A report on Administrative counties of England

England – Administrative Counties 1890–1965
England – Administrative Counties 1965–1974

Administrative counties were subnational divisions of England used for local government from 1889 to 1974.

- Administrative counties of England
England – Administrative Counties 1890–1965

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The Counties of England as recorded in the Domesday Book.

Historic counties of England

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The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts and others.

The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Celts and others.

The Counties of England as recorded in the Domesday Book.
An 1824 map of the English and Welsh counties
This (rather inaccurate) 1814 map shows Dudley in a detached part of Worcestershire surrounded by Staffordshire. Note the exclave of Shropshire (the parish of Halesowen), just to the south-east and part of Staffordshire (Broome and Clent) to the south-west as well.
Notice on the Corn Exchange, Royal Tunbridge Wells, mentioning the historic county boundary
The ancient county boundaries of Warwickshire cover a larger area than the administrative area in 1974 (in green).
Former postal counties of England from 1974 to 1996

This role continued even after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following.

Map of Middlesex, 1824. Note: west is at the top.

Middlesex

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Historic county in southeast England.

Historic county in southeast England.

Map of Middlesex, 1824. Note: west is at the top.
Middlesex as part of the Diocese of London in 1714. The diocese was based on the East Saxon kingdom, and was probably originally larger than shown here.
Map of Middlesex, drawn by Thomas Kitchin, geographer, engraver to the Duke of York, 1769.
County of Middlesex (circa 1891–1895)
Map showing boundaries of Middlesex in 1851 and 1911, aside from minor realignments. The small yellow area in the North is Monken Hadley, which was transferred to Hertfordshire; the larger yellow area in the Southeast was transferred to the newly created County of London in 1889.
Map in 1882 shows complete urbanisation of the East End
The Middlesex Guildhall at Westminster, which now houses the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Middlesex former postal county
Coats of arms of Middlesex (left) and Buckinghamshire (right) in stained glass at the exit from Uxbridge tube station.
County of Middlesex sign in 2014, on the border between the London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield.
Middlesex Regiment Cap Badge
Twickenham Stadium
Middlesex vs Sussex at Lord's
North Middlesex Golf Club

When county councils were introduced in 1889, about 20% of the area of the historic county, along with a third of its population, was incorporated into the new administrative County of London, with the rest forming the administrative county of Middlesex, governed by the Middlesex County Council that met regularly at the Middlesex Guildhall in Westminster.

County of London superimposed upon Greater London

County of London

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County of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London.

County of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London.

County of London superimposed upon Greater London

The Act created an administrative County of London, which included within its territory the City of London.

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England (2021–2023)

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England

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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 and the Isles of Scilly.

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 and the Isles of Scilly.

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England (2021–2023)

The current system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties came into effect on 1 April 1974 and replaced the administrative counties and county boroughs, which were abolished at that time.

Street nameplate on Rutland Road, Smethwick in April 2007, showing painted out "County Borough" lettering.

County borough

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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, similar to the unitary authorities created since the 1990s.

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, similar to the unitary authorities created since the 1990s.

Street nameplate on Rutland Road, Smethwick in April 2007, showing painted out "County Borough" lettering.
Map of County Boroughs Prior to Abolition in 1974

When county councils were first created in 1889, it was decided that to let them have authority over large towns or cities would be impractical, and so any large incorporated place would have the right to be a county borough, and thus independent from the administrative county it would otherwise come under.

Changhua County Council building

County council

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Elected administrative body governing an area known as a county.

Elected administrative body governing an area known as a county.

Changhua County Council building

The areas over which the councils had authority were designated as administrative counties.

Arms of the former London County Council

Greater London

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Administrative area in England governed by the Greater London Authority, and a ceremonial county that covers the same area, with the exception of the City of London, which forms a separate ceremonial county.

Administrative area in England governed by the Greater London Authority, and a ceremonial county that covers the same area, with the exception of the City of London, which forms a separate ceremonial county.

Arms of the former London County Council
Arms of the former Greater London Council
Map of Greater London showing railway lines, primary roads, motorways, and suburban towns
The London postal district in red in contrast to Greater London
Greater London population from 1880 to 2016.
Westminster Abbey. A World Heritage Site and location of the coronation of British monarchs.
University College London, a founding constituent of the University of London.
King's College London, a founding constituent of the University of London.

