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Cheshire Plain from the Mid Cheshire Ridge

Cheshire shown within England

Cheshire showing four unitary authorities

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.

Selected article

Beeston Castle gatelodge

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.

Selected image

Arley Hall, near Lymm

Arley Hall, near Lymm, is the seat of Viscount Ashbrook. The original 15th-century timber-framed building was replaced in the 19th century by a brick hall, designed by Nantwich architect George Latham and modelled on various Elizabethan buildings.

Credit: Pixie2000 (26 October 2006)

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.

Selected list

Runcorn Railway Bridge

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.

Geography

Top: Map of modern Cheshire showing urban areas (grey) and the major road network. Chester (red) is the county town, and Warrington has the greatest population. Towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants in 2011 are highlighted; the size of dot gives a rough indication of the relative population.

Bottom: Relief map showing the major hills. The Mid Cheshire Ridge is a discontinuous ridge of low hills running north–south from Beacon Hill (north of Helsby Hill) to Bickerton Hill. Most other high ground falls within the Peak District in the east of the county. Shining Tor (559 metres), on the boundary with Derbyshire, forms the county's high point.

Administration

Cheshire West and ChesterCheshire EastCheshire EastCheshire EastHaltonWarringtonCheshire unitary number.png
About this image

The ceremonial county of Cheshire is administered by four unitary authorities (click on the map for details):

1 – Cheshire West and Chester

2 – Cheshire East

3 – Warrington

4 – Halton

In the local government reorganisation of 1974, Cheshire gained an area formerly in Lancashire including Widnes and Warrington. The county lost Tintwistle to Derbyshire, part of the Wirral Peninsula to Merseyside, and a northern area including Stockport, Altrincham, Sale, Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge to Greater Manchester.

Selected biography

Edmund Sharpe

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.

Did you know...

Henrietta Stanley

Selected town or village

Black-and-white cottages in the centre of Marbury village, a conservation area

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

Edward the Elder

July 1538: Dissolution of Combermere Abbey.

July 1804: Runcorn to Latchford Canal opened.

1 July 1869: Statue of Richard Grosvenor unveiled in Grosvenor Park.

4 July 1837: First trains crossed Dutton Viaduct.

4 July 1887: Queens Park, Crewe dedicated.

11 July 1910: Pulp author Hugh B. Cave born in Chester.

11 July 1978: Hybrid elephant Motty born at Chester Zoo.

14 July 1876: Chapel builder Thomas Hazlehurst born in Runcorn.

17 July 924: Edward the Elder (pictured) died at Farndon or Aldford.

17 July 1256: Edward, heir of Henry III and Lord of Chester, first visited Chester.

20 July 1376: Charter of disafforestation of Wirral issued.

20 July 1816: Histologist and ophthalmologist William Bowman born in Nantwich.

21 July 1961: Silver Jubilee Bridge officially opened by Princess Alexandra.

23 July 1403: Sir Richard Venables and Richard de Vernon executed for supporting Henry "Hotspur" Percy in the Battle of Shrewsbury.

27 July 1962: Olympic gold medallist swimmer Neil Brooks born in Crewe.

29 July 1940: Crewe hit by first Cheshire air raid of Second World War.

Quotation

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!"

From Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (1851–3)

