Many people are unaware that our counties remain exactly as they always have been since being established in the Anglo-Saxon era. Often signs which mark the territories of local authority areas are misinterpreted as indicating county boundaries. However, signs marking the boundaries of our true counties, points where three or more counties meet and others which proclaim county identity can be found across the country.
The Kent / Surrey border post seen above from each side, is located on Vesta Rd near New Cross Gate.
It is a great example of a county boundary marker, in an urban area. The county boundary continues a short distance north, as indicated on the section below, taken from the county map hosted by Wikishire with Kent in purple and Surrey in green.
to the Thames path, on the south side of the river, where this stone sign
indicates a parish boundary, which is the same as the county border.
Two signs are displayed at St Luke’s Church,
just off Old Street , EC1
and Whitecross Street, just a little south
denoting the Middlesex identity of these locations. Pictures from Josephine Gardiner.
On the Surrey road, heading west, out of Bournemouth
towards the Dorset village of Branksome,
this splendid brick column
marks the border
between Hampshire and Dorset. It was erected by Elizabeth Durrant, then owner of the Branksome estate.
The meeting point of four counties
comprising territories from Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire
near Moreton-in-Marsh, is famously marked by “Four shire stone”
The meeting point is formed by small exclaves or “detached parts” of Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, juxtaposed between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire
A less orthodox “sign” marks the spot
where Yorkshire, Westmorland and Lancashire meet,
“The County Stone” is a large boulder, which has designated the point were the three counties join, for a nearly a thousand years. This view is looking west and south from Yorkshire into Lancashire, with Westmorland to the right.
Further west, the location where Westmorland and Lancashire join Cumberland
is highlighted by the Three Shire Stone
first erected in 1860 and restored in 1998.
A similar structure
is found on the south side of the B645, where Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire converge.
Another boundary marker appears on a cottage wall
located at a point between the villages of Cawsand in Cornwall and Kingsand in Devon.
The Devon village lies in one of two detached parts of the county, that are located on the western bank of the Tamar, so the sign predates the 1844 act that removed these for purposes of administration.
The boundary between Middlesex and Hertfordshire, on the Western edge of the Metropolitan district of Southgate
is indicated by an 18th century obelisk
Carelessly damaged by workmen and left in ruins, with pieces strewn across a grass verge for years,
the marker was restored by local conservation group Southgate Green Association and is located on Waterfall Road
A sketch of the obelisk appeared in a local newspaper article published in 1935.
Another Hertfordshire-Middlesex boundary stone can be found on the High Road in Bushey Heath, also identified as the highest point in Middlesex at 505 feet.
A further, rather grand, boundary post between Middlesex and Hertfordshire,
that once stood on the railway bank south of Hawkshead bridge, Potter’s Bar.
was erected by London North East Railways in 1934-5, but the names were removed in 1940 as part of the effort to thwart potential German invasion.
The Caernarfonshire, Merionethshire and Denbighshire Three shire stone
The Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, Three Shire Stone
Three Shire Heads Bridge and waterfall, at the junction of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire
located on Axe Edge Moor
The town of Tunbridge Wells straddles the boundary between Kent and Sussex
located in Nevill Street
just by the King Charles The Martyr Church (south-west)
looking west, the Grom Brook county boundary is seen and the above stone is located, where the red X is shown, at the point that the brook turns south. The ancient Grom Brook boundary, now underground, flows west up to the point by the church where it makes a sharp southerly turn. On the map below from 1910, the county boundary is picked out in orange dots.
Thanks to Sussex Flag for these illustrations and details.
A further Sussex and Kent boundary marker
is located further south, near Iden in Sussex.
Sadly the oak was cut down in 1844, in what appears to have been a barbarous act of self-interest, to judge from this 1884 letter published in “The Monthly Packet” in 1884
fashioned from the tree, mentioned in the above letter, can still be seen at Ifield Church, a short distance to the west
The spot today is covered by a bus stop, seen below, appropriately decorated with the county flags of Surrey and Sussex on either side of the boundary straddled by the stop.
On the front of a house in Bridlington, is a sign indicating its location within the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Photo from Andrew Clark.
A list of county tripoints can be found here.