Greater London was created by the London Government Act 1963, which came into force on 1 April 1965, replacing the administrative counties of Middlesex and London, including the City of London, where the London County Council had limited powers, and absorbing parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.

The Ancient County of Essex, and its constituent Hundreds

Essex

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County in the East of England.

County in the East of England.

The Ancient County of Essex, and its constituent Hundreds
The Administrative County is coloured pink, the Ceremonial County includes both pink and yellow areas.
Five eastern Greater London boroughs, created in 1965, form most of Metropolitan Essex
The village of Finchingfield in north Essex
Queen Elizabeth II Bridge spanning the Thames from West Thurrock, Essex, to Dartford, Kent
Stansted Airport, in the north west of the county
St Peters Chapel, Bradwell. Established by St Cedd, the patron saint of Essex around 662, built on the site of the abandonded Roman fort of Othona
The Grade I listed Hedingham Castle, with the best preserved Norman keep in the UK
Composition of the Essex County Council in 2017 after the county election
Results of the 2017 and 2019 UK General Elections in Essex
Depiction of the first king of the East Saxons, Æscwine, his shield showing the three seaxes emblem attributed to him (from John Speed's 1611 Saxon Heptarchy)
The Hay Wain by John Constable shows the Essex landscape on the right bank.
Cowslip, the county plant of Essex
Skyline of Southend-on-Sea
The church of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea
Thaxted Guildhall, dating from around 1450
The 17th century Audley End House, Saffron Walden
Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham-on-Crouch
Colchester Castle, Colchester
Hylands House, south of Writtle and south-west of Chelmsford
Southend Pier, Southend-on-Sea

It includes areas such as the three north-western parishes transferred to the administrative county of Cambridgeshire in 1889, and the five boroughs of Greater London east of the River Lea.

Carisbrooke Castle just outside Carisbrooke

Isle of Wight

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County and the largest and second-most populous island of England.

County and the largest and second-most populous island of England.

Carisbrooke Castle just outside Carisbrooke
Osborne House and its grounds are now open to the public.
Eugene Manet on the Isle of Wight, 1875 painting by Berthe Morisot
Statue of Jimi Hendrix outside Dimbola Lodge
Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight Bob Seely
Detailed map of the Isle of Wight
High Street in Newport, the county town
Graveyard on the grounds of the church in the town of Brading
Fields on the island with the coast of Great Britain in the background
Compton Chine, looking east towards Blackgang
Henry Bates Joel's 1895 artwork 'Bonchurch, near Ventnor, Isle of Wight' is a depiction of rural life on the island. It is exhibited in the Milntown Estate.
The crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is believed to have been 600,000.
One of the Wightlink FastCats which provide a high-speed ferry service between Portsmouth and Ryde
A Southern Vectis Scania OmniDekka bus at Newport bus station
Ordnance Survey map of the island
Geological map of the island
Blackgang Chine, circa 1910
A view of the Needles and Alum Bay

The island became a separate administrative county in 1890, making it independent of Hampshire.

The traditional Sussex emblem first known recording in 1611 by John Speed: Azure, six martlets or

Sussex

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Historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

Historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

The traditional Sussex emblem first known recording in 1611 by John Speed: Azure, six martlets or
The round-headed rampion, or Pride of Sussex, is Sussex's county flower
The South Downs meets the sea at the Seven Sisters
Museum model of how Fishbourne Roman Palace may have appeared
Map of Britain around 800 AD showing the kingdom of Sussex
Battle Abbey was founded to commemorate William's victory in the Battle of Hastings. The high altar was placed to mark the spot where King Harold died.
Lewes Crown Court is the first-tier Crown Court for Sussex
Map of Sussex in 1851 showing the six Rapes
The main building of the Royal Sussex County Hospital
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of Sussex's best-known poets
The Cure performing live in Singapore
Chichester Cathedral became the seat of Sussex's cathedral in 1075 after it was moved from Selsey
JM Keynes lived at Tilton near Firle from 1925 to 1946
Sliced Sussex Pond Pudding
The Long Man of Wilmington is Europe's largest representation of the human form
Chichester Canal by JMW Turner

Under the Local Government Act 1888, the two divisions became two administrative counties (along with three county boroughs: Brighton, Hastings and, from 1911, Eastbourne).