Buckinghamshire, abbreviated Bucks, is a ceremonial county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east. Buckinghamshire is one of the home counties and towns such as High Wycombe, Amersham and the Chalfonts in the east and southeast of the county are parts of the London commuter belt, forming some of the most densely populated parts of the county. Development in this region is restricted by the Metropolitan Green Belt. Other large settlements include the county town of Aylesbury, Marlow in the south near the Thames and Princes Risborough in the west near Oxford; some areas without direct rail links to London, such as around the old county town of Buckingham and near Olney in the northeast, are much less populous. The largest town is Milton Keynes in the northeast, which with the surrounding area is administered as a unitary authority separately to the rest of Buckinghamshire.
The remainder of the county is administered by Buckinghamshire County Council as a non-metropolitan county, four district councils. In national elections, Buckinghamshire is considered a reliable supporter of the Conservative Party. A large part of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, runs through the south of the county and attracts many walkers and cyclists from London. In this area older buildings are made from local flint and red brick. Many parts of the county are quite affluent and like many areas around London this has led to problems with housing costs: several reports have identified the market town of Beaconsfield as having among the highest property prices outside London. Chequers, a mansion estate owned by the government, is the country retreat of the incumbent Prime Minister. To the north of the county lies rolling countryside in the Vale of Aylesbury and around the Great Ouse; the Thames forms part of the county’s southwestern boundary. Notable service amenities in the county are Pinewood Film Studios, Dorney rowing lake and part of Silverstone race track on the Northamptonshire border.
Many national companies have offices in Milton Keynes. Heavy industry and quarrying is limited, with agriculture predominating after service industries; the name Buckinghamshire means The district of Bucca's home. Bucca's home refers to Buckingham in the north of the county, is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner; the county has been so named since about the 12th century. The history of the area predates the Anglo-Saxon period and the county has a rich history starting from the Celtic and Roman periods, though the Anglo-Saxons had the greatest impact on Buckinghamshire: the geography of the rural county is as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. Buckinghamshire became an important political arena, with King Henry VIII intervening in local politics in the 16th century and just a century the English Civil War was reputedly started by John Hampden in mid-Bucks; the biggest change to the county came in the 19th century, when a combination of cholera and famine hit the rural county, forcing many to migrate to larger towns to find work.
Not only did this alter the local economic situation, it meant a lot of land was going cheap at a time when the rich were more mobile and leafy Bucks became a popular rural idyll: an image it still has today. Buckinghamshire is a popular home for London commuters, leading to greater local affluence; the expansion of London and coming of the railways promoted the growth of towns in the south of the county such as Aylesbury and High Wycombe, leaving the town Buckingham itself to the north in a relative backwater. As a result, most county institutions are now based in the south of the county or Milton Keynes, rather than in Buckingham; the county can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hills to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesbury, a large flat expanse of land, which includes the path of the River Great Ouse; the county includes parts of two of the four longest rivers in England.
The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Eton and Slough so that the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse rises just outside the county in Northamptonshire and flows east through Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Olney; the main branch of the Grand Union Canal passes through the county as do its arms to Slough, Aylesbury and Buckingham. The canal has been incorporated into the landscaping of Milton Keynes; the southern part of the county is dominated by the Chiltern Hills. The two highest points in Buckinghamshire are Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods at 267 metres above sea level, Coombe Hill near Wendover at 260 metres. Quarrying has taken clay for brickmaking and gravel and sand in the river valleys. Flint extracted from quarries, was used to build older local buildings. Several former quarries, now flooded, have become nature reserves; as can be seen from the table, the Vale of Aylesbury and the Borough of Milton Keynes have been identified as growth areas, with a projected population surge of 40,000 in Aylesbury Vale between 2011 and 2026 and 75,000 in Milton Keynes within the same 15 years.
