Home counties

The former administrative counties (1889—1965) surrounding London: 1. Buckinghamshire 2. Hertfordshire 3. Essex 4. Berkshire 5. Middlesex 6. Surrey 7. Kent 8. Sussex. (County of London shown in yellow)

The home counties are the counties of England that surround London (although several of them do not border it). The counties generally included in the list are Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex. Other counties more distant from London—such as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire—are also sometimes regarded as home counties due to their proximity to London and their connection to the London regional economy.

The origin of the term "home counties" is unknown and no exact definition exists, making their composition a matter of constant debate.

Definitions

The earliest use of the term cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1695. Charles Davenant, in An essay upon ways and means of supplying the war, wrote, "The Eleven Home Counties, which are thought in Land Taxes to pay more than their proportion, viz. Surry [sic] with Southwark, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgshire, Kent, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, Berks, Bucks, and Oxfordshire."[1]

Later definitions have tended to be more narrow and Bacon's Large Scale Atlas of London and Suburbs (revised edition c. 1912) includes Berkshire, Buckingham, Essex, Hertford, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey in the "maps of the home counties".[2]

The term is sometimes understood to mean those counties which, on their borders closest to London, have been partly subsumed into London. Indeed, the former county of Middlesex has been almost wholly within London since 1965 as have parts of Hertfordshire and Surrey,[3] although the name Middlesex still exists in various incarnations.

The third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (2010) defines the term as "the English counties surrounding London, into which London has extended. They comprise chiefly Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hertfordshire."[4] Parts of all of those historic counties are, since 1965, officially within London, although no part of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire or Sussex is. The county of Sussex is also wholly outside, and Berkshire almost wholly outside, the route of the M25 motorway which is often treated as an unofficial perimeter of Greater London and some definitions of the home counties mention that those counties are not always included amongst the home counties,[5] or that the term has been extended to include them.[6]

Theories sometimes mentioned for the origin of the term include the idea that the home counties were where the wealthy of London had second homes, the counties that members of parliament returned to after the end of business, or the counties in which regular commuters into London lived. An additional theory is that the term derived from the Home Circuit of the courts of Assize which contained Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.[citation needed]

Other Languages
español: Home counties
français: Home Counties
한국어: 홈 카운티스
italiano: Home counties
Nederlands: Home counties
português: Condado doméstico