”.

Whether the Deleware Indians suffered greatly there or didn’t like the place much and left is unclear, but from a starting number of nearly 300 they had dropped to only 50 or 60 by 1774. In the American Evesham, which was founded in 1672, the Lenni Lenape tribe was known as “Brotherton Indians”.

Now move across the pond for the co-incidence. In the English Evesham there have been families bearing the surname Brotherton from about 1700. How did they arrive in south Worcestershire?

This intriguing tale is told in a new book by local historian Stan Brotherton called Secret Evesham (Amberley Publishing £14.99), which is a look at some of the market town’s more obscure, and in one case downright incorrect, little stories.

One thing is for almost certain, had the Delewares jumped ship (or canoe) when they reached Evesham they would have had great difficulty understanding the natives, partly because few of their fellow countrymen could understand them either. The dialect around The Vale was known as “Asum”, with many words surviving from long-lost Anglo-Saxon. “When heard at speed it could be impenetrable,” Stan observes, quoting an example : “Wur ust thee bin lately? Waddus myun? Er yunt. It yunt theyrn thee knowest: its ourn.”

At which point the Delawares would probably have thrown away their English phrase books and used sign language to find the nearest public toilets.

Mind you, for a very long time one of the hottest topics was how you actually pronounced the town name Evesham. An article in the Evesham Journal in April, 1920 by OG Knapp highlighted the confusion and several decades later, from 1956 until 1983, the newspaper ran a series of occasional articles by Ben Judd visiting the subject in amusing and witty fashion. It was not until he retired in 1983 that Benn Judd was revealed as the pseudonym of Bill Clarke, the Journal’s legendary editor.

The problem occurs because the old, dialect way of pronouncing Evesham was “Asum”, while the more modern “Eve-sham” is considered pretentious by traditionalists.

One Evesham “secret” that is definitely not a secret is that Lady Godiva is buried in the town, because she isn’t. The confusion has arisen because Lady G – who was Countess of Mercia – is known to have gifted Evesham a new church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, which would either have been in the centre of the town or at Bengeworth, depending on your point of view. When she died in 1087 she was supposed to have been buried in “her church of the Holy Trinity”. But Stan Brotherton says the claim the burial site is in Evesham is down to an error in translating a Latin text. In fact, he adds, her Ladyship “is almost certainly buried with her husband at Coventry”.

Never mind, there are enough facts, secret or otherwise, in this book to make it a good read. And if you disagree with any of the conclusions, don’t do as Lady Godiva did, just keep your shirt on.