|Status:||Ceremonial & (smaller) Administrative County|
|Region:||South East England|
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
- Total (2002 est.)
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
367 / km²
|Buckinghamshire County Council|
|Members of Parliament|
Buckinghamshire is divided into four districts: Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. The ceremonial county (which is based on the post-1974 administrative county) also includes Milton Keynes.
The ceremonial county borders onto those of Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Greater London. In the local government reform of 1974, Buckinghamshire lost Slough and Eton to Berkshire; these areas have been administered under the unitary authorities of Slough and Windsor and Maidenhead since 1998. Milton Keynes district became a unitary authority in 1997.
It is an agricultural county, covering part of the Chiltern Hills to the South and the Vale of Aylesbury to the north. The highest point is Coombe Hill near Wendover at 267 metres / 876 feet above sea level. It has fertile agricultural lands, with many landed estates, especially those of the Rothschild family in the 19th century (see Rothschild properties in Buckinghamshire). Industry: Agricultural, furniture-making (traditionally centred at High Wycombe), pharmaceuticals, service and distribution industries. There are some residential commuter areas for London in the south.
Table of contents
- Main article: History of Buckinghamshire.
The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo Saxon and means The district (scire) of Bucca's home. Bucca's home refers to Buckingham in the north of the county, and is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner. The county has been so named since about the 12th century however the county itself has been in existence since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).
Some of the settlements in Buckinghamshire date back much further than the Anglo-Saxon period. Aylesbury, for example, is known to date back at least as far as 1500 B.C.. There are a wealth of places that still have their Brythonic names (Penn, Wendover), or a compound of Brythonic and Anglo Saxon (Brill, Chetwode, Great Brickhill) and there are pre-Roman earthworks all over the county. Also, one of the most legendary kings of the Britons, Cunobelinus, had a castle in the area (the earthworks of which still remain) and lent his name to the group of villages known as the Kimbles.
The Roman influence on Buckinghamshire is most widely felt in the Roman roads that cross the county. Watling Street and Akeman Street both cross the county from east to west, and the Icknield Way follows the line of the Chiltern Hills. The first two were important trade routes linking London with other parts of Roman Britain, and the latter was used as a line of defence, though it may have been an extension of a much older road.
The single group of people who probably had the greatest influence on Buckinghamshire's history, however, are the Anglo-Saxons. Not only did they give the county and most of the places within it their names, but the modern geography of the county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. One of the great battles worthy of mention in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was fought between Cerdic of Wessex and the Britons at Chearsley, no fewer than three saints from this period were born in Quarrendon and in the late Anglo-Saxon period a royal palace was established at Brill. The sheer wealth in the county was worthy of note when the Domesday Survey was taken in 1086.
The Plantagenets continued to take advantage of the wealth of the county. William the Conqueror annexed most of the manors for himself and his family: Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, William's half brother, became a major landowner locally. Many ancient hunts became the king's property (worthy of note are Whaddon Chase and Princes Risborough) as did all the wild swans of England. The ancient tradition of breeding swans in Buckinghamshire for the king's pleasure later provided the heraldic supporter for the county's coat of arms (see below).
Another flush of annexations of local manors to the Crown accompanied the dissolution of the monasteries (1536), when almost a third of the county became the personal property of King Henry VIII, to dispose of at his pleasure. Henry VIII was also responsible for making Aylesbury the county town over Buckingham, which he did to curry favour with Thomas Boleyn so that he could marry his daughter Anne. Another of Henry's wives, Catherine Parr, also had a sphere of influence within the county.
In the English Civil War (1642–1649) Buckinghamshire was mostly Parliamentarian, although some pockets of Royalism did exist. The Parliamentarian hero John Hampden was from Buckinghamshire, and he helped defend Aylesbury in battle in 1642. Some villages to the west of the county (Brill and Boarstall for example) were under constant conflict for the duration of the war, given their equidistance between Parliamentarian Aylesbury and Royalist Oxford. Many of these places were effectively wiped off the map from the conflict, but have since been rebuilt.
The Industrial Revolution and the arrival of the railway completely changed the landscape of certain parts of the county. Wolverton in the north (now part of Milton Keynes) became a national centre for railway carriage construction and furniture and paper industries took hold in the south. In the centre of the county, the lace industry was introduced and grew rapidly, because it gave employment to women and children from poorer families. Buckinghamshire still has good rail links to London, Birmingham and Manchester and furniture is still a major industry in parts of south Bucks.
In the early to mid Victorian era a major cholera epidemic and agricultural famine took their hold on the farming industry which for so many years had been the stable mainstay for the county. Migration from the county to nearby cities and abroad was at its height at this time, and certain landowners took advantage of the cheaper land on offer that was left behind. One of the county's most influential families arrived in Bucks as a result of this, the Rothschilds, and their impact on the county's landscape was huge (see Rothschild properties in Buckinghamshire).
