Counties of England
Overview
 
Counties of England are areas used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. For administrative purposes, England outside Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 and the Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

 is divided into 83 counties
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and...

. The counties may consist of a single district or be divided into several districts. As of April 2009, 27 of these counties are divided into districts and have a county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

.
Encyclopedia
Counties of England are areas used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. For administrative purposes, England outside Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 and the Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

 is divided into 83 counties
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and...

. The counties may consist of a single district or be divided into several districts. As of April 2009, 27 of these counties are divided into districts and have a county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

. Six of the counties, covering the major conurbations, are known as metropolitan counties, which do not have county councils, although some functions are organised on a county-wide basis by the lower-tier districts (or metropolitan boroughs) acting jointly.

All of England (including Greater London and the Isles of Scilly) is also divided into 48 ceremonial counties, which are also known as geographic counties.
Most ceremonial counties correspond to a metropolitan or non-metropolitan county of the same name, but often with reduced boundaries.

The current arrangement is the result of incremental reform. Many of the counties have their origins in the Middle Ages, although the larger counties of Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 and Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 lost many or all of their administrative functions centuries ago. The geographic counties which existed before the local government reforms of 1965 and 1974 are referred to as ancient counties
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

 or historic counties. From 1889 to 1974 areas with county councils were known as administrative counties
Administrative counties of England
Administrative counties were a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888 as the areas for which county councils were elected. Some large counties were divided into several administrative...

, which excluded larger town and cities known as county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

s and included divisions of some geographic counties. From 1974 to 1996 the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties, some of which were established only in 1974, corresponded directly with the ceremonial counties.

Counties, usually either historic counties or current ceremonial counties, are used as the geographical basis for a number of institutions such as police and fire services, sports clubs and other non-government organisations.

For the purpose of sorting and delivering mail, England was divided into 48 postal counties
Postal counties of the United Kingdom
The postal counties of the United Kingdom, now known officially as the former postal counties, were postal subdivisions in routine use by the Royal Mail until 1996. The raison d'être of the postal county – as opposed to any other kind of county – was to aid the sorting of mail by...

 until 1996; these have been abandoned by the Royal Mail
Royal Mail
Royal Mail is the government-owned postal service in the United Kingdom. Royal Mail Holdings plc owns Royal Mail Group Limited, which in turn operates the brands Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide...

 in favour of postcodes.

Local government

Cumbria, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex and Worcestershire are non-metropolitan counties of multiple districts with a county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

. In these counties most services are provided by the county council and the district councils have a more limited role. Their areas each correspond exactly to ceremonial counties
Ceremonial counties of England
The ceremonial counties are areas of England to which are appointed a Lord Lieutenant, and are defined by the government as counties and areas for the purposes of the Lieutenancies Act 1997 with reference to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England and Lieutenancies Act 1997...

.

There are six metropolitan counties
Metropolitan county
The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, typically with populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million...

 which are based on the major English conurbations
Conurbation
A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area...

; and they also correspond exactly to a ceremonial county and have multiple districts, but do not have county councils. They are Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. In these counties the district councils provide the majority of services. Similarly, Berkshire is a non-metropolitan county with no county council and multiple districts and maps directly to a ceremonial county. Bristol, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Northumberland and Rutland are ceremonial counties consisting of a non-metropolitan county of a single district, and are known as unitary authorities
Unitary authorities of England
Unitary authorities of England are areas where a single local authority is responsible for a variety of services for a district that elsewhere are administered separately by two councils...

.
Compare to 1851

Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Staffordshire are non-metropolitan counties with multiple districts and a county council, where one or more districts have been split off to form unitary authorities. The effect is that the corresponding ceremonial county is larger than the non-metropolitan county of the same name and the county council is responsible for providing services in only part of the county. In Cornwall, Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Shropshire and Wiltshire the bulk of the area is a unitary authority which shares the name of the ceremonial county and the rest of county is part of one or more other unitary authorities.

In total there are 39 unitary authorities that do not share the names of any of the ceremonial counties. Bedfordshire and Cheshire are counties that consist of a number of unitary authorities, none of which has the same name as the ceremonial county. The City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

 and Greater London are anomalous as ceremonial counties that do not correspond to any metropolitan or non-metropolitan counties, and predate their creation.

