Explain English geography to me

When I watch TV set in the UK, they often refer to English place names like Sussex, Northumberland, Cornwall, Yorkshire … and I realized that I really don’t have any idea what those names represent.

Are they geopolitical entities – analogous to, say, Massachusetts or Georgia in the US – with executive or legislative bodies? Or are they just geographic groupings, like “New England” or “The Deep South”?

Is there a connection to the nobility? Like, was Yorkshire owned by the Duke of York?

They are counties; exactly analogous to US counties.

Each has some municipal bodies, but it doesn’t really matter if you are in Yorkshire or Shropshire, aside from your address.

And, yes, Yorkshire (for example) used to be controlled (and largely, but not entirely owned) by the Duke of York

Sussex, Northumberland, Cornwall, Yorkshire are all Counties. Counties are Local government areas that have some control over local spending like police, education, roads etc. Their funding comes partly from a levy on households, partly from businesses and mostly from the central government.

Duke of York is just a title that is often given to the second son of the monarch. The Queen can create titles like Duhe and Duchess of Cambridge, but they have no direct connection to the City of hat name or to the county of Cambridgeshire.

The basis of all this stretches back centuries and you can look most of it up on Wikipedia.

Well, they’re not exactly analogous to US counties. Even US counties aren’t exactly analogous to US counties: They vary a lot from state to state. But I think British counties have a lot more significance, in general, than US counties. Culturally, if nothing else: Most Americans don’t really identify with our counties (we’re more likely to identify either with our state, or with the closest major city).

And if the name ends in -shire, then often, if you chop that off the name, you’ll get the name of the major city in that county.

This might help:

Does anyone actually use the word “county” in conjunction with the place name? As in, “I was born in Yorkshire county but then moved Essex County”?

County Durham works like that
(possibly because the name of the county town (which is actually a city) is also Durham)

That was brilliant. Thank you!

Other than that, people don’t really say 'county when talking about the county itself (as a geographic region they come from or are travelling to etc).

In other contexts though, yes, for example:
“Hampshire County Council is based in Winchester”
“I’m thinking of entering my prize sow at Dorset County Show this year”

Well, there’s “Lincoln County.”

And there’s a Sheriff of Nottingham(shire)

A healthcare professional too; appropriate for pandemic. Robin Hood shooting syringes would be a good logo.

I think in the US that identification is stronger the more rural, and the more in the past, you go (Faulkner’s stories about Yoknapatawpha County, and Mark Twain’s “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. And the girl in True Grit who’s always going on about how they do things back in Yell County, Arkansas). But otherwise, yeah.

I like to repeat the Two Ronnies line, since my dad was from Yorkshire…

“I’m from the third world - Yorkshire…”

Is there a well-known, well-established image of what Robin Hood is supposed to look like, so that you can make a logo of him that everyone would immediately recognize? (Analogous to the Guy Fawkes image, for example.) Would it be that Disney Robin Hood as Fox character?

I live in a small resort town in Montana… actually it’s a village since there is no local government, that spreads far out into the countryside. The main street of the village is in one county, but a large part of the outskirts is in a different county, so when someone we don’t know says they’re from our village we often ask them which county they are in. One county is far more rural than the other. We live in the county with the “big city” in it that’s 30 miles away.

Probably the most iconic movie portrayal of the character was Errol Flynn’s, and the Disney character is wearing the same outfit – the pointy-front hunting cap with the feather, the green jerkin, and the bow. Put all of those on a character in a logo, and it’s pretty clearly Robin Hood, IMO.

Below the picture of Flynn are several examples I found by doing a Google image search on “Robin Hood” – there’s a lot of convergent validity. :slight_smile:

Today I learned the V for Vendetta mask is supposed to be the well-known (?) visage of Guy Fawkes. I plead “American” to explain my ignorance.

Errol Flynn offering injections… there’s a double entendres. He was rumored to liberally powder his pubic hair with cocaine. (Is this a record for how OT a post can go?)

“Get your jab in like Flynn!”

True now, and for many Duchies, but some do still have ties to the places they come from - eg Duke of Cornwall (one of Prince Charles’ many titles) comes with a lot of land in Cornwall, and the Duke of Westminster owns great chunks of Westminster, the wealthiest borough in London, which in turn makes him the wealthiest aristocrat around.