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, 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 1,028,600, 19th highest in England, with a population density of 439 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.
The River Weaver flows in a curving route of just over 50 miles (80 km) anti-clockwise across the west of the county from a source in the Peckforton Hills. Improvements to make the river navigable were authorised in 1720; the work, which included eleven locks, was completed in 1732. The navigation was completely reconstructed between 1870 and 1900, with the original locks being replaced by five much larger ones. The major trade was salt.
The Anderton Boat Lift (pictured), near Northwich, links the Weaver with the Trent and Mersey Canal some 50 feet (15 m) above. Opened in 1875, it remained in use for over 100 years. It reopened after renovation in 2002 and is one of only two working boat lifts in the UK. Many other structures are of historical importance, including the Hayhurst swing bridge and Northwich Town bridge, believed to be the earliest swing bridges powered by electricity. Dutton Horse Bridge is one of the earliest surviving laminated timber structures.
Stretton Watermill is a working water-powered cornmill at Stretton, which originally dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. The mill closed in 1959, but was restored in 1967 and is now open to the public.
Credit: Joopercoopers (21 March 2008)
Twenty castles lie within the modern boundaries of Cheshire. The most common form is the motte-and-bailey, which consists of a mound (motte), surmounted by a keep or tower, with an outer enclosure (bailey) where the barracks and workshops were located. Ringworks are less common; they are contemporary with motte-and-bailey castles and have a similar structure but lack the motte. Fortified manor houses are also found in the county; they are considered castles because they often had battlements or crenellations.
The earliest castles in Cheshire were built just after the Norman Conquest in 1070 (Chester Castle pictured), with the majority dating from before the end of the 12th century. After the 13th century, the castles are either tower houses or fortified manor houses, and were primarily a feudal residence rather than a military structure. The latest castle dates from the 15th century. The county played an important role in defending England against the Welsh, with eight castles being within 4 miles (6.4 km) of the Welsh border. Away from the borders, baronial castles were built as a status symbol. Most of the castles are now in a ruinous state, having been abandoned after they fulfilled their military purpose.
Joseph Priestley (13 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was a theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator and political theorist. He is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen, which he dubbed "dephlogisticated air", having isolated it in its gaseous state. He also discovered several other gases, invented soda water and wrote on electricity.
He served as a minister in Nantwich (1758–61), and also established a school where he taught natural philosophy. It was here that he wrote the seminal work, The Rudiments of English Grammar. He was also a tutor at Warrington Academy (1761–67).
Priestley's metaphysical writings attempted to combine theism, materialism and determinism; these works are considered to be one of the main sources for utilitarianism. Besides Rudiments, his contributions to pedagogy include the invention of modern historiography. He advocated equal rights for religious Dissenters and helped to found Unitarianism in England.
To which I may add, that special gift which God hath bestowed on the soil in and near to that place, for the excellency of the cheese there made; which, notwithstanding all the disputations which many make to the contrary, and all the trials that our ladies and gentlewomen make in their dairies, in other parts of the country, and in other countries of the kingdom, yet can they never fully match the perfect relish of the right Nantwich cheese; nor can, I think, that cheese be equalled by any other made in Europe, for pleasantness of taste, and wholesomeness of digestion, even in the daintiest stomachs of them that love it.
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