Institutions

The metropolitan counties have passenger transport executive
Passenger Transport Executive
In the United Kingdom, passenger transport executives are local government bodies which are responsible for public transport within large urban areas...

s to manage public transport, a role undertaken by the local authorities of non-metropolitan counties and Transport for London
Transport for London
Transport for London is the local government body responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London in England. Its role is to implement the transport strategy and to manage transport services across London...

 in Greater London. Large ceremonial counties often correspond to a single police force. For example, the four unitary authorities which make up Cheshire correspond to the same area as the Cheshire Constabulary
Cheshire Constabulary
Cheshire Constabulary is the territorial police force responsible for policing the English unitary authorities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington. The force is responsible for policing an area of with a population of roughly 1 million.The Chief Constable of the...

.

Some counties are grouped together for this purpose, such as Northumberland with Tyne and Wear to form the Northumbria Police
Northumbria Police
Northumbria Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the areas of Northumberland and Tyne and Wear in North East England. The service is the sixth largest police force in England and Wales. The current Chief Constable is Sue Sim who was appointed by Northumbria Police...

 area. In other areas a group of unitary authorities in several counties are grouped together to form police force areas, such as the Cleveland Police
Cleveland Police
Cleveland Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the area of former county of Cleveland in north east England. The Cleveland Police area covers approximately and has a population of over 554,000....

 and Humberside Police
Humberside Police
Humberside Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing an area covering the East Riding of Yorkshire, the city of Kingston upon Hull, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire...

.

Greater London and the City of London each have their own police forces, the Metropolitan Police Service
Metropolitan Police Service
The Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London which is the responsibility of the City of London Police...

 and the City of London Police
City of London Police
The City of London Police is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement within the City of London, England, including the Middle and Inner Temple. The service responsible for law enforcement within the rest of Greater London is the Metropolitan Police Service, a separate...

. The fire service
Fire service in the United Kingdom
The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales...

 is operated on a similar basis, and the ambulance service is organised by the regions of England
Regions of England
In England, the region is the highest tier of sub-national division used by central Government. Between 1994 and 2011, the nine regions had an administrative role in the implementation of UK Government policy, and as the areas covered by elected bodies...

. Most ceremonial counties form part of a single region, although Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire are divided between regions. Economic development
Regional Development Agency
In the United Kingdom, a regional development agency is a non-departmental public body established for the purpose of development, primarily economic, of one of England's Government Office regions. There is one RDA for each of the NUTS level 1 regions of England...

 is delivered using the regions, as is strategic planning
Regional planning in England
Regional planning in England was undertaken for each of the nine regions, from the 1990s until 2010. In the eight English regions outside London, regional assemblies were formed in 1998, and were responsible for physical planning policy through Regional Spatial Strategies . From 1999, Regional...

.

Comparative areas and populations

As of 2009, the largest county by area is North Yorkshire and the smallest is the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

. The smallest county with multiple districts is Tyne and Wear and the smallest non-metropolitan county with a county council is Buckinghamshire. The county with the highest population is Greater London and the lowest is the City of London.

Greater London and the metropolitan counties are all in the 15 largest by population and the 15 smallest by area. Greater London has the highest population density, while the lowest is found in Northumberland. By area, the largest ceremonial county consisting of a single-district non-metropolitan county is Northumberland and the smallest is Bristol. By population the largest such county is Bristol and the smallest is Rutland.