The population of the Borough of Milton Keynes is expected to reach 350,000 by 2031. Buckinghamshire is sub-divided into civil parishes. Today Bucking
Essex is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, London to the south-west; the county town is the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region. Essex occupies the eastern part of the ancient Kingdom of Essex, which united with the other Anglian and Saxon kingdoms to make England a single nation state; as well as rural areas, the county includes London Stansted Airport, the new towns of Basildon and Harlow, Lakeside Shopping Centre, the port of Tilbury and the borough of Southend-on-Sea. The name Essex originates in the Anglo-Saxon period of the Early Middle Ages and has its root in the Anglo-Saxon name Ēastseaxe, the eastern kingdom of the Saxons who had come from the continent and settled in Britain during the Heptarchy. Recorded in AD 527, Essex occupied territory to the north of the River Thames, incorporating all of what became Middlesex and most of what became Hertfordshire.
Its territory was restricted to lands east of the River Lea. Colchester in the north-east of the county is Britain's oldest recorded town, dating from before the Roman conquest, when it was known as Camulodunum and was sufficiently well-developed to have its own mint. In AD 824, following the Battle of Ellandun, the kingdoms of the East Saxons, the South Saxons and the Jutes of Kent were absorbed into the kingdom of the West Saxons, uniting Saxland under King Alfred's grandfather Ecgberht. Before the Norman conquest the East Saxons were subsumed into the Kingdom of England. After the Norman conquest, Essex became a county. During the medieval period, much of the area was designated a Royal forest, including the entire county in a period to 1204, when the area "north of the Stanestreet" was disafforested; the areas subject to forest law diminished, but at various times they included the forests of Becontree, Epping, Hatfield and Waltham. Essex County Council was formed in 1889. However, County Boroughs of West Ham, Southend-on-Sea and East Ham formed part of the county but were unitary authorities.
12 boroughs and districts provide more localised services such as rubbish and recycling collections and planning, as shown in the map on the right. A few Essex parishes have been transferred to other counties. Before 1889, small areas were transferred to Hertfordshire near Bishops Stortford and Sawbridgeworth. At the time of the main changes around 1900, parts of Helions Bumpstead, Sturmer and Ballingdon-with-Brundon were transferred to Suffolk. Part of Hadstock, part of Ashton and part of Chrishall were transferred to Cambridgeshire and part of Great Horkesley went to Suffolk; the boundary with Greater London was established in 1965, when East Ham and West Ham county boroughs and the Barking, Dagenham, Ilford, Romford and Wanstead and Woodford districts were transferred to form the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Waltham Forest. Essex became part of the East of England Government Office Region in 1994 and was statistically counted as part of that region from 1999, having been part of the South East England region.
In 1998, the boroughs of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock were granted autonomy from the administrative county of Essex after successful requests to become unitary authorities. Essex Police covers the two unitary authorities; the county council chamber and main headquarters is at the County Hall in Chelmsford. Before 1938, the council met in London near Moorgate, which with significant parts of the county close to that point and the dominance of railway travel had been more convenient than any place in the county, it has 75 elected councillors. Before 1965, the number of councillors reached over 100; the County Hall, made a listed building in 2007, dates from the mid-1930s and is decorated with fine artworks of that period the gift of the family who owned the textile firm Courtaulds. The highest point of the county of Essex is Chrishall Common near the village of Langley, close to the Hertfordshire border, which reaches 482 feet; the ceremonial county of Essex is bounded to the south by its estuary.
The pattern of settlement in the county is diverse. The Metropolitan Green Belt has prevented the further sprawl of London into the county, although it contains the new towns of Basildon and Harlow developed to resettle Londoners after the destruction of London housing in the Second World War, since which they have been developed and expanded. Epping Forest prevents the further spread of the Greater London Urban Area; as it is not far from London with its economic magnetism, many of Essex's settlements those near or within short driving distance of railway stations, function as dormitory towns or villages where London workers raise their families. Part of the s
Gerrards Cross is a town and civil parish in south Buckinghamshire, separated from the London Borough of Hillingdon at Harefield by Denham, south of Chalfont St Peter and north of Fulmer and Hedgerley, north east of Cippenham. It spans land on the right bank of the River Misbourne, it is 19.3 miles west-north-west of Charing Cross, central London. Bulstrode Park Camp was an Iron Age fortified encampment; the town has a railway station on the Chiltern main line with services to London and the M40 motorway runs beside woodland on its southern boundary. The town name is new compared with the great bulk of English towns. Gerrards Cross did not exist in any formal sense until 1859 when it was formed by taking pieces out of the three parishes of Chalfont St Peter, Stoke poges and Upton cum Chalvey to form a new ecclesiastical parish, it is named after the Gerrard family. At that time homes which were not farms were smallholdings clustered in a hamlet in the south of an elongated parish of Chalfont St Peter.
