Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a village on the island of Anglesey in Wales, situated on the Menai Strait close to Menai Bridge and Bangor. It is best known for having the longest officially recognised place name in the United Kingdom, and one of the longest in the world. It is signposted on surrounding roads as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, marked on Ordnance Survey maps as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and generally known as Llanfairpwll or Llanfair locally. The name is also seen shortened to Llanfair PG, which is sufficient to distinguish it from the many other Welsh villages with Llanfair in their names. Other variant forms use the full name but with "tysilio" mutated to "dysilio", and/or with a hyphen between "drobwll" and "llan". In Welsh, the initial "Ll" may be mutated to a single "L" in some contexts.
The village is a popular tourist destination. People stop at the railway station to be photographed next to the station sign, visit the nearby Visitors' Centre, or have 'passports' stamped at a local shop. Another tourist attraction is the nearby Marquess of Anglesey's Column, which at a height of 27 m offers views over Anglesey and the Menai Strait. Designed by Thomas Harrison, the monument celebrates the heroism of Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey at the Battle of Waterloo.
The first ever meeting of the Women's Institute took place in Llanfairpwll in 1915 and the movement (which began in Canada) then spread through the rest of the British Isles.
A settlement has existed on the site of the village since the Neolithic era, with subsistance agriculture and fishing the most common occupations for much of the village's early history. The island of Anglesey was at that point only reachable by boat across the Menai Strait. The area was briefly invaded and captured by the Romans under Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, but quickly abandoned in order to consolidate forces against Boadicea.
With the withdrawl of the Roman forces, the area fell under the control of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, an early Mediaeval kingdom. Under this feudal system, the residents worked small farms for the king. The rural nature of the settlement meant that the village had only a very small population, of around 80.
However, with the introduction of estates in the 16th century, much of the land was absorbed into the Earldom of Uxbridge, currently under the Marquess of Anglesey, and the population forced to work as tenants on enclosures. However, the population of the town boomed, with a recorded population of 385 by the 1801 census.
In 1826, the town was connected to the rest of Wales by the construction Menai Suspension Bridge, built by Thomas Telford, and with London 1850, with the building of the Britannia Bridge and the busy North Wales Coast railway line, which connected London to the ferry port of Holyhead. The village decentralised, spliting into Upper Village (Pentre Uchaf), which was made up mainly of the older houses and farms, and the new Lower Village (Pentre Isaf), built around the railway station and consisting mostly of shops and workshops. The village became a hub of commerce, as the railways and road network brought traders and customers from across northern Wales.
Significance of the name
The village's long name cannot be considered an authentic Welsh-language toponym. It was artificially contrived in the 1860s to bestow upon the station the honour of having the longest name of any railway station in the United Kingdom: an early example of a publicity stunt. According to Sir John Morris-Jones the name was created by a local tailor, whose name he does not give. A translation into English would yield "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave".
The village was originally known as Llanfairpwllgwyngyll (St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel), and there was a nearby hamlet called Llantysilio Gogogoch (the church of St Tysilio of the red cave). The names were linked by an in-between feature, the chwyrn drobwll, or rapid whirlpool. Although when written and read in English, the name has 58 letters, in Welsh it has only 51 because ll and ch are each regarded as a single letter.
The name was used in the movie Barbarella as the password for the headquarters of Dildano, the comical revolutionary.