Myths & Legends


There is no connection, known to the people of Snape, North Yorkshire between ourselves, Harry Potter, Professor Severus Snape or anyone else in that fictional world, there is no Spinners End and we are nearly 70 miles (as the crow flies) from Hadrian's Wall. We do not believe JK Rowling ever visited the village.

Just outside of Snape on the road to Bedale is a small hill known locally as Kings Kell. It is rumoured that Henry VIII fell off his horse there whilst courting Catherine Parr. It is almost certain that he never came to Snape, but why spoil a good story! Kell in Norse/Old English means spring and there is certainly a beck there. One of the 3 pubs in Snape was at that junction.

Derivation of the name Snape

There are two villages in England called Snape, the other one is in Suffolk. It is of note that our Snape sits on the edge of what was a large marshy area known as Snape Mires. The Mires are now drained and farmed but are still susceptible to flooding. The village is linear in layout and has two lanes that lead down to the Mires. The following is extracted from the most excellent website about Snape in Suffolk (see link) giving a convincing derivation for the name Snape based on geographical features.

From the booklet published by the late Ruth Irving before WW II and amended in 1948, titled " Snape The Short History of a Suffolk Village". The booklet is available on loan from Suffolk Libraries.

"To the left a silver streak of river pierced the mist as far as eye could see and I was sure that the silver streak would help me to learn the reason of Snape; why there was such a place and why it had continued for so long. This little straggling village, among the marshes and fields, must have had a beginning, so I thought I would try to find it; and this is what I found: Snape, Snapes, Snapys- are three different ways of spelling the word which, in the Anglo-Saxon language,

Snape meant bog or marsh or winter pasture, according to Ernest Weekley. It is chiefly a scatterment of cottages and small farms lying along the marshy river bed and, beside the lanes leading inland. Reference to Dr. Ernest Weekley, a renowned linguist and etymologist (1865-1954) can be found on a number of internet sites, including

To confuse the issue, from the Online Entymology Dictionary we have "snape" an old english verb meaning "to be hard upon, rebuke, snub," c.1300. This is from the Old Norse word sneypa "to outrage, dishonour, disgrace.

Snape as a Surname -- Sorry, but for those pursuing family history research into the name, there is no trace whatsoever of anyone with the surname Snape living in our Snape for as far back as the written records exist the 1600s.