Near its centre is the site of an Iron Age minor hillfort, Bulstrode Park Camp, a scheduled ancient monument. Named Jarrett's Cross before the times of the Gerrard family, after a highwayman, some areas retain the original name, such as Jarrett's Hill leading up to WEC International off the A40 west of the town. In 2014, a major national surveying company named Gerrards Cross as the most sought-after and expensive commuter town or village in their London Hot 100 report, with an average sale price of £1,000,000; the large and distinctive parish church is dedicated to St. James, it was built in 1861 as a memorial to Colonel George Alexander Reid, MP for Windsor, designed by Sir William Tite in yellow brick with a Byzantine-style dome, Chinese-looking turrets and an Italianate Campanile. In 1969 the singer Lulu married Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees in the church; the actress Margaret Rutherford is buried with her husband Stringer Davis in the St James Church graveyard. The town has various restaurants and its own cinema, the Everyman Gerrards Cross.
Independent schools include Gayhurst and Thorpe House. Students of secondary school age attend either one of the local grammar schools, such as Dr Challoner's Grammar School, Dr Challoner's High School, The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, John Hampden Grammar School, Beaconsfield High School Chesham Grammar School, the local Upper School, Chalfonts Community College, the catchment school, or Long Close School, Slough. On the south side of the town is the Gerrards Cross Memorial Building, on the site of the former vicarage; the building was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1922 to commemorate the town's losses during the First World War. It is the only example of a Lutyens war memorial designed with a functional purpose. Just outside Gerrards Cross, on the A40 to Beaconsfield, is Wapseys Wood landfill site, one of the largest landfill sites in the UK, operated by Veolia Landfill Ltd, it accepts up to 900,000 tonnes of non hazardous waste each year from south Buckinghamshire and other areas.
The town has a railway station on the Chiltern Main Line which opened on 2 April 1906. This provides services to London and Birmingham with a commuting time of about 25 minutes to London Marylebone. A new arch over the section of deep railway cutting to allow Tesco to build a supermarket collapsed on 30 June 2005 at 19:30. Nobody was injured but the line was closed for over six weeks. Compensation by Tesco to Chiltern was reported as £8.5m and the retailer compensated by funding a media campaign to reinstate business lost by the closure. Construction of a constructed arch began in January 2009; the 11.36am from London Paddington to Gerrards Cross was an official or'parliamentary train' recognised as an outlandish loss-making service to prevent the link to that terminus being closed or re-allocated. This train now terminates at West Ruislip. In 2011, National Rail was lobbied to phase the service out; the town lies 8.4 miles north west of London's Heathrow Airport. Many houses built during development in the 1950s had defective tiles, leading to the highest court reported judgment Young & Marten Ltd v McManus Childs Ltd, holding that a person who contracts to do work and supply materials implicitly warrants that the materials will be fit for purpose if the purchaser specifies the materials to be used.
Stanley Kubrick filmed some of the exteriors in his feature 1962 film Lolita, notably Charlotte Haze's house, in Gerrards Cross. "The Italian Lesson" sketch in the first episode of the first series of the BBC Television comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus includes the line "'Sono inglese di Gerrard's Cross', I am an Englishman from Gerrard's Cross." Jethro Tull's song "Journeyman" on their 1978 album Heavy Horses includes the line "Too late to stop for tea at Gerrards Cross". Indie band the Hit Parade released their 3rd single "The Sun Shines In Gerrards Cross" in 1986. St Hubert's House, a Grade II listed house to the southeast of Gerrards Cross, has been used as a filming location for TV series including Inspector Morse and The Professionals, was the location of Colonel Hyde's house in The League of Gentlemen. In New Tricks, the popular BBC crime drama, the opening shots of the large house in Season 12 Episode 8'Lottery Curse' were filmed on the private road of Camp Road in Gerrard's Cross.
