City status in the United Kingdom

City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the British monarch to some communities.

Becoming a city is not automatic, but many people think that any town that has a cathedral is a city. This is because Henry VIII built cathedrals in six English towns and also granted made them cities by letters patent.

A city council does not have any more powers than a borough or district council. Some city councils (like Ripon) are only parish councils, so have very little powers at all.

Official cities

Officially there are 66 cities in the United Kingdom (UK). Sunderland was made a city to mark Elizabeth II's Ruby anniversary (40 years as Queen). Eight others have been created in competitions to celebrate the new millennium and Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee.

Lord Mayors

File:Lord Mayor Oxford 20040228.png
Only 28 cities have ceremonial Lord Mayors. Patrick John Stannard (Lord Mayor of Oxford) wears the chain of that office, 2004

A city does not automatically have a Lord Mayor or Lord Provost in Scotland. There are 66 cities in the UK but only 30 Lord Mayors.

Of the 66 cities: (including 30 Lord Mayoralties or Lord Provostships) in the UK:

The Former City of Rochester

Rochester was a city from 1211 to 1998.

On April 1, 1974 the city council was abolished, and new letters patent were issued to the new Medway Borough Council to carry on the city name in the old city area.[1]

In 1979, Medway was renamed Rochester-upon-Medway and new letters patent made the whole of the new area a city.[2]

On April 1, 1998, Rochester-upon-Medway and Gillingham joined together to became the new unitary authority of Medway. Rochester upon Medway City Council did not appoint appoint Charter Trustees to maintain the existence of the city and the mayoralty so the city simply ceased to exist, because the council forgot.[3][4]

List of officially-designated cities

City Mayor Year granted city status (Diocesan) Cathedral (pre 1888) Type of Local Government
English Cities
Bath (1)   1590 Bath Abbey (4) Charter Trustees
Birmingham (2) Lord Mayor (44) 1889 (58) not applicable metropolitan borough
Bradford (1) Lord Mayor (45) 1897 Bradford Cathedral metropolitan borough
Brighton & Hove (17)   2000 not applicable unitary authority
Bristol (1) Lord Mayor (46) 1542 Bristol Cathedral unitary authority
Cambridge (3)   1951 (27) not applicable district
Canterbury (3) Lord Mayor (33) TI Christchurch Cathedral district
Carlisle (1) TI Carlisle Cathedral district
Chester (3) Lord Mayor (34) 1541 Chester Cathedral district
Chichester (1)   TI Chichester Cathedral civil parish
Coventry (1) Lord Mayor (35) 1345 Coventry Cathedral(5) metropolitan borough
Derby (15)   1977 not applicable unitary authority
Durham (1)   TI Durham Cathedral district
Ely (1)   TI Ely Cathedral civil parish
Exeter (1) Lord Mayor (36) TI Exeter Cathedral district
Gloucester (1)   1541 Gloucester Cathedral district
Hereford (1) (21)   1189 Hereford Cathedral civil parish
Kingston upon Hull (14) Lord Mayor (37) 1897 not applicable unitary authority
Lancaster (1)   1937 (28) not applicable district
Leeds (1) Lord Mayor (47) 1893 not applicable metropolitan borough
Leicester (1) Lord Mayor (48) 1919 (24) not applicable unitary authority
Lichfield (19)   1553 Lichfield Cathedral civil parish
Lincoln (3)   TI Lincoln Cathedral district
Liverpool (2) Lord Mayor (49) 1880 Liverpool Cathedral (1880) metropolitan borough
City of London (6) Lord Mayor
(The Rt Hon.)
TI St Paul's Cathedral Corporation of London
Manchester (1) Lord Mayor (50) 1853 Manchester Cathedral (1847) metropolitan borough
Newcastle upon Tyne (1) Lord Mayor (38) 1882 Newcastle Cathedral (1882) metropolitan borough
Norwich (1) Lord Mayor (51) 1195 Norwich Cathedral district
Nottingham (1) Lord Mayor (39) 1897 not applicable unitary authority
Oxford (1) Lord Mayor (40) 1542 Christ Church Cathedral district
Peterborough (2)   1541 Peterborough Cathedral unitary authority
Plymouth (1) Lord Mayor (41) 1928 (29) not applicable unitary authority
Portsmouth (1) Lord Mayor (52) 1926 (26) not applicable unitary authority
Preston (16)   2002 not applicable district
Ripon (1)   1836 Ripon Cathedral (1836) civil parish
Salford (1)   1926 (26) not applicable metropolitan borough
Salisbury   TI Salisbury Cathedral Charter Trustees
Sheffield (3) Lord Mayor (53) 1893 not applicable metropolitan borough
Southampton (1)   1964 not applicable unitary authority
St Albans(7)   1877 St Albans Cathedral (1877) district
Stoke-on-Trent (3) Lord Mayor (54) 1925 (30) not applicable unitary authority
Sunderland (20)   1992 not applicable metropolitan borough
Truro (1)   1877 Truro Cathedral (1877) civil parish
Wakefield (3)   1888 Wakefield Cathedral (1888) metropolitan borough
Wells (1)   1205 Wells Cathedral civil parish
Westminster (23) Lord Mayor (42) 1540 Westminster Abbey (4) London borough
Winchester (1)   TI Winchester Cathedral district
Wolverhampton (18)   2000 not applicable metropolitan borough
Worcester (3)   1189 Worcester Cathedral district
York (1) (8) Lord Mayor
(The Rt Hon.)
TI York Minster unitary authority
Scottish Cities(10)
Aberdeen(57) Lord Provost 1891(56) (royal burgh: 1179) not applicable Council Area
Dundee(57) Lord Provost 1889(55) (royal burgh: 1191) not applicable Council Area
Edinburgh(57) Lord Provost
(The Rt Hon.)
1329 (royal burgh;
city status has never
been formally granted)
St. Giles' Cathedral Council Area
Glasgow(57) Lord Provost
(The Rt Hon.)
1492 (royal burgh;
city status has never
been formally granted)
St. Mungo's Cathedral Council Area
Inverness Provost(11) 2000 not applicable none
Stirling Provost(12) 2002 not applicable former royal burgh, now forming part of a Council Area
Welsh Cities
Bangor (1)   TI Bangor Cathedral community
Cardiff(9) Lord Mayor
(The Rt. Hon.) (43)
1905 (31) not applicable Principal area
Newport (16)   2002 not applicable Principal area
St David's (22)   1994 not applicable community
Swansea(9) Lord Mayor (32) 1969 (25) not applicable Principal area
Northern Irish Cities
Armagh(13)   1994 not applicable unitary authority
Belfast Lord Mayor
(The Rt Hon.)
1888 not applicable unitary authority

