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Buckinghamshire
County
Flag of Buckinghamshire.svg Coat of arms of Buckinghamshire County Council.jpg
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Vestigia nulla retrorsum ("No turning back/We do not retreat")
Buckinghamshire UK locator map 2010.svg
Buckinghamshire in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region South East
Established Ancient
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Henry Aubrey-Fletcher
High Sheriff The Hon Mrs C R Soames (2016-17)
Area 1,874 km2 (724 sq mi)
 • Ranked 32nd of 48
Population (2005 est.) 700,100
 • Ranked 31st of 48
Density 374/km2 (970/sq mi)
Ethnicity 91.7% White
4.3% S. Asian
1.6% Black
Non-metropolitan county
County council Buckinghamshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Aylesbury
Area 1,565 km2 (604 sq mi)
 • Ranked 33rd of 27
Population 481,600
 • Ranked 29th of 27
Density 308/km2 (800/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-BKM
ONS code 11
GSS code E10000002
NUTS UKJ13
Website www.buckscc.gov.uk
Buckinghamshire Ceremonial Numbered.png
Districts of Buckinghamshire
Unitary County council area
Districts
  1. South Bucks
  2. Chiltern
  3. Wycombe
  4. Aylesbury Vale
  5. Milton Keynes (unitary)
Members of Parliament List of MPs
Police Thames Valley Police
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Buckinghamshire (/ˈbʌkɪŋəmʃər/ or /ˈbʌkɪŋəmʃɪər/), abbreviated Bucks, is a county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.

Buckinghamshire is a home county and towns such as High Wycombe, Amersham, Chesham and the Chalfonts in the east and southeast of the county are parts of the London commuter belt, forming some of the most densely-populated parts of the county. Development in this region is restricted by the Metropolitan Green Belt. Other large settlements include the county town of Aylesbury, Marlow in the south near the Thames and Princes Risborough in the west near Oxford. Some areas without direct rail links to London, such as around the old county town of Buckingham and near Olney in the northeast, are much less populous. The largest town is Milton Keynes in the northeast, which with the surrounding area is administered as a unitary authority separately to the rest of Buckinghamshire. The remainder of the county is administered by Buckinghamshire County Council as a non-metropolitan county, and four district councils. In national elections, Buckinghamshire is considered a reliable supporter of the Conservative Party.

A large part of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, runs through the south of the county and attracts many walkers and cyclists from London. In this area older buildings are often made from local flint and red brick. Many parts of the county are quite affluent and like many areas around London this has led to problems with housing costs: several reports have identified the market town of Beaconsfield as having among the highest property prices outside London. Chequers, a mansion estate owned by the government, is the country retreat of the incumbent Prime Minister. To the north of the county lies rolling countryside in the Vale of Aylesbury and around the Great Ouse. The Thames forms part of the county’s southwestern boundary. Notable service amenities in the county are Pinewood Film Studios, Dorney rowing lake and part of Silverstone race track on the Northamptonshire border. Many national companies have offices in Milton Keynes. Heavy industry and quarrying is limited, with agriculture predominating after service industries.

History

Buckingham-215x334
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 Buckingham 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 has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).

The history of the area 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 economic situation, 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 expansion of London and coming of the railways promoted the growth of towns in the south of the county such as Aylesbury, Amersham and High Wycombe, leaving the town Buckingham itself to the north in a relative backwater. As a result, most county institutions are now based in the south of the county or Milton Keynes, rather than in Buckingham.

Geography

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

Waterways

Rivers

The county includes parts of two of the four longest rivers in England. The River Thames forms the southern boundary with Berkshire, which has crept over the border at Eton and Slough so that the river is no longer the sole boundary between the two counties. The River Great Ouse rises just outside the county in Northamptonshire and flows east through Buckingham, Milton Keynes and Olney.

