The Home Counties

If you picture rural Britain, with rolling green hills, cobblestone streets and charming pubs, that’s London’s Home Counties. Just outside the bustle of London, the surrounding districts provide a welcome respite from city life and a glimpse into the charm of the English countryside. Named the Home Counties for the commuters who travel from suburban houses into London for work, the list includes Essex, Kent and Surrey, which all directly border the big city, plus Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Sussex a little farther afield from the British capital.

The area has a rich history spanning millennia, with castles dating back to the Middle Ages and estates visited by infamous monarchs such as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Nowadays, the Home Counties are known for quiet gardens, winding roads and quaint villages, as well as seaside piers and beaches. Cricket games and polo matches are not unusual pastimes but the most notable sport might be horseracing. Well-dressed crowds (with fabulous matching hats) watch races among modern day royals and other equestrian enthusiasts. It’s unsurprising several blockbuster films have been set here; the thatched roofs, stately manors and ivy-covered brick walls are the epitome of idyllic country living.