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.
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.
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.
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...
- ...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
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
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.
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