Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / Home Counties

Go To

While there is no official definition of the term, these can be best be thought of as the counties surrounding London Town — indeed much of Greater London was formerly in some of these counties. Much of this area is also considered part of the South East of England. Whether or not the Home Counties are synonymous with the South East is a matter of debate although the South East usually includes London whilst the Home Counties doesn't.

Popularly conceived as a suburban and/or rural commuter land, with conservative (and Conservative) attitudes, as well as a general prosperity.

In the early seventies, (or was it the early Eighties?) this area got invaded by aliens. A lot.

    open/close all folders 

Counties In The Area

It's one of England's smallest counties, and fairly far north from London. It's split into three unitary authorities for local government purposes. Some dissident opinion places Bedfordshire in The Midlands, rather than the Home Counties. The jury is still out on this one. Abbreviated as "Beds".

  • Luton: A large multicultural town (by British standards, meaning it's only 45% White) with a large South Asian community. This, and a dim reputation, have led to it being referred to as "multicultural without the culture." Source of the River Lea (a major tributary of the Thames) and has its own airport which is marketed as "London Luton Airport" thanks to pressure from low-fare airlines (as part of their practice of advertising dirt-cheap fares to airports far from the city centre). It was recently featured in the 2019 film Blinded by the Light, which is set in Luton during the late 1980s.
  • Bedford: A sizeable rural area with business parks, farmland and small villages in its borough, along with the large town of the same name, which can be split into three main parts:
    • The Proper: The part in Bedford actually called Bedford, that is home to many suburbs — notably Queen's Park and Brick'ill (Brickhill, if you will).
    • Kempston: Arguably the most dominant town in Bedford. Birthplace of the author of The Pilgrim's Progress.
    • Wixams: A town that was built between 2007 and 2009.
  • Central Bedfordshire: Largely-rural area, but also home to a number of small towns including Flitwick, Ampthill, Sandy, Biggleswade and Leighton Buzzard. The area also contains the town of Dunstable which is physically part of Luton but administratively in Central Bedfordshire. The area's main attraction is Woburn Abbey and its safari park.

Although to the west of London, Berkshire ("Bark-sheer") is mostly south of the Thames. It's BBC Local radio transmitter is so powerful that it has been known to be picked up from as far away as Cornwall. Or Belgium. Berkshire (abbreviated as "Berks") is split into six unitary authorities for local government purposes.

  • Slough (rhymes with "cow"): A large multicultural town that sits on the edge of London (about halfway between Central London and Reading),note , it is just 36% White - the lowest percentage for any borough outside London. Formerly a part of Buckinghamshire, but was moved in local government reforms in the 1970s, although some of Slough's suburbs such as Burnham still lie in Buckinghamshire. Famously a symbol of everything awful about British urban sprawl, and still seen to be one by a sizeable number of people: John Betjeman famously wrote a poem inviting "friendly bombs" to fall on Slough when it was first turned from a countryside settlement to an industrial park in the late 1930s, and The Office, that utterly dreary depiction of office life in London's exurbs, is set in Slough.note  Slough's sprawl extends outside of the local district, sprawling along the railway line almost into Maidenhead, as well as northwards along arterial roads into the wealthy villages of Farnham Common and Stoke Poges.
  • The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead: The borough includes the town of Windsor, home of Windsor Castle and LEGOLAND. It is also home to Eton Britain's most famous and most posh public (or private - the distinction is complicated, but the 'public' part means that anyone can go, and the 'private' part means you have to pay) school. The Borough also contains Ascot racecourse, the town of Maidenhead, and the large village of Bray (home to the Vicar of Bray and, for no apparent reason, at least two world-class restaurants). The RBWM is also host to plenty of sports; Dorney Lake, the home of the Rowing events in the 2012 Olympics is here, and there are several large leisure centres in and around the two towns as well.
  • Bracknell Forest: Home to the new town of Bracknell, the military town of Sandhurst, Broadmoor (a high security psychiatric hospital) and Swinley Forest.
  • Wokingham: Contains the affluent eastern suburbs of Reading (Woodley, Earley, Lower Earley and Winnersh), as well as a small rural area and the town of the same name. One of England's most prosperous areas and has been named the best place in the country to live a number of times.
  • Reading (pronounced "redding"): The largest town in the inner home counties and desperate to become a real city.note  It sits on the edge of London's green belt and because of this has grown massively but its boundaries haven't been updated, rendering it still officially relatively small.
  • West Berkshire: The most rural of all Berkshire's districts, it contains some of Reading's western suburbs, as well as two medium sized towns called Newbury and Thatcham.

