Wednesday, September 12, 2007

City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to a select group of communities. The status does not apply automatically on the basis of any particular criteria, although in England and Wales it was traditionally given to towns with diocesan cathedrals. This association between having a cathedral and being called a city was established in the early 1540s when Henry VIII founded dioceses (and therefore cathedrals) in six English towns and also granted them all city status by issuing letters patent.

City status is conferred by letters patent and not by a royal charter (except historically in Ireland) but there are some cities in England and Wales that predate the historical monarchy, and have been regarded as cities since "time immemorial".
The holding of city status brings no especial benefits other than the right to be called a city. All cities have to be re-issued with letters patent reconfirming city status following local government re-organisation where the original city has been abolished. This process was followed by a number of cities since 1974, and York and Hereford's status was confirmed in both 1974 and again in the 1990s. Failure to do so leads to the loss of city status as happened at Rochester in 1998 (see below), and also previously in St. David's and Armagh, although both of these latter have regained city status since losing it. All three of these had been cities since time immemorial before the loss of city status.
Charters originated as charters of incorporation, allowing a town to become an incorporated borough, or to hold markets. Some of these charters recognised officially that the town involved was a city. Apart from that recognition, it became accepted that such a charter could make a town into a city. The earliest examples of these are Hereford and Worcester, both of which date their city status to 1189.
The formal definition of a city has been disputed, in particular by inhabitants of towns that have been regarded as cities in the past but are not generally considered cities today. Additionally, although the Crown clearly has the right to bestow 'official' city status, some have doubted the right of the Crown to define the word "city" in the United Kingdom. In informal usage, "city" can be used for large towns or conurbations that are not formally cities. The best-known example of this is London, which contains two cities (the City of London, and the City of Westminster) but is not itself a city.

City status conferment
There are currently 66 officially-designated cities in the UK, of which eight have been created since 2000 in competitions to celebrate the new millennium and Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. The designation is highly sought after, with over 40 communities submitting bids at recent competitions.

Cities of the United Kingdom Modern practice of granting city status
Some cities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have the further distinction of having a Lord Mayor rather than a simple Mayor - in Scotland, the equivalent is the Lord Provost. Lord Mayors have the right to be styled "The Right Worshipful The Lord Mayor". The Lord Mayors and Provosts of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, City of London, and York all have the further right to be styled "The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor" (or Provost), though they are not members of the Privy Council as this style usually indicates. The style is associated with the office, not the person holding it, so "The Right Worshipful Joe Bloggs" would be incorrect.
There are currently 66 recognised cities (including 30 Lord Mayoralties or Lord Provostships) in the UK: 50 cities (23 Lord Mayoralties) in England, five cities (two Lord Mayoralties) in Wales, six cities (four Lord Provostships) in Scotland and five cities (one Lord Mayoralty) in Northern Ireland.
In Ireland, as a historical result of English rule, the head of local government of Dublin is also the Lord Mayor of Dublin. Whilst previously retaining the formal title of Right Honourable, this was repealed in 2001. In addition, there is also a Lord Mayor of Cork.

Lord Mayors
Rochester was recognised as a city from 1211 to 1998. On April 1, 1974 the city was abolished, becoming part of the Borough of Medway, a local government district in the county of Kent. However, under letters patent the area of the former city was to continue to be styled the "City of Rochester" to "perpetuate the ancient name" and to recall "the long history and proud heritage of the said city".

The Former City of Rochester

After its unsuccessful attempt to gain city status, the town of Reading, Berkshire started using the phrase "City Centre" on its buses and car park signs. Reading's immediate urban area has in excess of 230,000 inhabitants, making it one of the 20 largest settlements in the UK and larger than many sizeable cities including Southampton, Portsmouth, Derby and Brighton-Hove.
In its planning, the government of the day intended Milton Keynes to be a "new city" in scale, it was referred to as such in contemporary supporting papers, but was gazetted in 1967 as a New Town. It has used the term "City Centre" on its buses and road signs for many years, mainly to avoid confusion with the centres of its pre-existing constituent towns.
Chelmsford's cathedral dates only from 1914 (although the building is much older) and does not have city status: nevertheless its local football team calls itself Chelmsford City F.C..
Dunfermline styles itself "A Twinned City" on the signs welcoming visitors to the town: see note 10. Pretenders
The following are the officially-designated cities in the United Kingdom, as at 2004. Cities which have held such status since time immemorial are indicated with "TI" in the column headed "Year granted city status". The column headed "(Diocesan) cathedral" shows the applicable diocesan cathedrals that were the grounds for the granting of city status, ie cathedrals of the Church of England or the formerly established Church in Wales, or pre-Reformation cathedrals in the Church of Scotland, in the case of cities recognised prior to 1888. Certain cities also have Roman Catholic cathedrals, but these are not listed. As from 1888, the presence of a cathedral ceased to be a relevant factor in granting city status and all entries after this date are, therefore, marked not applicable. Cities which have acquired cathedrals since 1888 are Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Leicester, Newport, Portsmouth and Sheffield, while Llandaff Cathedral was included within the boundaries of the city of Cardiff in 1922.
(also known as Derry)
Note (1): City Status confirmed by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal dated April 1, 1974.

