Did you know that Middlesex Day is celebrated on May 16th? We’ve proudly lived in Middlesex for the last 8 years and are looking forward to celebrating Middlesex Day this weekend.
Does Middlesex still exist?
A little bit of background – Middlesex is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in neighbouring ceremonial counties.
The name means territory of the middle Saxons and refers to the tribal origin of its inhabitants. The word is formed from the Old English, ‘middel’ and ‘Seaxe’ (‘Saxons’).
Established in the Anglo-Saxon period from the territory of the Middle Saxons, it existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and has the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills forming its other boundaries. As London expanded into rural Middlesex parts of its area and population were incorporated into the new administrative county of London and the remainder incorporated into the administrative county of Middlesex, governed by the Middlesex County Council. Due to population decline after the Second World War almost all of the area of the historic county of Middlesex was incorporated into Greater London in 1965, with the rest included in neighbouring administrative counties.
How to celebrate Middlesex Day
Middlesex Day is celebrated each year on May 16th. This date commemorates the actions of the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment in 1811, at the Battle of Albuera, during the Peninsular War. During the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis, despite his injuries, refused to retire from the battle but remained with the regimental colours, encouraging his men with the words “Die hard 57th, die hard!” as they came under intense pressure from a French attack. The regiment held and the battle was won. The ‘Die Hards’ subsequently became the West Middlesex’s regimental nickname and the phrase Die Hard entered the language.
In 2003, an early day motion in the House of Commons noted the celebration of 16th May, the anniversary of Albuera, as Middlesex Day.
The name Middlesex lives on in the unlikeliest of places, such as our postal address – Middlesex rather than London. There’s the Middlesex County Cricket Club and the Middlesex County Football Association.
The Middlesex coat of arms features three Saxon swords, like Essex, but with a Saxon crown (unlike Essex). These inspired our latest painted rocks which we decorated and hid in and around Ruislip.
In 2002 Plantlife ran a county flowers campaign to assign flowers to each of the counties of the United Kingdom. The general public was invited to vote for the bloom they felt most represented their county and the wood anemone was chosen as the flower of Middlesex. The flower was a common sight in the Forest of Middlesex and can still be found today in Ruislip Woods amongst the ancient oaks and hornbeams.
We’ve definitely been hearing more mentions of Middlesex Day over the last few years and look forward to it becoming more widely known.