Roy Castle, singer, actor, television presenter and musician, lived in Gerrards Cross. Amal Clooney and human rights activist, moved from Lebanon to
The Spectator is a weekly British magazine on politics and current affairs. It was first published in July 1828, it is owned by David and Frederick Barclay who own The Daily Telegraph newspaper, via Press Holdings. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture, its editorial outlook is supportive of the Conservative Party, although regular contributors include some outside that fold, such as Frank Field, Rod Liddle and Martin Bright. The magazine contains arts pages on books, music and film and TV reviews. Editorship of The Spectator has been a step on the ladder to high office in the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. Past editors include Boris Johnson and other former cabinet members Iain Macleod, Ian Gilmour, Nigel Lawson. In late 2008, Spectator Australia was launched; this offers 12 pages of "Unique Australian Content" in addition to the full UK contents. Readership of The Spectator Australia was revealed through a court case as being 3,000; the Spectator's founding editor, the Dundonian reformer Robert Stephen Rintoul, launched the paper in July 1828 with a first issue for the "week ending Saturday July 5, 1828".
He revived the title from the 1711 publication by Addison & Steele. As he had long been determined "to edit a perfect newspaper", Rintoul insisted on "absolute power" over content, commencing a long-lasting tradition of the paper's editor and proprietor being one and the same person; the Spectator’s political outlook in its first thirty years reflected Rintoul’s liberal-radical agenda. Despite its political stance it was regarded and respected for its non-partisanship. Under Rintoul The Spectator came out for the Great Reform Act of 1832, coining the well-known phrase, "The Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill", in its support, it objected to the appointment of the Duke of Wellington as Prime Minister, condemning him as "a Field Marshal whose political career proves him to be utterly destitute of political principle – whose military career affords ample evidence of his stern and remorseless temperament."The magazine was vocal in its opposition to the First Opium War, commenting: "all the alleged aims of the expedition against China are vague and incapable of explanation, save only that of making the Chinese pay the opium-smugglers." and "There does not appear to be much glory gained in a contest so unequal that hundreds are killed on one side and none on the other.
What honour is there in going to shoot men, certain that they cannot hurt you? The cause of the war, be it remembered, is as disreputable as the strength of the parties is unequal; the war is undertaken in support of a co-partnery of opium-smugglers, in which the Anglo-Indian Government may be considered as the principal partner."In 1853 it published an anonymous and unfavourable review of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House revealed to be by George Brimley, typical of the paper's enduring contempt for him as a "popular" writer "amusing the idle hours of the greatest number of readers. Thereafter, it went into an accelerated period of decline. Records are scarce but it appears that it was owned by a Mr Scott and bought for £4200 in December 1858 by two London-based Americans, James McHenry and Benjamin Moran. McHenry was a businessman and Moran was an Assistant Secretary to the ambassador, George M. Dallas; the editor was Thornton Hunt, a friend of Moran who had worked for Rintoul. Hunt was nominally the purchaser, having been given the necessary monies in an attempt by McHenry and Moran to disguise the American ownership.
Circulation declined with this loss of independence and inspirational leadership, the views of James Buchanan, the president of the US, came to the fore. Within weeks, the editorial line followed Buchanan's pronouncements in being "...neither pro-slavery nor pro-abolitionist. To unsympathetic observers Buchanan's policy seemed to apportion blame for the impasse on the slavery question on pro-slavery and abolitionist factions – and rather than work out a solution to argue that a solution would take time; the Spectator now would publicly support that'policy.'". This set it at odds with most of the British press but gained it the sympathy of ex-patriate Americans in the country. Richard Fulton notes that from until 1861, "... the Spectator's commentary on American affairs read like a Buchanan administration propaganda sheet." And that this represented a volte-face. On 19 January 1861, The Spectator was bought by a journalist, Meredith Townsend, for £2000; the need to promote the Buchanan position in Britain had been reduced as British papers such as The Times and The Saturday Review turned in his favour, fearing the potential effects of a split in the Union.