Slough
Slough
Slough is a borough and unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Royal Berkshire, England. The town straddles the A4 Bath Road and the Great Western Main Line, west of central London...

 is the smallest unitary authority by area that is not also a ceremonial county and Cheshire East
Cheshire East
Cheshire East is a unitary authority area with borough status in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England.The borough was established in April 2009 as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, by virtue of an order under the Local Government and Public Involvement in...

 is the largest. Hartlepool
Hartlepool (borough)
Hartlepool is a unitary authority in the ceremonial county of County Durham, north east England. In 2003 it had a resident population of 90,161. It borders the non-metropolitan county of County Durham to the north, Stockton-on-Tees to the south and Redcar and Cleveland to the south-east along the...

 is the smallest such unitary authority by population and Cheshire West and Chester
Cheshire West and Chester
Cheshire West and Chester is a unitary authority area with borough status, in the ceremonial county of Cheshire. It was established in April 2009 as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, by virtue of an order under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health...

 is the largest. The sui generis
Sui generis
Sui generis is a Latin expression, literally meaning of its own kind/genus or unique in its characteristics. The expression is often used in analytic philosophy to indicate an idea, an entity, or a reality which cannot be included in a wider concept....

Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. The islands have had a unitary authority council since 1890, and are separate from the Cornwall unitary authority, but some services are combined with Cornwall and the islands are still part...

 is smaller both in terms of area and population. The highest population density of any metropolitan or non-metropolitan county is found in Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 and the lowest is found in Northumberland
Northumberland
Northumberland is the northernmost ceremonial county and a unitary district in North East England. For Eurostat purposes Northumberland is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region...

.

Origins

Most of the counties of England were established in the Middle Ages sometime between the 7th and 11th centuries. These early divisions continue to form most of the current counties, albeit with adapted boundaries. Counties were used for the administration of justice, the organisation of the military, local government and parliamentary representation. Some of the larger counties were divided early on for many purposes, including Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 (into "Ridings"), Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

 (into "Parts
Parts of Lincolnshire
The three Parts of the English county of Lincolnshire are or were divisions of the second-largest county in England. They existed as units of local government until it was reviewed in the 1970s...

") and Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

. In 1832 the Great Reform Act divided larger counties for parliamentary purposes. Changes in the administration of the Poor Law
Poor Law
The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief which existed in England and Wales that developed out of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws before being codified in 1587–98...

 in 1832 and later the implementation of sanitary authorities
Sanitary district
Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1875 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:*Urban sanitary districts in towns with existing local government bodies...

 caused the use of traditional divisions for civil administration to wane. The like-named and broadly similarly shaped registration counties
Registration county
A registration county was, in Great Britain and Ireland, a statistical unit used for the registration of births, deaths and marriages and for the output of census information. In Scotland registration counties are used for land registration purposes....

 existed for these purposes from 1851 and were used for census reporting from 1851 to 1911. Their boundaries differed from existing counties as they were formed from the combined areas of smaller registration district
Registration district
A registration district in the United Kingdom is a type of administrative region which exists for the purpose of civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths and civil partnerships...

s, which crossed historic county boundaries.

By the late nineteenth century there was increasing pressure to reform the structure of English counties. A boundary commission
Local Government (Boundaries) Act 1887
The Local Government Act 1887 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act established boundary commissioners to reform the areas of administrative bodies in England and Wales in preparation for the creation of elected councils by the Local Government Act 1888...

 was appointed in 1887 to review all English and Welsh counties, and a Local Government Bill was introduced to parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 in the following year. The resulting Local Government Act 1888
Local Government Act 1888
The Local Government Act 1888 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which established county councils and county borough councils in England and Wales...

 divided the counties into administrative counties
Administrative county
An administrative county was an administrative division in England and Wales and Ireland used for the purposes of local government. They are now abolished, although in Northern Ireland their former areas are used as the basis for lieutenancy....

, controlled by county councils and independent areas known as county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

s.

The county councils took over many of the functions of the Quarter Sessions
Quarter Sessions
The Courts of Quarter Sessions or Quarter Sessions were local courts traditionally held at four set times each year in the United Kingdom and other countries in the former British Empire...

 courts, as well as being given further powers over the years. The County of London
County of London
The County of London was a county of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London. It was created as part of the general introduction of elected county government in England, by way of the Local Government Act 1888. The Act created an administrative County of...

 was created from parts of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, Middlesex
Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

 and Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

. Each county borough was technically an administrative county of a single district, whilst a number of counties were divided into more than one administrative county; they were Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

, Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...

, Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

, Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 and Yorkshire
Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

.

