Herefordshire (abbreviated Herefs. or Hfds.) is an historic English county in the West Midlands region. It is a ceremonial county and a unitary non-metropolitan county and district, also named in legislation as the County of Herefordshire and governed by Herefordshire Council. It borders the English ceremonial counties of Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire to the south-east, and the Welsh preserved counties of Gwent to the south-west and Powys to the west. The Welsh unitary county covering the part of Gwent next to Herefordshire is Monmouthshire.
Hereford is a cathedral city and is the county town of Herefordshire; with a population of approximately 55,800 inhabitants it is also the largest settlement. The county is one of the most rural and sparsely populated in England, with a population density of 82/km² (212/sq mi). The land use is predominantly agricultural and the county is well known for its fruit and cider production, and the Hereford breed of cattle.
History to 1974
The History of Herefordshire starts with a shire in the time of Aethelstan (895–939), and is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1051. In the Domesday Survey some adjacent areas of the Welsh Marches are assessed under Herefordshire. The western and southern borders remained debatable ground ("Archenfield") until, with the incorporation of the Welsh Marches in 1535, considerable territory was annexed to Herefordshire. These areas formed the hundreds of Wigmore, Ewyas Lacy and Huntington, while Ewyas Harold was united to Webtree. At the time of the Domesday Survey the divisions of the county were very unsettled. As many as nineteen hundreds are mentioned, but these were of varying extent, some containing only one manor, some from twenty to thirty. Of the twelve modern hundreds, only Greytree, Radlow, Stretford, Wolphy and Wormelow retain Domesday names. the others being Broxash, Ewyas-Lacy, Grimsworth, Huntington, Webtree and Wigmore. Situated on the Welsh border, Herefordshire shares historic and linguistic affinities with Wales, the Welsh name for Herefordshire is Sir Henffordd.
Hereford and Worcester (1974-1998)
Herefordshire since 1998
Herefordshire is one of the 39 historic counties of England.
In 1974 it was merged with neighbouring Worcestershire to form the Hereford and Worcester administrative county. Within this, Herefordshire was covered by the local government districts of South Herefordshire, Hereford, and part of Malvern Hills and Leominster districts. However, the county was dissolved in 1998, resulting in the return of Herefordshire and Worcestershire as counties.