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A society dedicated to celebrating and promoting the 92 historic counties of the United Kingdom and the important part they play in our culture, heritage and geography.

The HistoricCounties of England
The HistoricCounties of England

Firstly, Happy St George’s Day!

Proclaiming “In a symbolic move, Eric Pickles will assert that England’s historic and traditional counties still exist, and are now recognised by the government – including the likes of Cumberland, Huntingdonshire, Westmorland and Middlesex.” the news story on the Inside Government website will help promote our shared cultural heritage found in the historic counties.

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary said:

“Administrative restructuring by previous governments has sought to suppress and undermine such local identities. Today, on St George’s Day, we commemorate our patron saint and formally acknowledge the continuing role of our traditional counties in England’s public and cultural life.”

The Association welcomes this news, and will continue to promote not only the historic counties of England, but also the rest of the UK. With continued interest in campaigns for county flags we look forward to the additional interest this news brings.

The full news story can be found on the Inside Governm

ent website at:

Details of the county flags, including the recent Cheshire and Worcestershire registrations can be found on the ABC Flag Blog:

The ABC Website features maps of all the historic counties, including more information about the historic counties:


17 thoughts on “Government ‘formally acknowledges’ the Historic Counties to celebrate St George’s Day

  • Dear Sir,
    I heard Rupert Barnes on Radio Newcastle yesterday and wanted to make contact. I live in Berwick upon Tweed which as you’ll know was only legally incorporated into Northumberland in 1974, having enjoyed unusual status of belonging to neither Scotland nor England but was ‘of’ England. Adjoining the former Islandshire and Norhamshire. With Scottish Independence vote next year, it would be very useful and timely to be in touch with you and maybe share some ideas?
    Thank you,
    Ed Swales

  • Yes, that’s wonderful. Promoting English nationalism in Cornwall at the expense of the indigenous Cornish identity. We can celebrate the borders of our Duchy on the 5th of March, St Pirans Day, thank you very much Mr Pickles. What utter tosh from the ConDem government! It is they, after all, who put Cornwall’s integrity the most in danger by proposing a cross border Cornwall / Devonshire parliamentary constituency.

    I note on you map you insist on portraying Cornwall as an historic county of England. I’m sure you are aware that Cornwall is in fact a Duchy and has never been a shire of England. For example:

    Many more historic maps showing Cornwall being distinct from England or in a similar light to Wales can be found here:

    Equally the research of Cornish constitutional expert, Notary John Kirkhope, has clearly shown that there is much more to Cornwall’s legal status than the government, Duchy and conservative organisations such as yours would have us know!

    The Duchy of Cornwall – A Very Peculiar Private Estate:

    A Mysterious, Arcane and Unique Corner of our Constitution:

        • Monmouthshire’s status is certainly unique. The Monmouthshire Association does not take a position on whether the county belongs to England or Wales, but rather that it belongs to Britain as a whole. Individual residents are free to choose their own allegiance, as our motto suggests – “Utrique Fidelis” – Faithful to Both. Although we do not force a position on anyone we actively promote the idea that we have a dual affinity. Anything that diminishes this will be actively resisted by the Association.

  • Another step would also be for the Royal Mail and the map makers to revert back to the historic counties and borders.

    • This has been a long-held desire and Royal Mail themselves have removed county information from their Postcode Address File. However resellers of their data routinely add back in the obsolete postal counties. Over time their use will drop away, though we must not stop complaining.

  • Does this mean that the villages of: Glascote, Wilnecote, Amington, Dosthill etc… in my area that were ‘taken’ into Staffs because of the administrative borough of Tamworth will be acknowledged as being properly and correctly in Warwickshire??

    • From what I understand, the move does not at this time affect administrative boundaries. So the villages could administratively be in a different area to the county proper.

  • We will see what action follows, but we can feel confident, more than we have before. It is for the supporters of real counties to come up with positive ideas, like boundary signs – yes, there should be a “Warwickshire” sign on the bridges over the River Anker east of Tamworth town centre, but as to the best design for them, let us discuss ideas.