Abraham Lincoln had replaced the vacillating Buchanan and Moran's position in London was in doubt now that Dallas had been removed as ambassador. In addition, the owners had been pumping money into a loss-making publication and were reluctant to continue the practice. From the outset, Townsend took up an anti-Buchanan, anti-slavery position, arguing that his unwillingness to act decisively had been a weakness and a contributor to the problems apparent in the US, he soon went into partnership with Richard Holt Hutton, a theologian whose friend William Gladstone called him "the first critic of the nineteenth century". Townsend's wri
Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south; the North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; the county is low-lying with few hills, is arable land with the wetlands of the Broads in the north. The Suffolk Coast and Heaths are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. By the fifth century, the Angles had established control of the region; the Angles became the "north folk" and the "south folk", from which developed the names "Norfolk" and "Suffolk". Suffolk and several adjacent areas became the kingdom of East Anglia, which merged with Mercia and Wessex. Suffolk was divided into four separate Quarter Sessions divisions. In 1860, the number of divisions was reduced to two; the eastern division was administered from the western from Bury St Edmunds. Under the Local Government Act 1888, the two divisions were made the separate administrative counties of East Suffolk and West Suffolk. A few Essex parishes were added to Suffolk: Ballingdon-with-Brundon and parts of Haverhill and Kedington.
On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, East Suffolk, West Suffolk, Ipswich were merged to form the unified county of Suffolk. The county was divided into several local government districts: Babergh, Forest Heath, Mid Suffolk, St Edmundsbury, Suffolk Coastal, Waveney; this act transferred some land near Great Yarmouth to Norfolk. As introduced in Parliament, the Local Government Act would have transferred Newmarket and Haverhill to Cambridgeshire and Colchester from Essex. In 2007, the Department for Communities and Local Government referred Ipswich Borough Council's bid to become a new unitary authority to the Boundary Committee; the Boundary Committee reported in favour of the proposal. It was not, approved by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Beginning in February 2008, the Boundary Committee again reviewed local government in the county, with two possible options emerging. One was that of splitting Suffolk into two unitary authorities – Ipswich and Felixstowe and Rural Suffolk.
In February 2010, the then-Minister Rosie Winterton announced that no changes would be imposed on the structure of local government in the county as a result of the review, but that the government would be: "asking Suffolk councils and MPs to reach a consensus on what unitary solution they want through a countywide constitutional convention". Following the May 2010 general election, all further moves towards any of the suggested unitary solutions ceased on the instructions of the incoming Coalition government. In 2018 it was determined that Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury would be merged to form a new West Suffolk district, while Waveney and Suffolk Coastal would form a new East Suffolk district; these changes took effect on 1 April 2019. West Suffolk, like nearby East Cambridgeshire, is renowned for archaeological finds from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age. Bronze Age artefacts have been found in the area between Mildenhall and West Row, in Eriswell and in Lakenheath. Many bronze objects, such as swords, arrows, palstaves, daggers, armour, decorative equipment, fragments of sheet bronze, are entrusted to St. Edmundsbury heritage service, housed at West Stow just outside Bury St. Edmunds.
