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The administrative county

Detailed map

The traditional county

Warwickshire (pronounced worrickshur) is a landlocked county in central England. Modern-day Warwickshire is of a considerably different shape to the historic county. Warwickshire has a population of 505,885 (2001 census), and covers 489,405 acres (198,055 hectares). The county town is Warwick.

Famous people from Warwickshire include: William Shakespeare, from Stratford-upon-Avon, George Eliot from near Nuneaton. and Rupert Brooke from Rugby.

For local government purposes, Warwickshire is divided into a number of district councils. These are North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford, and Warwick.

Traditionally, Warwickshire included Coventry, Solihull, and most of Birmingham. These became part of the West Midlands metropolitan county following local government re-organisation in 1974.

Coventry is often considered part of the Warwickshire area, and is treated as part of Warwickshire for some administrative purposes such as healthcare and tourism.

Towns and villages of Warwickshire

Places of interest

Warwickshire is bounded to the north west by Staffordshire and the West Midlands county (the latter formed in the local government reorganisation of 1974), east by Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, south by Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, and West by Worcestershire.

The bulk of Warwickshire's population is in the north and east of the county, The north of it has traditionally been industrial, with industrial towns such as Nuneaton, Bedworth and Rugby, whose traditional industries included coal mining, textiles, cement and engineering.

The centre and west of Warwickshire includes the prosperous towns of Leamington Spa, Warwick, Kenilworth and Stratford-upon-Avon.

The south of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes no towns of any significant size. The southern fringe of Warwickshire includes a small area of the Cotswolds

Historically much of western Warwickshire including the area now covered by Birmingham and the West Midlands was covered in the ancient Forest of Arden. Although most of this was cut down to provide fuel for industrialisation, between the 17th and 19th centuries. Many places in the east of Warwickshire have names which end in -in-Arden for this reason.

Table of contents
1 Traditional Warwickshire
2 History
3 External Link

Traditional Warwickshire

The traditional county of Warwickshire was never formally abolished, and still technically exists as a separate legal entity to the present administrative county of Warwickshire which this article focuses on, although it exists in name only. It roughly includes the county boundaries as they were before 1974.

Warwickshire is rarely refered to in this context, however the Warwickshire County Cricket Club still play in Birmingham.


Note: this history section covers the history of the historic boundaries of Warwickshire, and not just the present administative county

In the 8th and 9th century, what is now Warwickshire was a part of the kingdom of Mercia. In the late 9th century, the Mercian kingdom declined and in 874 large parts of Mercia to the east of Warwickshire were ceeded to Danish (viking) invaders by King Alfred's treaty with the Danish leader Guthrum. Watling Street on the north-western edge of Warwickshire became the boundary between the Danelaw (the kingdom of the Danes) to the east and the much reduced Mercia to the west. There was also a boundary with the kingdom of Wessex to the south.

Due to its location at the frontier between the two kingdoms, what is now Warwickshire needed to organise defences against Danish invaders. This was done by Ethelfleda "Lady of the Mercians" daughter of King Alfred, who was responsible for the building of the first parts of Warwick Castle at Warwick. Defences against the Danes were also built at Tamworth see Tamworth Castle.

Periodic fighting between Danes and Saxons occurred until the 11th century. Because of its castle Warwick grew into a prosperous market town, and a powerful town within the Mercian kingdom. In the early 11th century, new internal boundaries within the Mercian kingdom were drawn and Warwickshire came into being as the lands administered from Warwick.

The first recorded use of the name Warwickshire was in the year 1001, and means dwellings by the weir.

In the English Civil War in the 17th century the Battle of Edgehill (1642) was fought in Warwickshire, near the Oxfordshire border.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Warwickshire became one of Britain's foremost industrial counties. The coalfields of northern Warwickshire were amongst the most productive in the country, and greatly enhanced the industrial growth of Coventry and Birmingham.

Town's such as Nuneaton, Bedworth and Rugby also became industrialised. In Rugby's case its position as a major railway junction was the key factor in its industrial growth.

Towards the end of the 19th century Birmingham and Coventry had become large industrial cities in their own right, and so administrative boundaries had to change. In 1889 the administrative county of Warwickshire was created, and both Coventry and Birmingham became county Boroughs which made them administratively separate from the rest of Warwickshire.

This situation lasted until 1974, when the two cities were removed from Warwickshire altogether, and along with parts of Staffordshire and Worcestershire became a part of the new West Midlands metropolitan county, (although technically they are still a part of the historic county)

The remaining post-1974 county of Warwickshire was left with a rather odd shape, which looks like a large chunk had been bitten out of it where Coventry and Birmingham used to be.

External Link