Wiltshire Tourist Guide

Visiting England - Wiltshire

Visiting England you will probably arrive in London. You may think that England is a small country but it is a fascinating place to visit.

London is very big, very expensive but also interesting. It has many historic and architectural buildings. Some are very well known and will be very crowded making them difficult to visit. Some are not so well known. London is the 14th largest city in the world and has a population of 7.5 million.

Yes, you must see London but if you stay for longer than just a few days you should try to see the real England that is outside London.

England is a diverse and beautiful landscape. It is well served by a comprehensive road and rail network. Most places in England are within a few hours travel, seldom more than half a day from London.

England is divided into counties. The counties vary in size from the tiny Rutland with a small population of around 35000 people to Yorkshire in the north of England, the largest in area, with a population of nearly 5 million.

Even today the English that is spoken changes significantly across England. Regional accents can be different in each county, even different in towns or villages a few kilometres apart.

The English you may hear in the east and northeast of England has many words of Scandinavian origin. Names of places may be Scandinavian. These names and words go back to the early centuries when Vikings from the Denmark and Norway invaded the east coast of the United Kingdom and settled there. They introduced many words, expressions and names from their native country.

Further west and southwest in the counties of Devon and Cornwall many original people are of Celtic tribe’s origin. Regional and county accents, place names and commonly used words are again different and are often from the Celtic language.

When Visiting England you will notice that the English language and accent changes in different areas. So also does the countryside. This is often across short distances. Contrast the narrow country lanes and hills and red soil of the county of Devonshire in southwest England with the black soil of the wide flat and open areas of the Fens in Lincolnshire to the northeast of London or the chalk hills of Wiltshire.

Different counties - different countryside - different accents.

England is divided into 39 counties. These counties were formed many centuries ago and were often based on tribal boundaries. They have evolved and changed over many centuries to what England has today. Each county has its own regional local government known as county councils with democratically elected representatives. These county councils mainly administer the education, environmental services, and maintenance of the non-motorway road network within their county borders. There are many other functions administered by the county councils, for example the social and library services of the county.

Police and emergency services are also organised and administered at the same county level but this may change in the future.

Although never far from the coast, Wiltshire County has no coastline. It has a population of 433,000 and is mostly rural. Nearly half of Wiltshire population live in towns or villages of less than 5000 people, many with populations of less than 1,000. The main towns have the biggest concentrations of population. Excluding Swindon, the cathedral city of Salisbury and the county town of Trowbridge have the largest populations but there are many smaller market towns including Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Malmesbury, Wootton Bassett and others throughout the county.

Wiltshire has a rich and varied heritage with monuments of prehistory such as the Avebury and Stonehenge stone circles (both World Heritage sites), historic towns and buildings dating from the Roman and (French) Norman Conquest right up to the present day.

The entire county of Wiltshire is Rich in History. The countless hill forts and settlements of ancient Britons across Salisbury Plain, the medieval ‘new town’ of Salisbury built around Salisbury Cathedral at the of the 13th century. The large military defence infrastructures of the Second World War all bore witness to the tumultuous events that shaped the history of England. Even the name Wiltshire is believed to originate from Wilton, the ancient capital of Wessex, just west of its younger successor Salisbury. This was settled by the Wilsaetes tribe who took their name from the River Wylye close to where they lived and where Wilton stands today.

About seventy five percent of the land area of Wiltshire is protected as an area of outstanding natural beauty, special landscape or green belt. Salisbury Plain, the largest expanse of chalk grassland in England, is in the middle of the county of Wiltshire.

So when you have tired of London come and see some of the real England. Experience the peace and tranquillity of the Wiltshire countryside and explore its fascinating history.

We promise you will not be disappointed.

Visiting England