(also known as Derry)

  1613 St Columb's Cathedral unitary authority
Lisburn   2002 not applicable unitary authority
Newry   2002 not applicable none

Note (1): City Status confirmed by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal dated April 1, 1974.[5]

Note (2): City Status confirmed by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal dated June 25, 1974.[6]

Note (3): City Status confirmed by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal dated May 28, 1974.[7]

Note (4): Bath Abbey and Westminster Abbey are no longer cathedrals.

Note (5): Coventry has had three cathedrals: the first, St Mary's from 1043 to 1539; the second, St Michael's, from 1918 to 1940, when it was destroyed by German bombardment; and its replacement, also St Michael's, built alongside the old cathedral, consecrated in 1962.

Note (6): Note that the City of London covers only the "square mile", and is usually just referred to as "the City". The larger conurbation of Greater London has no city charter, and consists of the City of London, the City of Westminster and 31 other London boroughs. This can be compared to the City of Brussels, within Brussels.

Note (7): City status was confirmed by Letters Patent dated July 9, 1974.[8] The city status extends to the entire district, although the district council calls itself "St Albans District Council" or "St Albans City and District".

Note (8): Letters Patent under the Great Seal conferring City Status were issued to the unitary authority of York on April 1, 1996, confirming the right of the Lord Mayor to be styled "Right Honourable", in continuation to those granted to the previous City Council abolished March 31, 1996.[9]

Note (9): Letters Patent under the Great Seal were issued on March 29, 1996 ordaining that the counties of Swansea and Cardiff should have the status of cities from April 1, 1996. The counties replaced the previous district councils which had enjoyed city status.[9]

Note (10): According to the Municipal Year Book, 1972 the royal burghs of Perth and Elgin officially enjoyed city status. The royal burghs of Brechin, Dunfermline and Kirkwall had also been officially described as "cities". As all burghs were abolished in 1975, these areas are now often called "former cities". Although Brechin does not have city status, the community council formed for the area uses the title "City of Brechin and District".

Note (11): The Provost of Inverness is the Area Convenor of the Inverness Area Committee of Highland Council.

Note (12): The Provost of Stirling is the civic head of the entire Stirling council area, although city status only extends to the town of Stirling.