Canals

Medmenham River Thames geograph-4090549-by-Ben-Brooksbank
The River Thames at Medmenham

The main branch of the Grand Union Canal passes through the county as do its arms to Slough, Aylesbury, Wendover (disused) and Buckingham (disused). The canal has been incorporated into the landscaping of Milton Keynes.

Landscape

The southern part of the county is dominated by the Chiltern Hills. The two highest points in Buckinghamshire are Haddington Hill in Wendover Woods (a stone marks its summit) at 267 metres (876 ft) above sea level, and Coombe Hill near Wendover at 260 metres (850 ft).

Mineral extraction

Quarrying has taken place for chalk, clay for brickmaking and gravel and sand in the river valleys. Flint, also extracted from quarries, was often used to build older local buildings. Several former quarries, now flooded, have become nature reserves.

Demography

Buckinghamshire Districts
District Main Towns Population (2011) Area Population density (2011) Population projection 2026
Aylesbury Vale Aylesbury, Buckingham 174,137 902.75 km² 193/km² 213,000
Wycombe High Wycombe, Marlow 171,644 324.57 km² 529/km² 165,000
Chiltern Amersham, Chesham 92,635 196.35 km² 472/km² 89,000
South Bucks Beaconsfield, Burnham 66,867 141.28 km² 474/km² 63,800
TOTAL Non-Metropolitan N/A 505,283 1565 km² 323/km² 530,800
Borough of Milton Keynes Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell 248,821 308.63 km² 806/km² 323,146
TOTAL Ceremonial N/A 754,104 1874 km² 402/km² 853,946
CheshamPondParkView
Suburban housing, Chesham

As can be seen from the table, the Vale of Aylesbury and the Borough of Milton Keynes have been identified as growth areas, with a projected population surge of almost 40,000 in Aylesbury Vale between 2011 and 2026 and 75,000 in Milton Keynes within the same 15 years.

Buckinghamshire is sub-divided into civil parishes.

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. Between 6 and 7% of the population of Aylesbury are of Asian or Asian British origin. Likewise Chesham has a similar-sized Asian community, and High Wycombe is the most ethnically diverse town in the county, with large Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations. During the Second World War there were many Polish settlements in Bucks, Czechs in Aston Abbotts and Wingrave, and Albanians in Frieth. Remnants of these communities remain in the county.

Places of interest

Lake at Stowe Landscape Garden with Temple in distance - geograph.org.uk - 77696
Stowe Landscape Garden
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre - geograph.org.uk - 1264147
The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden

Buckinghamshire is notable for its open countryside and natural features, including the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Stowe Landscaped Gardens near Buckingham, and the River Thames. The Ridgeway Path, a long-distance footpath, passes through the county. The county also has many historic houses. Some of these are opened to the public by the National Trust, such as Waddesdon Manor, West Wycombe Park and Cliveden. Other historic houses are still in use as private homes, such as the Prime Minister's country retreat Chequers.

Claydon House is a National Trust property, situated near the village of Steeple Claydon. Home to the Verney family and was also home to Florence Nightingale for some time.

Buckinghamshire is the location of Bletchley Park, the site of World War II British codebreaking and Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic digital computer.

Buckinghamshire is the home of various notable people in connection with whom tourist attractions have been established: for example the author Roald Dahl who included many local features and characters in his works.

Sports facilities in Buckinghamshire include half of the international Silverstone Circuit which straddles the Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire border, Adams Park in the south and stadium:mk in the north, and the county is also home to the world-famous Pinewood Studios. Dorney Lake, named "Eton Dorney" for the event, was used as the rowing venue for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Transport

Roads

M40 - Chiltern Cutting - Stokenchurch - geograph.org.uk - 94271
The M40 in the Chilterns
Arriva 5434 on route 359 at Amersham Running Day 2013 (14096696112)
Local bus, Amersham

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 motorway: 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

Five important A roads also enter the county (from north to south):

  • A5: serves Milton Keynes
  • A421: serves Milton Keynes and Buckingham and links the M1 to the M40
  • A41: cuts through the centre of the county from Watford to Bicester, serving Aylesbury
  • A40: parallels M40 through south Bucks and continues to Central London
  • A4: serves Taplow in the very south

The county is poorly served with internal routes, with the A413 and A418 linking the south and north of the county.

