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The Counties

The Counties

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The Counties

The 39 counties of England are collectively an icon of England and more; they are the landscape on which all of our iconic events and places have been built. The English counties went unchanged from before the Norman Conquest to our own generation. The counties, their boundaries and their identities would have been familiar to our ancestors since time immemorial. The jigsaw layout of the historic counties produces the map which has graced the proudest page of every old school atlas. Modern atlases leave one cold, but look at the ones gathering dust on the shelf; they are those which bring a warm smile to the face, not just because much of the world is pink but because of the comfortable old familiar map of England, with Huntingdonshire and Westmorland standing proud among and equal to their sisters. Without the historic counties a Yorkshireman could not be a Yorkshireman nor a Cornishman Cornish. Our other English icons could not be themselves without the counties in which they arose. There would be no Yorkshire pudding, no Cumberland sausage, no Cheshire cheese. The historic counties are not mere functional areas like the modern local government areas. In the ten centuries and more of their existence they have gained characters of their own. Like much loved members of ones family, each has its idiosyncrasies. There is a resonance and recognition in "Norfolk" or "Devon" that you could not have for "Humberside" or "Telford and Wrekin". The counties are perhaps the most iconic things England has. The iconic nature of the counties was so strong that when Parliament shook the local government system up in 1972 it specifically refused to abolish or alter the historic counties. The mapmakers might have sidelined the ancient counties, but England has not forgotten them. They have no administrative function, but I do not live in an administrative function. I live in a county; an English county.

Rupert Barnes

NOMINATION 96 OF 1160

Your comments


Why is England sitting back and allowing the mapmakers to remake it leaving out the historic counties? The separate counties are as famous as England itself.
Leigh


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My nomination is the garden shed.

FELICITY HAGUE

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