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A proposed solution to the question, Where in buggeration IS Spinner's End? - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
A proposed solution to the question, Where in buggeration IS Spinner's End?

Ever since DH came out, with its revelations of Snape’s infant encounters with the Evans girls (calm down, LJ and its self-appointed prefects, there’re no Naughty Horrors involved), the question, Where is Spinner’s End, has been asked with renewed interest – and new evidence.


Well?  Where is it, then?


Witches and Gentlewizards, I give you ... Todmorden.


Note chimneys.


As may be seen, Todmorden visually suits what we now know from DH.


But of course there is more to the matter than that.


Is ‘Spinner’s End’ a plausible residential area or street name in Todmorden?  Yes: vide Commercial Street and Industrial Street, with their terraced houses, Cinder Hill Road, Ashes Lane, Kilnhurst….


Is Todmorden a former mill town, in the North, with a river?  Indeed it is.  Does the river run through a flat valley-bottom, amidst steep surroundings?  It does.  Was the river – in Todmorden, the River Calder – subject to industrial pollution?  Very much so – the more so as the River Calder upstream from Todmorden flows through old, disused coal mining areas.


Todmorden – a very useful site for which contains numerous contributions from a Mr Jno Alan Longbottom – is now wholly in ‘West Yorkshire’; before Westminster fiddled all the old boundaries, the boundary between Lancs and the West Riding ran through the centre of the town. 


Spiritually, it is very much a West Riding / Pennine town, yet it is also very much in the Mancunian sphere of influence, particularly economically.  The Snapes of Bedale would have been drawn to Calderdale and the town of Todmorden via labour-seeking emigration from the North Riding to the West Riding.  A Welsh-surnamed family such as that of Petunia and Lily Evans would have progressed from Wales and the Marches through Manchester and Salford into the industrial outlying towns on the Lancs / Yorks borders.  The thrawn, working-class Snapes and the middle-class Evanses would encounter one another most plausibly in a town – not a city – of the size and contours of Todmorden.  Tobias’s family were clearly mill labourers, and his forebears would have run to farm labourers, ostlers, mole-catchers, joiners, fellmongers, or what have you.  Lily’s father, by contrast: clearly an ‘incomer’ and not even one from the West or North Riding of Yorkshire, from Manchester, or from the rest of Lancashire; a true ‘outlandish fellow’: would likely be a solicitor, vet, GP, schoolmaster, minor civil servant, architect and surveyor, or involved in the management of the mills.  A town much larger than Todmorden would likely be too large for the children of these sundered classes to encounter one another on several occasions, even in a park.  I may add that Petunia’s obsessive determination in later life to avoid any retrogression of her class status is surely rooted in her having, as a child, encountered ‘that awful boy’ who ‘lived down Spinner’s End by the river’: again suggesting that the town of her childhood was small enough that the poor were never securely out of sight and out of mind.


Finally, I rather like placing Snape’s childhood in Todmorden for two magical reasons.  The first of these is, that, despite its probable derivation from ‘Tedda’s marsh (mere) steading’ or ‘the fox’s (tod’s) mere den’, ‘Tod-mord-den’ at least sounds as if it could be referring to a place of death and murder.  The second is, Todmorden – or, strictly, Blackheath (!) – is the site of an ancient barrow and what was long thought to be a stone henge.


Wherefore Todmorden as the site of Spinner’s End.  As Bairnsfather’s Old Bill put it, ‘If you knows of a better ’ole, go to it!’

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36 comments or Leave a comment
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: August 20th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
How bizarre. I have family there!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 20th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, then?

Is it plausible, then? (Eh? Does it, does it go, squire, does it go?) [/pythonskit]
magic_at_mungos From: magic_at_mungos Date: August 20th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, then?

*tilts head* Possibly. I mean it’s the right sort of area being on the Lancs/Yorks borders with lots of hills and the like. And small enough for a family who worked in t’mills to come across a nice little middle class girl like Lily without it being forced.