Rail

Hugh llewelyn 165 017 (6347618666)
Chiltern Railways service at Great Missenden
Milton Keynes Central railway station MMB 23 390008
Express train, Milton Keynes

As part of the London commuter belt, Buckinghamshire is well connected to the national rail network, with both local commuter and inter-city services serving some destinations.

Chiltern Railways is a principal train operating company in Buckinghamshire, providing the majority of local commuter services from the centre and south of the county, with trains running into London Marylebone. First Great Western provides commuter services from Taplow and Iver into Paddington. London Midland provides commuter services from Milton Keynes Central into Euston whilst Southern provides services (via the West London Line) from Milton Keynes to Croydon.

For intercity services, Virgin Trains runs services from Milton Keynes Central to Euston, North West England, the West Midlands, the Scottish Central Belt, and North Wales. Meanwhile, First Great Western operates non-stop inter-city services through the south of the county between Paddington and South West England and/or South Wales.

There are four main lines running through the county:

  • The West Coast Main Line in the north of the county serves stations in Milton Keynes
  • London to Aylesbury Line serves Aylesbury and other settlements along the A413 towards London. Once part of the Metropolitan line of London Underground, which now runs to Amersham
  • Chiltern Main Line: serves the towns along the M40 motorway including High Wycombe and Beaconsfield
  • Great Western Main Line: runs through Slough. Slough is now in Berkshire, but the line enters Bucks twice, on either side of Slough, with Taplow and Iver both having stations in Buckinghamshire.

There are the following additional lines:

  • Princes Risborough to Aylesbury Line: a single track branch that connects the Chiltern Main Line to the London to Aylesbury Line.
  • Marston Vale Line: between Bletchley and Bedford
  • Marlow Branch Line: between Marlow, Bourne End and Maidenhead.
  • Metropolitan line: between Amersham and Chesham to London
  • Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway, a preserved railway.

From 2017, Iver will have Crossrail services. From 2019, the East West Rail Link is to reinstate the route via Winslow between Oxford and Bletchley, enabling electrified services to Milton Keynes Central. The line between Aylesbury and Claydon Junction is also to be reinstated in the same programme, enabling services between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. [Electrification of the Marston Vale Line is not programmed, meaning that passengers for Bedford must change at Bletchley]. Finally, the High Speed 2 line may run non-stop through the county at some future date.

Settlements

Largest Towns in Ceremonial Buckinghamshire (2011 census)
Town Population District Notes
Milton Keynes 229,941 Borough of Milton Keynes Unitary Authority since 1997. At the 2011 census, the population of the Milton Keynes Urban Area, which includes Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands was 236,700
High Wycombe 120,256 Wycombe Includes suburbs of Downley and Hazlemere. The High Wycombe Urban Area population is 133,204
Aylesbury 71,977 Aylesbury Vale County town of Buckinghamshire. Population of Aylesbury Urban Area (including Stoke Mandeville and Bierton) is 74,748
Amersham 23,086 Chiltern Part of Amersham/Chesham urban area with a population of 46,122.
Chesham 22,356 Chiltern Part of Amersham/Chesham urban area with a population of 46,122.
Gerrards Cross 20,633 Chiltern/South Bucks Includes Chalfont St Peter. The area lacks town status but is the 5th largest conurbation in the county.
Marlow 18,261 Wycombe
Beaconsfield 13,797 South Bucks
Buckingham 12,890 Aylesbury Vale Historically the county town of Buckinghamshire
Princes Risborough 8,231 Wycombe
Wendover 7,702 Aylesbury Vale
Olney 6,477 Borough of Milton Keynes Governed by Milton Keynes Council, not Buckinghamshire County Council
Winslow 4,407 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.

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