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.
St Mary's Church, Astbury, is a grade-I-listed Anglican parish church in the village of Newbold Astbury. The existing church is Norman in origin, perhaps replacing a Saxon building on the site. The exterior dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, and all styles of English Gothic architecture are visible: Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular. During the civil war, Sir William Brereton's Roundheads stabled their horses in the church. The interior was restored by George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century.
Described as "one of the most exciting Cheshire churches," it has an unusual trapezoidal shape, with an exceptionally wide nave, broader than that of Chester Cathedral. The tower is separate from the body of the church, joined to it by a passage with a porch, and is built in millstone grit, a rare material in Cheshire churches. The interior contains a Norman round-headed archway, and has the largest collection of medieval fittings and furniture of any Cheshire church. A late-13th-century canopied tomb, two medieval memorials and more than fifty 17th-century gravestones survive in the churchyard.
The chimney-piece from Tabley Old Hall, now ruinous, is displayed at nearby Tabley House. It dates from 1619, and is in painted and gilded wood, with carvings including statues of Lucretia, Cleopatra and a female nude reclining on a skull.
Credit: Peter I. Vardy (April 2010)
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 output of Chester-based architect John Douglas (1830–1911) included a diverse range of non-residential works. 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.
In addition to numerous churches, Douglas's non-residential works included a great variety of buildings such as schools, shops, offices, hotels, public houses, banks, model farms, cheese factories, a gentlemen's club, a public baths and a public convenience. The Eastgate Clock in Chester, a memorial of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, is perhaps the best known of the smaller commissions he undertook. Other examples include memorials, a canopy over a well (pictured), a temporary triumphal arch, a garden ornament and an obelisk.
Michael James Owen (born 14 December 1979) is a former English football player who played as a striker. Born in Chester, his father Terry Owen was a professional footballer who played for Chester City and Everton.
Owen enjoyed a hugely successful and high-profile career at both club and international level, and in 2001 became one of a handful of English players to win the Ballon d'Or. As of 2019, he is fifth in the list of all-time top scorers for the England team and is England's eleventh most-capped player, having scored 26 competitive goals – formerly a national record – with 40 in total from 89 appearances (1998–2008). Pace and clinical finishing were Owen's greatest assets early in his career, though he later lost pace due to injuries.
In club football, he played for Liverpool (1996–2004), Real Madrid (2004–5), Newcastle United (2005–9), Manchester United (2009–12) and Stoke City (2012–13). He retired from football in 2013. He has subsequently owned and bred racehorses, and acts as a sports commentator and pundit.
Did you know...
- ...that when George Booth built Booth Mansion in Chester, he angled the building to make it more visible from Chester Cross, but was fined £10 for encroaching into the street?
Selected town or village
Sandbach is a market town and civil parish near Crewe. The town is Cheshire East Council's administrative centre. The civil parish covers 10.7 km2 (4.1 sq mi), and also contains Elworth, Ettiley Heath and Wheelock villages, with a total population of nearly 18,000 in 2011.
The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon and means "sand stream" or "sand valley". There are traces of Saxon settlement and two Saxon crosses, believed to have been completed by the 9th century, stand in the market square. Sandbach appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. It has been a market town since 1579. Sandbach School was founded in 1677. The population increased during the 19th century, when the town was engaged in the silk industry. In the 20th century, Sandbach was the site of Foden and ERF lorries, and remains known for Foden's Brass Band.
The parish's many listed buildings include Old Hall Hotel and other former coaching inns, as well as several buildings by George Gilbert Scott. Sandbach Flashes, fourteen pools created by subsidence due to underlying salt deposits, form an important wildlife habitat.
In this month
They left the shimmering road for the green wood, and The Wizard was soon lost behind them as they walked among fir and pine, oak, ash, and silver birch, along tracks through bracken, and across sleek hummocks of grass. There was no end to the peace and beauty. And then, abruptly, they came upon a stretch of rock and sand from which the heat vibrated as if from an oven. To the north, the Cheshire plain spread before them like a green and yellow patchwork quilt dotted with toy farms and houses. Here the Edge dropped steeply for several hundred feet, while away to their right the country rose in folds and wrinkles until it joined the bulk of the Pennines, which loomed eight miles away through the haze.
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