List of officially-designated cities
The holding of city status gives a settlement no special rights other than that of calling itself a "city". Nonetheless, this appellation carries its own prestige and consequently, competitions for the status are hard fought.
Most cities have "city councils", which have varying powers depending upon the type of settlement. There are unitary authorities (including metropolitan and London boroughs) that are responsible for all local government services within their area. (The only London borough having city status is the City of Westminster). Many cities have ordinary district councils, which share power with county councils. At the bottom end of the scale, some cities have civil parish councils, with no more power than a village.
Some cities have no council at all. Where they used to have a city council but it has been abolished they may have Charter Trustees, drawn from the local district council, who appoint the mayor and look after the city's traditions.
Most "cities" are not, in fact, cities in the traditional sense of the word (that is, a large urban area) but are local government districts which have city status and which often encompass large rural areas. Examples are the City of Canterbury and City of Wakefield. The largest "city" district in terms of area is the City of Carlisle, which covers some 400 square miles (1040 km²) of mostly rural landscape in the north of England, and is larger than smaller counties such as Merseyside or Rutland. The City of Sheffield contains part of the Peak District National Park. This is however merely a curiosity and has had no impact on the general usage of the word "city" in the UK, which has unambiguously retained its urban meaning in British English. Residents of the rural parts of the "City of Carlisle" and the like might be aware of the name of their local council, but would not consider themselves to be inhabitants of a city with a small "c".
Equally, there are some cities where the local government district is in fact smaller than the historical or natural boundaries of the city. Four examples of this are Manchester (where the traditional area associated includes areas of the neighbouring authorities of Trafford, Tameside, Oldham, Bury and the City of Salford), Glasgow (where suburban areas of the city are located in East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire), Wolverhampton (areas of the neighbouring authorities of Walsall, Dudley and South Staffordshire) and most obviously, London (Greater London outside the City of London).
This contrasts with the situation in the United States, where the primary meaning of the word "city" is any area contained within city limits, completely disregarding whether or not that area is recognisable as a traditional "city".
Due to the widespread interest in information about towns and cities, and for comparisons between urban populations and with those living outside towns, the Government at each census produces a report Key Statistics for Urban Areas that separates the population of the actual town or city from the population of the area controlled by the council bearing its name.

City councils
City status grants have been used to mark special royal and other occasions. Swansea was granted city status in 1969 to mark the investiture of Charles, Duke of Cornwall as Prince of Wales. At the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, Derby was granted the honour. The use of formal competitions for city status is a recent practice. The first competition was held in 1992, to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Queen's reign. Sunderland was the winner. In 1994 two historic seats of Bishoprics — St David's and Armagh — were granted city status. They had been considered cities historically, but this status had lapsed. For the city applications in 2000, held to celebrate the millennium, the following towns and boroughs requested city status:
The three winners were Brighton & Hove, Wolverhampton, and Inverness, which were subsequently dubbed "Millennium Cities".
For the 2002 applications, held to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the entrants included all of the above towns except Southwark, together with Greenwich and Wirral in England, Dumfries in Scotland and Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Craigavon and Newry in Northern Ireland. There was controversy in the rest of the UK — especially in Wales — over the fact that two of the three winners of the 2000 competition were English towns, so 2002 was run as four separate competitions. The winners in Great Britain were Preston in England, Newport in Wales, and Stirling in Scotland. In Northern Ireland it was decided to award city status to two entrants: Lisburn (predominantly unionist) and Newry (predominantly nationalist) so that offence would not be caused to either community. Exeter was awarded Lord Mayoralty status in a separate application.