Other finds include traces of barrows. In the east of the county is Sutton Hoo, the site of one of England's most significant Anglo-Saxon archaeological finds, a ship burial containing a collection of treasures including a Sword of State and silver bowls, jewellery and a lyre; the majority of agriculture in Suffolk is either mixed. Farm sizes vary from anything around 80 acres to over 8,000. Soil types vary from heavy clays to light sands. Crops grown include:winter wheat, winter barley, sugar beet, oilseed rape and spring beans and linseed, although smaller areas of rye and oats can be found growing in areas with lighter soils along with a variety of vegetables; the continuing importance of agriculture in the county is reflected in the Suffolk Show, held annually in May at Ipswich. Although latterly somewhat changed in nature, this remains an agricultural show. Below is a chart of regional gross value added of Suffolk at current basic prices published by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Well-known companies in Suffolk include Greene Branston Pickle in Bury St Edmunds. Birds Eye has its largest UK factory in Lowestoft, where all its meat products and frozen vegetables are processed. Huntley & Palmers biscuit company has a base in Sudbury; the UK horse racing industry is based in Newmarket. There are two USAF bases in the west of the county close to the A11. Sizewell B nuclear power station is at Sizewell on the coast near Leiston. Bernard Matthews Farms have some processing units in the county Holton. Southwold is the home of Adnams Brewery; the Port of Felixstowe is the largest container port in the United Kingdom. Other ports are at Ipswich, run by Associated British Ports. BT has its main development facility at Martlesham Heath. There are several towns in the county with Ipswich being most populous. At the time
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Anglo-Saxons and others. They are alternatively known as ancient counties, traditional counties, former counties or as counties. In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties helped define local culture and identity; this role continued after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following. Unlike the self-governing boroughs that covered urban areas, the counties of medieval England existed as a means of enforcing central government power, enabling monarchs to exercise control over local areas through their chosen representatives – sheriffs and the Lord-Lieutenants – and their subordinate justices of the peace. Counties were used for the administration of justice, collection of taxes and organisation of the military, for local government and electing parliamentary representation.
They continue to form the basis of modern local government in many parts of the country away from the main urban areas, although sometimes with altered boundaries. The name of a county gives a clue to how it was formed, either as a division that took its name from a centre of administration, an ancient kingdom, or an area occupied by an ethnic group; the majority of English counties are in the first category, with the name formed by combining the central town with the suffix "-shire", for example Yorkshire. Former kingdoms, which became earldoms in the united England did not feature this formulation. Counties ending in the suffix "-sex", the former Saxon kingdoms, are in this category. Many of these names are formed from compass directions; the third category includes counties such as Cornwall and Devon where the name corresponds to the tribes who inhabited the area. County Durham is anomalous in terms of naming and origin, not falling into any of the three categories. Instead, it was a diocese, turned into the County Palatine of Durham, ruled by the Bishop of Durham.
The expected form would otherwise be "Durhamshire", but it was used. There are customary abbreviations for many of the counties. In most cases, these consist of simple truncation with an "s" at the end signifying "shire", such as "Berks" for Berkshire or "Bucks" for Buckinghamshire; some abbreviations are not obvious, such as "Salop" for Shropshire, from the Norman-derived word for its county town Shrewsbury. Counties were prefixed with "County of" in official contexts, such as "County of Kent"; those counties named after central towns lost the -"shire" suffix, for example Yorkshire would be known as "County of York". This usage was sometimes followed where there was no town by that name, such as the "County of Berks"; the "-shire" suffix was appended for some counties, such as "Devonshire", "Dorsetshire" and "Somersetshire", despite their origin. There is still a Duke of Devonshire. Great Britain was first divided into administrative areas by the Romans, most following major geographical features such as rivers.
Before their arrival there were distinct tribal areas, but they were in a constant state of flux as territory was gained and lost. After the demise of Roman Britain around 410 these first divisions of land were abandoned, although traditional divisions taking the form of petty kingdoms such as Powys and Elmet, remained in those areas which remained British, such as south west England; the areas that would form the English counties started to take shape soon afterwards, with the Kingdom of Kent founded by settlers around 445. In southern England more shires emerged from earlier sub-kingdoms as part of the administrative structure of Wessex, which imposed its system of shires and ealdormen on Mercia after it came under West Saxon control during the 9th century. Once the Kingdom of England was united as a whole in 927 it became necessary to subdivide it for administrative convenience and to this end, earldoms were created out of the earlier kingdoms; the whole kingdom was divided into shires by the time of the Norman conquest.
