The ceremonial counties, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England, are areas of England to which a Lord Lieutenant is appointed. Legally the areas in England, as well as in Wales and Scotland, are defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997 as counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies in Great Britain, in contrast to the areas used for local government. They are also informally known as geographic counties, as often representing more permanent features of English geography, and to distinguish them from counties of England which have a present-day administrative function.
|Counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies|
|Also known as:|
|Number||48 (as of 2009)|
The distinction between a county for purposes of the Lieutenancy and a county for administrative purposes is not a new one: in some cases a county corporate that was part of a county was appointed its own Lieutenant (although the Lieutenant of the containing county would often be appointed to this position as well), and the three Ridings of Yorkshire had been treated as three counties for Lieutenancy purposes since the 17th century.
The Local Government Act 1888 established county councils to assume the administrative functions of Quarter Sessions in the counties. It created new entities called "administrative counties". An administrative county comprised all of the county apart from the county boroughs: also some traditional subdivisions of counties were constituted administrative counties, for instance the Soke of Peterborough in Northamptonshire and the Isle of Ely in Cambridgeshire. The Act further stipulated that areas that were part of an administrative county would be part of the county for all purposes. The greatest change was the creation of the County of London, which was made both an administrative county and a "county"; it included parts of the historic counties of Middlesex, Kent, and Surrey. Other differences were small and resulted from the constraint that urban sanitary districts (and later urban districts and municipal boroughs) were not permitted to straddle county boundaries.
Apart from Yorkshire, counties that were subdivided nevertheless continued to exist as ceremonial counties. For example, the administrative counties of East Suffolk and West Suffolk, along with the county borough of Ipswich, were considered to make up a single ceremonial county of Suffolk, and the administrative county of the Isle of Wight was part of the ceremonial county of Hampshire.
The term "ceremonial county" is an anachronism—at the time they were shown on Ordnance Survey maps as "counties" or "geographical counties", and were referred to in the Local Government Act 1888 simply as "counties".
Apart from minor boundary revisions (for example, Caversham, a town in Oxfordshire, becoming part of Reading county borough and thus of Berkshire, in 1911), these areas changed little until the 1965 creation of Greater London and of Huntingdon and Peterborough, which resulted in the abolition of the offices of Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex, Lord Lieutenant of the County of London, and Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdonshire and the creation of the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London and of the Lord Lieutenant of Huntingdon and Peterborough.
In 1974, administrative counties and county boroughs were abolished, and a major reform was instituted. At this time, Lieutenancy was redefined to use the new metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties directly.
Following a further rearrangement in 1996, Avon, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester, and Humberside were abolished. This led to a resurrection of a distinction between the local government counties and the ceremonial or geographical counties used for Lieutenancy, and also to the adoption of the term "ceremonial counties", which although not used in statute was used in the House of Commons before the arrangements coming into effect.
The County of Avon that had been formed in 1974 was mostly split between Gloucestershire and Somerset, but its city of Bristol regained the status of a county in itself, which it had lost upon the formation of Avon. Cleveland was partitioned between North Yorkshire and Durham. Hereford and Worcester was divided into the restored counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Humberside was split between Lincolnshire and a new ceremonial county of East Riding of Yorkshire. Rutland was restored as a ceremonial county. Many county boroughs were re-established as "unitary authorities"; this involved establishing the area as an administrative county, but usually not as a ceremonial county.
Most ceremonial counties are therefore entities comprising local authority areas, as they were from 1889 to 1974. The Association of British Counties, a traditional counties lobbying organisation, has suggested that ceremonial counties be restored to their ancient boundaries.
The Lieutenancies Act 1997 defines counties for the purposes of lieutenancies in terms of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties (created by the Local Government Act 1972, as amended) as well as Greater London and the Isles of Scilly (which lie outside the 1972 Act's new system). Although the term is not used in the Act, these counties are sometimes known as "ceremonial counties". The counties are defined in Schedule 1, paragraphs 2–5 as amended (most recently in 2009 and 2019) — these amendments have not altered the actual areas covered by the counties as set out in 1997, only their composition in terms of local government areas, as a result of structural changes in local government.[N 1]
The following are the 48 ceremonial counties of England, as presently defined:
The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term 'county' is defined in several manners and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each of these demarcation structures. These different types of county each have a more formal name but are commonly referred to just as 'counties'. The current arrangement is the result of incremental reform.