And Lily with a Tod accent fills me with glee :D
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 20th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Gooood, then.

So long as it's plausible. Other suggestions gratefully accepted.
zanesfriend From: zanesfriend Date: August 21st, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Fox's Den in the Marsh"?

Could the killing of a fox at the beginning of the chapter be a clue?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

D'you know, it might well be.

I should never had thought of that. Excellent suggestion.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 20th, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Always happy to oblige.

Feel free to pilfer what suits and bin the rest.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 20th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, but why did Slytherin Eileen Prince marry not just a Muggle, but a poor, working-class one at that?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 20th, 2007 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

God knows.

Or, given Sev's presumably inherited features, nose.
conuly From: conuly Date: August 21st, 2007 12:51 am (UTC) (Link)
My guess is she took teenage rebellion just a step or two too far.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 21st, 2007 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
President of the Gobstones Club?

Would she have enough imagination to rebel like that? Sounds more like the type of girl who takes commercial electives (advanced typewriting, Gregg shorthand) instead of academics (Virgil, physics.)

conuly From: conuly Date: August 21st, 2007 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
You're getting all that from five words, two of which aren't even capitalized?
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 21st, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

...by the company she keeps

Why, sure!

In this corner, we have:
Captain of the (insert sport) Team, Head Boy (Student Council President over here), Yearbook/Newspaper Editor, Forensic League President (speech & debate), Head Cheerleader...

In the opposing corner, we have:
Captain of the Audiovisual Equipment Squad, President of the Math Club, Altar Guild (girls who iron the chapel linens and change the flowers), Library Club, Chess Club...

conuly From: conuly Date: August 22nd, 2007 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: ...by the company she keeps

Maybe she just liked Gobstones...? Or maybe "Gobstones Club" was really a clandestine organization devoted to something... uh... clandestine, and they only called themselves Gobstones Club because that way nobody else would get involved because, ew.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 22nd, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: ...by the company she keeps

"Cool kids" or "jocks" who like chess just play chess. They don't join the chess club.

The rebels/outcasts don't join clubs at all.

I don't write Snapefic, but I do read it, you see, so I'm just asking...
slythwolf From: slythwolf Date: September 1st, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
She has to have been highly intelligent; Severus was, and the gene for it is on the X chromosome. Also I think of President of the Gobstones Club as being extremely nerdy and perhaps (this having been the 50s, her having had little choice but to marry) Tobias was the only one who'd have her.
katiemorris From: katiemorris Date: August 21st, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even Slytherins can fall in love. Perhaps it was as simple as that. Maybe Snape got his obsessive love gene from his mother. In canon she's drawn very plainly and even as being downright ugly. Doesn't mean she didn't have "feelings". And lots of us make mistakes in marriage when we're young.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 21st, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where would she have met him? Or did he seek her out, thinking that it would be a good thing to marry a witch, and then start slapping her around when he found out she couldn't make him rich?

And what's up with the Prophet printing a wedding announcement for a mixed marriage?
zanesfriend From: zanesfriend Date: August 24th, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that you are making too much of the separation of the Wizardling and Muggle communities. I don't think that they are as strictly segregated as all that. "Archie" who didn't realize that only Muggle women wear nighgowns (and not in public) I think is eccentric even by Wizardling standards. After all, in DH before Voldemort took over the Ministry is was suggested that witches and wizards cast protective charms on their Muggle friends and neighbors, which implies some interaction. Fred & George go into the village to chat up a Muggle shopgirl. Kingsley Shakbolt works in the Muggle PM's office, fer cryin' out loud, and I'm sure he isn't the only 'mole.'

As for the announcement, that may have been her family's idea, 'making the best of a bad bargain.'