Note (13): Armagh had previously enjoyed city status, with St Patrick's Cathedral the site of the metropolitan primate of all Ireland. The city status was lost in 1840 when the city corporation was abolished. However, the successor urban district council and district council frequently used the title of city without official sanction prior to 1994.

Note (14): City Status confirmed by Letters Patent issued under the Great Seal dated March 18, 1975.[10]

Note (15): City status granted by Letters Patent dated June 7, 1977.[11]

Note (16): City status granted to the "Town of Newport in the County Borough of Newport" and the "Town of Preston" by Letters Patent dated May 15, 2002.[12]

Note (17): Letters Patent dated January 31, 2001 ordained that "the Towns of Brighton and Hove shall have the status of a City".[13]

Note (18): Letters Patent dated January 31, 2001 ordained that "the Town of Wolverhampton shall have the status of a City".[13]

Note (19): Letters Patent dated November 4, 1980 ordained that the "Town of Lichfield shall have the status of a City". A town council had been constituted in 1980 leading to the dissolution of the Charter Trustees of the City of Lichfield.[14][15]

Note (20): City status granted by Letters Patent dated March 23, 1992.[16]

Note (21): City status was conferred on Hereford Town Council October 11, 2000.[17] The status had previously been confirmed to the district council formed in 1974. When that council was abolished in 1996 charter trustees were formed for the City of Hereford. On the formation of a town council for Hereford in April 2000 the charter trustees were dissolved, and the city status temporarily lapsed.

Note (22): St. David's historically had city status because of the presence of St David's Cathedral. This status was lost in the 19th. century after local government reorganization. Letters Patent dated September 16, 1994 ordained that the "Town of St. David's shall have the status of a City".[18]

Note (23): The title of City was used "by courtesy" after 1550 when Westminster ceased to be the see of a bishop. By Letters Patent dated October 27 1900 city status was conferred on the newly created Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from November 1.[19] This status was continued on the creation of the City of Westminster as a london borough in 1965.

Note (24): A letter from the Home Secretary to the Mayor of Leicester confirming that the city status would be bestowed, noted that this was a "restoration to your ancient town of its former status of a city."[20][21]

Note (25): Letters Patent dated December 10, 1969.[22]

Note (26): Letters Patent dated April 21, 1926.[23]

Note (27): Letters Patent dated March 21, 1951.[24]

Note (28): Letters Patent dated May 14, 1937.[25]

Note (29): Letters Patent dated October 18, 1928.[26]

Note (30): Letters Patent dated June 5, 1925.[27]

Note (31): Letters Patent dated October 28, 1905, which also granted the title of Lord Mayor.[28]

Note (32): Letters Patent dated March 22, 1982.[29]

Note (33): Letters Patent dated July 13, 1988.[30]

Note (34): Letters Patent dated March 10, 1992.[31]

Note (35): Letters Patent dated June 6, 1953.[32]

Note (36): Letters Patent dated May 1, 2002.[33]

Note (37): Declaration that the Chief Magistrate and Officer of the City to bear the style and title of Lord Mayor due to the city's high position in the roll of ports of [the] kingdom June 26, 1914[34][35]

Note (38): Declaration that the Chief Magistrate to bear the honorary title of Lord Mayor July 11, 1906.[36]

Note (39): Declaration that the Chief Magistrate of the City to bear the style and title of Lord Mayor July 10, 1928 in consideration of its antiquity and importance[37][38]

Note (40): Letters Patent dated October 23, 1962.[39]

Note (41): Letters Patent dated May 10, 1935, in commemoration of his Majesty's silver jubilee[40][41]

Note (42): Letters Patent dated March 11, 1966.[42]

Note (43): Style of "Right Honourable" conferred on Lord Mayor by Letters Patent dated October 26, 1956. The city was designated the capital of Wales at that date.[43]

Note (44): The first Lord Mayor was appointed June 3, 1896.[44]

Note (45): Letters Patent dated September 16, 1907.[45]

Note (46): The Lord Mayoralty of Bristol was granted as part of the Birthday Honours in 1899[46][47]

Note (47): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1897[48]

Note (48): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1928[49]

Note (49): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1892[50]

Note (50): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1892[51]

Note (51): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1910 in view of the position occupied by that city as the chief city of East Anglia and of its close association with his Majesty[52]

Note (52): The Lord Mayoralty was granted in 1927[53]

Note (53): The Lord Mayoralty was granted July 12, 1897.[54]

