Proud to pre­serve the an­cient name of Mid­dle­sex

Fed­er­a­tion work­ing to keep his­toric county alive

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

MID­DLE­SEX Day may be a fairly new in­ven­tion but the county’s roots are be­lieved to stretch back more than 2,000 years to the Iron Age.

The Mid­dle Saxon Lands, from which its name orig­i­nates, were a fiercely con­tested ter­ri­tory pop­u­lated by Ro­mans and Bri­tons, caught be­tween war­ring Saxon king­doms to the east (Es­sex) and west (Wes­sex).

Ac­cord­ing to the Mid­dle­sex Fed­er­a­tion, which cam­paigns to keep the county’s moniker alive, they stretched from the Chiltern Hills in the west to the River Lea in the east.

The three seaxes (notched swords) on the county arms – from which Mid­dle­sex County Cricket Club takes its nick­name the Seaxes – were weapons car­ried by An­glo-Saxon war­riors.

The first known ref­er­ence to the King­dom of Mid­dle­sex came in a char­ter of King Offa, who ruled Mer­cia in the eighth cen­tury AD. It is de­scribed in the doc­u­ment as a prov­ince con­tain­ing Twick­en­ham.

The County of Mid­dle­sex it­self was formed in 890AD, with its bound­ary marked by the rivers Lea, Thames and Colne. It stretched from Bow in east Lon­don to Uxbridge in the west, and as far north as Pot­ters Bar.

It wasn’t un­til 1889 that the ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­trict of Mid­dle­sex County Coun­cil was cre­ated, largely by lop­ping off the more cen­tral Lon­don ex­trem­i­ties.

That sur­vived un­til 1965, when most of the county coun­cil was swal­lowed up by new Lon­don bor­oughs like Eal­ing, Hilling­don, Houn­slow and Rich­mond, dur­ing a huge ex­pan­sion of the cap­i­tal.

With the demise of the county coun­cil, many peo­ple be­lieved that meant the end of Mid­dle­sex as a county.

Even Wikipedia refers to the county in the past tense, declar­ing it “was a county in south-east Eng­land”.

Although its name lives on in a num­ber of build­ings and in­sti­tu­tions – most fa­mously Mid­dle­sex CCC – even its use as a postal county for sorting mail ceased nearly two decades ago.

But the Mid­dle­sex Fed­er­a­tion along with many proud Mid­dle­sex res­i­dents past and present – most no­tably the celebrity astrol­o­gist Rus­sell Grant – in­sists re­ports of its death have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated.

“We do know that any­one who says Mid­dle­sex ‘doesn’t ex­ist’ is talk­ing out their hat,” the group’s web­site de­clares.

“The as­sump­tion that be­cause the County Coun­cil was abol­ished Mid­dle­sex is abol­ished is fan­ci­ful – did Mid­dle­sex not ex­ist be­fore 1889? For that is the very re­cent date the Mid­dle­sex County Coun­cil was formed.”

Mid­dle­sex Day, May 16, is cen­tral to the fed­er­a­tion’s at­tempts to make more peo­ple re­alise the county, which it claims is Eng­land’s third old­est be­hind only Kent and Es­sex, is very much alive and kick­ing. It com­mem­o­rates a fa­mous mil­i­tary tri­umph by the Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment which took place on that date in 1811 many miles from south-east Eng­land, o n the Span­ish/Por­tuguese bor­ders in Al­buhera.

By re­pelling the might of Napoleon’s army that day and stop­ping French forces march­ing into Por­tu­gal, the reg­i­ment gave Welling­ton’s troops cru­cial time to re­trench.

The fed­er­a­tion’s web­site stir­ringly de­clares: “As the sup­port­ers of the Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment gath­ers to­day in their HQ from their mu­seum at Bruce Cas­tle in Tot­ten­ham to their bar­racks in Mill Hill and Houn­slow and one of their reg­i­men­tal drums at St Mary’s Church, Staines, we must re­mem­ber the his­tory and her­itage of this band of sol­diers who have in­spired gen­er­a­tions to be proud of their county and who have scup­pered the plans of more than one dic­ta­tor at the eleventh hour.”

It adds: “Now the fight to re­tain the mag­nif­i­cent and hon­ourable Mid­dle­sex name is against bu­reau­cracy, or some politi­cians who wish to merge, dis­band or abol­ish a cen­tury of his­tory.

“That is why May 16 has come to mean more than a battle for it has be­come the load­stone of per­pet­ual Mid­dle­sex pride, lest we for­get this is the name that men through over a thou­sand years of his­tory have ral­lied to in Eng­land and Bri­tain’s de­fence.”

Chron­i­cle his­to­rian Ed­die Men­day, from Feltham, said: “I still put Mid­dle­sex on my ad­dress. The name should never have been taken away from us.

“We lost the county coun­cil as an ad­min­is­tra­tive body but they shouldn’t have done

Above, the Mid­dle­sex county flag. Left, Napoleon Bon­a­parte whose army was de­feated with the help of the Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment at Al­buhera on the Span­ish/ Por­tuguese bor­der on May 16 1811. Be­low, Mid­dle­sex Guild­hall in the present day

away with ti­tle.

“For­tu­nately the rail­way still says Ash­ford,

the

an­cient

Mid­dle­sex, and peo­ple use it on let­ters so the county name hasn’t been forgotten com­pletely.”

n STILL STRONG:

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