Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in the south east of England. It is bordered by Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to the north, Essex to the east, Greater London to the south, Buckinghamshire to the west. For government statistical purposes, it is placed in the East of England region. In 2013, the county had a population of 1,140,700 in an area of 634 square miles; the four towns that have between 50,000 and 100,000 residents are Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans. Hertford, once the main market town for the medieval agricultural county, derives its name from a hart and a ford, used as the components of the county's coat of arms and flag. Elevations are high for the region in the west; these reach over 800 feet in the western projection around Tring, in the Chilterns. The county's borders are the watersheds of the Colne and Lea. Hertfordshire's undeveloped land is agricultural and much is protected by green belt; the county's landmarks span many centuries, ranging from the Six Hills in the new town of Stevenage built by local inhabitants during the Roman period, to Leavesden Film Studios.
The volume of intact medieval and Tudor buildings surpasses London, in places in well-preserved conservation areas in St Albans which includes some remains of Verulamium, the town where in the 3rd century an early recorded British martyrdom took place. Saint Alban, a Romano-British soldier, took the place of a Christian priest and was beheaded on Holywell Hill, his martyr's cross of a yellow saltire on a blue field is reflected in the flag and coat of arms of Hertfordshire. Hertfordshire is well-served with railways, providing good access to London; the largest sector of the economy of the county is in services. Hertfordshire was the area assigned to a fortress constructed at Hertford under the rule of Edward the Elder in 913. Hertford is derived from meaning deer crossing; the name Hertfordshire is first recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1011. Deer feature in many county emblems. There is evidence of humans living in Hertfordshire from the Mesolithic period, it was first farmed during the Neolithic period and permanent habitation appeared at the beginning of the Bronze Age.
This was followed by tribes settling in the area during the Iron Age. Following the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43, the aboriginal Catuvellauni submitted and adapted to the Roman life. Saint Alban, a Romano-British soldier, took the place of a Christian priest and was beheaded on Holywell Hill, his martyr's cross of a yellow saltire on a blue field is reflected in the flag and coat of arms of Hertfordshire as the yellow field to the stag or Hart representing the county. He is the Patron Saint of Hertfordshire. With the departure of the Roman Legions in the early 5th century, the now unprotected territory was invaded and colonised by the Anglo-Saxons. By the 6th century the majority of the modern county was part of the East Saxon kingdom; this short lived kingdom collapsed in the 9th century, ceding the territory of Hertfordshire to the control of the West Anglians of Mercia. The region became an English shire in the 10th century, on the merger of the West Saxon and Mercian kingdoms. A century William of Normandy received the surrender of the surviving senior English Lords and Clergy at Berkhamsted, resulting in a new Anglicised title of William the Conqueror before embarking on an uncontested entry into London and his coronation at Westminster.
Hertfordshire was used for some of the new Norman castles at Bishop's Stortford, at King's Langley, a staging post between London and the royal residence of Berkhamsted. The Domesday Book recorded the county as having nine hundreds. Tring and Danais became one—Dacorum—from Danis Corum or Danish rule harking back to a Viking not Saxon past; the other seven were Braughing, Cashio, Hertford and Odsey. The first shooting-down of a zeppelin over Great Britain during WW1 happened in Cuffley; as London grew, Hertfordshire became conveniently close to the English capital. However, the greatest boost to Hertfordshire came during the Industrial Revolution, after which the population rose dramatically. In 1903, Letchworth became the world's first garden city and Stevenage became the first town to redevelop under the New Towns Act 1946. From the 1920s until the late 1980s, the town of Borehamwood was home to one of the major British film studio complexes, including the MGM-British Studios. Many well-known films were made here including the first three Star Wars movies.
The studios used the name of Elstree. American director Stanley Kubrick not only used to shoot in those studios but lived in the area until his death. Big Brother UK and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? have been filmed there. EastEnders is filmed at Elstree. Hertfordshire has seen development at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. On 17 October 2000, the Hatfield rail crash killed four people with over 70 injured; the crash exposed the shortcomings of Railtrack, which saw speed restrictions and major track replacement. On 10 May 2002, the second of the Potters Bar rail accidents occurred killing seven people.
England is a country, part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to Scotland to the north-northwest; the Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south; the country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight. The area now called England was first inhabited by modern humans during the Upper Palaeolithic period, but takes its name from the Angles, a Germanic tribe deriving its name from the Anglia peninsula, who settled during the 5th and 6th centuries. England became a unified state in the 10th century, since the Age of Discovery, which began during the 15th century, has had a significant cultural and legal impact on the wider world; the English language, the Anglican Church, English law – the basis for the common law legal systems of many other countries around the world – developed in England, the country's parliamentary system of government has been adopted by other nations.