Subcategories

Topics

Towns & Districts CHESHIRE | PLACES | CIVIL PARISHES | BY POPULATION | Alsager | Bollington | Chester | Congleton | Crewe | Ellesmere Port | Frodsham | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Middlewich | Nantwich | Neston | Northwich | Poynton | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Widnes | Wilmslow | Winsford | Wirral
Geography & Ecology GEOLOGY | Cheshire Plain | Geology of Alderley Edge | HILLS | Bickerton Hill | Peckforton Hills | Shining Tor | Shutlingsloe | Tegg's Nose | Windgather Rocks | RIVERS & LAKES | Lamaload Reservoir | River Bollin | River Dane | River Dean | River Dee | River Gowy | River Goyt | River Mersey | River Weaver | SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST | Cheshire Wildlife Trust | rECOrd | WOODLAND | Delamere Forest | Macclesfield Forest | Northwich Woodlands
History HISTORY | TIMELINE | [Agricultural history | Ancient parishes | History of Chester | Deva Victrix | History of Middlewich | History of salt in Middlewich | History of Northwich | History of Sandbach | Forests of Mara and Mondrem | ARCHAEOLOGY | SCHEDULED MONUMENTS: Pre-1066 | 1066–1539 | Post-1539 | Bridestones | Chester Roman Amphitheatre | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man | Maiden Castle | Sandbach Crosses | MILITARY HISTORY | Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Chester | First Battle of Middlewich | Battle of Nantwich | Battle of Rowton Heath | Bunbury Agreement | Cheshire Regiment | RAF Burtonwood | RAF Hooton Park | RAF Ringway
Sights PLACES OF INTEREST | CASTLES | Beeston Castle | Chester Castle | Cholmondeley Castle | Halton Castle | HISTORIC BUILDINGS | Adlington Hall | Arley Hall | Combermere Abbey | Dorfold Hall | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Little Moreton Hall | Lyme Park | Norton Priory | Tatton Park | MUSEUMS & VISITOR ATTRACTIONS | Anderton Boat Lift | Anson Engine Museum | Blue Planet Aquarium | Catalyst Science Discovery Centre | Chester Zoo | Crewe Heritage Centre | Cuckooland Museum | Grosvenor Museum | Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Lion Salt Works | National Waterways Museum | Quarry Bank Mill | Stretton Watermill | Warrington Museum | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury Country Park | Ness Botanic Gardens | Queens Park
Architecture ARCHITECTURE | Norman architecture | LISTED BUILDINGS | Grade I listed churches | Non-ecclesiastical grade I listed buildings outside Chester | Chester | Congleton | Frodsham | Great Budworth | Knutsford | Lymm | Macclesfield | Nantwich | Neston | Runcorn | Sandbach | Warrington | Wilmslow
Sport & Recreation SPORTING TEAMS | Alsager Town F.C. | Chester F.C. | Chester City F.C. | Cheshire County Cricket Club | Cheshire Phoenix | Crewe Alexandra F.C. | Crewe Railroaders | Macclesfield Town F.C. | Nantwich Town F.C. | 1874 Northwich F.C. | Northwich Victoria F.C. | Runcorn Linnets F.C. | Vauxhall Motors F.C. | Warrington Town F.C. | Warrington Wolves | Widnes Vikings | Winsford United F.C. | Witton Albion F.C. | SPORTING VENUES | Chester Racecourse | Oulton Park | County Cricket Club grounds | RECREATION | Walks
Economy ECONOMY | Agriculture | Cheshire cheese | Cheshire Show | Crewe Railway Works | Salt | Silk | Textile mills 
Transport BUSES | Arriva | CANALS | Cheshire Ring | Bridgewater Canal | Ellesmere Canal | Llangollen Canal | Macclesfield Canal | Manchester Ship Canal | Shropshire Union Canal | RAIL | Birkenhead Railway | Chester–Manchester Line | Crewe railway station | Crewe–Derby Line | Crewe–Manchester Line | Ellesmere Port–Warrington Line | Mid-Cheshire Line | Welsh Marches Line | ROADS | A34 | A41 | A49 | A50 | A56 | A500 | A537 | A556 | M6 | M53 | M56
Governance UNITARY AUTHORITIES | Cheshire East | Cheshire West and Chester | Halton | Warrington | PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES | EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
Education, Health & Services SCHOOLS | UNIVERSITIES | Manchester Metropolitan University | University of Chester | HEALTH | Countess of Chester Hospital | Halton General Hospital | Leighton Hospital | Warrington Hospital | PRISONS | HMP Risley | HMP Styal | HMP Thorn Cross | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture & Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | Storyhouse | CONCERT HALLS | Parr Hall | NEWSPAPERS | Chester Chronicle | Crewe Chronicle | RADIO | BBC Radio Manchester | BBC Radio Merseyside | BBC Radio Stoke
 Religion RELIGION | CHURCHES | Bishop of Chester | Chester Cathedral | Diocese of Chester | Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury

Recommended articles

Towns & Villages Bradwall | Middlewich | Runcorn | Widnes
Sights Adlington Hall | All Saints' Church, Runcorn | Beeston Castle | Capesthorne Hall | Chester Cathedral | Chester Rows | Cholmondeley Castle | Churche's Mansion | Crewe Hall | Darnhall Abbey | Eaton Hall | Gawsworth Old Hall | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Little Moreton HallFeatured article | Lovell Telescope | Lyme Park | Norton PrioryFeatured article | Peckforton Castle | Rode Hall | St Mary's Church, Acton | St Mary's Church, Astbury | St Mary's Church, Nantwich | St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley | Tabley House | Vale Royal Abbey
History Battle of Brunanburh | Battle of Rowton Heath | Deva Victrix | Dispute between Darnhall and Vale Royal Abbey | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow ManFeatured article | Maiden Castle
Geography & Transport Bridgewater Canal | Chester Canal | Manchester Ship CanalFeatured article | Northern EnglandFeatured article | Peak District | River Weaver
People Jonathan AgnewFeatured article | Ben Amos | Adrian BoultFeatured article | Thomas Brassey | Neil BrooksFeatured article | Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet | James ChadwickFeatured article | Djibril Cissé | Daniel Craig | John DouglasFeatured article | Rowland Egerton-Warburton | Thomas Harrison | Reginald HeberFeatured article | Eddie Johnson | Margaret Ursula Jones | Levi Mackin | One Direction | Peter, Abbot of Vale Royal | Plegmund | Joseph PriestleyFeatured article | Mark Roberts | Nick Robinson | Edmund SharpeFeatured article | Robert Tatton | Stuart Tomlinson | Alan Turing | William Windsor
Lists CastlesFeatured article | Church restorations, amendments and furniture by John DouglasFeatured article | Grade I listed churchesFeatured article | Houses and associated buildings by John DouglasFeatured article | Listed buildings in Runcorn (rural area)Featured article | Listed buildings in Runcorn (urban area)Featured article | Listed buildings in WidnesFeatured article | New churches by John DouglasFeatured article | Non-ecclesiastical and non-residential works by John DouglasFeatured article

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