Note (54): The Lord Mayoralty was granted July 10, 1928.[55]

Note (55): Warrant issued 28 January 1889 that Letters Patent be issued under the Seal appointed by the treaty of union to be used in place of the Great Seal of Scotland, ordaining and declaring that the Burgh of Dundee shall be a City, and shall be called and styled "The City of Dundee"[56]

Note (56): Burghs of Old Aberdeen and Woodside and the district of Torry incorporated as the City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen by the Aberdeen Corporation Act 1891 (1891 c.cxxiv)

Note (57): The present council areas are designated "cities" by virtue of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994, which also reserves the post of Lord Provost for the convener of the four councils. The previous local government districts and district councils created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 enjoyed the same privileges.

Note (58): Letters Patent dated January 14, 1889[57]


  1. Letters Patent dated March 18, 1974, text retrieved from Medway Council archives website
  2. Letters Patent dated January 25, 1982, text retrieved from Medway Council archives website
  3. BBC News - Thursday, 16 May, 2002 - Error costs Rochester city status Archived 26 July 2007 at WebCite
  5. London Gazette, issue no. 46255, April 4, 1974
  6. London Gazette, issue no. 46303, June 28, 1974
  7. London Gazette, issue no. 46334, May 31, 1974
  8. London Gazette, issue no. 46352, September 24, 1974
  9. 9.0 9.1 London Gazette, issue no. 54363, April 4, 1996
  10. London Gazette, issue no. 46522, March 20, 1975
  11. London Gazette, issue no. 47246, June 14, 1977
  12. London Gazette, issue no. 56573, May 21, 2002
  13. 13.0 13.1 London Gazette, issue no.56109, May 2, 2001
  14. London Gazette, issue no. 48364, November 7, 1980
  15. Lichfield City Council website
  16. London Gazette, issue no.52874, March 26, 1992
  17. Charters of Hereford City Council[dead link]
  18. London Gazette, issue no. 53798, September 23, 1994
  19. London Gazette issue no. 27242, October 30, 1900
  20. The Times: Leicester, a City: Sequel to the Recent Royal Visit
  21. Leicester: The Dignity of a City 655–1926, Leicester's city status, its loss and its regaining over thirteen centuries by Daniel Williams
  22. London Gazette, issue no.44986, December 12, 1969
  23. London Gazette, issue no.33154, April 23, 1926
  24. London Gazette, issue no.39201, April 13, 1951
  25. London Gazette, issue no.34400, May 21, 1937
  26. London Gazette, issue no.33433, October 26, 1928
  27. London Gazettte, issue no.33063, July 3, 1925
  28. London Gazette, issue no.27849, October 31, 1905
  29. London Gazette, issue no.48932, March 25, 1982
  30. London Gazette, issue no.51416, July 20, 1988
  31. London Gazette, issue no.52861, March 13, 1992
  32. London Gazette, issue no.39983, June 6, 1953
  33. London Gazette, issue no.56556, May 1, 2002
  34. London Gazette, issue no.28845, June 30, 1914
  35. The King's Honour to Hull, The Times, June 27, 1914
  36. London Gazette, issue no.52861, July 27, 1906
  37. London Gazette, issue no.33405, June 20, 1928
  38. The Times, July 11, 1928
  39. London Gazette, issue no.42815, October 23, 1962
  40. London Gazette, issue no.34160, May 10, 1935
  41. Lord Mayor of Plymouth, The Times, May 7, 1935
  42. London Gazette, issue no.43921, March 11, 1966
  43. London Gazette, issue no.40911, October 26, 1956
  44. History of Mayoralty of Birmingham from Birmingham City Council website[dead link]
  45. London Gazette, issue no.28065, October 1, 1907
  46. Birthday Honours, The Times, June 3, 1899
  47. History of The Lord Mayor of Bristol from Bristol City Council website
  48. Lord Mayor of Leeds from Leeds City Council website[dead link]
  49. Lord Mayors of Leicester from Leicester City Council website
  50. List of Lord Mayors of Liverpool from Liverpool City Council website[dead link]
  51. List of Lord Mayors from Manchester City Council website[dead link]
  52. The King and Norwich, The Times, February 7, 1910
  53. Lord Mayors of Portsmouth from Portsmouth City Council website
  54. History of the Lord Mayor from Sheffield City Council website
  55. Stoke-on-Trent City Council website[dead link]
  56. London Gazette, January 29, 1889
  57. From the London Gazette, January 18, 1889, The Times, January 19, 1889

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