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Buckinghamshire Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Slough, Buckingham, High Wycombe


History of Buckinghamshire.
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 (585919).

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 (16421649) 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.

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.

Places of interest
Ascott Ashridge Estate Bletchley Park Boarstall Tower Bradenham Village Buckingham Chantry Chapel Buckinghamshire County Museum Buckinghamshire Railway Centre in Quainton Chequers Court Chicheley Hall Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway Claydon House Cliveden Coombe Hill Country Parks Country Walks and Rights of Way Dorneywood Halton House Hampden House Hartwell House Hughenden Manor Kederminster Library The King's Head Inn, Aylesbury Long Crendon Courthouse Mentmore Towers Pitstone Windmill Princes Risborough Manor House Roald Dahl Children's Gallery Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre Shardeloes Stowe Park Waddesdon Manor West Wycombe Caves Walks by bus and rail West Wycombe Park West Wycombe Village Whiteleaf Cross Winslow Hall Wycombe Abbey



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