Cheshire is a ceremonial county in the North West of England. Chester is the county town, and formerly gave its name to the county. The largest town is Warrington, and other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Widnes, Wilmslow and Winsford. The county is administered as four unitary authorities.
Cheshire occupies a boulder clay plain (pictured) which separates the hills of North Wales from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The county covers an area of 2,343 km2 (905 sq mi), with a high point of 559 m (1,834 ft) elevation. The estimated population is a little over one million, 19th highest in England, with a population density of around 450 people per km2.
The county was created in around 920, but the area has a long history of human occupation dating back to before the last Ice Age. Deva was a major Roman fort, and Cheshire played an important part in the Civil War. Predominantly rural, the county is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. During the 19th century, towns in the north of the county were pioneers of the chemical industry, while Crewe became a major railway junction and engineering facility.
Eddisbury hill fort, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is the largest and most complex of the seven Iron Age hill forts, or fortified hill-top settlements, in Cheshire. Located on Eddisbury Hill of the Mid Cheshire Ridge near the village of Delamere, Eddisbury falls within the southern group of Cheshire forts, together with Kelsborrow Castle and Oakmere hill fort.
Eddisbury was constructed before 200–100 BC and expanded in 1–50 AD. The fort was partially destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century AD, to prevent the site being reused. It was reoccupied in the 6th–8th centuries AD, and an Anglo-Saxon burh was probably established there in 914 by Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred the Great. Excavations were carried out on the site in 1935–38.
The fort measures 200 by 380 metres and is surrounded by two ramparts separated by a ditch 10 metres wide and 0.5 metres deep. Quarrying and ploughing have damaged the site, leading to it being assessed as "at high risk". The land is partly owned by the Forestry Commission and partly in private ownership.
In this month
The output of Chester-based architect John Douglas (1830–1911) included a diverse collection of residential buildings. The majority of his works were in Cheshire and North Wales. His architectural styles were eclectic, but as he worked during the Gothic Revival period much of his output incorporates elements of the English Gothic style. He is probably best remembered for his incorporation of vernacular elements in his buildings, especially half-timbering, but also tile-hanging, pargeting, and decorative brickwork in diapering and tall chimney stacks.
Douglas' new houses embraced a range of sizes and types, and included substantial country houses, such as Oakmere Hall, as well as terraces of houses built for speculation, such as 6–11 Grosvenor Park Road (pictured) and 1–11 and 13 Bath Street in Chester. He also designed many humbler projects, including farmhouses, cottages and workers' houses. Work carried out on grand houses included additions to Vale Royal Abbey. Other commissions included park entrance gates and a set of kennels.
Ranulf le Meschin (died 1129) (coat of arms pictured) was a late 11th- and early 12th-century Norman magnate based in northern and central England, who is also known as Ranulf de Briquessart and Ranulf I. Originating in Bessin in Normandy, Ranulf made his career in England thanks to his kinship with Hugh d'Avranches, first earl of Chester, the patronage of kings William II and Henry I, and his marriage to Lucy, heiress of the Bolingbroke–Spalding estates in Lincolnshire.
Ranulf fought in Normandy on behalf of Henry I, and served the English king as a semi-independent governor in the far north-west, in Cumberland and Westmorland, founding Wetheral Priory. After the death of his cousin Richard d'Avranches in the White Ship Disaster of November 1120, Ranulf became the third earl of the county of Chester. He held this position for the remainder of his life, and passed the title on to his son, Ranulf de Gernon. He was buried in Chester Abbey.
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Selected town or village
Warmingham is a village and civil parish on the River Wheelock, near the towns of Crewe, Middlewich and Sandbach. The parish had a population of just under 250 in 2011.
The land is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, with a village being documented from the 13th century. The oldest surviving building dates from the late 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries the parish had a finery forge, which was among the earliest in the county. The area is agricultural, with dairy farming the predominant land use. The Northwich Halite Formation, a Triassic salt field, underlies the parish, and there is a long history of local salt production, with the Warmingham brine field remaining an important source of the mineral. Cavities in the salt-bearing stratum are used to store natural gas. Several flashes were created in the 20th century by subsidence after natural brine pumping in the area, some of which form part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The village maintains the tradition of holding a wake each May.
In the news
Crewe Market Hall
29 October, 1 November: Warrington council and the mayor of Crewe each announce plans to bid for city status in 2022.
13–14 October: Prince Edward visits Chester and opens a Fire Service training centre in Winsford.
8 October: Castle Street shopping area in Macclesfield reopens after refurbishment.
4 October: Restoration of the grade-I-listed Bridgegate, part of Chester city walls, is completed.
25 September: A bronze frieze by the sculptor Tom Murphy is unveiled in Warrington, as a memorial to the band Viola Beach.
9 September: The fifth stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race takes place in Cheshire, starting at Alderley Park and finishing in Warrington.
24 July: The grade-II-listed Crewe Market Hall (pictured) formally reopens after refurbishment.
15 July: Crewe, Runcorn and Warrington are awarded potential funding under the "Town Deal" government scheme.
We got to Chester about midnight on Tuesday; and here again I am in a state of much enjoyment ... Chester pleases my fancy more than any town I ever saw. I told a very pleasing young lady, niece to one of the Prebendaries, at whose house I saw her, "I have come to Chester, Madam, I cannot tell how; and far less can I tell how I am to get away from it."
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