The Industrial Revolution began in 18th-century England, transforming its society into the world's first industrialised nation. England's terrain is chiefly low hills and plains in central and southern England. However, there is upland and mountainous terrain in the west; the capital is London, which has the largest metropolitan area in both the United Kingdom and the European Union. England's population of over 55 million comprises 84% of the population of the United Kingdom concentrated around London, the South East, conurbations in the Midlands, the North West, the North East, Yorkshire, which each developed as major industrial regions during the 19th century; the Kingdom of England – which after 1535 included Wales – ceased being a separate sovereign state on 1 May 1707, when the Acts of Union put into effect the terms agreed in the Treaty of Union the previous year, resulting in a political union with the Kingdom of Scotland to create the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1801, Great Britain was united with the Kingdom of Ireland to become the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
In 1922 the Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom, leading to the latter being renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The name "England" is derived from the Old English name Englaland, which means "land of the Angles"; the Angles were one of the Germanic tribes that settled in Great Britain during the Early Middle Ages. The Angles came from the Anglia peninsula in the Bay of Kiel area of the Baltic Sea; the earliest recorded use of the term, as "Engla londe", is in the late-ninth-century translation into Old English of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People. The term was used in a different sense to the modern one, meaning "the land inhabited by the English", it included English people in what is now south-east Scotland but was part of the English kingdom of Northumbria; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that the Domesday Book of 1086 covered the whole of England, meaning the English kingdom, but a few years the Chronicle stated that King Malcolm III went "out of Scotlande into Lothian in Englaland", thus using it in the more ancient sense.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, its modern spelling was first used in 1538. The earliest attested reference to the Angles occurs in the 1st-century work by Tacitus, Germania, in which the Latin word Anglii is used; the etymology of the tribal name itself is disputed by scholars. How and why a term derived from the name of a tribe, less significant than others, such as the Saxons, came to be used for the entire country and its people is not known, but it seems this is related to the custom of calling the Germanic people in Britain Angli Saxones or English Saxons to distinguish them from continental Saxons of Old Saxony between the Weser and Eider rivers in Northern Germany. In Scottish Gaelic, another language which developed on the island of Great Britain, the Saxon tribe gave their name to the word for England. An alternative name for England is Albion; the name Albion referred to the entire island of Great Britain. The nominally earliest record of the name appears in the Aristotelian Corpus the 4th-century BC De Mundo: "Beyond the Pillars of Hercules is the ocean that flows round the earth.
In it are two large islands called Britannia. But modern scholarly consensus ascribes De Mundo not to Aristotle but to Pseudo-Aristotle, i.e. it was written in the Graeco-Roman period or afterwards. The word Albion or insula Albionum has two possible origins, it either derives from a cognate of the Latin albus meaning white, a reference to the white cliffs of Dover or from the phrase the "island of the Albiones" in the now lost Massaliote Periplus, attested through Avienus' Ora Maritima to which the former served as a source. Albion is now applied to England in a more poetic capacity. Another romantic name for England is Loegria, related to the Welsh word for England and made popular by its use in Arthurian legend; the earliest known evidence of human presence in the area now known as England was that of Homo antecessor, dating to approximate
Southend-on-Sea referred to as Southend, is a town and wider unitary authority area with borough status in southeastern Essex, England. It lies on the north side of the Thames Estuary, 40 miles east of central London, it is bordered to the west by Castle Point. It is home to the longest leisure pier in Southend Pier. London Southend Airport is located 1.5 NM north of the town centre. Southend-on-Sea consisted of a few poor fishermen's huts and farms at the southern end of the village of Prittlewell. In the 1790s, the first buildings around what was to become the High Street of Southend were completed. In the 19th century, Southend's status of a seaside resort grew after a visit from Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Southend Pier was constructed. From the 1960s onwards, the town declined as a holiday destination, Southend redeveloped itself as the home of the Access credit card, due to it having one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges. After the 1960s, much of the town centre was developed for commerce and retail, many original structures were lost to redevelopment.
