Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Origin Historic
Region South East England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 32nd
724 miles² (1,874 km²)
Ranked 33rd
1,565 km²
Admin HQ Aylesbury
ISO 3166-2 GB-BKM
ONS code 11
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
Ranked 31st
371 / km²
Ranked 29th
Ethnicity 91.7% White
4.3% S.Asian
1.6% Afro-Carib.
Buckinghamshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament
  1. South Bucks
  2. Chiltern
  3. Wycombe
  4. Aylesbury Vale
  5. Milton Keynes (Unitary)
Map of Bucks (1904)
Map of Bucks (1904)

Buckinghamshire (abbreviated Bucks) is a county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury.

Modern Buckinghamshire is divided into four districts - Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. For the traditional county boundaries, see History of Buckinghamshire. Buckinghamshire ceremonial county includes the modern administrative county plus the Borough of Milton Keynes. (Milton Keynes and district ("North Bucks") became a unitary authority in 1997).

The county includes the Chiltern Hills to the South and the Vale of Aylesbury to the north. The highest point is Coombe Hill near Wendover at 876 feet (267 m) above sea level. 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 properous 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 Wycombe), pharmaceuticals and agricultural processing.

Most English counties have nicknames for people from that county, such as a Tyke from Yorkshire and a Yellowbelly from Lincolnshire; the traditional nickname for people from Buckinghamshire is 'Buckinghamshire Beef and Bread', deriving from the hearty medieval diet of the natives! As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the Chiltern Gentian as the county flower.


The name Buckinghamshire is Anglo Saxon 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 itself has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).

Some of the settlements in Buckinghamshire date back much further than the Anglo-Saxon period. Aylesbury, for example, is known to date back at least as far as 1500 B.C.. There are a wealth of places that still have their Brythonic names (Penn, Wendover), or a compound of Brythonic and Anglo Saxon (Brill, Chetwode, Great Brickhill) and there are pre-Roman earthworks all over the county. Also, one of the most legendary kings of the Britons, Cunobelinus, had a castle in the area (the earthworks of which still remain) and lent his name to the group of villages known as the Kimbles.

The Roman influence on Buckinghamshire is most widely felt in the Roman roads that cross the county. Watling Street and Akeman Street both cross the county from east to west, and the Icknield Way follows the line of the Chiltern Hills. The first two were important trade routes linking London with other parts of Roman Britain, and the latter was used as a line of defence, though it may have been an extension of a much older road.

The single group of people who probably had the greatest influence on Buckinghamshire's history, however, are the Anglo-Saxons. Not only did they give the county and most of the places within it their names, but the modern geography of the county is largely as it was in the Anglo-Saxon period. One of the great battles worthy of mention in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was fought between Cerdic of Wessex and the Britons at Chearsley, no fewer than three saints from this period were born in Quarrendon and in the late Anglo-Saxon period a royal palace was established at Brill. The sheer wealth in the county was worthy of note when the Domesday Survey was taken in 1086.

The Plantagenets continued to take advantage of the wealth of the county. William the Conqueror annexed most of the manors for himself and his family: Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, William's half brother, became a major landowner locally. Many ancient hunts became the king's property (worthy of note are Bernwood Forest, Whaddon Chase and Princes Risborough) as did all the wild swans of England. The ancient tradition of breeding swans in Buckinghamshire for the king's pleasure later provided the heraldic supporter for the county's coat of arms (see below).

Another flush of annexations of local manors to the Crown accompanied the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536), when almost a third of the county became the personal property of King Henry VIII, to dispose of at his pleasure. Henry VIII was also responsible for making Aylesbury the county town over Buckingham, which he did to curry favour with Thomas Boleyn so that he could marry his daughter Anne. Another of Henry's wives, Catherine Parr, also had a sphere of influence within the county.

In the English Civil War (1642–1649) Buckinghamshire was mostly Parliamentarian, although some pockets of Royalism did exist. The Parliamentarian hero John Hampden was from Buckinghamshire, and he helped defend Aylesbury in battle in 1642. Some villages to the west of the county (Brill and Boarstall for example) were under constant conflict for the duration of the war, given their equidistance between Parliamentarian Aylesbury and Royalist Oxford. Many of these places were effectively wiped off the map from the conflict, but have since been rebuilt.

