Monday 6 June 2011

The ____-est villages

We spent a bit of time in the Cotswolds recently and came across a village with a strange claim to fame....
Photo: Jon Le-Bon
In true LadyLiberty fashion, I failed to take a photo of this sign, so am left with a watermarked one that clearly belongs to someone else, but as you can see, Brinkworth in Wiltshire is the longest village in England!* Who knew? We took a drive through to see what all the fuss was about and left disappointed - it certainly didn't seem any longer than any other village I've ever been (its supposed to be six miles long), but I'll take their word for it.  

Perhaps more interestingly, this got me thinking - what other ____-est villages are out there? 

Longest Name
The village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales has the longest name of any place in Europe.  Wikipedia can give you a pronunciation and a lot more info if you are interested.

Largest Village
Since there is no official definition of what is a village vs what is a town, there is stiff competition for the title of largest village in England.  It would appear that the two front runners are Kidlington (pop. 15,000) in Oxfordshire and  Ecclesfield (pop 31,000) in South Yorkshire.  Both have never taken on a town charter and are still run by a parish council rather than a town council so technically they can still be called villages, BUT Ecclesfield is actually a suburb of Sheffield, so I am going to disqualify it and give the title of Largest Village in England to Kidlington.  Congratulations Kidlington-ites!

Smallest Village
St John The Baptist Chuch, Ault Hucknall
Photo: Geograph
Again, we've got a bit of competition here and more semantic game play since just as there is no definition of when a village is a town, there is also no definition of when a hamlet becomes a village.   I'm somewhat reluctantly giving the title to Ault Hucknall in Derbyshire which apparently has only four dwellings and a church.  Depending on who you ask, it is because the village has a church that is can be considered a village, although to be totally happy with this distinction, I'd ideally prefer it to have a pub before calling it a village. 

Wettest Village
According to the Met Office, the village of Glenfinnan in the Scottish Higlands is the wettest village in the UK (and the third wettest place).  This village located on the edge of Loch Shiel recieves an average annual rainfall of 118.98 inches.  Oh and if you like that show Highlander, you may be interested to know that Connor and Duncan MacLeod (whoever they are) were both supposedly born in Glenfinnian.

Friendliest Village
In 2008, some researchers from Sheffield University named the village of Bramhall, near Manchester, the friendliest spot in the UK.  According to their report, they "found very little evidence of community division or people feeling isolated".  Conversely, the report named Edinburgh as the place with the weakest communities, followed closely by Headingley in Leeds, the Hyde Park area of London and the university area of Cardiff.

*There is some debate about this as a few other places claim to be the longest village in England


  1. Funny! I live near Kidlington and have to say it's not really a village either. Its a suburb of Oxford and more like a town. fun post!

  2. Village or town not sure but definitely quirky.

    Haltwhistle The Centre of Britain. This is a crazy Twilight Zone kind of discovery after a long drive along Hadrian's Wall. From nowhere we found sign after sign for Haltwhistle. I said we had to turn and check it out. We drove and from nowhere a small town appeared. Even my dad, skeptical at first of my whim, got a laugh at it. Gasp, even started up a conversation with a stranger on the corner to ask about this place! Of course that man said he had never left the place and didn't even do the usual recoil when strangers talk to you.