A county to the Northwest of London, abbreviated as "Bucks". It is currently split into two districts, but can be best thought of in several separate parts.
  • Milton Keynes: Sitting on the southern edge of the Midlands, it is Buckinghamshire's northernmost district. A large new town famous for its roundabouts, concrete cows and food delivering robots.
  • Aylesbury Vale: Formerly its own separate district until it was abolished in 2020. It's sort of a halfway point between the more London-esque South Buckinghamshire and the more distinct identity of Milton Keynes.
    • Buckingham: The former county town and one of the smallest towns in the country with a county named after it. It also has one of the country's few private universities.
    • Aylesbury: The largest town in the district. Famous for its connection to the founding of the Paralympics.
  • South Buckinghamshire: The southernmost part of Buckinghamshire is dominated by its proximity to the capital and contains a number of satellite towns nestled in the green belt.
    • Chesham/Amersham: Two nearby towns which have the London Underground stations most distant from Central London.
    • High Wycombe: A large town nestled in a valley, which means that most of its suburbs are quite hilly. It is best known for its role in the chair-making industry in the Victorian era.
    • Chalfont St Peter: A large village in the Chilterns that sits near the M25 motorway. Chalfont is one of the UK's largest villages, with a population of 13,000 people.
    • Pinewood Studios.

East of London and north of the River Thames, Essex has an interesting dual status, at once part of the Home Counties and effectively an overspill area for Greater London - and at the same time, its unspoilt northern region and its coast north of the Blackwater make it an integral part of East Anglia. The county is known for Boudiccanote  and a stereotype of dumb peroxide blondes, known as "Essex girls", the British equivalent of valley girls or Jersey girls. In fact, Essex has an image in the U.K. which is strikingly close to that of Joisey in the USA; if the stereotype has any justification, it's mostly because of the south of the county, which is largely urban with a large number of commuter towns such as Brentwood, Basildon and Billericay stretching from London's eastern boundary to the seaside town of Southend, and seaport towns with a relationship to London that mirrors New Jersey's relationship to New York. The north of the county, near the border with Suffolk, is much more rural, with some famously pretty spots; the largest towns there are Colchester and Clacton (with Jaywick, a village near Clacton, being notable for being the poorest place in England). In that sense, it also mirrors New Jersey in that both have large and pretty rural area that everyone forgets about (except for the seaside parts, and then only in the summer). It is also the home of Stansted Airport.

  • Southend-on-Sea (Unitary Authority): Best known for the world's longest amusement pier, amusement arcades and the Cliffs Pavilion Theatre.
  • Thurrock (Unitary Authority): Home to Tilbury, the port of London and one of the largest shopping centres in Europe, Lakeside.

Southwest of London, bordering Berkshire to the north and Surrey to the northeast. Duels with Berkshire and Surrey for the status of Most Affluent And Richest County in Great Britain. Abbreviated as "Hants".

  • South Hampshire - The cities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester form a metropolitan area on Hampshire's south coast. It's one of the largest in England and has a population over a million.

  • Black Water Valley - Is the second most important part of the county. It consists of a small conurbation centred around the military towns of Aldershot and Farnborough, whilst also stretching to the town of Fleet (one of the country's most affluent towns). The M3 note  runs along this area and the Black Water Valley area spills across the Berkshire/Surrey/Hampshire border.

  • New Forest and the South Downs - The county of Hampshire is blessed with two national parks, 2 more than most other English counties. The New Forest is the older national park, consisting of, unsurprisingly, a forest, as well as open heathland. It's famous for its free-roaming new forest ponies. The South Downs National Park is a much more recent creation and by far the less picturesque of the two. Many cynics believe the main reason it was created was to just limit housing development in the area and hence to push up the already absurd house prices even further.

  • The Isle of Wight was once part of this county but now is its own separate county.


Hertfordshire (the "Hert" is pronounced like "heart") is directly north of London. Abbreviated as "Herts", it's one of the most affluent counties and also the location of a large number of 20th century new towns. It's best thought of in four parts, depending on which motorway or railway line is closest.

  • The M1 Corridor - England's first motorway runs (almost) parallel to the West Coast Main Line through the west of the county. It can be further subdivided into:
    • Watford - a large post-industrial town that's effectively part of Greater London in all but name, given that it's (just) within the M25 although good luck finding anyone from Watford who will agree with that! The town has several train stations note  and a football team that's famous for being the one Elton John supports.
    • Hemel Hempstead - A new town just north of Watford but outside the M25. Notable for its "magic roundabout" note  and for being considered one of England's ugliest towns.
    • St Albans - The only city in Hertfordshire, although it's a city in name but not in size. Known as Verulamium in Roman times, it's an historic and relatively affluent settlement that sits on the M1 and north of the M25 (London's unofficial boundary), seemingly a world apart from its aforementioned ugly neighbours. Particularly well-known for its beautiful cathedral; known locally as "The Abbey", it's the reason why St Albans is a city and is built on the site where St Alban was killed for his faith, making him Britain's first Christian martyr.

  • The A1 Corridor - The Old Great North Road from London to Edinburgh is one of England's oldest roads and the section through Hertfordshire has been upgraded to a motorway known as the A1(M). This corridor runs through a number of new towns including Stevenage, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Letchworth Garden City and the older town of Hitchin.
    • Hatfield House and Knebworth House are both popular filming locations; the former was the actual location for some of the historical events which have been recreated on film there, while the latter has served as both Wayne Manor and Greystoke Manor.

