Ceremonial counties of EnglandEngland that are appointed a Lord Lieutenant, and are defined by the government with reference to administrative counties of England. They are also often used a geographic reference frame, and in this capacity are sometimes called geographic counties.
After the 1888 establishment of county councils and county boroughs, the Lieutenancy was reformed from its earlier basis (based in large part on the traditional counties, although there were differences, as for example Bristol had had a Lord-Lieutenant for centuries). The reformed system was based on using the administrative counties and county boroughs as building blocks to create areas similar to the traditional counties. So for example, the ceremonial county of Leicestershire was composed of the administrative county of Leicestershire, and the county borough of Leicester. Areas that were subdivided, (such as East Suffolk and West Suffolk) were retained as a single ceremonial county, (Suffolk).
The distinction between these counties and the ones used for lieutenancy before 1888 is usually subtle; but can be noted in the encroachment of towns across county borders. For example, Caversham, traditionally in Oxfordshire, was made part of the county borough of Reading in 1911. It thus became associated with Berkshire for lieutenancy. The only major difference was the existence of the County of London.
These ceremonial counties are the basis of many maps produced in the early 20th century.
Apart from minor boundary revisions, these areas were left largely untouched until the 1965 creation of Greater London, which resulted in the abolition of the office of Lord-Lieutenant of Middlesex. However, the creation of the administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough, did not result in a corresponding change to the Lieutenancy areas.
Following the 1990s local government reforms, Avon, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester, and Humberside were abolished. This led to a resurrection of a distinction between administrative counties and the ceremonial or geographic counties used for Lieutenancy.
Avon was mostly split between Gloucestershire and Somerset, with Bristol regaining its status of a county of itself. Cleveland was partitioned between North Yorkshire and County Durham. Hereford and Worcester was split into Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Humberside was split between a new ceremonial county of East Riding of Yorkshire, with the remaining parts going to Lincolnshire. Also at this time, Rutland was restored as a ceremonial county.
Most ceremonial counties are therefore defined today as groups of local authority areas; the same situation as prevailed between 1888 and 1974.
See also: List of Ceremonial counties of England by Area, List of Ceremonial counties of England by Population, Ceremonial counties of Wales, Lieutenancy areas of Scotland, Administrative counties of England, Traditional counties of England, UK topics.
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