In 1682 William Penn, whose family seat was at Penn founded Bucks County, Pennsylvania with Quaker migrants from Buckinghamshire. Bucks County, Pennsylvania has a Buckingham, Chalfont, Wycombe and Solebury (formerly spelt Soulbury) named after the places in Buckinghamshire.

The Industrial Revolution and the arrival of the railway completely changed the landscape of certain parts of the county. Wolverton in the north (now part of Milton Keynes) became a national centre for railway carriage construction and furniture and paper industries took hold in the south. In the centre of the county, the lace industry was introduced and grew rapidly, because it gave employment to women and children from poorer families. Buckinghamshire still has good rail links to London, Birmingham and Manchester and furniture is still a major industry in parts of south Bucks.

In the early to mid Victorian era a major cholera epidemic and agricultural famine took their hold on the farming industry which for so many years had been the stable mainstay for the county. Migration from the county to nearby cities and abroad was at its height at this time, and certain landowners took advantage of the cheaper land on offer that was left behind. One of the county's most influential families arrived in Bucks as a result of this, the Rothschilds, and their impact on the county's landscape was huge (see Rothschild properties in Buckinghamshire).

Mass urbanisation of the very north and south of the county took place in the 20th century, which saw the new towns of Milton Keynes and Slough being formed. This was a natural extension of the industrialisation of the landscape, and provided much needed employment for many local people. Both have since become unitary authorities in their own right, reducing the land area of Buckinghamshire by almost a third. (In the local government reform of 1974, traditional Buckinghamshire lost Slough and Eton to Berkshire; these areas have been administered under the unitary authorities of Slough and Windsor and Maidenhead since 1998).

Today Buckinghamshire is considered by many to be the idyllic rural landscape of Edwardian fiction and is known colloquially as leafy Bucks. This point of view has led to many parts of the county being very popular with commuters for London, which in turn has led to an increase in the general cost of living for local people. However pockets of deprivation still remain in the county, particularly in the large towns of Aylesbury and High Wycombe.

Bucks County Council's County Hall
Bucks County Council's County Hall


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Buckinghamshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 6,008 60 1,746 4,201
2000 8,389 45 1,863 6,481
2003 9,171 50 1,793 7,328

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding


The modern county of Buckinghamshire is administered by Buckinghamshire County Council. The county council was founded in 1889 with its base in new municipal buildings in Walton Street, Aylesbury (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 northern part of Buckinghamshire in Milton Keynes Borough separated to form its own single-tier local administration system however for ceremonial and some other purposes Milton Keynes is still considered to be part of Buckinghamshire.

Coat of arms

The coat of arms for 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 king, an ancient law that still applies to wild swans in the UK today. The herald was first used at the Battle of Agincourt by the Duke of Buckingham.

Above the swan is a gold band, in the centre of which is Whiteleaf Cross, representing the many ancient landmarks of the county. The shield is mounted by a beech tree, representing the Chiltern Forest that once covered almost half the county. Either side of the shield are a stag and a swan.

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

Places in Buckinghamshire

This is a list of the towns in the county of Buckinghamshire.

Buckinghamshire was subdivided into 18 hundreds at the time of the Domesday Book. These later consolidated to eight — Aylesbury, Ashendon, Buckingham, Burnham, Cottesloe, Desborough, Newport and Stoke. Burnham, Desborough and Stoke are collectively known as the Chiltern Hundreds and are used as a pretext for resignation from the House of Commons.

Places within the historic bounds of Buckinghamshire

This is a list of the towns in the traditional county of Buckinghamshire that after various local government reorganisations are no longer administered by it.

Places of interest

National Trust National Trust
English Heritage English Heritage
Forestry Commission Forestry Commission
Country Park Country Park
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Museum (free)
Museums (free/not free)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House

Famous people from Buckinghamshire

The following people are either from Buckinghamshire, have lived in Buckinghamshire, or continue to live in Buckinghamshire.

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