Some Derbyshire place-names

I have just been talking to my oldest friend, who comes from Derby, as I do. He was a little annoyed, because he had seen a television programme about Kedleston Hall, which is in the Amber Valley to the northwest of Derby. His annoyance was caused by the pronunciation of the name in the programme. Anyone in Derby and the surrounding areas will tell you that it is [ˈkedləstən] and NOT [ˈkedlstən], which was the pronunciation used in the programme. I am sorry to say that the 2nd edition of the BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names also gives the latter pronunciation. Wikipedia gets it right however and even has a sound file, presumably of a local speaker, saying the name.

Kedleston Hall
Kedleston Hall

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th Edition (Ekwall, 1964) gives the derivation as Ketel’s tūn, the homestead belonging to Ketel. The name is from Old Norse Ketill

Some other Derbyshire place-names which catch people out in the same way are Ilkeston, which is [ˈɪlkəstən] and not [ˈɪlkstən] and Chaddesden [ˈtʃædəzdən] and not [ˈtʃædzdən]. My BBC dictionary has both of these correct. The former name has an alternative traditional spelling and pronunciation: Ilson [ˈɪlsən]. Just to show the problems “outsiders” face — Swarkestone is [ˈswɔːkstən].

Another pronunciation that is likely to get you a funny look in Derby and those parts is [ˈbɒrəʊæʃ] for Borrowash. It should be [ˈbɒrəwɒʃ]. So there!

7 thoughts on “Some Derbyshire place-names

  1. I apologise for having Kedleston wrong in the PDBN 2nd edition. This must have been one of the 7000 or so entries that I took for granted from the Pronunciation Index as being researched so recently that they didn’t need to be re-checked. In my defence, it is the same in the first edition (1971), and the EPD from 1940 also has the same pronunciation.

  2. Graham,

    I suppose that the [ˈkedləstən] pronunciation could be a later development by analogy with Ilkeston and Chaddesden, but certainly by 1950s that was the only pronunciation one heard. Kedleston Road is one of the main roads leading out of the centre of Derby, so it is a name one hears quite frequently. Anyway, [ˈkedlstən] is not nearly as annoying as [ˌbɒrəʊˈæʃ] or even worse [ˌbʌrəʊˈæʃ].

  3. I am the person who provided the sound file to wikimedia and it is the way that I and everyone I have ever come across (except the BBC)) has pronounced it for around seventy years.

    I notice they get Houghton and Boughton right.

  4. It occurs to me – if it were “keddle-stun” would it not have two ds?

    I am about to get quite vociferous on this matter.

  5. Jed,

    Yes, I see what you mean. However, the connection between the spelling and the pronunciation of place-names is notoriously unpredictable. The only real way to get to the right answer is to ask someone who lives in the place.

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