Royal County of Berkshire
Flag of Berkshire.svg
Berkshire within England
Berkshire in England
Coordinates: 51°25′N 1°00′W / 51°25′N 1°00′W / 51.417; -1.000
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
RegionSouth East
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantJames Puxley
High SheriffG E Barker of Maidenhead (2018–19)[1]
Area1,262 km2 (487 sq mi)
 • Ranked40th of 48
Population (mid-2017 est.)905,800
 • Ranked24th of 48
Density717/km2 (1,860/sq mi)
Ethnicity88.7% White
6.8% S.Asian
2.0% Black
Non-metropolitan county
Joint committeesBerkshire Local Transport Body
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
Berkshire numbered districts.svg
Districts of Berkshire
  1. West Berkshire
  2. Reading
  3. Wokingham
  4. Bracknell Forest
  5. Windsor and Maidenhead
  6. Slough
Members of ParliamentList of MPs
PoliceThames Valley Police
Time zoneGreenwich Mean Time (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)British Summer Time (UTC+1)

Berkshire (ər/, abbreviated Berks, in the 17th century sometimes spelled Barkeshire (as it is pronounced)) is a county in south east England, west of London and is one of the home counties. It was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974.[2][3] Berkshire is a county of historic origin and is a home county, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council.

The historic boundary to the north of Berkshire follows the River Thames, from Buscot to Old Windsor. Therefore, the historic county includes territory that is now administered by the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire districts of Oxfordshire, but excludes Slough and Eton, which are historically in Buckinghamshire. Berkshire County Council was the main local government of the county from 1889 to 1998 and was based in Reading, though the County Borough of Reading was administered separately until 1974. In 1974, the county's administrative boundaries were significantly altered. The towns of Abingdon, Didcot, Faringdon, Wallingford and Wantage were transferred to Oxfordshire, while Slough, Datchet / Riding Court were added from Buckinghamshire.[4]

Since 1998, Berkshire has been governed by the six unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham. Berkshire borders the counties of Oxfordshire (to the north), Buckinghamshire (to the north-east), Greater London (to the east), Surrey (to the south-east), Wiltshire (to the west) and Hampshire (to the south).[5]


Windsor Castle, viewed from the Long Walk

According to Asser's biography of King Alfred, written in 893 AD,[6] its old name Bearrocscir takes its name from a wood of box trees, which was called Bearroc (a Celtic word meaning "hilly").[7] This wood, perhaps no longer extant, was west of Frilsham, near Abingdon.[8]

Berkshire has been the scene of some notable battles through its history. Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes included the Battles of Englefield, Ashdown and Reading. Newbury was the site of two English Civil War battles: the First Battle of Newbury (at Wash Common) in 1643 and the Second Battle of Newbury (at Speen) in 1644. The nearby Donnington Castle was reduced to a ruin in the aftermath of the second battle. Another Battle of Reading took place on 9 December 1688. It was the only substantial military action in England during the Glorious Revolution and ended in a decisive victory for forces loyal to William of Orange.

Reading became the new county town in 1867, taking over from Abingdon, which remained in the county. Under the Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire Quarter Sessions, covering the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the county borough of Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, and cessions in the Oxford area.

On 1 April 1974, Berkshire's boundaries changed under the Local Government Act 1972. Berkshire took over administration of Slough and Eton and part of the former Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire.[4] The northern part of the county became part of Oxfordshire, with Faringdon, Wantage and Abingdon and their hinterland becoming the Vale of White Horse district, and Didcot and Wallingford added to South Oxfordshire district.[4] 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron still keep the Uffington White Horse in their insignia, even though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.[citation needed]

On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, and the districts became unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished.[9][10] Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" have all but disappeared but may still be seen on the borders of West Berkshire District, on the east side of Virginia Water and on the M4 motorway. There are also county signs on the south side of Sonning Bridge on the B478, on the A404 southbound carriageway crossing the river Thames, and heading north on the A33 at the start of the dual carriageway just past Stratfield Saye.

A flag for the historic county of Berkshire was registered with the Flag Institute in 2017.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Berkshire
Ænglisc: Bearrucscīr
العربية: باركشير
aragonés: Berkshire
asturianu: Berkshire
Bân-lâm-gú: Berkshire
български: Бъркшър
brezhoneg: Berkshire
català: Berkshire
Cebuano: Berkshire
čeština: Berkshire
Cymraeg: Berkshire
dansk: Berkshire
Deutsch: Berkshire
eesti: Berkshire
Ελληνικά: Μπέρκσαϊρ
español: Berkshire
Esperanto: Berkshire
euskara: Berkshire
فارسی: بارکشر
français: Berkshire
Frysk: Berkshire
Gaeilge: Berkshire
Gaelg: Berkshire
galego: Berkshire
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Berkshire
한국어: 버크셔주
हिन्दी: बर्कशायर
Ilokano: Berkshire
Bahasa Indonesia: Berkshire
íslenska: Berkshire
italiano: Berkshire
עברית: ברקשייר
kernowek: Berkshire
Latina: Berceria
latviešu: Bērkšīra
Lëtzebuergesch: Berkshire
lietuvių: Berkšyras
magyar: Berkshire
मराठी: बर्कशायर
Mirandés: Berkshire
Nederlands: Berkshire
norsk: Berkshire
norsk nynorsk: Berkshire
پنجابی: برکشائر
polski: Berkshire
português: Berkshire
română: Berkshire
русский: Беркшир
Scots: Berkshire
Simple English: Berkshire
српски / srpski: Беркшир
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Berkshire
suomi: Berkshire
svenska: Berkshire
татарча/tatarça: Беркшир
Türkçe: Berkshire
українська: Беркшир
اردو: برکشائر
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: Bérkshir
Tiếng Việt: Berkshire
Volapük: Berkshire
Winaray: Berkshire
ייִדיש: בארקשיר
粵語: 柏莎郡
中文: 伯克郡