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Exploring the most Picturesque & Historic parts of England..

Counties in England

Exploring the counties of England with history and pictures.

The history of the counties of England dates back to early Anglo-Saxon times when ‘shires’ were first formed as a way of raising taxes and when the nation of England was first created. These Anglo-Saxon shires usually had a fortified town at the centre, known back then as the ‘shire town’. The word ‘County’ came later, being first introduced by the Normans when they conquered England back in 1066 and has its origins in French, simply meaning a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a ‘Count’.

The words ‘county’ and ‘counties’ therefore are derived from French (from the Normans) but most of the county names themselves still kept (and retain today) their original Anglo-Saxon names, such as ‘Worcestershire’ or ‘Bedfordshire’ which is simply the name of the shire or county town, with the suffix of shire.

There are other counties however that got their name differently, such as Cornwall, and Devon, both of which take their names from the Celtic tribes that inhabited the regions, such as the ‘Cornovii’ in Cornwall . Other exceptions include todays Kent, which derives from the Kingdom of Kent, and Sussex (both East and West) and Essex. These names derive from the East Saxons (Essex) and the South Saxons (Sussex). The county names of Norfolk and Suffolk, derive from the ‘North Folk’ and ‘South Folk’ of the ancient Kingdom of East Anglia.

Each county link below will take you to the main county page where we list all the wonderful historic towns, villages and attractions that each county has to offer. You will also find a Picture Tour for each county, offering a diverse selection of the wonderful towns, attractions and varying landscapes. We hope you enjoy viewing the beautiful counties of England..

Dorset

Kingston Maurward, Stinsford..
Dorset is a beautiful county along the South coast of England, famed for its stunning Jurassic coastline, its classic British seaside resorts such as the historic towns of Weymouth and Bournemouth, and its... more information...

Bedfordshire

A picture of the remains of Houghton house, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
The County of Bedfordshire is the smallest of the 'Shires' and is in the South-Eastern part of central England. Void of Cities, Bedfordshire has some interesting Towns to visit including the Market Towns of... more information...

Berkshire

Kennet and Avon canal near Newbury
Situated in the heart of Southern England, the County of Berkshire, also known as 'Royal Berkshire' is home to several well known Towns and Cities, such as Windsor, where the famous Royal retreat Windsor... more information...

Buckinghamshire

Claydon House in Middle Claydon, nr Buckingham, Buckinghamshire.
Buckinghamshire is the home county of 'Chequers' the country residence of the Prime Minister of England. The rolling Chiltern Hills, delightful Country walks, unique market Towns and quaint little Villages... more information...

Cambridgeshire

Punting on river Cam, University of Cambridge
The historic county of Cambridgeshire with its beautiful countryside and low-lying fenland can be found in Eastern England and of course is the home to the historic university city of Cambridge, one of the... more information...

Cheshire

Chester Town Centre, Chester
The North-west County of Cheshire boasts some of Englands most scenic countryside and with its history dating back over 4000 years there is plenty to discover on your visit. Take a pleasure Boat ride along the... more information...

Cleveland

Evening in Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Cleveland is a small county in the North East of England, dominated by the River Tees and the North Sea. It was once part of the North Riding of Yorkshire until that was divided up in 1974.
The... more information...

Cornwall

September sunset, Porthtowan, Cornwall
Think of Cornwall and immediately there springs to mind a vision of Atlantic rollers tumbling over jagged rocks to lash against towering cliffs. This is Cornwall's northern coast, which for centuries has taken... more information...

County Durham

A view of the Castle at Barnard Castle, County Durham
County Durham is situated in the North-East of England, boardering Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Northumberland. Reputed to be one of Englands most attractive Counties, County Durham has much to offer the... more information...

Cumbria

Rydal Water Grasmere, Keswick, Cumbria.
Cumbria, Englands second largest County can be found in the North-Western part of England. One of its many outstanding attractions is the ever popular and positively breathtaking 'Lake District' the land of... more information...

Derbyshire

Monsal Dale
The County of Derbyshire is situated in the very heart of England. The 'Peak District', Englands first National Park spans over 500 square miles and is one of the most popular and stunning areas of natural... more information...