An annual seafront airshow, started in 1986 when it featured a flypast by Concorde on a passenger charter flight, used to take place each May and became one of Europe's largest free airshows. The show has not been held since 2012 due to a lack of funding cuts; the "south end" of the village of Prittlewell, Southend was home to a few poor fisherman huts and farms that lay at the southern extremity of Prittlewell Priory land. In the 1790s landowner Daniel Scratton sold off land either side of what was to become the High Street, the Grand Hotel and Grove Terrace were completed by 1794, stagecoaches from London made it accessible. Due to the bad transportation links between Southend and London, there was not rapid development during the Georgian Era like Brighton, it was the coming of the railways in the 19th Century and the visit of Princess Caroline of Brunswick that Southend's status of a seaside resort grew. During the 19th century Southend's pier was first constructed and the Clifftown development built, attracting many tourists in the summer months to its seven miles of beaches and bathing in the sea.
Good rail connections and proximity to London mean that much of the economy has been based on tourism, that Southend has been a dormitory town for city workers since. Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier at 1.34 mi. It has suffered fires and ship collisions, most in October 2005, but the basic pier structure has been repaired each time; as a holiday destination, Southend declined from the 1960s onwards, as holidaying abroad became more affordable. Southend became the home of the Access credit card, due to it having one of the UK's first electronic telephone exchanges, with offices based in the former EKCO factory, Maitland House, Victoria Circus and Southchurch Road. Since much of the town centre has been developed for commerce and retail, during the 1960s many original structures were lost to redevelopment – such as the Talza Arcade & Victoria Market and Southend Technical College. However, about 6.4 million tourists still visit Southend per year, generating estimated revenues of £200 million a year.
H. M. Revenue & Customs, are major employers in the town, the central offices for the collection of VAT are located at Alexander House on Victoria Avenue. An annual seafront airshow, started in 1986 when it featured a flypast by Concorde whilst on a passenger charter flight, used to take place each May and became one of Europe's largest free airshows; the aircraft flew parallel to the seafront, offset over the sea. The RAF Falcons parachute display team and RAF Red Arrows aerobatics team were regular visitors to the show; the last show was held in 2012. Southend-on-Sea was formed as a municipal borough in 1892 with the functions of local government shared with Essex County Council. In 1913 the borough was enlarged by the former area of Leigh on Sea Urban District. In 1914 the enlarged Southend gained the status of county borough, exempt from county council control and a single-tier of local government; the county borough was enlarged in 1933 by the former area of Shoeburyness Urban District and part of Rochford Rural District.
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, Southend became a district of Essex with borough status. However, in 1998 it again became the single tier of local government when it became a unitary authority. Seventeen wards each return three councillors, a total of 51. Councillors serve four years and one third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without election. Following the 2018 election results, the composition of the council is: The Southend-on-Sea Borough Council was controlled by the Conservative Party after they gained control in the 2000 election, they maintained a minority administration after the 2012 local elections, however the council was run by a coalition of Lib Dems and Independents after June 2014, with the Conservatives gaining overall control again in 2018. Most day-to-day decisions are by an eight-member executive headed by the council leader; the Latin motto,'Per Mare Per Ecclesiam', emblazoned on the municipal coat of arms, translates as'By Sea, By Church', reflecting Southend's position between the church at Prittlewell and the
East of England
The East of England is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It was created in 1994 and was adopted for statistics from 1999, it includes the ceremonial counties of Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk. Essex has the highest population in the region, its population at the 2011 census was 5,847,000. Bedford, Basildon, Southend-on-Sea, Ipswich, Colchester and Cambridge are the region's most populous towns; the southern part of the region lies in the London commuter belt. The region has the lowest elevation range in the UK. North Cambridgeshire and the Essex Coast have most of the around 5% of the region, below 10 metres above sea level; the Fens are in North Cambridgeshire, notable for the lowest point in the country in the land of the village of Holme 2.75 metres below mean sea level, once Whittlesey Mere. The highest point is at Clipper Down at 817 ft, in the far south-western corner of the region in the Ivinghoe Hills. Basildon and Harlow, with Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead, were main New Towns in the 1950s and 1960s, with much industry located there.
In the late 1960s, the Roskill Commission considered Thurleigh in Bedfordshire, Nuthampstead in Hertfordshire and Foulness in Essex as a possible third airport for London. The East of England succeeded the standard statistical region East Anglia; the East of England civil defence region was identical to today's region. England between the Wash and just south of the town of Colchester has since post-Roman times been and continues to be known as East Anglia, including the county traversing the west of this line, Cambridgeshire; the inclusion of Essex as part of East Anglia is open to debate, notably because it was a Saxon kingdom, separate from the kingdom of the East Angles. Essex, despite meaning East-Saxons formed part of the South East England, as did Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, a mixture of definite and debatable Home Counties; the earliest use of the term is from 1695. Charles Davenant, in An essay upon ways and means of supplying the war, wrote, "The Eleven Home Counties, which are thought in Land Taxes to pay more than their proportion..." cited a list including these four.
