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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

St Mary's Church, Nantwich, from the north east

St Mary's Church, Nantwich is the Anglican parish church of the town of Nantwich. The church is built in red sandstone on a cruciform plan with an octagonal tower. Building commenced in 1340 but was interrupted in 1349–1369, probably by an outbreak of the Black Death, which has resulted in the church's style being a mix of Decorated and Perpendicular. The church was briefly used as a prison for Royalists captured at the battles of Nantwich and Preston during the Civil War. George Gilbert Scott carried out substantial restorations in the 19th century. The interior features a stone lierne-vaulted ceiling to the choir, carved stone canopies over the sedilia in the chancel, as well as intricately carved wooden misericords and choirstall canopies.

A Grade I listed building, the church has been called the "Cathedral of South Cheshire". It is considered by some to be one of the finest medieval churches in England. Raymond Richards describes it as "one of the great architectural treasures of Cheshire" and Alec Clifton-Taylor includes it in his list of "outstanding" English parish churches.

Selected image

Three Shires' Head on the River Dane

Three Shires' Head on Axe Edge Moor is the point at which Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet. The old packhorse bridge over the River Dane suggests that silk was carried from Hollinsclough in Staffordshire to the mills in Macclesfield via this spot.

Credit: Rob Bendall (3 June 2009)

In the news

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.

20 May: The Halton Curve, a stretch of railway line between Frodsham and Runcorn, reopens after 44 years, providing a direct rail link between Liverpool and Chester and North Wales.

19 May: An engine fire occurs on a train at Willaston, near Crewe.

3 May: Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League has a milkshake thrown over him in Warrington, while campaigning in the European Parliament election.

2–3 May: In the local council elections, the Conservatives lose control of Cheshire East, and Labour lose control of Cheshire West and Chester but hold Halton.

25 April: A man from Chorley, Lancashire, admits attempting to disrupt Cheshire Constabulary and Greater Manchester Police with distributed denial of service attacks in 2018.

24 April: Peter Forster, the Church of England's longest-serving bishop, announces his retirement as Bishop of Chester at the end of September; he is the subject of an official review after the conviction of a retired Cheshire vicar for historical sex offences in March.

17 April: The Cheshire Civil War Centre opens at Nantwich Museum.


Selected list

Elton Flashes

The 63 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Cheshire cover a total area of 19,844 hectares (49,035 acres), and are protected by law for their biological, geological or geomorphological interest. Wetland is the type of SSSI best represented in the county, with a range of diverse habitats including mosses, raised bog, swamps, fens, meres and ponds. Flashes, such as Elton Flashes (pictured), originate in subsidence after salt extraction, and contain rare examples of inland salt marsh. Cheshire's largest SSSIs are the Mersey and Dee estuaries.

The higher ground at the foot of the Pennines has two extensive SSSIs containing heather moorland, grassland and blanket mire habitats. The lowland heath habitat is, however, very rare. Ancient woodland is sparse in the county, but is found on the slopes of the Mid Cheshire Ridge, in river valleys towards the north of the county, and around the Mersey Basin. Several sites, such as Rixton Clay Pits, are on former industrial land. The Triassic sandstones of the Mid Cheshire Ridge are exposed at the Raw Head geological site, and geological features are also exposed at railway cuttings.

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

Rowland Egerton-Warburton, by Charles Allen Duval (1872)

Rowland Eyles Egerton-Warburton (14 September 1804 – 6 December 1891) was a Cheshire landowner, garden designer and poet. Born at Norley, he inherited the Arley and Warburton estates, and is best remembered for rebuilding Arley Hall and its chapel, in association with the young Nantwich architect George Latham. With his wife, he designed formal gardens for the hall, including one of Britain's earliest herbaceous borders. The hall and its gardens are now an important tourist attraction. A keen fox hunter, he served as president of the Tarporley Hunt Club. His poetry collection, Hunting Songs, ran to eight editions, and some of his rhymes remain on signposts in the Arley Hall grounds.

A major local benefactor, he built or restored three churches, two schools, a church hall, post office, public road and multiple cottages, many of which were designed by Chester architect John Douglas. He is particularly known for his work in giving the village of Great Budworth, "one of Cheshire's most charming villages", its present picturesque appearance.

Did you know...

Brine pump at Warmingham

  • ...that the dairy-farming area of Warmingham is the source of around half the pure salt (brine pump pictured) manufactured in the UK?
  • ...that the 12th-century manuscript De laude Cestrie is one of the earliest prose works about an English town?
  • ...that although Peckforton Castle was built as a family home in 1850, it mimicked a Norman castle in design and position?
  • ...that the scandalous life of Teresia Constantia Phillips was published in eighteen parts?

Selected town or village

Eastgate Street and the lower end of St Werburgh Street in the centre of Chester

Chester is a city on the River Dee, near the border with Wales. It is the second-largest settlement in Cheshire after Warrington, with a population of nearly 80,000 in 2011, and serves as Cheshire West and Chester's administrative headquarters.

It was founded as the Roman fort of Deva Victrix in 79 AD, one of the main army camps in Roman Britain, and later a major civilian settlement. In 689, Æthelred of Mercia founded a minster church, later the first cathedral, and the Saxons improved the walls to protect against the Danes. Chester was one of the last places in England to fall to the Normans. A castle was built to dominate both the town and the Welsh border. City status was granted in 1541.

Chester is among the best-preserved walled cities in Britain, with its walls almost complete, and several surviving medieval buildings. The Industrial Revolution brought railways, canals and new roads. Substantial Victorian development included the town hall and Grosvenor Museum, as well as the many Black-and-white Revival buildings in the centre. Tourism, shops and financial services are important to the modern economy.

In this month

Cartoon of Hall Caine, by Harry Furniss

3 May 1938: Cheshire County Council granted a banner of arms, now the county flag.

8 May 1817: Early paper on Cheshire dialect read at Society of Antiquaries by Roger Wilbraham.

12 May 1278: Fire destroyed much of Chester.

13 May 1983: Lindow Woman bog body discovered.

14 May 1853: Novelist and playwright Hall Caine (pictured) born in Runcorn.

18 May 1980: Musician Ian Curtis committed suicide at Macclesfield.

21 May 1868: First train crossed Runcorn Railway Bridge.

21 May 1894: Manchester Ship Canal officially opened by Queen Victoria.

23 May 1911: Architect John Douglas died in Chester.

24 May 1847: Five people killed in the Dee bridge disaster.

27 May 1899: Eastgate Clock unveiled, marking the 80th birthday of Queen Victoria.

29 May 1905: Widnes–Runcorn Transporter Bridge officially opened by Sir John Brunner.

31 May 1807: Primitive Methodism originated in a prayer meeting at Mow Cop.

31 May 1939: Humanitarian Terry Waite born in Styal.

Quotation

This is a pretty Rich land; ... its much on Enclosures and I passed by severall large pooles of waters, but what I wonder'd at was yt tho' this shire is remarkable for a greate deale of greate Cheeses and Dairys I did not see more than 20 or 30 Cowes in a troope feeding, but on Enquiry find ye Custome of ye Country to joyn their milking together of a whole village and so make their great Cheeses.

From Through England on a Side Saddle by Celia Fiennes (1698)

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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