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 449 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.
Beeston Castle is a ruined castle perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet (107 m) above the Cheshire Plain at Beeston. It was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, on the site of an Iron Age hill fort. Described as Castellum de Rupe, the Castle on the Rock, Beeston was unusual in lacking a motte; the natural features of the land made the baileys (fortified walls) form the stronghold. A small inner bailey stood on top of the hill, with an outer bailey and large gatehouse on the lower slopes.
Henry III took over the castle in 1237, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century. The castle was again used as a stronghold during the Civil War, and it was partly demolished afterwards to prevent its further military use. Lord Tollemache purchased the site in 1840 as part of the Peckforton estate, and had the gatelodge (pictured) built.
Now owned by English Heritage, Beeston Castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The ruins are open to the public, and the site includes a museum and visitor centre.
In the news
15 July: The Bank of England announces that the mathematician Alan Turing, who died in Wilmslow, has been chosen as the theme for the new £50 note.
7 July: Jodrell Bank Observatory is named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
27 June: A major fire occurs in a warehouse in the Golden Triangle Industrial Estate, Widnes.
18 June: Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane calls for the police and crime panel's chair to resign, after the latter criticised Cheshire Constabulary's deputy chief constable for wearing a rainbow lanyard in support of the LGBT+ community on duty.
13 June: Over 4,000 greater Bermuda land snails, previously believed to have been extinct, are returned to Bermuda after a captive breeding programme at Chester Zoo.
12 June: Severe flooding in the Nantwich and Crewe area blocks roads and disrupts the Crewe–Chester and Chester–Shrewsbury railway lines.
27 May: In the European Parliament election, 3 Brexit party, 2 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrat and 1 Green are elected in the North West.
22 May: Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester councils elect Labour leaders – Cheshire East's first – after no party gained an overall majority on either council in recent elections.
The 61 listed buildings in Runcorn urban area include two at Grade I, nine at Grade II* and 50 at Grade II. Runcorn's earliest listed buildings, Halton Castle and Norton Priory, date from the 11th and 12th centuries and are now in ruins. The oldest standing building, the Seneschal's House, dates from 1598. Other early buildings include ones relating to stately homes, such as the loggia and ice house in the grounds of Norton Priory; domestic buildings, such as Halton Old Hall, and church-related buildings, such as Halton Vicarage and the Chesshyre Library.
The diversity of Runcorn's buildings increased during the Industrial Revolution. Structures such as Bridgewater House were associated with industry, while large domestic buildings such as Halton Grange were financed by the new wealth created. The enlarged town required new civic buildings and transport infrastructure such as the railway bridge (pictured) and the tide dock, while the needs of the growing population were met by structures such as Norton Water Tower. The most recent listed structure is the Silver Jubilee Bridge, constructed in 1961.
Edmund Sharpe (31 October 1809 – 8 May 1877) was an architect, architectural historian, railway engineer and sanitary reformer, who was born in Knutsford.
As an architect, he predominantly designed churches, of which around forty survive; Cheshire examples include St Wilfrid's, Davenham, and Holy Trinity, Northwich. He pioneered the structural use of terracotta in the so-called "pot" churches, such as St Stephen and All Martyrs', Lever Bridge. He also developed railways in the north-west of England, and championed the construction of new sanitary works in Lancaster, where he practised in 1835–1851.
Sharpe achieved his greatest recognition as an architectural historian, publishing many articles, books and detailed architectural drawings. He criticised the widespread practice of restoring medieval churches, and devised a scheme for the classification of English Gothic architectural styles. In 1875, he was awarded the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
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Selected town or village
Marbury is a small village near Whitchurch, in the civil parish of Marbury cum Quoisley, which borders Shropshire. The parish covers 2,168 acres (877 ha); it includes the small settlements of Hollins Lane, Marley Green, Quoisley, and part of Hollyhurst, Willeymoor and Combermere Abbey park, with a population just under 250 in 2001.
Marbury is thought to have been inhabited since the Anglo-Saxon period. In the Civil War, the parish was plundered by both sides during 1642–44, after Thomas Marbury declared for Parliament. It contains many historic buildings, the earliest being the 15th-century St Michael's Church. The area is agricultural with undulating terrain, 75–120 metres in elevation. Dairy farming is the main industry. The Llangollen Canal runs along the northern boundary, and five meres form important wildlife habitats. Marbury Big Mere is a fishing lake and the Quoisley Meres are a Wetland of International Importance; they originate in glacial kettle holes. "Marbury Merry Days", a traditional country fair, is held in May.
In this month
In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women. If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighbouring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on a railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford. ... The ladies of Cranford are quite sufficient. "A man," as one of them observed to me once, "is so in the way in the house!"
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