Another not-me pronunciation from our bouncy new local TV newsreader (blog, 13 October): she pronounces St Paul’s Cathedral as ˈseɪnt pɔːlz kəˈθiːdrəl. (What I would say myself, of course, is sənt ˈpɔːlz kəˈθiːdrəl. The first word, St, could also undergo one or more of syllabic consonant formation, glottalling, elision and assimilation, to give sn̩ʔ, sn̩, sm̩p, sm̩ʔ, sm̩.)
Traditionally we regard the use of the weak form of Saint in names as more or less categorical in BrE. Obviously it is much less usual in AmE. But in BrE this seems to be changing: I keep hearing Brits using the strong form. I’ve heard Seɪnt Albans, Seɪnt-Leonards-on-Sea, Seɪnt George’s Hospital, though never yet as far as I am aware Seɪnt Helens (in Lancashire). Perhaps there is something special about Lancashire: I don’t think I’ve heard Lytham St Annes with strong seɪnt, either.
Personally, I weaken saint not only in all the names just cited but also in the names of all those West Indian islands, too, though I know the locals don’t: St Martin, St Thomas, St Barts, St Kitts, St Croix, St Lucia, St Vincent.
The only saintly island I can think of in which I wouldn’t use the weak form is St Helena, in the south Atlantic. But it has the idiosyncratic pronunciation ˌsentɪˈliːnə (or variants thereof — the author of the relevant Wikipedia article doesn’t know this). On the other hand I’d call the lady herself sənt ˈhelənə, and I believe the place in California is ˌseɪnt (h)ɪˈliːnə. (What do Australians do with the place in Victoria? It’s supposedly named after the Atlantic island.)
And you’ll know about the idiosyncrasies of the surnames St Clair/Sinclair ˈsɪŋkleə, St John ˈsɪndʒən, and St Leger ˈselɪndʒə, as well as of Gilbert & Sullivan’s reference to the London street St Mary Axe ˌsɪməriˈæks in the song about someone with a name very similar to my own.