Friday, November 15, 2013

The Shires of England

With the exception of a single landing once in London Airport, I’ve never been to England—if you can count a two-hour layover as “being” anywhere. Brigitte did a wee bit better. She spent a brief time in Halstead, northeast of London, visiting a distant relative in anno long ago. Halstead is in Essex. With such exposure, we are therefore quite challenged when reading novels set in England or watching television series set in such places. The county in English life is of major importance—unlike county here in the United States, particularly near big cities. With that in mind, I thought I would produce here a map of the shires of England, courtesy of Wikipedia (link). As a minimum the map will serve us in reading and watching TV.

On the map that I am showing, space does not permit the spelling out of all the counties/shires, therefore this additional gloss. Read North to South and West to East. Clicking the map will enlarge it.

Greater Manc:  Greater Manchester
South Yorks:    South Yorkshire
Derbs:              Derbyshire
Notts:              Nottinghamshire
Staffs:              Staffordshire
Leics:               Leicestershire
Worcs:             Worcestershire
Warks:             Warwickshire
Northants:     Northamptonshire
Cambs:            Cambridgeshire
Heref:              Herefordshire
Beds:                Bedfordshire
Glos:                Gloucestershire
Oxon:              Oxfordshire
Bucks:             Buckinghamshire
Herts:              Hertfordshire

One of our recent series, Foyle’s War, took place mostly in and around Hastings. That place is in East Sussex on the south-eastern coast. An earlier series I’ve noted recently, Cadfael, took place in Shropshire and in adjoining Wales.

Reading the novels of Anthony Trollop—and Angela Thirkell, who put her stories into the same county—we have Barsetshire, England. Alas, it is fictional. And a series we are now revisiting, with somewhat mixed feelings (are people really so deeply corrupt, we wonder), takes place in Midsomer county and its many hamlets—also fictitious. That’s Midsomer Murders—based on the novels of Caroline Graham. By now a year or two in the past, watching Lark Rise to Candleford provided us with much more quiet pleasure. That place, Lark Rise, is placed in Oxfordshire, and the series was based on a trilogy by Flora Thompson.

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