Cheshire ( CHESH-ər, -eer; archaically the County Palatine of Chester) is a county in North West England, bordering Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, and Flintshire and Wrexham County Borough in Wales to the west. Cheshire's county town is the City of Chester (118,200); the largest town is Warrington (209,700). Other major towns include Crewe (71,722), Runcorn (61,789), Widnes (61,464), Ellesmere Port (55,715), Macclesfield (52,044), Winsford (32,610) and Northwich (19,924).
The county covers 905 square miles (2,344 km2) and has a population of around 1 million. It is mostly rural, with a number of small towns and villages supporting the agricultural and other industries which produce Cheshire cheese, salt, chemicals and silk.
Cholmondeley Castle is a grade-II*-listed country house in Cholmondeley in the form of a battlemented sandstone castle. Built in 1801–5 for George Cholmondeley, 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley, who was responsible for much of the design, it was extended in 1817 and again in 1828–29 by Robert Smirke, who added a round tower. The present house replaced a timber-framed hall on a moated platform, largely demolished in the late 18th century. In the grounds stands the grade-I-listed St Nicholas' Chapel, which dates originally from the 13th century and was encased in brick in 1717.
The original grounds were designed in the 17th century by George London as a formal garden and re-modelled by William Emes, who converted part into a landscape park with two lakes. The remaining formal gardens include the Silver Garden, the Lily Pool Garden, the Rose Garden and the Temple Garden, which has a temple structure on an island. The gardens are open to the public in summer.
In the news
3 April: East Cheshire NHS Trust requests donations of medical scrubs on Twitter for Macclesfield Hospital.
17–19 March: The Storyhouse theatre in Chester, the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe, and The Brindley theatre in Runcorn all close for a temporary period.
18 March: Cases of novel coronavirus are confirmed across Cheshire, including Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington and Halton.
13 March: The Queen's planned visit to Crewe and Macclesfield on 19 March has been postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
10 March: Unilever announces that it plans to close its washing powder plant in Warrington, threatening more than 120 jobs.
25 February: Cransley School in Great Budworth closes for a week to reduce any possible risk of novel coronavirus spreading after pupils returning from a holiday in Bormio, northern Italy had respiratory symptoms.
18 February: Stanlow Refinery at Ellesmere Port is one of two British plants to share a government grant to begin manufacturing hydrogen as a low-emission industrial fuel.
21 January: Halton Transport, which provides bus services in Runcorn, Warrington and Widnes, has entered liquidation after making losses of £620,000 in 2019.
16 January: A stretch of Chester's Roman walls collapses due to excavations from adjacent building work.
Twenty castles lie within the modern boundaries of Cheshire. The most common form is the motte-and-bailey, which consists of a mound (motte), surmounted by a keep or tower, with an outer enclosure (bailey) where the barracks and workshops were located. Ringworks are less common; they are contemporary with motte-and-bailey castles and have a similar structure but lack the motte. Fortified manor houses are also found in the county; they are considered castles because they often had battlements or crenellations.
The earliest castles in Cheshire were built just after the Norman Conquest in 1070 (Chester Castle pictured), with the majority dating from before the end of the 12th century. After the 13th century, the castles are either tower houses or fortified manor houses, and were primarily a feudal residence rather than a military structure. The latest castle dates from the 15th century. The county played an important role in defending England against the Welsh, with eight castles being within 4 miles (6.4 km) of the Welsh border. Away from the borders, baronial castles were built as a status symbol. Most of the castles are now in a ruinous state, having been abandoned after they fulfilled their military purpose.
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Selected town or village
Warrington stands at the lowest bridging point of the River Mersey. Historically within Lancashire, it became part of Cheshire in 1974. With an estimated population of just over 209,500 in 2018, it is the county's largest town. The Warrington unitary authority also encompasses 18 civil parishes.
The site has been an important crossing place on the Mersey since prehistoric times. A large Roman industrial settlement centred on modern Wilderspool stood on the south bank. It declined after the end of the 2nd century, and a Saxon settlement was established on the north bank, recorded in the Domesday Survey as Walintune. By the Middle Ages, it had emerged as a market town. Warrington's expansion and urbanisation coincided with the Industrial Revolution, particularly after the Mersey was made navigable in the 18th century. In the 19th century, industries included wire drawing, textiles, brewing, tanning and soap manufacture. Further growth occurred after it was designated a new town in 1968. An IRA bomb attack in the centre in 1993 killed two children. Several medieval churches survive, and the town has a museum and art gallery.
In this month
It lay in the midst of a demesne of considerable extent, and richly wooded with venerable timber; but, apart from the somber majesty of these giant groups, and the varieties of the undulating ground on which they stood, there was little that could be deemed attractive in the place. A certain air of neglect and decay, and an indescribable gloom and melancholy, hung over it. In darkness, it seemed darker than any other tract; when the moonlight fell upon its glades and hollows, they looked spectral and awful, with a sort of churchyard loneliness; and even when the blush of the morning kissed its broad woodlands, there was a melancholy in the salute that saddened rather than cheered the heart of the beholder.
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