  • Hi Rupert I know we have had some emails on the matter of Eric Pickles and this initiative, but can we actually try to pin down what “action” exactly is to follow?

    Aside from Royal Mail (above):

    * what is happening with wikipedia (not wikishire);

    * what is happening with national and local media references to counties, for example national and local BBC and independent media?

    We are told “the government will seek to encourage the marking and continued use of such traditional county names”.

    What does this actually mean in practice?

    I look forward to your response if you or anyone else, for example at the ABC, actually knows.

    Best regards

  • Just as a follow up to this:

    * on the point, Rupert, of ‘supporters of real counties’ coming up with ideas, is it not the case as a result of this move that the government is actually going to do things itself?

    * in terms of discussing ideas for sign design, are we not putting the cart before the horse? Sure, there may well be a number of cases where skillful design facilitates the erection of a sign, but surely we need first a plan to say what signs can go where and who can put them up. Can the ABC not orchestrate (or even to a certain extent fund) a national campaign to erect proper county signs, maybe even according to a national design and even with something like the ABC website address placed skillfully at the bottom, of course to not the distraction of road users?

    Kind regards

  • The government can only do things it thinks of, and it will not know what to do without outside ideas. Government is not a closed system.

    I’m not sure you’ve said anything different on signs than I did. By all means think about whether we need one sort of sign for A-roads, one for unclassified roads and others for footpaths, canals etc, but until a pen hits paper (or a mouse hits screen) there is nothing to have a national campaign about; although we could have a national or local informal promotions along the lines “What do you think ‘Welcome to Kirkcudbrightshire’ signs (or wherever) should look like?”

    I’d be easier with proposing to the relevant Department a national pattern, to which local variants can be made. We would need a short series of ideas worked out by someone who knows his stuff, so we don’t end up with “This one was designed by the children of X Primary School”, which just ends up with an embarrassing mess. (Mind you, my primary school daughter designed the logo on Wikishire.)

  • I don’t understand – how can the government only do things it thinks of if it needs outside ideas to know what to do?

    Regardless of whether it is a closed system, surely it had things it knew it was going to do as a result of the move. Or did it?

    Can we ask? The communities and local government department, I guess.

    On signs, I’ve said something very different. I am not talking primarily about the actual design for signs. I am talking about what signs could be put up where, ie what permission would be needed to put up proper signs and remove (any) improper ones.

    In terms of design, I don’t see why we would need different offerings (don’t forget motorways also). Maybe they could be slightly larger or smaller as the case may be.

    I don’t understand what pen you are envisaging hitting paper, or mouse screen. Mice are being clicked. Again, the campaign would be at an earlier stage, ie proposing what signs can go where rather than, initially, discussing the design, though that can follow later, using perhaps such promotion as you suggest.

    In relation to a national pattern concept, that is what I am envisaging too. I’m not sure what local variations you would be advocating.

    Who knows their stuff when it comes to sign design? I’m sure I worked with someone once whose dad created the street name sign design for the Corporation of London, which is pretty nice.

    But again, the first issue is what permission is needed to ensure we have in place proper county signs, and who would receive such permission (as well as grant it).

    Let’s focus on that first.

    I don’t know who designed wikipedia! 🙂

  • Someone has to have the idea first, and that someone is us. Come up with some designs, and let’s see how we can run with it.

  • No – before we come up with ideas we really need to work out what signs we can actually put where.

    What is the rationale for this?

    To take an example from above:

    “…there should be a “Warwickshire” sign on the bridges over the River Anker east of Tamworth town centre…”

    Why isn’t there one? What would need to happen, apart from designing one, to make it happen? What about other “Warwickshire” signs?

    If someone, eg the ABC, were to instigate a campaign to ensure that say the top 1,000 most heavily crossed historic borders had county signs both sides, where would they be? Perhaps as part of that campaign you could include the proviso that all historic counties had a minimum of say four signs at points into them.

    What issues are involved in doing that? Isn’t the government supposed to do something like this, as part of the campaign?

    Surely the design issues then come second. Once we have the agreement, we can look at putting them up. Then by all means look at the design.

    Don’t forget the website address at the bottom!

    Best regards

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