28 APRIL 1939, Page 17

County Groups It seems that in writing (after high appreciation)

of The Gloucestershire Countryside (St. Loe's House, Amberley) I did that excellent county magazine a certain injustice. It has a much longer past than I was aware of : it is only the comparative splendour of its present form that is new. Incidentally, in the April or Housing Number the splendour is reduplicated. The editor is of my opinion in regard to such local magazines : any county is rich enough in material to supply a monthly or quarterly magazine with an inex- haustible fund of news and comment. The idea is, I believe, taking root that it would often be best for natural groups of counties to share a magazine. East Anglia has, I believe, realised this in regard to its magazine as well as its very excellent newspaper. "The Home Counties" is a pleasant phrase, though it does not imply perhaps any very real unity of social or historic interest. Incidentally, which are the Home Counties? The dictionary definition, those adjoining London, is not wholly convincing, partly because the tentacles of London stretch so far. Devon and Cornwall—as their Lord Lieutenants showed in respect of rural preservation—have more than a merely geographic community of interest, in spite of a certain rivalry. Then there are the counties, if that inaccurate word is permissible, which have arrogated to them- selves the fond title of "The Shires." The name has hunting associations ; but how rich in many other ways are these shires. The English language itself took form in the monasteries along the Nene, and English is especially "Middle English." Again, is it quite specifically settled which counties have the right to associate themselves with Northampton and Leicester as belonging to "The Shires" ? The two smallest counties, Rutland and Huntingdonshire, are interested in the question.