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Buckinghamshire ( or ; abbreviated Bucks) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East Englandmarker. The county town is Aylesburymarker and the largest town in ceremonial Buckinghamshire is Milton Keynesmarker.

The area under the control of Buckinghamshire County Council, or shire county, is divided into four districts—Aylesbury Valemarker, Chilternmarker, South Bucksmarker and Wycombemarker. The Borough of Milton Keynesmarker is a unitary authority and forms part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but does not come under county council control. The ceremonial county, the area including Milton Keynes borough, borders Greater Londonmarker, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshiremarker, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshiremarker.


Map of Bucks (1904)

The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo-Saxon in origin and means The district (scire) of Bucca's home. Bucca's home refers to Buckinghammarker in the north of the county, and is named after an Anglo-Saxon landowner. The county has been so named since about the 12th century; however, the county itself has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Merciamarker (585–919).

The history of the area, though, predates the Anglo-Saxon period and the county has a rich history starting from the Celtic and Roman periods, though the Anglo-Saxons perhaps had the greatest impact on Buckinghamshire: the geography of the rural county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. Later, Buckinghamshire became an important political arena, with King Henry VIII intervening in local politics in the 16th century and just a century later the English Civil War was reputedly started by John Hampden in mid-Bucks.

Historically, the biggest change to the county came in the 19th century, when a combination of cholera and famine hit the rural county, forcing many to migrate to larger towns to find work. Not only did this alter the local economical picture, it meant a lot of land was going cheap at a time when the rich were more mobile and leafy Bucks became a popular rural idyll: an image it still has today. Buckinghamshire is a popular home for London commuters, leading to greater local affluence; however some pockets of relative deprivation remain.


The county can be split into two sections geographically. The south leads from the River Thames up the gentle slopes of the Chiltern Hillsmarker to the more abrupt slopes on the northern side leading to the Vale of Aylesburymarker, a large flat expanse of land, which includes the path of the River Great Ousemarker.



The county includes two of the three longest rivers in Englandmarker. The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Etonmarker and Sloughmarker meaning the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse begins just outside the county in Northamptonshiremarker and flows east through Buckinghammarker, Milton Keynesmarker and Olneymarker.


The main branch of the Grand Union Canalmarker flows through the county as do its arms to Sloughmarker, Aylesburymarker, Wendovermarker (disused) and Buckinghammarker (disused). The canal has been incorporated into Milton Keynesmarker.


The two highest points in Buckinghamshire, both 267 m (876 ft) above sea level, are Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods (a stone marks its summit) and Coombe Hillmarker near Wendovermarker.

Ceremonial county

The ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire consists of the area administered by Milton Keynes Borough Council as well as that administered by Buckinhamshire County Council. The ceremonial county has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Currently the Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire is Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire is Amanda Nicholson. The Custos rotulorum has been combined with the duties of Lord Lieutenant since 1702.

Buckinghamshire Districts
District Main Towns Population (2006 estimate) Population (2007 estimate) Area Population Density (2007) Population Estimate 2026
Aylesbury Valemarker Aylesburymarker, Buckinghammarker 172,000 174,100 902.75 km² 193/km² 213,000
Wycombemarker High Wycombemarker, Marlowmarker 161,300 161,400 324.57 km² 497/km² 165,000
Chilternmarker Amershammarker, Cheshammarker 90,300 90,800 196.35 km² 462/km² 89,000
South Bucksmarker Beaconsfieldmarker, Burnhammarker 63,700 64,300 141.28 km² 455/km² 63,800
TOTAL Non-Metropolitan N/A 487,300 490,600 1565 km² 313/km² 530,800
Milton Keynes marker Milton Keynesmarker, Newport Pagnellmarker 224,800 228,400 308.63 km² 740/km² 323,146
TOTAL Ceremonial N/A 712,100 719,000 1874 km² 384/km² 853,946

Population figures for 2006 from the Office for National Statistics as are figures for 2007 estimatesSee List of English districts by population for a full list of every English district.

