" is an informal phrase used to designate the group of counties
that border or surround London
. The term originated in the late nineteenth century, and is probably derived from the Home Circuit
of the itinerant Assize Court
. The home counties have no official definition but are usually understood as coinciding with the London commuter belt
or the London Metropolitan Area
, i.e., where people can work in London without living in the city and travel home each evening. The home counties are sometimes also called London and the South East
Social and political connotations
The term 'home counties' is occasionally used to describe the social and moral attitudes and physical attributes of the prosperous and frequently conservative (both culturally and in terms of support for the Conservative Party, for which south eastern England is a stronghold) people who are thought to abound in them, for example in the phrase 'home counties accent'.
The home counties
There is no official definition of the "home counties". However, the term has been used in legislation and the administration of the armed forces during the twentieth century as follows:
- 1908: The Home Counties Division of the Territorial Force comprised units recruiting in Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
- 1920: The London and Home Counties Electricity District consisted of the counties of London and Middlesex; and parts of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.
- 1924: The London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, covering the London Traffic Area: London, Middlesex, and parts of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.
- 1926: The Home Counties (Music and Dancing) Licensing Act regulated activities in all parts of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey within 20 miles of the City of London or City of Westminster.
- 1938: Green Belt (London and Home Counties) Act limited development in parts of Middlesex, Kent, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, Berkshire and Hertfordshire.
- 1948: The Home Counties Brigade was formed to administer the infantry regiments of the City and County of London, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex.