The 12 Yorkshire place names people always get wrong

Jervaulx Abbey, near East Witton
-Credit: (Image: Flickr/James Stringer)

It's not surprising when visitors to Yorkshire struggle with the pronunciation of our local place names.

Imagine being a tourist in places like Leominster (pronounced 'lem-ster') in Herefordshire, Beaulieu ('byoo-lee') in Hampshire, Bicester ('bis-ter') in Oxfordshire, Mousehole ('mow-zul') in Cornwall or Alnwick ('ann-ick') in Northumberland. Or even Towcester ('toe-ster') in Northamptonshire, Hunstanton ('hun-ston') in Norfolk, Holborn ('hoe-bun') in London and so forth.

You get the drift. This is simply due to the unique irregularity of English language that has evolved over centuries before mass literacy and standardised spelling became the norm.

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We've compiled a list of commonly mispronounced place names and those that seem to cause disagreement. Here are 12 place names that have sparked mild debates over their correct pronunciation and caused minor annoyance or amusement when someone from outside the area gets them wrong.

There's also a large Yorkshire location with a name that people consistently mispronounce.


Here's a perfect example of why you shouldn't trust everything you read online. Many, including us, were misled into believing this suburb of York was pronounced 'ya-kum'.

However, ask any local from York and they'll quickly correct you. It's pronounced 'ay-cum', as the spelling suggests.

Perhaps it was once pronounced 'yak-um', but that's no longer the case.


Even the satnav voice on Google Maps knows these parts of Barnsley are pronounced 'cud'eth' and 'dod'eth'. If the Google Maps says it correctly, what's your excuse?

Harewood House.

There's some disagreement as to how you pronounce the 'hare' bit. Is it 'hare' like the animal or 'har' as in hard?

Eighth Earl of Harewood David Lascelles changed the official pronunciation to 'hare-wood' two years ago. This was apparently because taxi drivers ferrying the Earl to his family seat didn't know where 'Har-wood' was.

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His dad and grandson of King George V, George Lascelles always used the former.

In conclusion, either pronunciation is acceptable unless you're travelling there by cab.


One is a suburb of Hull. The other is a village near Howden.

The double S in each of these place names is pronounced like a Z.


You can't blame the offcumdens and tourists for mispronouncing these medieval abbey villages. These place names originate from Norman French so if you drop the L and follow modern French pronunciation you won't go far wrong.

It 'jer-voh' and 'ree-voh' by the way.

North York Moors.

Yes, there is a North Yorkshire Moors Railway but the National Park and the region is and has always been called the North York Moors. It is not called the North Yorkshire Moors.


This charming, semi-rural village near Huddersfield is pronounced 'slath-wait' or 'sla-wit', but never Slaithwaite. When Slaithwaite does make the national TV or radio news, presenters have been known to pronounce it 'slayth-wait'.

Sowerby Bridge.

The locals in this Happy Valley town tend to pronounce it 'sore-bee', although we've heard some people in the area pronounce it 'sour-bee'. We'd be inclined to go with the former.


Here's another example of why you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet. Some online sources would have you believe that the local pronunciation of this picturesque fishing village is 'steerz'.

It may have been once, but it isn't anymore. Again, we were misinformed and we apologise.

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