The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower of Lancashire, and a common symbol for the county.
Lancashire County Flag.svg
FlagCoat of arms
Motto: "In Consilio Consilium"
("In Counsel is Wisdom")
Lancashire within England
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionNorth West England
Establishedc. 1182[1]
Ceremonial county
High SheriffRt Hon Ralph Assheton [2] (2019–20)
Area3,079 km2 (1,189 sq mi)
 • Ranked17th of 48
Population (mid-2018 est.)1,498,300
 • Ranked8th of 48
Density487/km2 (1,260/sq mi)
Ethnicity89.7% White British
6.0% S. Asian
2.1% Other White
0.9% Mixed
0.7% E. Asian and Other
0.5% Black
2005 Estimates
Non-metropolitan county
County councilLancashire County Council
Admin HQPreston
Area2,903 km2 (1,121 sq mi)
 • Ranked12th of 26
 • Ranked4th of 26
Density417/km2 (1,080/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-LAN
ONS code30
Lancashire Ceremonial Numbered.png
Districts of Lancashire
  1. West Lancashire
  2. Chorley
  3. South Ribble
  4. Fylde
  5. City of Preston
  6. Wyre
  7. City of Lancaster
  8. Ribble Valley
  9. Pendle
  10. Burnley
  11. Rossendale
  12. Hyndburn
  13. Blackpool (Unitary)
  14. Blackburn with Darwen (Unitary)
Members of Parliament
Time zoneGreenwich Mean Time (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Lancashire (ər/ LANG-kə-shər, ɪər/ -⁠sheer; abbreviated Lancs.) is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

The history of Lancashire begins with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book of 1086, some of its lands were treated as part of Yorkshire. The land that lay between the Ribble and Mersey, Inter Ripam et Mersam, was included in the returns for Cheshire. When its boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire emerged as a major commercial and industrial region during the Industrial Revolution. Liverpool and Manchester grew into its largest cities, with economies built around the docks and the cotton mills respectively.[3] These cities dominated global trade and the birth of modern industrial capitalism. The county contained several mill towns and the collieries of the Lancashire Coalfield. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire.[4] Accrington, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Bury, Chorley, Colne, Darwen, Manchester, Nelson, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale and Wigan were major cotton mill towns during this time. Blackpool was a centre for tourism for the inhabitants of Lancashire's mill towns, particularly during wakes week.

The historic county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974 which created the current ceremonial county and removed Liverpool and Manchester, and most of their surrounding conurbations to form the metropolitan and ceremonial counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester.[5][6] The detached northern part of Lancashire in the Lake District, including the Furness Peninsula and Cartmel, was merged with Cumberland and Westmorland to form Cumbria. Lancashire lost 709 square miles of land to other counties, about two fifths of its original area, although it did gain some land from the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Today the ceremonial county borders Cumbria to the north, Greater Manchester and Merseyside to the south, and North and West Yorkshire to the east; with a coastline on the Irish Sea to the west. The county palatine boundaries remain the same as those of the pre-1974 county with Lancaster serving as the county town, and the Duke of Lancaster (i.e. the Queen) exercising sovereignty rights,[7] including the appointment of lords lieutenant in Greater Manchester and Merseyside.[8]


Early history

The Countie Pallatine of Lancaster Described and Divided into Hundreds, 1610, a map of Lancashire engraved in around 1627 by John Speed. The map features a street plan of the county town, Lancaster, and side panels containing portraits of kings from the House of Lancaster and the House of York.[9]

The county was established in 1182,[5] later than many other counties. During Roman times the area was part of the Brigantes tribal area in the military zone of Roman Britain. The towns of Manchester, Lancaster, Ribchester, Burrow, Elslack and Castleshaw grew around Roman forts. In the centuries after the Roman withdrawal in 410AD the northern parts of the county probably formed part of the Brythonic kingdom of Rheged, a successor entity to the Brigantes tribe. During the mid-8th century, the area was incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, which became a part of England in the 10th century.

In the Domesday Book, land between the Ribble and Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersam"[10][11] and included in the returns for Cheshire.[12] Although some historians consider this to mean south Lancashire was then part of Cheshire,[11][13] it is by no means certain.[note 1][14][note 2] It is also claimed that the territory to the north formed part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.[13] It bordered on Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

The county was divided into hundreds, Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby.[15] Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, the detached part north of the sands of Morecambe Bay including Furness and Cartmel, and Lonsdale South.

