Regions of the United Kingdom - Names

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Certain areas of the United Kingdom are sometimes referred to by names which allude to a distinctive characteristic of the area, e.g., one of its geographical features or a human activity typical of the area. For example, the Lakes or the Lake District - the use of the definite article is obligatory - are names for the region of lakes and mountains in the county of Cumbria in northwest England. The Lake District is a popular tourist area, particularly associated with the poets William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), and Robert Southey (1774-1843) - often referred to as the Lake Poets - all of whom lived in the area and drew inspiration from its scenery.

Here, in alphabetical order, are some more examples:

  • The Borders may refer either to the region either side of the border between England and Scotland or to the eastern half of the Scottish Uplands (i.e., roughly the eastern side of the south of Scotland, limited on the north by the city of Edinburgh and the counties of Midlothian and East Lothian, and on the south by the border with England). The name of the local authority with responsibility for this latter region is Scottish Borders.
  • The Brontë Country or Brontë Country - the definite article is sometimes omitted - is the name given to an area west of the city of Bradford. The area, which falls partly in West Yorkshire.and partly in East Lancashire, lies in the hills of the Pennine Range, i.e., the mountain range which runs from Derbyshire to the Cheviot Hills on the border between England and Scotland. The Brontë Country is so called after the Brontë sisters, the novelists Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848) and Anne (1820-1849), who lived in the area.
  • The Dukeries is a district in Nottinghamshire south of the town of Worksop. It owes its name to the fact that four dukes - the Dukes of Newcastle, Portland, Kingston, and Norfolk - had residences close to one another in the area. The term is also applied informally in Hull to a group of streets named, rather elastically, after some of the 'seats' - houses - of the grand Dukes concerned: Thoresby (seat of the Duke of Kingston), Belvoir (Rutland), Welbeck (Portland) and Clumber (Newcastle) Streets. These are linked by two streets, and joined by one other, named after large historic estates, not in themselves part of the (Nottinghamshire) Dukeries: Blenheim (seat of the Duke of Marlborough), Chatsworth (Devonshire) and Hardwick (Shrewsbury) Streets.
  • Hardy Country - the expression is usually used without the definite article - is an area in the West Country (see below), the setting for the novels of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). Its centre is Hardy's hometown of Dorchester in Dorset, and it extends over the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, and Hampshire.
  • The Home Counties are the counties around London, but excluding London itself, i.e., Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Buckinghamshire, and Berkshire - though in recent years the expression has sometimes been used to designate a slightly wider area (to include, e.g., parts of Oxfordhire, Cambridgeshire, and Bedforshire). The expression, which began to be used at the end of the nineteenth century, is of uncertain origin, but may come from 'the Home Circuit', the name of one of the six areas into which England is divided for the administration of justice, the Home Circuit covering the area around London..
  • The Peaks or the Peak District is an upland area mostly in the county of Derbyshire. It is situated in the north of the county, but also extends into the counties of South and West Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, and the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. The area contains the Peak District National Park, the first of the National Parks to be established in 1951.
  • The Potteries or the Staffordshire Potteries is an area in Staffordshire in the West Midlands. It includes the six towns of Stoke, Hanley, Burslem, Tunstall, Longton, and Fenton, which today make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the last five of which are the towns alluded to in the title of the novel Anna of the Five Towns by Arnold Bennett (1867-1931). The Potteries acquired its name from the ceramic industry which began in the area in the seventeenth century and greatly expanded with the development of the railways in the second half of the nineteenth century. Among well-known firms with factories in the area are Doulton, Minton, Moorcroft, and Wedgwood. The Premier League football club Stoke City F C are familiarly known as the Potters. The Potteries Urban Area includes the city of Stoke-on-Trent and the towns of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Kidsgrove.
  • The Six Counties are the counties of Antrim, Down, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, and Londonderry, which make up Northern Ireland, one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom. The expression 'The Six Counties' is sometimes used, informally, as a way of referring to Northern Ireland, especially within Northern Ireland itself. (It is often called by its Protestant inhabitants, Ulster, an expression which should be avoided.)
  • The West Country is a mostly rural area in the southwest of England. It includes the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset, and the city of Bristol, and, in some usages, the more easterly counties of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.