The counties used for purposes other than local government, such as lieutenancy, also changed, being either a single administrative county or a grouping of administrative counties and associated county boroughs. The one exception was the City of London
City of London
The City of London is a small area within Greater London, England. It is the historic core of London around which the modern conurbation grew and has held city status since time immemorial. The City’s boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, and it is now only a tiny part of...

, which alone among counties corporate
County corporate
A county corporate or corporate county was a type of subnational division used for local government in England, Ireland and Wales.Counties corporate were created during the Middle Ages, and were effectively small self-governing counties...

 retained a separate lieutenancy and although part of the administrative County of London was also a county of itself for all other purposes. In legislation after 1888 the unqualified use of the term "county" refers to these entities, although the informal term "geographical county" was also used to distinguish them from administrative counties. They were shown on Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey
Ordnance Survey , an executive agency and non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom, is the national mapping agency for Great Britain, producing maps of Great Britain , and one of the world's largest producers of maps.The name reflects its creation together with...

 maps of the time under both titles, and are equivalent to the modern ceremonial counties
Ceremonial counties of England
The ceremonial counties are areas of England to which are appointed a Lord Lieutenant, and are defined by the government as counties and areas for the purposes of the Lieutenancies Act 1997 with reference to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England and Lieutenancies Act 1997...

.

There were considerable boundary changes between the counties over the years, with areas being exchanged and suburban areas in one county being annexed by county boroughs in another. A major realignment came in 1931, when the boundaries between Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, and Worcestershire
Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

 were adjusted by the Provisional Order Confirmation (Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) Act which transferred 26 parishes between the three counties, largely to eliminate exclaves.

Proposals and reform

A Local Government Boundary Commission
Local Government Boundary Commission (1945 - 1949)
The Local Government Boundary Commission was established in 1945 to review the boundaries of local authority areas in England and Wales outside the Counties of London and Middlesex. The Commission produced its report in 1948 which proposed large changes to county-level areas of local government and...

 was set up in 1945 with the power to merge, create or divide all existing administrative counties and county boroughs. If the commission's recommendations had been carried out the county map of England would have been completely redrawn. The review process was instead abandoned after the 1950 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1950
The 1950 United Kingdom general election was the first general election ever after a full term of a Labour government. Despite polling over one and a half million votes more than the Conservatives, the election, held on 23 February 1950 resulted in Labour receiving a slim majority of just five...

. A Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London
Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London
The Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London, also known as the Herbert Commission, was established in 1957 and published its report in 1960...

 was established in 1957 and a Local Government Commission for England in 1958 to recommend new local government structures.

The major outcomes of the work of the commissions came in 1965: The original County of London
County of London
The County of London was a county of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London. It was created as part of the general introduction of elected county government in England, by way of the Local Government Act 1888. The Act created an administrative County of...

 was abolished and was replaced by the Greater London
Greater London
Greater London is the top-level administrative division of England covering London. It was created in 1965 and spans the City of London, including Middle Temple and Inner Temple, and the 32 London boroughs. This territory is coterminate with the London Government Office Region and the London...

 administrative area, which also included most of the remaining part of Middlesex and areas formerly part of Surrey, Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

; Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire
Huntingdonshire is a local government district of Cambridgeshire, covering the area around Huntingdon. Traditionally it is a county in its own right...

 was merged with the Soke of Peterborough
Soke of Peterborough
The Soke of Peterborough is an historic area of England that is traditionally associated with the City and Diocese of Peterborough, but considered part of Northamptonshire...

 to form Huntingdon and Peterborough
Huntingdon and Peterborough
Huntingdon and Peterborough was a short-lived administrative county in East Anglia in the United Kingdom. It existed from 1965 to 1974, when it became part of Cambridgeshire.-Formation:...

, and the original Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

 was merged with the Isle of Ely
Isle of Ely
The Isle of Ely is a historic region around the city of Ely now in Cambridgeshire, England but previously a county in its own right.-Etymology:...

 to form Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely
Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely
Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely was, from 1965 to 1974, an administrative county of England. In 1974 it became part of an enlarged Cambridgeshire.-Formation:...

