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Has little geographical unity. The chalk hills of the Chilterns run across the middle of the county from south‐west to north‐east. Communications between north and south have always been poor, and Olney in the north, where William Cowper lived, was in a different world from Stoke Poges in the south, where Gray wrote ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’. The diffuseness of the shire was increased by the fact that the county town was not Aylesbury, near the middle, but the smaller town of Buckingham in the extreme north‐west corner.

Pre‐Roman Buckinghamshire was in Catuvellauni territory, and Cunobelinus, grandson of Cassivellaunus, is believed to be commemorated in Great and Little Kimble, near Chequers. In the 6th cent. the area was disputed between the Britons and the English, the latter reported by the Anglo‐Saxon Chronicle to have captured Aylesbury in 571. The region became part of the kingdom of Mercia. As a county Buckinghamshire probably developed after Edward the Elder, king of Wessex, launched his great advance against the Danes and fortified Buckingham as a frontier outpost in 918. It was first mentioned as a county in 1010 when most of it was overrun by a second Danish advance. In Domesday Book, Buckingham appears to have been substantial, but did not maintain its pre‐eminence and was overtaken by Aylesbury, Wycombe, Marlow, and Chesham. Industrial development came late to Buckinghamshire. Slough did not even merit a separate entry in the 1801 census but was included in the parish of Upton. The 19th cent. gave the county a network of railways, which stimulated the growth of Wolverton, Slough, and Wycombe. Proximity to London led to great changes in the 20th cent., the balance of population moving south. The development of Milton Keynes in the north‐east as a new town promises to restore the balance.

Subjects: British History.

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