Sunday, 27 March 2016

Counties of England*

*For the Purposes of Lieutenancy

Oh there's Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight,
West Sussex and East Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire if I'm right,
Greater London, City of London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent,
There used to be a Middlesex - I don't know where it went.
And Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire and all,
Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, and Rutland's rather small,
And there's Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire and Notts,
These are the counties of England - there are lots and lots and lots.

[SPOKEN:] Well, only forty-eight actually.  And "Nottinghamshire" was too long to fit into the line.


These are in fact the ceremonial counties of England, defined under the Lieutenancies Act 1997 as the areas to which a Lord Lieutenant is appointed.  They are not be confused with the 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties defined for the purposes of local government.


Nor are they to be confused with the 39 historic counties of England established by the Normans and promoted by the Association of British Counties, whose continued existence was acknowledged by the Government in 2013.


Actually I do know where Middlesex went.  It was abolished in 1965 when the Greater London Council was established, and was mostly absorbed into Greater London with the exception of two small areas now in Hertfordshire and Surrey.


And to clarify the next bit: there are only three historic Ridings of Yorkshire, but there are four current subdivisions for the purposes of lieutenancy, only one of which - the East - is referred to as a Riding, and whose boundaries do not correspond exactly to those of the historic East Riding.


But hey, it's only a bloody song.

Now Yorkshire is a county that's so big it needs dividing
Into South and West and North and East - that's what they call a Riding,
Northumberland and Cumbria, County Durham, Tyne and Wear,
Greater Manchester and Merseyside and proper Lancashire.
And Cheshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire, I claim,
And Worcestershire and Warwickshire, West Midlands (dreadful name!),
And Herefordshire and Gloucestershire and Bristol in the West,
Which leaves us only with Somerset - the one we love the best!


  1. Thanks for that. Informative. I too wondered where Middlesex went.

  2. Perhaps Middlesex was abolished rather than allow itself to become Middlegender.