. A Royal Commission on Local Government in England was set up in 1966 and reported in 1969
Redcliffe-Maud Report
The Redcliffe–Maud Report is the name generally given to the report published by the Royal Commission on Local Government in England 1966–1969 under the chairmanship of Lord Redcliffe-Maud.-Terms of reference and membership:...

, and broadly recommended the complete redrawing of local government areas in England, abandoning the existing counties. Due to a change in government, the report did not translate into legislation.

On 1 April 1974, the Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974....

 came into force. This abolished the existing local government structure of administrative counties and county boroughs in England and Wales
England and Wales
England and Wales is a jurisdiction within the United Kingdom. It consists of England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom...

 outside Greater London, replacing it with a new entirely 'two-tier' system. It created a new set of 46 counties, six of which were metropolitan and 40 of which were non-metropolitan. The historic county boundaries were retained wherever it was practicable.

However, some of the counties established by the Act were entirely new, such as Avon
Avon (county)
Avon was, from 1974 to 1996, a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county in the west of England.The county was named after the River Avon, which runs through the area. It was formed from parts of the historic counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset, together with the City of Bristol...

, Cleveland
Cleveland, England
Cleveland is an area in the north east of England. Its name means literally "cliff-land", referring to its hilly southern areas, which rise to nearly...

, Cumbria
Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

, Hereford and Worcester
Hereford and Worcester
Hereford and Worcester was an English county created on 1 April 1974, by the Local Government Act 1972 from the area of the former administrative county of Herefordshire, most of Worcestershire and the county borough of Worcester.It bordered Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands to the...

, and Humberside
Humberside
Humberside was a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county in Northern England from 1 April 1974 until 1 April 1996. It was composed of land from either side of the Humber Estuary, created from portions of the East and West ridings of Yorkshire and parts of Lindsey, Lincolnshire...

, along with the new metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 2.6 million. It encompasses one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom and comprises ten metropolitan boroughs: Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the...

, Merseyside
Merseyside
Merseyside is a metropolitan county in North West England, with a population of 1,365,900. It encompasses the metropolitan area centred on both banks of the lower reaches of the Mersey Estuary, and comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool...

, South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. It has a population of 1.29 million. It consists of four metropolitan boroughs: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, and City of Sheffield...

, Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear is a metropolitan county in north east England around the mouths of the Rivers Tyne and Wear. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972...

, West Midlands
West Midlands (county)
The West Midlands is a metropolitan county in western central England with a 2009 estimated population of 2,638,700. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, formed from parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The...

 and West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county within the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England with a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972....

; based on the major conurbations. The counties of Cumberland, Herefordshire
Herefordshire
Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

, Rutland
Rutland
Rutland is a landlocked county in central England, bounded on the west and north by Leicestershire, northeast by Lincolnshire and southeast by Peterborough and Northamptonshire....

, Westmorland
Westmorland
Westmorland is an area of North West England and one of the 39 historic counties of England. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974, after which the entirety of the county was absorbed into the new county of Cumbria.-Early history:...

 and Worcestershire
Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

 were disestablished. The abolition of the county boroughs resulted in the distinction made between the counties for Lieutenancy and those for county councils becoming unnecessary. Section 216 of the Act adopted the new counties for ceremonial and judicial purposes, replacing the previous non-administrative counties.

The Royal Mail was unable to follow the changes to county boundaries in 1965 and 1974 due to cost constraints and because several new counties had names that were too similar to post town
Post town
A post town is a required part of all postal addresses in the United Kingdom, and a basic unit of the postal delivery system. Including the correct post town in the address increases the chances of a letter or parcel being delivered on time. Post towns are usually based upon the location of...

s. The main differences were that Hereford and Worcester, Greater Manchester and Greater London could not be adopted and that Humberside had to be split into North Humberside
North Humberside
North Humberside is a former postal county of England. It was introduced by the Royal Mail on 1 July 1974, when some addresses were altered in response to the changes in administration brought about under the Local Government Act 1972....

 and South Humberside
South Humberside
South Humberside is a former postal county of England. It was introduced by the Royal Mail on 1 July 1974, when some addresses were altered in response to the changes in administration brought about under the Local Government Act 1972....

.