The term does not appear to have been used in taxation since the 18th century. East Anglia is one of the driest parts of the United Kingdom with average rainfall ranging from 450 mm to 750 mm; this is because low pressure systems and weather fronts from the Atlantic have lost a lot of their moisture over land by the time they reach Eastern England. However the Fens in Cambridgeshire are prone to flooding. Winter is cool but non-prevailing cold easterly winds can affect the area from the continent, these can bring heavy snowfall if the winds interact with a low pressure system over the Atlantic or France. Northerly winds can be cold but are not as cold as easterly winds. Westerly winds bring milder and wetter weather. Southerly winds bring mild air but chill if coming from further east than Spain. Spring is a transitional season that can be chilly to start with but is warm by late-April/May; the weather at this time is changeable and showery. Summer is warm and continental air from mainland Europe or the Azores High leads to at least a few weeks of hot, balmy weather with prolonged warm to hot weather.
The number of summer storms from the Atlantic, such as the remnants of a tropical storm coincides with the location of the jet stream. The East tends to receive much less of their rain than the other regions. Autumn is mild with some days being unsettled and rainy and others warm. At least part of September and early October in the East have warm and settled weather but only in rare years is there an Indian summer where fine weather marks the entire traditional harvest season; the most deprived districts, according to the Indices of deprivation 2007 in the region are, in descending order, Great Yarmouth, Luton and Ipswich. At county level, after Luton and Peterborough, which have a similar level of deprivation, in descending order there is Southend-on-Sea Thurrock; the least deprived districts, in descending order, are South Cambridgeshire, Mid Bedfordshire, East Hertfordshire, St Albans, Rochford, Huntingdonshire, Mid Suffolk, North Hertfordshire, Three Rivers, South Norfolk, East Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Coastal.
At county level, the least deprived areas in the region, in descending order, are Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, with all three having a similar level of deprivation Essex. The region has the lowest proportion of jobless households in the UK – 0.5%. In March 2011 the region's unemployment claimant count was 3.0%. Inside the region, the highest rate is Great Yarmouth with 6.2%, followed by Peterborough and Southend-on-Sea on 4.7%. In the 2015 general election, there was an overall swing of 0.25% from the Conservatives to Labour, the Liberal Democrats lost 16% of its vote. All of Hertfordshire and Suffolk is now Conservative; the region's electorate voted 49% Conservative, 22% Labour, 16% UKIP, 8% Liberal Democrat and 4% Green. Like other regions, the division of seats favours th
Historic England is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture and Sport. It is tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, ancient monuments and advising central and local government; the body was created by the National Heritage Act 1983, operated from April 1984 to April 2015 under the name of English Heritage. In 2015, following the changes to English Heritage's structure that moved the protection of the National Heritage Collection into the voluntary sector in the English Heritage Trust, the body that remained was rebranded as Historic England. Historic England has a similar remit to and complements the work of Natural England which aims to protect the natural environment; the body inherited the Historic England Archive from the old English Heritage, projects linked to the archive such as Britain from Above, which saw the archive work with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to digitise and put online 96,000 of the oldest Aerofilms images.
The archive holds various nationally important collections and the results of older projects such as the work of the National Buildings Record absorbed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and the Images of England project which set out to create a accessible online database of the 370,000 listed properties in England at a snapshot in time at the turn of the millennium. Historic England inherits English Heritage's position as the UK government's statutory adviser and a statutory consultee on all aspects of the historic environment and its heritage assets; this includes archaeology on land and under water, historic buildings sites and areas, designated landscapes and the historic elements of the wider landscape. It monitors and reports on the state of England's heritage and publishes the annual Heritage at Risk survey, one of the UK Government's Official statistics, it is tasked to secure the preservation and enhancement of the man-made heritage of England for the benefit of future generations.
Its remit involves: Caring for nationally important archive collections of photographs and other records which document the historic environment of England and date from the eighteenth century onwards. Giving grants national and local organisations for the conservation of historic buildings and landscapes. In 2013/14 over £13 million worth of grants were made to support heritage buildings. Advising central UK government on which English heritage assets are nationally important and should be protected by designation. Administering and maintaining the register of England's listed buildings, scheduled monuments, registered battlefields, World Heritage Sites and protected parks and gardens; this is published as an online resource as'The National Heritage List for England'. Advising local authorities on managing changes to the most important parts of heritage. Providing expertise through advice and guidance to improve the standards and skills of people working in heritage, practical conservation and access to resources.
In 2009–2010 it trained around 200 professionals working in local authorities and the wider sector. Consulting and collaborating with other heritage bodies and national planning organisations e.g. the preparation of Planning Policy statement for the Historic Environment Commissioning and conducting archaeological research, including the publication of'Heritage Counts' and ‘Heritage at Risk’ on behalf of the heritage sector which are the annual research surveys into the state of England's heritage. It is not responsible for approving alterations to listed buildings; the management of listed buildings is the responsibility of local planning authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government. It owns the National Heritage Collection of nationally important historic sites in public care; however they do not run these sites as this function is instead carried out by the English Heritage Trust under licence until 2023. English Heritage Historic England Archive Cadw Historic Scotland Northern Ireland Environment Agency Manx National Heritage Department for Culture and Sport Conservation in the United Kingdom Heritage at Risk Historic houses in England National Trust Properties in England Heritage Open Days List of Conservation topics List of heritage registers List of museums in England Heritage film Official website The Historic England Archive: Search over 1 million catalogue entries describing photographs and drawings of England's buildings and historic sites, held in the Historic England Archive.
Britain from Above: presents the unique Aerofilms collection of aerial photographs from 1919-1953. Images of England website Heritage Explorer: Education site for teachers Department for Culture Media and Sport
Fire services in the United Kingdom
The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. Emergency cover is provided by over fifty agencies; these are known as a fire and rescue service, the term used in modern legislation and by government departments. The older terms of fire brigade and fire service survive in informal usage and in the names of a few organisations. England and Wales have local fire services which are each overseen by a fire authority, made up of representatives of local governments. Fire authorities have the power to raise a Council Tax levy for funding, with the remainder coming from the government. Scotland and Northern Ireland have centralised fire services, so their authorities are committees of the devolved parliaments; the total budget for fire services in 2014-15 was £2.9 billion. Central government maintains national standards and a body of independent advisers through the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, created in 2007, while Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services provides direct oversight.
The devolved government in Scotland has HMFSI Scotland. Firefighters in the United Kingdom are allowed to join unions, the main one being the Fire Brigades Union, while chief fire officers are members of the National Fire Chiefs Council, which has some role in national co-ordination; the fire services have undergone significant changes since the beginning of the 21st century, a process, propelled by a devolution of central government powers, new legislation and a change to operational procedures in the light of terrorism attacks and threats. See separate article History of fire safety legislation in the United Kingdom Comprehensive list of recent UK fire and rescue service legislation: Fire services are established and granted their powers under new legislation which has replaced a number of Acts of Parliament dating back more than 60 years, but is still undergoing change. 1938: Fire Brigades Act 1938. This Act provided for centralised co-ordination of fire brigades in Great Britain and made it mandatory for local authorities to arrange an effective fire service.
1947: Fire Services Act 1947 This Act transferred the functions of the National Fire Service to local authorities. Now repealed in England and Wales by Schedule 2 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. 1959: Fire Services Act 1959 This Act amended the 1947 Act. It was repealed in Wales along with the 1947 Act. 1999: Greater London Authority Act 1999 This act was necessary to allow for the formation of the Greater London Authority and in turn the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. In 2002, there was a series of national fire strikes, with much of the discontent caused by the aforementioned report into the fire service conducted by Prof Sir George Bain. In December 2002, the Independent Review of the Fire Service was published with the industrial action still ongoing. Bain's report led to a change in the laws relating to firefighting. 2002: Independent Review of the Fire Service published 2004: Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 only applying to England and Wales. 2006: The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 This piece of secondary legislation or statutory instrument replaces several other acts that dealt with fire precautions and fire safety in premises, including the now defunct process of issuing fire certificates.
It came into force on 1 October 2006. The DfCLG has published a set of guides for non-domestic premises: 2006: The Government of Wales Act 2006 gave the National Assembly for Wales powers to pass laws on "Fire and rescue services. Promotion of fire safety otherwise than by prohibition or regulation." But does not prevent future legislation being passed by the UK government which applies to two or more constituent countries. There are further plans to modernise the fire service according to the Local Government Association, its website outlines future changes, specific projects: "The aim of the Fire Modernisation Programme is to adopt modern work practices within the Fire & Rescue Service to become more efficient and effective, while strengthening the contingency and resilience of the Service to react to incidents. " The fire service in England and Wales is scrutinised by a House of Commons select committee. In June 2006, the fire and rescue service select committee, under the auspices of the Communities and Local Government Committee, published its latest report.