As can be seen from the table, the Vale of Aylesburymarker and borough of Milton Keynesmarker have been identified as growth areas, with a population surge of almost 50,000 people in Aylesbury Vale between 2006 and 2026 and 100,000 people in Milton Keynes within twenty years. The population of Milton Keynes is expected to reach almost 350,000 by 2031.


At present, the county has two top-level administrations: Buckinghamshire County Council, which administers about four fifths of the county (see map above) and the Borough of Milton Keynesmarker, a unitary authority, which administers the remaining fifth. There are four district councils that are subsidiary to the county council: Aylesbury Valemarker, Chilternmarker, South Bucksmarker and Wycombemarker.

Buckinghamshire County Council

The county council was founded in 1889 with its base in new municipal buildings in Walton Street, Aylesburymarker (which are still there). In Buckinghamshire, local administration is run on a two-tier system where public services are split between the county council and a series of district councils.

In the 1960s the council moved into new premises: a 15-storey tower block in the centre of Aylesbury (pictured) designed by architect Thomas Pooley. Said to be one of the most unpopular and disliked buildings in Buckinghamshire, it is now a Grade II listed building.

In 1997 the northernmost part of Buckinghamshire in Milton Keynes Boroughmarker separated to form a unitary authority; however for ceremonial and some other purposes Milton Keynes is still considered to be part of Buckinghamshire .

Buckinghamshire County Council is a large employer within the County and provides a great variety of services, including education (schools, adult education and youth services), social services, highways, libraries, County Archives and Record Office, County Museummarker and Roald Dahl Children's Gallerymarker in Aylesbury, consumer services and some aspects of waste disposal and planning.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms of Buckinghamshire County Council features a white swan in chains. This dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period, when swans were bred in Buckinghamshire for the king's pleasure. That the swan is in chains illustrates that the swan is bound to the monarch, an ancient law that still applies to wild swans in the UK today. The arms were first borne at the Battle of Agincourtmarker by the Duke of Buckingham.

Above the swan is a gold band, in the centre of which is Whiteleaf Crossmarker, representing the many ancient landmarks of the county. The shield is surmounted by a beech tree, representing the Chiltern Forestmarker that once covered almost half the county. Either side of the shield are a buck, for Buckingham, and a swan, the county symbol.

The motto of the shield says Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum. This is Latin and means 'no stepping back'.

The flag of Buckinghamshire, which flies outside County Hall in Aylesbury, comprises red and black halves with a white swan. The flag takes the county emblem which is on the county shield.


Today Buckinghamshire is ethnically diverse, particularly in the larger towns. At the end of the 19th century some Welsh drover families settled in north Bucks and, in the last quarter of the 20th century, a large number of Londoners in Milton Keynes. Aylesbury has a sizeable Italian population, and Amersham has a large Polish community dating from World War II . Amersham is twinned with Krynica in Polandmarker. High Wycombe is the most ethnically diverse town in the county, with large Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations. There is also a Polishmarker and Eastern European community.


Buckinghamshire has a modern service-based economy and is part of the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire NUTS-2 region, which was the seventh richest subregion in the European Union in 2002 The southern part of the county is a prosperous section of the London commuter belt. The county has fertile agricultural lands, with many landed estates, especially those of the Rothschild banking family of England in the 19th century (see Rothschild properties in Buckinghamshire). Manufacturing industries include furniture-making (traditionally centred at High Wycombemarker), pharmaceuticals and agricultural processing.

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Buckinghamshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling (except GVA index).
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services GVA index per person
1995 6,008 60 1,746 4,201 118
2000 8,389 45 1,863 6,481 125
2003 9,171 50 1,793 7,328 118

In a recent nationwide survey, Buckinghamshire had the highest quality of life in the country, having the highest life expectancy and best education results.

Places of interest

The county is also home to the world famous Pinewood Studiosmarker.



Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes) is served by four motorways, although two are on its borders:
  • M40 motorway: cuts through the south of the county serving towns such as High Wycombe and Beaconsfield
  • M1 motorway: serves Milton Keynes in the north
  • M25 motorwaymarker: passes into Bucks but has only one junction (J16-interchange for the M40)
  • M4 motorway: passes through the very south of the county with only J7 in Bucks

Four important A roads also enter the county (from north to south):
  • A5: serves Milton Keynes
  • A41: cuts through the centre of the county, serving Aylesburymarker
  • A40: parallels M40 through south Bucks and continues to central London
  • A4marker: serves Taplowmarker in the very south

Road travel east–west is good in the county because of the commuter routes leaving London for the rest of the country. There are no major roads that run directly between the south and north of the county (e.g. between High Wycombe and Milton Keynes).


Buckinghamshire has four main lines running through it:

There are the following additional lines:

The county once had a whole network of Metropolitan Railway services, from the current Amershammarker terminus right into central Bucks at Verney Junctionmarker. That station is now closed but may one day re-open as part of the Varsity Linemarker scheme for trains between Oxfordmarker and Bedford.

The main train operating companies are Chiltern Railways, Virgin Trains and London Midland, First Great Western and London Underground. From 2017, Ivermarker will have Crossrail services.


Largest Towns in Ceremonial Buckinghamshire (2001 census)
Town Population District Notes
Milton Keynesmarker 184,506 Milton Keynes marker Unitary Authority since 1997. Population includes Newport Pagnellmarker
High Wycombemarker 92,300 Wycombemarker Includes suburbs of Downleymarker and Hazlemeremarker. The High Wycombe Urban Areamarker population is 118,229
Aylesburymarker 56,392 Aylesbury Valemarker County town of Buckinghamshire. Population of Aylesbury Urban Areamarker (including Stoke Mandevillemarker and Biertonmarker) is 69,021
Amershammarker 21,470 Chilternmarker
Cheshammarker 20,357 Chiltern
Marlowmarker 17,522 Wycombe
Buckinghammarker 12,512 Aylesbury Vale Historically the county town of Buckinghamshire
Beaconsfieldmarker 12,292 South Bucksmarker
Princes Risboroughmarker 8,121 Wycombe
Wendovermarker 7,385 Aylesbury Vale
Olneymarker 6,032 Milton Keynes Governed by Milton Keynes, not Bucks County Council
Winslowmarker 4,519 Aylesbury Vale

For the full list of towns, villages and hamlets in Buckinghamshire, see List of places in Buckinghamshire. Throughout history, there have been a number of changes to the Buckinghamshire boundary.


See List of schools in Buckinghamshire and List of schools in Milton Keynes

Education in Buckinghamshire is governed by two Local Education Authorities. Buckinghamshire County Council has a completely selective education system where pupils transfer to either a grammar school or secondary modern school depending on how they perform in the 11 plus test and on their preferences. Pupils who do not take the test can only be allocated places at secondary modern schools. There are 9 independent schools and 34 maintained (state) secondary schools, not including sixth form colleges in the county council area. The unitary authority of Milton Keynesmarker operates a comprehensive education system. There are 8 maintained (state) secondary schools, in the borough council area. Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are also home to the University of Buckinghammarker, Buckinghamshire New Universitymarker and the Open Universitymarker.

Notable people

Buckinghamshire has been the birth place and/or final resting place of several notable individuals. Saint Osyth was born in Quarrendonmarker and was buried in Aylesburymarker in the 7th century while at about the same time Saint Rumwold was buried in Buckinghammarker. From the medieval period Roger of Wendover was, as the name suggests, from Wendovermarker and Anne Boleyn also owned property in the same town. It is said that King Henry VIII made Aylesburymarker the county town over Buckingham because Boleyn's father owned property there and was a regular visitor himself. Other medieval residents included Edward the Confessor who had a palace at Brillmarker and John Wycliffe who lived in Ludgershallmarker.