Devon

Dartmoor
A County that forms part of the South-West Peninsula of England, Devon is the third largest County and borders the popular Counties of Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall. Devon boasts some of Englands finest... more information...

East Riding of Yorkshire

A picture of Flamborough
East Yorkshire - Coming soon more information...

East Sussex

Beachy Head, Eastbourne, East Sussex
The once County of Sussex can be located on the South Coast of England but is now divided into two separate counties, one being East Sussex and the other West Sussex. Bounded by the Counties of Hampshire,... more information...

Essex

A picture of Essex
The County of Essex is located in the South-East of England. Being a Coastal County Essex has much to offer, such as the seaside Town of Southend-on-Sea a popular holiday destination which boasts the longest... more information...

Gloucestershire

The river, Bourton-on-the-Water, in the Cotswolds.
Gloucestershire is a fair county, she extends her borders amongst some of England's finest Cotswold towns and villages, across a landscape that changes almost imperceptibly as you travel her modern highways... more information...

Greater London

Rotten Row
Greater London is not only a County full of interesting towns and villages, it is also home to England's capital city, 'London'. Covering such a vast area and encompassing what used to be Middlesex and even... more information...

Greater Manchester

A view of Dovestones, Greenfield
The County of Greater Manchester was created from Manchester and also parts of Cheshire and Lancashire in 1974. Made up of ten boroughs, Greater Manchester is situated in the North-West of England. The... more information...

Hampshire

Broad Street, Alresford, Hampshire
The County of Hampshire lies in the South of England and offers an enchanting blend of both coast and countryside. It is home to the 'New Forest', which covers some 145 square miles, making it Englands... more information...

Herefordshire

A view of Ross-on-Wye from the Riverside
Herefordshire lies in the Western parts of England, neighbouring Wales. Known for being a County of beautiful, unspoilt countryside with interesting market towns and pretty villages. Notable attractions... more information...

Hertfordshire

A picture of Hertfordshire
Situated in the South-East of England, Hertfordshire is bounded by the Counties of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Greater London and Essex. Hertfordshire is not only popular with tourists but... more information...

Isle of Wight

Sandown Promenade nr the pier
Just off the South coast of England lies the largest Island off the British mainland 'The Isle of Wight'. Covering approximately 150 square miles, the Island is one of significant beauty with endless... more information...

Isles of Scilly

St Martin's.
In the land of make believe a legend exists, telling us the Scilly Islands are all that is left of Lyonnesse, a beautiful fabled land of which Arthur was King. The land is said to have vanished beneath the... more information...

Kent

Rochester Castle and Cathedral at night, Kent
In the South-East corner of England lies the County of Kent an amazingly beautiful area steeped in fascinating history, inviting cities, interesting towns, pretty villages and picturesque countryside. Kent... more information...

Lancashire

Slaidburn, Hodder Valley, Lancashire
Set in the historic North West of England lies the red rose county of Lancashire. A county of beautiful countryside and places of historic interest. Visit the stately homes and castles along with ancient... more information...

Leicestershire

Bradgate Park, Near Leicester: Old John Tower
The County of Leicestershire is situated in the heart of England. There are many places of interest to visit including the city of Leicester, notable attractions include 'Leicester Cathedral','The National... more information...

Lincolnshire

Stamford, Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a County situated in the East of England and is one of breathtaking landscape, pretty towns and villages with cobbled streets and stone built houses. Notable places of interest include The... more information...

Merseyside

War Monument, Birkenhead
In the North-West of England lies the County of Merseyside. Rich in fascinating history and boasting two Cathedrals, Merseyside has a wealth of interesting places to visit such as, the city of Liverpool,... more information...

Norfolk

Norfolk Broads
The county of Norfolk lies along the East coast of England. The Norfolk coastline, much of which is an officially designated 'area of outstanding natural beauty' is home to many wonderful seaside resorts with... more information...