  • Hertford and Broxbourne - The county is named after the town of Hertford, which is one of the county's smallest towns. The town doesn't sit on any motorway like the other towns in the county, but has two stations sitting on the Hertford Loop Line and the Hertford East Branch Line, the latter of which branches off the main line at Broxbourne. Broxbourne and its neighbouring towns, such as Hoddesdon and Cheshunt, form a linear urban peninsula coming out of London snaking north along the railway. The area was considered for inclusion in Greater London back in the 1960s but was ultimately excluded from the county.

  • The M11 Corridor - The M11 from London to Cambridge borders the county without actually passing through it. But the Hertfordshire town of Bishop's Stortford sits just off the motorway and is the biggest town near London's third airport, Stansted — which, although in Essex, is a major contributor to the Hertfodshire economy.

Directly southeast of London. Widely known in tourist literature as "The Garden of England" due to its orchards and hops fields ('hopfields'), though an unfortunate/ignorant EU regulation change has almost entirely destroyed the orchards, and only real beer still uses real hops. Landscape of chalk downs (see Terry Pratchett's 'The Chalk'), the Weald, many small woods, lots of motorways. Nearest county to France and many immigrants and asylum-seekers initially arrive there as a result. Also has the very large Bluewater shopping centre. Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, Leeds Castle, Rochester Castle and Ightham Mote (seen the 'Musgrave Ritual' episode of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series) are just five places worth visiting.

  • Quite a bit of the Battle of Britain happened over Kent and thereabouts. And not just in the air: with France just over twenty miles away, a lot of long-range artillery duelling went on across the Channel. A plaque on Dover seafront was captured from a German heavy artillery battery overrun in late 1944, and boasts of over four thousand super-heavy shells fired at Kent between 1940 and 1944. A lot of signififcant damage was caused by German artillery.
  • Medway (Unitary Authority): The Former City of Rochester (recently lost status of city due to failure to renew a Royal Warrant), plus Chatham (once a major Naval dockyard and urban legend says it is where the word Chav started), Gillingham, and sundry villages in surrounding area (Hoo, Allhallows, Isle of Grain and many more). Basically the region bordering the Medway estuary (part of the Thames estuary), often linked with wider areas such as Swale, Isle of Sheppey.

  • One of the 39 historic counties of England, Middlesex — abbreviated as "Middx" — formally ceased to be in 1965. After a century of attrition and piecemeal loss to the ever-expanding metropolis, nearly all the remainder of Middlesex was subsumed by the newly-created Greater London except for Potters Bar (which was ceded to Hertfordshire) and Spelthorne (which went to Surrey). The greater part went to form the new London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon, and Hounslow. Middlesex lives on in the hearts and minds of people who live there, however note . Middlesex also lives on as a recognised first-class county side in English cricket. Indeed, its home, Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood, is regarded as the spiritual home of English cricket — and, by extension, of cricket in general. note 

Northwest of London, cradled by Berkshire to the south and Buckinghamshire to the east. Home of Oxford and its attendant university, which pretty much runs the show in the city proper. Also notable for the Cotswolds and Blenheim Palace; the latter being where Winston Churchill was born. Abbreviated as "Oxon".

Directly south of London. Definitely a place with a reputation for being snobbish and pretentious, the county town is Guildford, although the county council's headquarters are in London (the north of Surrey is mostly London suburbs which fiercely resisted incorporation into Greater London primarily for tax avoidance purposes).

  • Has featured in fiction a lot. The War of the Worlds has the aliens start by attacking Woking, Harry Potter's uncle and aunt live in a fictional Surrey Town called Little Whinging and Ford Prefect claimed to be from Guildford. Ali G is from the real Surrey town of Staines which pretentiously changed its name to Staines-upon-Thames to try and become disassociated with the character.
  • Also a common filming location.
  • The birthplace of Warwick Davis, Eric Sykes, Lily James, Natascha McElhone, Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees and others.
  • The home of the Claremont Mansion, the estate of Princess Charlotte of Connaught and Belgium's Leopold II.
  • Lots of theme parks can be found in Surrey; Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures are by far the largest.
  • Despite jokes about Surrey being the "Patio of England" (a reference to Kent's long-standing nickname as the "Garden of England"), Surrey is surprisingly the most wooded of all English counties, as well as being the most densely populated non-metropolitan county (metropolitan counties are counties created in the mid 20th century based around large metropolitan areas e.g. Greater Manchester, Greater London, Merseyside and West Yorkshire).

South of London, bordering Surrey to the north. Nowadays divided in two — East Sussex and West Sussex — it's home to a large number of seaside towns, with Brighton being the largest; Brighton also elected the first-ever Green MP (Caroline Lucas) to Westminster. The county also contains large parts of the South Downs National Park and Gatwick Airport, located just outside Crawley (the largest non-seaside town in the county).