From a slightly later period Buckinghamshire became home to some notable literary characters. Edmund Waller was brought up in Beaconsfieldmarker and served as Member of Parliament for both Amersham and Wycombemarker. Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary spent some time living in Marlowmarker, attracted to the town by their friend Thomas Love Peacock who also lived there. John Milton lived in Chalfont St Gilesmarker and his cottage can still be visited there and John Wilkes served as Member of Parliament for Aylesburymarker. Much later literary characters include Jerome K. Jerome who lived at Marlow, T. S. Eliot who also lived at Marlow, Roald Dahl who lived in Great Missendenmarker, Enid Blyton who lived in Beaconsfieldmarker and Edgar Wallace who lived in Bourne Endmarker and is buried in Little Marlowmarker. Modern-day writers from Bucks include Terry Pratchett who was born in Beaconsfield, Tim Rice who is from Amersham and Andy Riley who is from Aylesbury.

During the Second World War a number of politicians and world leaders from Europe came to England to seek exile. Due to its proximity to Londonmarker various locations in Buckinghamshire were selected to house dignitaries. President Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakiamarker lived at Aston Abbottsmarker with his family while some of his officials were stationed at nearby Addingtonmarker and Wingravemarker. Meanwhile Władysław Sikorski, military leader of Polandmarker, lived at Ivermarker and King Zog of Albania lived at Friethmarker. Bucks is also notable for another exile, although this one much earlier: King Louis XVIII of France lived in exile at Hartwell House from 1809 to 1814.

Also on the local political stage Buckinghamshire has been home to Nancy Astor who lived in Clivedenmarker, Frederick, Prince of Wales who also lived in Cliveden, Baron Carrington who lives in Bledlowmarker, Benjamin Disraeli who lived at Hughenden Manormarker and was made Earl of Beaconsfield, John Hampden who was from Great Hampdenmarker and is revered in Aylesbury to this day and Prime Minister Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery who lived at Mentmoremarker. Also worthy of note are William Penn who believed he was descended from the Penn family of Pennmarker and so is buried nearby and the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, who has an official residence at Chequersmarker. Finally John Archdale colonial governor of North Carolinamarker and South Carolinamarker, although more notably American, was born in Buckinghamshire.

Other natives of Buckinghamshire who have become notable in their own right include:

Today Buckinghamshire is a very picturesque landscape and is home to numerous celebrities and has attracted its fair share in the past. These include:

See also


  1. Biography of John Hampden
  2. Report on deprivation from Wycombe District Council, showing some areas among top 20% of national deprivation figures
  3. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=9666&More=Y
  4. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_population/Mid_2007_UK_England_&_Wales_Scotland_and_Northern_Ireland%20_21_08_08.zip
  5. Regional GDP per capita in the EU25 GDP per capita in 2002 ranged from 32% of the EU25 average in Lubelskie to 315% in Inner London
  6. Office of National Statistics (pp.240-253)
  7. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  8. includes hunting and forestry
  9. includes energy and construction
  10. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  11. UK average index base = 100
  12. Tendring District Council Conservation Area Review (pdf)
  13. Biography of St Rumwold, University of Buckingham
  14. Medieval Sourcebook: Roger of Wendover
  15. Picture Tour at Chiltern Web
  16. Aylesbury Tourist Information
  17. Genuki guide to Brill
  18. Biography of John Wycliffe
  19. Biography of Edmund Waller
  20. Biography of Thomas Love Peacock
  21. Milton's Cottage website
  22. Review of a biography of John Wilkes
  23. Literary guide to Marlow
  24. Tourist guide to Marlow
  25. About Britain.com
  26. Guide to Beaconsfield
  27. Bourne End online
  28. Biography of Edgar Wallace
  29. Biography of Terry Pratchett
  30. Tim Rice profile at IMDb
  31. Aylesbury Grammar School Old Boys data
  32. Czechs in Exile at Aston Abbotts
  33. Czechs in Exile - Polish government comparison
  34. Bucks Free Press
  35. Biography of Louis XVIII of France
  36. Guide to Cliveden
  37. New York Times Travel Supplement
  38. Visit Buckinghamshire - Bledlow
  39. Biography of Disraeli
  40. Genuki guide to Mentmore
  41. Biography of William Penn

External links

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