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A real mouthful

12 June 2015

By Serenhedd James


Getting one's tongue around the pronunciation of the little Anglesey village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch takes time, but is well worth the effort, and will impress your friends. There are even videos on YouTube which can guide you through the process.

It is no surprise that Guinness World Records has crowned the village as having the longest place name in Britain, and the little white-washed stationmaster's house bears it proudly - although, of course, the house is now in private hands.

Like most Welsh place-names, there is method in the madness: the name (which may or may not have been first cobbled together by the Victorians) merely describes the ancient village's geographical location as being the location of "the church of our Lady in the valley of white hazel trees, not far from the fast-flowing water by St Tysilio's Church which is next to the red cave". Something of an etymological map reference, if you like.


Getting there

Trains to Llanfairpwll, as it is known for short, take about three-and-a-half hours from Euston, and a change at Chester to the Holyhead line means that it is easily accessible from most parts of the country.


What to see

Llanfairpwll is almost on the water, and, after a hearty lunch in a local hostelry, a walk along the coast will afford sweeping views of the Menai Straits. With a pair of binoculars you may be able to spot puffins and seals, but make sure you are buttoned up tightly - the wind can be a problem. For those less inclined to an afternoon's buffeting, a trip to the historic house Plas Newydd is probably in order.

Plas Newydd is in the hands of the National Trust, and was, until recently, the country home of the Marquesses of Anglesey. The first Marquess served with distinction at Waterloo, where he lost a leg, and so a visit in this anniversary year seems particularly apposite. The house was remodelled in the 1930s, and its collection of art includes Rex Whistler's largest piece of work: his Capriccio of a Mediterranean Seaport with British and Italian Buildings, the Mountains of Snowdonia, and a Self-portrait Wielding a Broom, from 1936-37. Whistler was a regular visitor to Plas Newydd.

The house also has a military museum relating to the first Marquess's career. It contains various campaign relics, including his wooden leg - which is believed to have been the first articulated prosthetic limb. Boat trips run from Plas Newydd up and down the Menai Straits, taking in Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge, and the statue of Lord Nelson that looks out over the water.

There is a secondhand-bookshop at Plas Newydd, and a café. I would suggest that you fortify yourself with Welsh rarebit before visiting the Marquess of Anglesey's Column, but I understand that, despite this year's notable anniversary, the column is closed until further notice.

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