Committee report The committee's brief is described on its website: The Communities and Local Government Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure and policy of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies. Government response This document, the subsequent government response in September 2006, are important as they outlined progress on the FiReControl, efforts to address diversity and the planned closure of HMFSI in 2007 among many issues. Both documents are interesting as they refer back to Professor Bain's report and the many recommendations it made and continue to put forward the notion that there is an ongoing need to modernise FRSs. For example, where FRSs were inspected by HMFSI, much of this work is now carried out by the National Audit Office. Fire Control On 8 February 2010 the House of Commons Communities and Local Governm
In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government, they are a territorial designation, the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; the unit rolled out across England in the 1860s. A civil parish can range in size from a large town with a population of about 75,000 to a single village with fewer than a hundred inhabitants. Eight parishes have city status. A civil parish may be known as and confirmed as a town, neighbourhood or community by resolution of its parish council, a right reserved not conferred on other units of English local government. 35% of the English population live in a civil parish. As of 31 December 2015 there were 10,449 parishes in England; the most populous is Weston super Mare and those with cathedral city status are Chichester, Hereford, Ripon, Salisbury and Wells.
On 1 April 2014, Queen's Park became the first civil parish in Greater London. Before 2008 their creation was not permitted within a London borough. Wales was divided into civil parishes until 1974, when they were replaced by communities, which are similar to English parishes in the way they operate. Civil parishes in Scotland were abolished for local government purposes by the Local Government Act 1929, the Scottish equivalent of English civil parishes are community council areas, which were established by the Local Government Act 1973; the Parish system in Europe was established between the 8th and 12th centuries and in England was old by the time of the Conquest. These areas were based on the territory of one or more manors, areas which in some cases derived their bounds from Roman or Iron Age estates. Parish boundaries were conservative, changing little, after 1180'froze' so that boundaries could no longer be changed at all, despite changes to manorial landholdings - though there were some examples of sub-division.
The consistency of these boundaries, up until the 19th century is useful to historians, is of cultural significance in terms of shaping local identities, a factor reinforced by the adoption of parish boundaries unchanged, by successor local government units. There was huge variation in size between parishes, for instance Writtle in Essex was 13,568 acres while neighbouring Shellow Bowells was just 469 acres, Chignall Smealy 476 acres; until the break with Rome, parishes managed ecclesiastical matters, while the manor was the principal unit of local administration and justice. The church replaced the manor court as the rural administrative centre, levied a local tax on produce known as a tithe. In the medieval period, responsibilities such as relief of the poor passed from the Lord of the Manor to the parish's rector, who in practice would delegate tasks among his vestry or the monasteries. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the power to levy a rate to fund relief of the poor was conferred on the parish authorities by the Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601.
Both before and after this optional social change, local charities are well-documented. The parish authorities were consisted of all the ratepayers of the parish; as the number of ratepayers of some parishes grew, it became difficult to convene meetings as an open vestry. In some built up, areas the select vestry took over responsibility from the entire body of ratepayers; this innovation allowed governance by a self-perpetuating elite. The administration of the parish system relied on the monopoly of the established English Church, which for a few years after Henry VIII alternated between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, before settling on the latter on the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558. By the 18th century, religious membership was becoming more fractured in some places, due for instance to the progress of Methodism; the legitimacy of the parish vestry came into question and the perceived inefficiency and corruption inherent in the system became a source for concern in some places.
For this reason, during the early 19th century the parish progressively lost its powers to ad hoc boards and other organisations, for example the loss of responsibility for poor relief through the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. Sanitary districts covered England in Ireland three years later; the replacement boards were each entitled to levy their own rate in the parish. The church rate ceased to be levied in many parishes and became voluntary from 1868; the ancient parishes diverged into two distinct, nearly overlapping, systems of parishes during the 19th century. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1866 declared all areas that levied a separate rate: C of E ecclesiastical parishes, extra-parochial areas and their analogue, chapelries, to be "civil parishes". To have collected rates this means these beforehand had their own vestries, boards or equivalent bodies; the Church of England parishes, which cover more than 99% of England, became termed "ecclesiastical parishes" and the boundaries of these soon diverged from those of the Ancient Parishes in order to reflect modern circumstances.
After 1921 each ecclesiastical parish has been the responsibility of the parochial church councils. In the late 19th century, most of the ancient irregularities inheri