Monday, February 2, 2009

Counties of England

I have just been reading Brewer's "Britain and Ireland" which gives the etymology of thousands of place-names in the UK. I was particularly taken with one of the maps which showed the traditional counties of England. It brought a tear to my sentimental eye (the left one). Names long vanished: Cumberland (only the sausage remains), Westmorland, the Ridings of Yorkshire. Weren't they lovely? They made writing the address on a letter quite, well, English. Now I live in a place called North Tyneside that is the bastard love child of old Northumberland and the rightly despised Tyne & Wear. I really do wish we could go back to those earlier county names. I was born in Middlesbrough ("middle fortified town") and that used to be in the North Riding ("third thing") of Yorkshire. There was never a South Riding (Cnut decreed that) but we now have little counties and unitary authorities all over the place. Even Darlington. Even South Yorks. God above! Given absolute power, I would restore the boundaries of the old Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Kent, Essex, Sussex, East Anglia, Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria. Ah yes. They were the days. Am I reaching too far back? Perhaps.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

2 comments:

fiona said...

Rutland has gone too, hasn't it? I too am not the least bit keen on "Tyne and Wear". I have a friend who refuses to write "Merseyside" on letters, and always puts "Cheshire" although the boundaries were, I think, changed the year he was born. There's too much faffing about with such things, isn't there.

GC said...

I totally agree.

I am from Northumberland (or Northumbria), and not 'Tyneside' or 'Tyne and Wear'.