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What’s in a name?

Well,  exactly 58 letters, if the name happens to be Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the longest place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest village names in the world.

Located on the island of Anglesey in northwest Wales, the village was first known by the somewhat shorter Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, but acquired the longer moniker as a way to draw railway tourists in the 1860s. The 19th-century strategy has been paying dividends since, as travellers keep journeying to the place for photo-ops next to the oversized railway station sign.

The sign is hardly the only draw of Llanfairpwll, or Llanfair PG as locals call it. The railway station itself was restored to look as it did in its Victorian heyday, and a James Pringle Weavers shop showcases two Welsh-built steam locomotive engines as well as Welsh gifts and crafts. On the outskirts of town, The Marquess of Anglesey’s Column stretches 27m high in honour of the Marquess Henry Paget, who lost a leg in the battle of Waterloo. Both the Anglesey countryside and the nearby Menai Strait can be seen from the top of the column’s 115 steps.

Only a few steps away sits the St Mary’s parish for which Llanfair PG was in part named (the full name translated from Welsh is “St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave”).  The eponymous St Tysilio church, constructed in the 15th Century, sits on Church Island in the Menai Strait, just off the shore of Anglesey.  No one today can find the red cave, however, and the white hazels at St Mary’s have long been replaced by oak and elm trees.

The full village name, made its way onto a Monopoly board in October 2011. The Anglesey edition of the game was released late last year to capitalize on the newfound attention the island received as a result of Prince William and Kate making their first home there. William is stationed at the Royal Air Force base on the island, only 27km northwest of Llanfair PG. While the game makers were tempted to use the shorter name, the long version won out, even though it took five lines of space to fit all the letters on the standard railroad square.

 

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