One of the oldest counties in England, Berkshire likely dates from the 840s when the two regions of 'Sunningum' and 'Ashdown' united. As a county it has had a rich history, largely characterised by bloodshed. Three of the largest battles of Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes took place in the Berkshire towns of Englefield, Ashdown, and Reading; and Newbury was the site of two critical battles in the Civil War, in 1643 and 1644. The history lives on today, with Windsor Castle-first built by William the Conqueror after the Norman Invasion-proving an idyllic spot for tourists to cluster.
Politically, Berkshire is unique for being the only county in England not to have a county council. Broken up into smaller, local unitary authorities, Berkshire is notoriously conservative: in the 2010 election 7 out of 8 of Berkshire's parliamentary constituencies were won by Conservative candidates, the exception being Slough, which voted Labour.
Berkshire is also home to the Ascot Racecourse, which once a year plays host to thoroughbreds, top hats and tails in the Royal Ascot. Hang out around the course on a Sunday afternoon and you might spot the Queen on a quick carriage trip in the sun, taking a break from the stresses and strains of inhabiting Windsor Castle, just six miles away.