All hail Winchcomeshire, England's lost county

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During Liz Hurley's glamorous wedding to Arun Nayar this month, the small Cotswolds town of Winchcombe teemed with the world's media.

This spring, the 5,000 residents of this corner of Gloucestershire have another celebration to mark, though it is unlikely to attract a single red-top reporter or autograph hunter.

When the bells ring out in Winchcombe this May, they will be marking the anniversary of a long-forgotten municipal oddity.

One thousand years ago, the county of Winchombeshire began its short life under the ill-named Ethelred the Unready. Alas, just a decade later, in 1017, the county was abolished by the invading Dane King Cnut and absorbed into Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire.

Its contribution to history would have remained lost in time but for a small band of the town's residents...

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