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Buckinghamshire

Buckinghamshire archaically the County of Buckingham; abbreviated Bucks) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe.

The area under the control of Buckinghamshire County Council, or shire county, is divided into four districts - Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks and Wycombe. The Borough of Milton Keynes is a unitary authority and forms part of the county for various functions such as Lord Lieutenant but does not come under county council control. The ceremonial county, the area including Milton Keynes borough, borders Greater London, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Sections of the county closer to London are part of the metropolitan green belt, which prohibits development. It is the location of the nationally important Pinewood Studios and Dorney Lake, which will be holding the rowing events at the 2012 Summer Olympics. It is also well known for the new town of Milton Keynes, and the Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty.

History

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 itself has existed since it was a subdivision of the kingdom of Mercia (585–919).

The history of the area, though, 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 economical picture, 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.

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