Additionally, a number of anomalies were created where villages that were part of a post town in another county, took the county of the post town for postal addressing purposes. This meant that for directing the mail, England was divided into a somewhat different set of county boundaries to those established in the reforms. There was also a series of official county name abbreviations sanctioned for use. The use of these postal counties
Postal counties of the United Kingdom
The postal counties of the United Kingdom, now known officially as the former postal counties, were postal subdivisions in routine use by the Royal Mail until 1996. The raison d'être of the postal county – as opposed to any other kind of county – was to aid the sorting of mail by...

 was abandoned by the Royal Mail in 1996.

Further changes

The metropolitan counties ceased to have county councils in 1986 and a further reform in the 1990s
1990s UK local government reform
The structure of local government in the United Kingdom underwent large changes in the 1990s. The system of two-tier local government introduced in the 1970s by the Local Government Act 1972 and the Local Government Act 1973 was abolished in Scotland and Wales on April 1, 1996, and replaced with...

 allowed the creation of non-metropolitan counties of a single district. These became known as unitary authorities
Unitary authorities of England
Unitary authorities of England are areas where a single local authority is responsible for a variety of services for a district that elsewhere are administered separately by two councils...

 and effectively re-established county boroughs. The reform caused the geographic counties to be defined separately
Lieutenancies Act 1997
The Lieutenancies Act 1997 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, that defines areas that Lord-Lieutenants are appointed to in Great Britain. It came into force on July 1, 1997.-Creation of modern local government:...

 once again, and they became known as ceremonial counties.

As well as unitary authorities covering large towns, some small counties such as Rutland and Herefordshire were re-established as unitary authorities. In 2009 unitary authorities were created
2009 structural changes to local government in England
Structural changes to local government in England were effected on 1 April 2009, whereby a number of new unitary authorities were created in parts of the country which previously operated a 'two-tier' system of counties and districts...

 to replace each of the county councils of Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire. Bedfordshire and Cheshire were thus abolished as non-metropolitan counties but are retained as ceremonial counties, divided between their unitary authorities.

Culture

There is no well established series of official symbols or flags covering all the counties. From 1889 the newly-created county councils could apply to the College of Arms
College of Arms
The College of Arms, or Heralds’ College, is an office regulating heraldry and granting new armorial bearings for England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 for coats of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

, often incorporating traditional symbols associated with the county. This practice continued as new county councils were created in 1965 and 1974. However these armorial bearings belong to the incorporated body of the county council and not to the geographic area of the counties themselves. As county councils have been abolished, and unitary authorities have been carved out, these symbols become obsolete or effectively no longer represent the whole ceremonial county. A recent series of flags, of varying levels of official adoption, have been established in many of the counties by competition or public poll. County days are a recent innovation in some areas.

There are seventeen first-class county cricket
County cricket
County cricket is the highest level of domestic cricket in England and Wales. For the 2010 season, see 2010 English cricket season.-First-class counties:...

 teams that are based on historic English counties. They are Derbyshire
Derbyshire County Cricket Club
Derbyshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the England and Wales domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Derbyshire...

, Durham
Durham County Cricket Club
Durham County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh national cricket structure, representing the historic county of Durham. Its limited overs team is called the Durham Dynamos. Their kit colours are blue with yellow trim and the shirt sponsor was...

, Essex
Essex County Cricket Club
Essex County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh national cricket structure, representing the historic county of Essex. Its limited overs team is called the Essex Eagles, their team colours this season are blue.The club plays most of its home games...

, Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire County Cricket Club
Gloucestershire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh national cricket structure, representing the historic county of Gloucestershire. Its limited overs team is called the Gloucestershire Gladiators....

, Hampshire
Hampshire County Cricket Club
Hampshire County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Hampshire in cricket's County Championship. The club was founded in 1863 as a successor to the Hampshire county cricket teams and has played at the Antelope Ground from then until 1885, before moving to the County Ground where it...

, Kent
Kent County Cricket Club
Kent County Cricket Club is one of the 18 first class county county cricket clubs which make up the English and Welsh national cricket structure, representing the county of Kent...

