South East England is a large region that includes the Home Counties surrounding London although a big area is near the sea. Inland you’ll find elegant spa towns and Weald countryside, complete with village ponds. A lot of South East England is covered by The South Downs, a series of rolling hills and chalkland. From the city of Brighton to the marshlands of Rye and Camber Sands, this is a county of contrasts. Also see A Guide to London, Naturally.
The Inland Counties
- Berkshire is an affluent county not far from London, home to many beautiful villages. The main towns are Windsor (the castle used for royal weddings) and Slough (the setting for Ricky Gervais’ series The Office).
- Buckinghamshire is a beautiful county, not far from London. Home to pretty villages that sit in the Chiltern Hills, much of which will be destroyed if HS2 High-Speed Rail goes ahead (not good for nearby Tiggywinkles – the world’s busiest wildlife hospital).
- Essex is a large county not far from London, more known for its urban lifestyle (Bluewater & reality TV). But most of the county is rural with pretty villages, country pubs & windmills. The coast has a busy shipping port, sadly used to often import people. Locals are very friendly – cheeky chappy!
- Hertfordshire is a pretty county of rural villages and ponds. Think of a scene from Miss Marple. Bordered by several counties, it also sits in the Chiltern Hills, and has many local food markets.
- Oxfordshire is a mostly rural county, on the river Thames. Oxford is home to a major university (a lot busier than it looks on episodes of Inspector Morse). It’s surrounded by beautiful little riverside villages.
- Surrey is England’s most affluent county (excluding London) and is home to many commuters who take the train into the capital. The councils here don’t chop the forests down, so it remains England’s most wooded county. The county includes several towns including Reigate. Pretty villages abound, nestled in the rolling hills of the North Downs.
The Seaside Counties
- East Sussex stretches from the Kent border in the east to the vibrant city of Brighton in the west. Most lies on the coast, which has some of the best sunshine in England. Inland you can find pretty Weald villages. A lot of tourism is from resorts like Bexhill-On-Sea, or those who go walking on the South Downs. The county town of Lewes has its own castle and currency.
- Hampshire faces Isle of Wight, a few miles over the water. The maritime city of Portsmouth is a major naval base, and a hub for ships sailing to France. Next door is the popular resort of Southsea. Southampton has an affluent population of boating peeps, as does Lyndhurst (with a ferry to Isle of Wight). The historic town of Winchester used to be the capital of England.
- Kent is one of England’s largest counties, and sits in the southeast corner, just 20 miles from France. Known for its ‘white cliffs of Dover’, it’s the world’s busiest shipping port and home to the seaside resort of Margate. Inland, you can find elegant Royal Tunbridge Wells (famed for its spa waters) and Sevenoaks (home to some of England’s best schools). Kent is home to many orchards & oast houses (used to dry hops).
- West Sussex is a large county that travels inland to the affluent town of Horsham (near Gatwick Airport) to pretty seaside resorts of Bognor Regis, West Wittering and Littlehampton (the sunniest places in England). The sailing town of Chichester is also popular, with its beautiful marina.