Mass urbanisation of the very north and south of the county took place in the 20th century, which saw the new towns of Milton Keynes and Slough being formed. This was a natural extension of the industrialisation of the landscape, and provided much needed employment for many local people. Both have since become unitary authorities in their own right, reducing the land area of Buckinghamshire by almost a third.
Today Buckinghamshire is considered by many to be the idyllic rural landscape of Edwardian fiction and is known colloquially as leafy Bucks. This point of view has led to many parts of the county being very popular with commuters for London, which in turn has led to an increase in the general cost of living for local people. However pockets of deprivation still remain in the county, particularly in the large towns of Aylesbury and High Wycombe.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms for Buckinghamshire County Council features a white swan in chains. This dates back to the Anglo Saxon period, when swans were bred in Buckinghamshire for the king's pleasure. That the swan is in chains illustrates that the swan is bound to the king, an ancient law that still applies to wild swans in the UK today. The herald was first used at the Battle of Agincourt by the Duke of Buckingham.
Above the swan is a gold band, in the centre of which is Whiteleaf Cross, representing the many ancient landmarks of the county. The shield is mounted by a beech tree, representing the Chiltern Forest that once covered almost half the county. Either side of the shield are a stag and a swan.
The motto of the shield says Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum. This is Latin and means 'no stepping back'.
Places in Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire was subdivided into 18 hundreds at the time of the Domesday Book. These later consolidated to eight — Aylesbury, Ashendon, Buckingham, Burnham, Cottesloe, Desborough, Newport and Stoke. Burnham, Desborough and Stoke are collectively known as the Chiltern Hundreds and are used as a pretext for resignation from the House of Commons.
Former places in Buckinghamshire
This is a list of the towns that were in the traditional county of Buckinghamshire (before the first boundary changes in 1974), but were moved in 1974 to new counties. For the full list of towns, villages and hamlets in Buckinghamshire for the same time period see List of places in Buckinghamshire.
Places of interest
|Accessible open space|
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Famous people from Buckinghamshire
The following people are either from Buckinghamshire, have lived in Buckinghamshire, or continue to live in Buckinghamshire.
- Nancy Astor, politician and society hostess, lived in Cliveden
- Nick Beggs, musician, is from Winslow
- Lynda Bellingham, actress, is from Aylesbury
- Cilla Black, television presenter, lives in Denham
- Enid Blyton, writer, lived in Beaconsfield
- Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, had a house in Wendover
- Melanie Brown, musician, lives in Little Marlow
- John Craven, television presenter, lives in Princes Risborough
- Roald Dahl, writer, lived in Great Missenden
- Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, politician, lived at Hughenden Manor
- Iain Duncan Smith, politician, lives in Swanbourne
- Ian Dury, musician, lived in Wingrave
- Noel Edmonds, television presenter, once lived in Weston Turville
- Edward the Confessor, king of England, had a palace in Brill
- T.S. Eliot, writer, lived in Marlow
- Frederick, Prince of Wales lived in Cliveden
- Noel Gallagher, musician, lives in Little Chalfont
- Sir John Gielgud, actor, was living in Wotton Underwood when he died
- John Hampden, politician, was from Great Hampden
- David Jason, actor, lives in Wendover
- Jerome K. Jerome, writer, lived in Marlow
- Howard Jones, musician, is from High Wycombe
- Jason "Jay" Kay, musician and frontman of Jamiroquai, lives in Princes Risborough
- Arthur Lasenby Liberty, merchant, was from Chesham
- John Milton, writer, lived in Chalfont St Giles
- Mike Oldfield, musician, once lived in Little Chalfont
- Ozzy Osbourne, musician, has a house in Chalfont St Peter
- Saint Osyth was from Quarrendon
- John Otway, musician, is from Aylesbury
- William Penn, politician, was from Penn
- Terry Pratchett, writer, was born in Beaconsfield
- Pauline Quirke, actress, lives in Beaconsfield
- Tim Rice, lyricist, is from Amersham
- Andy Riley, writer, is from Aylesbury
- Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, Prime Minister, lived at Mentmore
- Rothschild family, bankers, had houses in Ascott, Aston Clinton, Eythrope, Halton, Mentmore and Waddesdon
- Mary Shelley, writer, lived in Marlow
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, writer, lived in Marlow
- Jackie Stewart, racing driver, lives in Wendover
- Edmund Waller, poet, was from Amersham
- Roger of Wendover, chronicler, was from Wendover
- John Wyclif, theologian, lived in Ludgershall
- Wikipedia images of Buckinghamshire
- Buckinghamshire Family History Society
- Buckinghamshire Tourist Guide
- Bucks Free Press
- Bucks Travel Information
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