Historical and alternative regions of England

England is divided by a number of different regional schemes for various purposes. Since the creation of the Government Office Regions in 1994 and their adoption for statistical purposes in 1999, some historical regional schemes have become obsolete. However, many alternative regional designations also exist and continue to be widely used.



Informal and overlapping regional designations are often used to describe areas of England. They include:


Heptarchy, former kingdom names which did not become counties have continued to be recognised by organisations as regions:

  •  Wessex, generally interchangeable the West Country excluding Cornwall
  •  East Anglia
  •  Mercia, often considered interchangeable with the Midlands
  •  Northumbria, associated mainly with the Viking age rump kingdom of Northumbria (the counties of Durham and Northumberland) however can be considered interchangeable with Northern England


Historic counties and the Yorkshire Ridings are no longer used as units for administrative or ceremonial purposes. These have continued to be recognised in sport and used by organisations as regional units.

National parks

National parks include:

Britain in Bloom regions

Britain in Bloom divides England into 12 regions. Mixture of government regions with some altered names. It also includes Cumbria, Thames-and-Chilterns (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) and part of south east and south west as South-and-South-West.

National Trust

The National Trust has 10 regional offices in England. These are



Great Britain around the year 800
An approximate depiction of Danelaw's affect on Mercia, including the Five Burghs, in the early 10th century

After the end of the Roman occupation of Britain, the area now known as England became divided into seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex. A number of other smaller political divisions and sub-kingdoms existed. The kingdoms were eventually united into the Kingdom of England in a process beginning with Egbert of Wessex in 829 and completed by King Edred in 954.


During The Protectorate, Oliver Cromwell experimented with the Rule of the Major-Generals. There were ten regional associations covering England and Wales administered by majors-general. Ireland under Major-General Henry Cromwell,[3] and Scotland under Major-General George Monck were in administrations already agreed upon and were not part of the scheme.[4]

World War II

In the Second World War, England was divided into ten civil defence regions:
  1. Northern: Durham, Northumberland, Yorkshire, North Riding
  2. North Eastern: Yorkshire, East and West Riding
  3. North Midland: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland
  4. Eastern: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk
  5. London: larger area than County of London/Middlesex, possibly same as Metropolitan Police District
  6. Southern: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire, Oxfordshire
  7. South Western: Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire
  8. Midland: Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
  9. North Western: Cheshire, Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland
  10. South Eastern: Kent, Surrey and Sussex

Economic planning regions

Eight economic planning regions were named by the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, George Brown in December 1964. These were:

Standard statistical regions

Before the adoption of the government office regions for statistics, there were eight 'standard statistical regions':

Standard Statistical Regions
  1. North – current North East plus Cumbria
  2. North West – current North West less Cumbria
  3. Yorkshire and Humberside – as current Yorkshire and The Humber
  4. West Midlands – as now
  5. East Midlands – as now
  6. East Anglia – Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire
  7. South West – as now
  8. South East – as now, plus Greater London, Bedfordshire, Essex, and Hertfordshire

Civil defence regions

The present government office regions closely resemble Civil Defence Regions. During the latter part of the Cold War, the United Kingdom was divided into 11 such regions, most of which were divided themselves into sub-regions. The regions were numbered as shown in the list, numbers for sub-regions were of the form 11.

The regions were based on pre-Second World War regions, but were substantially altered in the 1970s, with the merger of South East and Southern regions, and alterations in the north. They were again altered in 1984, to merge the English regions 1 and 2 to become a single North East region, and Scotland's two southern regions (East and West Zones) becoming a single South Zone.[5]


From the mid-1980s, the eight English Civil Defence Regions were as follows (using 1974/1975 boundaries):

  1. North East England
    1. (North East England) – Cleveland/Durham/Northumberland/Tyne and Wear
    2. (Yorkshire and the Humber) – Humberside/North Yorkshire/South Yorkshire/West Yorkshire
  2. East Midlands
    1. Derbyshire/Lincolnshire/Nottinghamshire
    2. Leicestershire/Northamptonshire
  3. East of England
    1. (East Anglia) – Cambridgeshire/Norfolk/Suffolk
    2. Bedfordshire/Essex/Hertfordshire
  4. Greater London – see Civil defence centres in London for sub-regions
  5. South East England
    1. East Sussex/Kent/Surrey/West Sussex
    2. Berkshire/Buckinghamshire/Hampshire/Isle of Wight/Oxfordshire
  6. South West England
    1. Avon/Dorset/Gloucestershire/Somerset/Wiltshire
    2. Cornwall/Devon
  7. West Midlands
    1. Staffordshire/Warwickshire/West Midlands
    2. Hereford and Worcester/Shropshire
  8. North West England
    1. Cumbria/Lancashire
    2. Cheshire/Greater Manchester/Merseyside

Redcliffe-Maud provinces

Redcliffe-Maud provinces

The Redcliffe-Maud Report produced by the Royal Commission on local government reform in 1969 recommended the creation of eight provinces. In approximate terms, these were to be:

  1. North East – per North East England
  2. Yorkshire – per Yorkshire and the Humber
  3. North West – per North West England, excluding southern Cheshire
  4. West Midlands – per West Midlands, including southern Cheshire
  5. East Midlands – per East Midlands, less Northamptonshire and mid Lincolnshire
  6. South West – per South West England
  7. East Anglia – Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, northern Essex, southern Lincolnshire
  8. South East – South East England and Greater London with Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, southern Essex

See also


  1. e.g. Sussex Day and Sussex Police
  2. Allen, Liam (1 August 2006). "What's so special about Yorkshire?". BBC. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  3. Henry Cromwell was nominally under the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Charles Fleetwood, but Fleetwood's departure for England in September 1655 left him for all practical purposes the ruler of Ireland
  4. Royal, Trevor References; pages 698,699
  5. Steve Fox. "File 8 Rethinking Regional Government". Subterranea Britannica.
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