This blog started out as an exploration of walking in the country, as you might expect, but I gradually became aware that this was too narrow and began to extend my postings to cover walks in towns and cities. I apply the same "voyage of discovery" philosophy to both, so why not include urban walks as well? I started applying the generic label (key word) "city" to all such walks, but I came to the conclusion that it would be more interesting, at least in England, to apply "city" more rigorously - only to those settlements which are entitled to call themselves cities. All others have the label "town".
This opens up the obvious definitional question, and this is addressed below. But it also offers an interesting project - to walk them all. Later on this page there is a list of all 51 English cities (list from Wikipedia or Love My Town, which both have further information), with links to the walks I have so far done. I have done some sort of walk, sometimes more than one, in almost three-quarters of them, especially of course those in the south.
What is a city?
Generally of course the term "city" describes a large urban settlement, but the precise definition is often elusive. In England there is a widespread belief that having an Anglican cathedral is a requirement, but this is simply wrong. Fourteen cities do not have an Anglican cathedral - they are listed at the bottom of this page. Conversely, six cathedrals are not the main church of a city (Blackburn, Guildford, Southwark, Southwell, St Edmundsbury [or Bury St Edmunds as it is normally known] and St George's Chapel, Windsor). This information from the website of The Association of English Cathedrals.
It seems that there are three bases upon which current English cities are so called:
1 They have been known as cities since time immemorial.
2 The establishment of an Anglican cathedral (e.g Ripon in 1836 or Truro in 1877).
3 The title was awarded by Letters Patent from the monarch.
Cities under the third category have recently been the result of competitions: Millenium (Brighton and Hove, Wolverhampton); Silver Jubilee 2002 (Preston); Golden Jubilee 2012 (Chelmsford). There are - of course - no explicit criteria.
One especially salutary tale concerns Rochester (courtesy of the UK Cities website): Rochester had held city status since 1211, but ceased to officially be a city because of an administrative oversight.
The former Rochester-upon-Medway City Council neglected to appoint
ceremonial Charter Trustees when Medway became a unitary authority in
1998. Unfamiliar with the archaic rules governing city status, they did
not realize that Charter Trustees would be needed to protect the city's
status. Consequently Rochester was removed from the Lord Chancellor's
official list of UK cities.
List of English cities (51 in all)
Total now walked: 39
(Kingston upon) Hull
London: City of London
London: City of Westminster
Newcastle upon Tyne
The cities which do not have an Anglican cathedral are: Bath, Brighton, Cambridge, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Preston, Salford, Sunderland and Wolverhampton.Southampton, Stoke.