North Yorkshire

Whitby Abbey
The picturesque County of Yorkshire is among the largest in England and is divided into four parts - North, South, East and West Yorkshire. The city of York, famed for its historic Roman Walls and its... more information...

Northamptonshire

Althorp House near Northampton, Northamptonshire
Located in central England Northamptonshire is a county covering an area of over 900 square miles. The eight hundred year old county town of Northampton well known for its footwear production, has many... more information...

Northumberland

View Of Cheviot, the Cheviot Hills, Northumberland.
Northumberland's special blessing lies in the fact that it is the least populated of all the English counties and therefore has mile upon mile of unspoilt open countryside dotted with quaint market towns and... more information...

Nottinghamshire

Priory Church from Memorial Avenue Gardens in front of the library, Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
The county of Nottinghamshire is situated in the central regions of England and is divided into eight districts. The city of Nottingham is the birthplace of D.H Lawrence, the famous author but is more... more information...

Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxford. The lake at Dawn
In the South-East of England lies the county of Oxfordshire, one of the most scenic of all English counties and famous worldwide for its University City of Oxford, known as the 'City of Dreaming Spires'. ... more information...

Rutland

Lyndon
Rutland is famous as the smallest of the English counties, it is also one of the most highly picturesque, second only to the famous Cotswolds for its beautiful landscape, leafy lanes and mellow stone... more information...

Shropshire

View of Caradoc, Church Stretton, Shropshire.
Shropshire is a county situated in the West Midland parts of England and borders Wales. The county town of Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin, is a stunning historic town with well over 600 listed... more information...

Somerset

Bath Abbey from the Park, Bath, Somerset.
The County of Somerset can be located in the South-West of England. Somerset boasts some beautiful market towns and villages. Taunton, the county town offers both beautiful countryside and excellent shopping... more information...

South Yorkshire

Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire
The picturesque County of Yorkshire is among the largest in England and is divided into four parts - North, South, East and West Yorkshire. The city of York, famed for its historic Roman Walls and its... more information...

Staffordshire

A picture of Trentham Gardens
In the Northern parts of central England lies the county of Staffordshire. The picturesque county town of Stafford offers something for everyone from Historic stately homes and ancient castles to beautiful... more information...

Suffolk

Lavenham, Suffolk
The county of Suffolk lies in the East of England and covers some 1500 square miles. Ipswich, the county town is home to The Ipswich Transport Museum which boasts the largest collection of transport items in... more information...

Surrey

A picture of Devils Punchbowl
In the South-East of England lies the County of Surrey. Although, due to boundary changes much of Northern Surrey has now been dissolved into Greater London. In the county town of Guildford you can explore... more information...

Tyne & Wear

The Castle in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, February 2007.
Tyne and Wear is a metropolitan County situated in the North-East of England. The City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne has much to offer from historic stately homes and ancient castles to beautiful gardens and... more information...

Warwickshire

Warwick Castle
Warwickshire, in the heart of England, is one of the most popular and most visited counties in the country. It is most famous for it's castle 'Warwick Castle' one of the great fortresses of... more information...

West Midlands

Centenary Square, Birmingham
The West Midlands is situated in the heart of England and has been a metropolitan county since 1974. The county town of Birmingham is England's second largest city. 1990 saw the opening of 'Cadbury World',... more information...

West Sussex

Downland church
The once County of Sussex can be located on the South Coast of England but is now divided into two separate counties, one being East Sussex and the other West Sussex. Bounded by the Counties of Hampshire,... more information...

West Yorkshire

Countryside near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
The picturesque County of Yorkshire is among the largest in England and is divided into four parts - North, South, East and West Yorkshire. The city of York, famed for its historic Roman Walls and its... more information...

Wiltshire

Salisbury Cathedral
Wiltshire is a beautiful County situated in the South-Western parts of England, with much of the county designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Trowbridge is the vibrant, industrial and... more information...

Worcestershire

Worcester Cathedral & the river Severn, Worcester.
Worcestershire is a County situated in the West Midlands region of England. The city of Worcester, known for its connections with the origin of 'Worcestershire Sauce' since the early 1800's, has been home to... more information...