The original county structure has its origins in the Middle Ages. These counties are often referred to as historic or traditional counties.The Local Government Act 1888 created new areas for organising local government that it called administrative counties and county boroughs. These administrative areas adopted the names of, and closely resembled the areas of, the traditional counties. Later legislative changes to the new local government structure led to greater distinction between the traditional and the administrative counties.
The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the 1888 act, its administrative counties and county boroughs. In their place, the 1972 Act created new areas for handling local government that were also called administrative counties. The 1972 administrative counties differed distinctly in area from the 1888 administrative counties, that had now been abolished, and from the traditional counties, that had still not been abolished. Many of the names of the traditional counties were still being used now for the 1972 administrative counties. Later legislation created yet further area differences between the 1972 administrative counties and the traditional counties. In 2018, for the purpose of administration, England outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly is divided into 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.
The Lieutenancies Act 1997 created areas to be used for the purpose of the Lieutenancies Act. These newly created areas are called ceremonial counties and are based on, but not always the same as, the areas of the 1972 administrative counties.
For the purpose of sorting and delivering mail, England was divided into 48 postal counties until 1996; these have been abandoned by Royal Mail in favour of postcodes.
The term 'county', relating to any of its meanings, is used as the geographical basis for a number of institutions such as police and fire services, sports clubs and other non-government organisations.Governance of England
There has not been a government of England since 1707 when the Kingdom of England ceased to exist as a sovereign state, as it merged with the Kingdom of Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. The Kingdom of Great Britain continued from 1707 until 1801 when it merged with the Kingdom of Ireland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which itself became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) in 1922 (in reality; in name in 1927) upon independence for most of the island of Ireland. The UK since then has gone through significant change to its system of government, with devolved parliaments, assemblies and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England, however, remains under the full jurisdiction, on all matters, of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the UK government as no devolved administration has been created for England within the new structure. This situation led to the anomaly, known as the West Lothian question, which is that Scottish Members of Parliament (MPs) have been able to vote on legislation that affects only England whereas English MPs have been unable to vote on certain Scottish matters due to devolution. In some cases, such as top-up university tuition fees and foundation hospitals, the votes of Scottish MPs have been crucial in helping pass legislation for England that the majority of English MPs have opposed. An attempt was made to address this anomaly in 2015 through the use of an English votes for English laws procedure which aims to ensure that legislation affecting only England requires a majority vote of MPs representing English constituencies.
Another possible solution to the West Lothian question would have been devolution to the English regions but attempts have been unsuccessful so far. Amongst the parts of England, Greater London has a degree of devolved power (although weaker than that of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) with power vested in an elected Mayor of London, currently Sadiq Khan and the London Assembly.
The country is therefore officially divided into the following in terms of governance:
The nine English regions,
The modern day local authority areas,
The geographical/ceremonial counties of England.The incumbent government has no plans to create a devolved English parliament.Lieutenancies Act 1997
The Lieutenancies Act 1997 (1997 c. 23) is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, that defines areas that Lord-Lieutenants are appointed to in Great Britain. It came into force on 1 July 1997.List of Cheshire settlements by population
This is a list of settlements in Cheshire by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 25 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in Cheshire, shown in the table below.List of English counties by highest point
This is a list of the ceremonial counties of England by their highest point.List of ceremonial counties of England
This is a list of ceremonial counties of England. The population figures are mid-year estimates for
2018 from the
Office for National Statistics. The ceremonial counties are one of the forms of sub-divisions of England, used often in a cultural or geographic sense.List of conservation areas in England
This article is intended to list all of the Urban Conservation Areas in England divided by Ceremonial counties of England and subdivided by the Districts/Unitary Authorities etc. Due to different local authorities constantly revising their lists of Conservation Areas this will not be a definitive list. A definitive list of all 9,793 English Conservation Areas (as of June 2017) has now been created, and is available as a pdf download or in spreadsheet format from the author. It includes details of the responsible local planning authority and, where available, designation dates and land areas, but does not include the links provided in the partial list below.List of places in England
Here is a list of places, divided by ceremonial counties of England.List of settlements in Cornwall by population
This is a list of settlements in Cornwall by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 19 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in Cornwall, shown in the table below.