, Lancashire
Lancashire County Cricket Club
Lancashire County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Lancashire in cricket's County Championship. The club was founded in 1864 as a successor to Manchester Cricket Club and has played at Old Trafford since then...

, Leicestershire
Leicestershire County Cricket Club
Leicestershire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh national cricket structure, representing the historic county of Leicestershire. It has also been representative of the county of Rutland....

, Middlesex
Middlesex County Cricket Club
Middlesex County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Middlesex. It was announced in February 2009 that Middlesex changed their limited overs name from the Middlesex Crusaders, to the...

, Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club
Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Northamptonshire. Its limited overs team is called the Northants Steelbacks. The traditional club colour is Maroon. During the...

, Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Nottinghamshire, and the current county champions. Its limited overs team is called the Nottinghamshire Outlaws...

, Somerset
Somerset County Cricket Club
Somerset County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Somerset...

, Surrey
Surrey County Cricket Club
Surrey County Cricket Club is one of the 18 professional county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Surrey. Its limited overs team is called the Surrey Lions...

, Sussex
Sussex County Cricket Club
Sussex County Cricket Club is the oldest of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Sussex. The club was founded as a successor to Brighton Cricket Club which was a representative of the county of Sussex as a...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire County Cricket Club
Warwickshire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Warwickshire. Its limited overs team is called the Warwickshire Bears. Their kit colours are black and gold and the shirt sponsor...

, Worcestershire
Worcestershire County Cricket Club
Worcestershire County Cricket Club is one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Worcestershire...

 and Yorkshire
Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Yorkshire County Cricket Club represents the historic county of Yorkshire as one of the 18 major county clubs which make up the English and Welsh domestic cricket structure....

. There are also nineteen minor county teams. They are Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire County Cricket Club
Bedfordshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Bedfordshire and competing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy. The Minor Counties play three-day...

, Berkshire
Berkshire County Cricket Club
Berkshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Berkshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and MCCA Knockout Trophy....

, Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire County Cricket Club
Buckinghamshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Buckinghamshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy. The Minor Counties play...

, Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire County Cricket Club
Cambridgeshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Cambridgeshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy.The club is based at The Avenue...

, Cheshire
Cheshire County Cricket Club
Cheshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Cheshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Cornwall
Cornwall County Cricket Club
Cornwall County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Cornwall and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Cumberland
Cumberland County Cricket Club
Cumberland County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Cumberland and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Devon
Devon County Cricket Club
Devon County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Devon and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy....

, Dorset
Dorset County Cricket Club
Dorset County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Dorset and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Herefordshire
Herefordshire County Cricket Club
Herefordshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Herefordshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire County Cricket Club
Hertfordshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Hertfordshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire County Cricket Club
Lincolnshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs, which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Lincolnshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Norfolk
Norfolk County Cricket Club
Norfolk County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Norfolk and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Northumberland
Northumberland County Cricket Club
Northumberland County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Northumberland and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire County Cricket Club
Oxfordshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Oxfordshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Shropshire
Shropshire County Cricket Club
Shropshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Shropshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Staffordshire
Staffordshire County Cricket Club
Staffordshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Staffordshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy...

, Suffolk
Suffolk County Cricket Club
Suffolk County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Suffolk....

 and Wiltshire
Wiltshire County Cricket Club
Wiltshire County Cricket Club is one of the county clubs which make up the Minor Counties in the English domestic cricket structure, representing the historic county of Wiltshire and playing in the Minor Counties Championship and the MCCA Knockout Trophy....

. The county football associations
County Football Association
The County Football Associations are the local governing bodies of association football in England. County FAs exist to govern all aspects of football in England...

 are roughly based on English counties, with exceptions such as the combinations of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire
Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Football Association
The Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Football Association is the County Football Association for Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The Berks & Bucks FA was formed in 1878, with the first president and driving force being Mr J H Clark from Maidenhead...

 and Leicestershire and Rutland
Leicestershire & Rutland County Football Association
The Leicestershire & Rutland County Football Association, also simply known as the Leicestershire & Rutland CFA, Leicestershire FAor LRCFA, is the governing body of football in the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland..-Men's Saturday Leagues:...

.

See also

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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