England: Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Brighton & Hove, Chelmsford, Colchester, Croydon, Doncaster, Dover, Guildford, Ipswich, Luton, Maidstone, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Preston, Reading, Shrewsbury and Atcham, Southend-on-Sea, Southwark, Stockport, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Warrington, Wolverhampton.
Scotland: Ayr, Inverness, Paisley, Stirling.
Wales: Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newport, Newtown, St Asaph, Wrexham.
Northern Ireland: Ballymena, Lisburn. Applications for city status

Cathedral towns
In relation to the fact that being the seat of a Church of England diocese is no longer sufficient or necessary to gain city status, a number of cathedral towns exist. In Ireland, as noted above, possession of a diocesan cathedral has never (except in the anomalous case of Armagh) been sufficient to attain this status. Towns with cathedrals may nevertheless be referred to as "cities" by their inhabitants — particularly in the case of St Asaph and Rochester.
Additionally Llandaff, which is now part of the City of Cardiff local government district, is home to Llandaff Cathedral.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica refers to Llandaff, Southwell and St Asaph as cities, along with Armagh and Lisburn in Northern Ireland. (The latter two achieved city status formally in 1994 and 2002 respectively.)
There are four towns in Northern Ireland with Church of Ireland Cathedrals that do not have city status — Clogher, Downpatrick, Dromore and Enniskillen.
In total there are 17 English, Welsh and Northern Ireland towns that have city status but do not have Anglican cathedrals within their borders - Bath (a former cathedral), Brighton & Hove, Cambridge, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Newry, Nottingham, Plymouth, Preston, Salford, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Swansea, Westminster (but Westminster Abbey was a cathedral briefly during the reign of Henry VIII) and Wolverhampton.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland
The national church of Scotland, the Church of Scotland, is presbyterian in governance with no bishops or dioceses, and thus has high kirks rather than cathedrals. However the pre-Reformation dioceses do have extant cathedrals.
Perth is often called a city, the fair city of Perth. Additionally, St. Andrews, Brechin and Elgin are often referred to as cities, as they have (ruined) pre-Reformation cathedrals. In the past Elgin, Brechin and Perth were all cities.
Stirling, which was awarded city status in 2002, has never had a cathedral.

As noted above, in ordinary discourse, "city" can refer to any large settlement, with no fixed limit.
There are certain towns which have large urban areas, which could qualify for city status on the grounds of their population size. Some have applied for city status and had the application turned down. Northampton is one of the most populous urban districts not to be a London Borough, metropolitan borough or city; on this basis the council claims that it is the largest town in England.
At every census the government produces the report Key Statistics for Urban Areas which shows that the following are the largest ten urban sub-areas outside London not a part of a city or having a city as a component:
See List of English cities by population for further such examples in England.
It should be noted that city status is usually not granted to urban areas, but to local government areas such as civil parishes and boroughs, the boundaries, and hence populations, of which are not necessarily the same. The City of Stirling and the City of Inverness provide counterexamples here. Stirling Council's application for city status was specifically for the urban area of the (now former) Royal Burgh of Stirling - proposed city boundaries were included, and so not all of the council area has city status.
This leads to the oddity whereby city status can be granted to areas that are not generally regarded as towns. Historical or "federal cities" of this type would be Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland and Brighton & Hove - in all these cases the borough was formed and then city status granted to it afterwards.
The largest local authorities to have applied for city status in the recent competitions are

Reading — 232,662
Dudley — 194,919
Northampton — 189,474
Luton — 185,543
Milton Keynes (urban area) — 184,506
Walsall — 174,994
Bournemouth — 167,527
Southend-on-Sea — 160,257
Swindon — 155,432
Huddersfield - 146,234
London Borough of Croydon — 330,587
Metropolitan Borough of Wirral — 312,293
Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster — 286,866
Metropolitan Borough of Stockport — 284,528
Metropolitan Borough of Bolton — 261,037
Borough of Medway — 249,488
London Borough of Southwark — 244,866
London Borough of Greenwich — 214,403
Borough of Milton Keynes — 207,057
Borough of Northampton — 194,458
Borough of Warrington — 191,084
Borough of Luton — 184,371
Borough of Swindon — 180,051
Borough of Telford & Wrekin - 161,600
Borough of Southend-on-Sea — 159,600 See also

Cities in Ireland
City rights in the Low Countries