Parish counts take in wider areas than these urban areas and these are listed in the gallery section below.List of settlements in Dorset by population
This is a list of settlements in Dorset by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 18 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in Dorset, shown in the table below.
This not a list of parishes or their populations, but of settlements as defined by the ONS.List of settlements in East Sussex by population
This is a list of settlements in East Sussex by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 16 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in East Sussex, shown in the table below.List of settlements in Norfolk by population
This is a list of settlements in Norfolk by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 23 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in Norfolk, shown in the table below.List of settlements in Suffolk by population
This is a list of settlements in Suffolk by population based on the results of the 2011 census. The next United Kingdom census will take place in 2021. In 2011, there were 18 built-up area subdivisions with 5,000 or more inhabitants in Suffolk, shown in the table below.
This not a list of parishes or their populations, but of settlements as defined by the ONS.List of shrievalties
This is a list of the present unpaid ceremonial offices of High Sheriffs in England and Wales and in Northern Ireland, along with the more localised but equivalent Sheriffdoms of 16 towns/cities.
The areas covered are the ceremonial counties of England, the preserved counties of Wales, and the administrative counties and county boroughs of Northern Ireland.The shrieval counties and shrievalties contrast with different words and meaning in Scotland where the office of Sheriff has remained a judicial office. Sheriffs preside over sheriff courts with one Sheriff Principal for each of the six sheriffdoms in Scotland.List of twin towns and sister cities in the United Kingdom
This is a list of places in the United Kingdom having standing links to local communities in other countries. In most cases, the association, especially when formalised by local government, is known as "town twinning" (though other terms, such as "partner towns" or "sister cities" are sometimes used instead), and while most of the places included are towns, the list also comprises villages, cities, districts, counties, etc. with similar links.
The list is arranged by constituent country; and then by the ceremonial counties of England, the counties of Northern Ireland, the council areas of Scotland, and the principal areas of Wales. For other countries' lists see lists of twin towns and sister cities.Listed buildings in the United Kingdom
This is a list of Listed buildings in the United Kingdom.
The organization of the lists in this series is on the same basis as the statutory registers, which generally rely on counties. For England and Wales, the county names are broadly those of the ceremonial counties of England and Wales and do not always match the current administrative areas, whereas in most cases they parallel the current subdivisions of Scotland. In Northern Ireland the province's six traditional counties are used, and these are unchanged in modern times.
Different classifications of listed buildings are used in different parts of the United Kingdom:
England and Wales: Grade I, Grade II* and Grade II;
Scotland: Category A, Category B and Category C
Northern Ireland: Grade A, Grade B+, Grade B1 and Grade B2Lists of former counties
A county is a geographical area used or formerly used in several countries for administration or other purposes. A single list of former counties is not practical so there are several more defined lists arranged by country or smaller area:
Counties of Tasmania
List of former counties of Quebec
List of former counties of Manitoba (1875-1890)
Former counties of Ontario
Denmark-*Counties of Denmark, which were abolished in 2007
Kingdom of Hungary
List of administrative divisions of the Kingdom of Hungary (ca. 1000-1918)
List of counties of the Kingdom of Hungary located in Slovakia counties in modern-day Slovakia that were part of the Kingdom of Hungary until 1920
List of counties of New Zealand (1876-1989)
Ceremonial counties of England
Shires of Scotland
Preserved counties of Wales
List of former United States countiesPreserved counties of Wales
The preserved counties of Wales are the current areas used in Wales for the ceremonial purposes of lieutenancy and shrievalty. They are based on the counties created by the Local Government Act 1972 and used for local government and other purposes between 1974 and 1996.Settlements in English counties by population
This list article collates links to each county's settlements population page, and show the largest urban areas with populations of 5,000 persons and above within them.
The links in both the table and map go to the same article.
1974–1996 ← Ceremonial counties of England → current
|United Kingdom local government|
|England local government|
|Northern Ireland local government|
|Scotland local government|
|Wales local government|