Modern history

The historic county palatine boundaries in red and the ceremonial county in green

Lancashire is smaller than its historical extent following a major reform of local government.[16] In 1889, the administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the historic county except for the county boroughs such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrow-in-Furness, Preston, Wigan, Liverpool and Manchester.[17] The area served by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) covered the entirety of the administrative county and the county boroughs, and was expanded whenever boroughs annexed areas in neighbouring counties such as Wythenshawe in Manchester south of the River Mersey and historically in Cheshire, and southern Warrington. It did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the ancient border between Lancashire and Yorkshire passes through the middle of the town.

During the 20th century, the county became increasingly urbanised, particularly the southern part. To the existing county boroughs of Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St. Helens and Wigan were added Warrington (1900), Blackpool (1904) and Southport (1905). The county boroughs also had many boundary extensions. The borders around the Manchester area were particularly complicated, with narrow protrusions of the administrative county between the county boroughs – Lees urban district formed a detached part of the administrative county, between Oldham county borough and the West Riding of Yorkshire.[18]

By the census of 1971, the population of Lancashire and its county boroughs had reached 5,129,416, making it the most populous geographic county in the UK.[19] The administrative county was also the most populous of its type outside London, with a population of 2,280,359 in 1961. On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the administrative county was abolished, as were the county boroughs. The urbanised southern part largely became part of two metropolitan counties, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.[20] The new county of Cumbria incorporates the Furness exclave.[5]

The boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, St. Helens and Sefton were included in Merseyside. In Greater Manchester the successor boroughs were Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham (part), Rochdale, Salford, Tameside (part), Trafford (part) and Wigan. Warrington and Widnes, south of the new Merseyside/Greater Manchester border were added to the new non-metropolitan county of Cheshire. The urban districts of Barnoldswick and Earby, Bowland Rural District and the parishes of Bracewell and Brogden and Salterforth from Skipton Rural District in the West Riding of Yorkshire became part of the new Lancashire.[6] One parish, Simonswood, was transferred from the borough of Knowsley in Merseyside to the district of West Lancashire in 1994.[21] In 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became independent unitary authorities, removing them from the non-metropolitan county but not from the ceremonial county.

The Wars of the Roses tradition continued with Lancaster using the red rose symbol and York the white. Pressure groups, including Friends of Real Lancashire and the Association of British Counties advocate the use of the historical boundaries of Lancashire for ceremonial and cultural purposes.[22][23]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Lancashire
Ænglisc: Lonceasterscīr
العربية: لانكشر
asturianu: Lancashire
azərbaycanca: Lankaşir
Bân-lâm-gú: Lancashire
български: Ланкашър
Boarisch: Lancashire
brezhoneg: Lancashire
català: Lancashire
čeština: Lancashire
dansk: Lancashire
Deutsch: Lancashire
eesti: Lancashire
español: Lancashire
Esperanto: Lankaŝiro
euskara: Lancashire
فارسی: لانکاشایر
français: Lancashire
Gaeilge: Lancashire
Gaelg: Lancashire
galego: Lancashire
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Lancashire
한국어: 랭커셔주
हिन्दी: लैंकाशिर
Bahasa Indonesia: Lancashire
interlingua: Lancashire
íslenska: Lancashire
italiano: Lancashire
עברית: לנקשייר
kernowek: Lancashire
latviešu: Lankašīra
Lëtzebuergesch: Lancashire
lietuvių: Lankašyras
magyar: Lancashire
मराठी: लँकेशायर
нохчийн: Ланкашир
Nordfriisk: Lancashire
norsk: Lancashire
norsk nynorsk: Lancashire
occitan: Lancashire
پنجابی: لنکاشائر
Plattdüütsch: Lancashire
polski: Lancashire
português: Lancashire
română: Lancashire
русский: Ланкашир
Scots: Lancashire
Simple English: Lancashire
slovenčina: Lancashire
српски / srpski: Ланкашир
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Lancashire
suomi: Lancashire
svenska: Lancashire
тоҷикӣ: Ланкашир
Türkçe: Lancashire
українська: Ланкашир
Tiếng Việt: Lancashire
Volapük: Lancashire
West-Vlams: Lancashire
Winaray: Lancashire
ייִדיש: לאנקאשיר
粵語: 蘭開夏郡
中文: 蘭開夏