And it is NOT canon that Tobias Snape abused his witch wife. That is a big extrapolation from the vision of a hook-faced man screaming at a witch. First, even the most harmonious couples quarrel sometimes, and what was really an ordinary domestic dispute might look quite like a battle-royal from a child's point of view. Second, how do we know that the 'hook-nosed man was Snape, Sr.? We don't. Third, do you think that any witch would put up with abuse from a Muggle? She could turn him into a toad if he tried.

From: (Anonymous) Date: August 21st, 2007 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Spooky Todmorden is perfect!

Sorry - I don't have an LJ account (hence being 'anonymous') but just had to comment!
Not only does it tick all of the descriptive boxes thrown up by HBP and DH, but it also has a reputation as an area for UFO sightings and a semi-famous mystery attached to it:
Death eater activity anyone?? June 1980 is perfect for the height of the 1st war!!! Surely that's a plot bunny if ever I saw one...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

An excellent point. And bunny.

Thank you - for both, and for taking the time to read and comment.
annuscka From: annuscka Date: August 21st, 2007 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Here via hogwarts_today; this sounds really interesting! (Am not a Brit, so I have no idea if it's plausible or not, but you make a very good argument!) I have been trying to place SP myself recently and came as far as "something around Manchester, possibly" based on the word 'spinning' but not knowing/realising the subtile differences between different places made the project kind of impossible in the end.
*goes off to read up further*
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, vy much.

Do feel free to use anything that suits you.

And I'm always chuffed when any of my maunderings inspires someone to read things up - even if they then end by demolishing my argument! Long live the dialectic, I suppose.
annuscka From: annuscka Date: August 21st, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you, vy much.

Shall do!

Oh yes; I have lived with, but not particulary suffered from - a bad case of Anglophilia for a while now, and am finding your 'britpicking' tag very educational! (Am Finnish/Scandinavian myself).
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Ah. In that case....

May I advert you to the britpickery community? I think you'll find it most useful.
annuscka From: annuscka Date: August 21st, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Ah. In that case....

Bookmarked two hours ago ;) I have a feeling I had had - and lost - the link at some point, so it was a nice find.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you. you're vy kind to say so.

And I'm glad to have gotten a giggle.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 21st, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)


since you were looking for a linguistic connection to death:

in German "Tod" means "death" and "morden" (or more commonly used "ermorden") means "to murder/kill".
So, with slight alterations ("den Tod (er)morden"), the town`s name could be interpretated to mean " to murder death". which would be quite fitting in a way, don`t you think...considering Lily`s part in Voldemort`s first and Snape`s in his second downfall.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 21st, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, thank you.

That's what I was groping after. I'm obliged. My memory these days....
shiiki From: shiiki Date: August 22nd, 2007 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Very good analysis! I'm not British, so I haven't the foggiest what geography is really all about up there, but your assessment makes sense. The hardest part of writing is a plausible setting - I just don't know enough about the UK to be sure I'm situating characters in the right place!

This helps a great deal. Thanks!

(I'm here via hogwarts_today, in case you're wondering where I popped up from.)
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: August 22nd, 2007 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting. What I don't get a sense of from your essay, though, is how many other similar northern mill towns there might be that could also fit.
(Deleted comment)
slythwolf From: slythwolf Date: September 1st, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fancy meeting you here! :D

My fiancé's grandmother is British; she has lived in America for probably over forty years and so hasn't much accent left--just enough for everyone to hear that she is from "elsewhere", but not enough for most people to pick out exactly where. I thought I heard a bit of Yorkshire in it, and then when teh fiancé mentioned she'd worked in a mill when she was young it all clicked--I think I said, "Do you know what kind of a mill it was? Wool?" and he didn't know (interestingly, and partially because we are so very American, he had always assumed steel or lumber, those being the kinds of mills we generally have here, especially in Michigan), but I still make the assumption. :)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 1st, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

A general reply.

Thanks to all who've commented. A somewhat more expansive look at the matter, addressing some comments here and incorporating the valuable suggestions and points you have all of you made, may be found here:
36 comments or Leave a comment