Robert of Gloucester accounts for thirty-five shires and William of Malmesbury thirty-two, Henry of Huntingdon, thirty-seven. In most cases the counties or shires in medieval times were administered by a sheriff on behalf of the monarch. After the Norman conquest the sheriff was replaced and the shires became counties, or "areas under the control of a count", in the French manner. Although all of England was divided into shires by the time of the Norman conquest, some counties were formed later, up to the 16th century; because of their differing origins the counties varied in size. The county boundaries were static between the 16th century Laws in Wales acts and the Local Government Act 1888; each shire was responsible for gathering taxes for the central government. In southern England the counties were subdivisions of the Kingdom of Wessex, in many areas represented annexed independent, kingdoms or other tribal territories. Kent derives from the Kingdom of Kent, Essex and Middlesex come from the East Saxons, South Saxons and Middle Saxons.
Norfolk and Suffolk were subdivis
Berkshire is one of the home counties in England. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council; the county town is Reading. The River Thames formed the historic northern boundary, from Buscot in the west to Old Windsor in the east; the historic county therefore includes territory, now administered by the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire in Oxfordshire, but excludes Caversham and five less populous settlements in the east of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. All the changes mentioned, apart from the change to Caversham, took place in 1974; the towns of Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, the six places joining came from Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of most areas from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, the county town which had its own County Borough administration.
Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Slough, West Berkshire and Maidenhead and Wokingham. The ceremonial county borders Oxfordshire, Greater London, Surrey and Hampshire. No part of the county is more than 8.5 miles from the M4 motorway. According to Asser's biography of King Alfred, written in 893 AD, its old name Bearrocscir takes its name from a wood of box trees, called Bearroc; this wood no longer extant, was west of Frilsham, near Abingdon. Berkshire has been the scene of some notable battles through its history. Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes included the Battles of Englefield and Reading. Newbury was the site of two English Civil War battles: the First Battle of Newbury in 1643 and the Second Battle of Newbury in 1644; the nearby Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin in the aftermath of the second battle. Another Battle of Reading took place on 9 December 1688, it was the only substantial military action in England during the Glorious Revolution and ended in a decisive victory for forces loyal to William of Orange.
Reading became the new county town in 1867. Under the Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire Quarter Sessions, covering the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the county borough of Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, cessions in the Oxford area. On 1 April 1974, Berkshire's boundaries changed under the Local Government Act 1972. Berkshire took over administration of Slough and Eton and part of the former Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire; the northern part of the county became part of Oxfordshire, with Faringdon and Abingdon and their hinterland becoming the Vale of White Horse district, Didcot and Wallingford added to South Oxfordshire district. 94 Signal Squadron still keep the Uffington White Horse in their insignia though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.
On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, the districts became unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished. Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" exist on borders of West Berkshire, on the east side of Virginia Water, on the M4 motorway, on the south side of Sonning Bridge, on the A404 southbound by Marlow, northbound on the A33 past Stratfield Saye. A flag for the historic county of Berkshire was registered with the Flag Institute in 2017. All of the county is drained by the Thames. Berkshire divides into two topological sections: west of Reading. North-east Berkshire has the low calciferous m-shaped bends of the Thames south of, a broader, gravelly former watery plain or belt from Earley to Windsor and beyond, are parcels and belts of uneroded higher sands, flints and acid soil and in north of the Bagshot Formation, north of Surrey and Hampshire.
Swinley Forest known as Bracknell Forest, Windsor Great Park and Stratfield Saye Woods have many pine, silver birch and other acid-soil trees. East of the grassy and wooded bends a large minority of East Berkshire's land mirrors the clay belt being of low elevation and on the left bank of the Thames: Slough, Eton Wick, Wraysbury and Datchet. In the heart of the county Reading's northern suburb Caversham is on that bank but rises steeply into the Chiltern Hills. Two main tributaries skirt past Reading, the Loddon and its sub-tributary the Blackwater draining parts of two counties south and the Kennet draining part of upland Wiltshire in the west. Heading west the reduced, but large, part of county becomes further from the Thames which flows from the north-north-west before the Goring Gap. To the south, the land crests along the bo