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Cheshire Plain

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, 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.

Selected article

Anderton Boat Lift on the River Weaver

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.

Selected picture

Stretton Watermill

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)

Selected list

Agricola Tower of Chester Castle, a motte-and-bailey castle dating from 1070

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.

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.


Cheshire West and Chester Cheshire East Cheshire East Cheshire East Halton WarringtonCheshire 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.

Recommended articles

Places: 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 • Eaton Hall • Gawsworth Old Hall • Halton Castle • Jodrell Bank Observatory • Little Moreton HallFeatured article • Lovell Telescope • Lyme Park • Norton PrioryFeatured article • Peckforton Castle • St Mary's Church, Acton • St Mary's Church, Astbury • St Mary's Church, Nantwich • St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley • Tabley House

History: Battle of Rowton Heath • Deva Victrix • Eddisbury hill fort • Lindow ManFeatured article • Maiden Castle

Geography & Transport: A500 road • Bridgewater Canal • Chester Canal • Manchester Ship CanalFeatured 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 • One Direction • Plegmund • Joseph PriestleyFeatured article • Mark Roberts • Nick Robinson • Edmund SharpeFeatured article • Robert Tatton • 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

Selected biography

Joseph Priestley by Ellen Sharples (1794)

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.

Did you know...

Photograph of a three-storey black-and-white shop building on an angle in the street.

In the news

18 July: Four people are missing following explosions and a fire at a wood treatment works in Bosley.

13 July: The first phase of a new project called Islands opens at Chester Zoo.

5 June: Lion Salt Works reopens after a restoration costing £10.23m.

25 May: The temporary trestle bridge for the construction of the Mersey Gateway has been completed.

9 May: In the council elections, Labour gain Cheshire West and Chester (election) and hold Halton (election) and Warrington (election), and Conservatives hold Cheshire East (election).

8 May: Labour gain City of Chester and hold Ellesmere Port & Neston, Halton and Warrington North; Conservatives hold Congleton, Crewe & Nantwich, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Tatton, Warrington South and Weaver Vale; the Liberal Democrats fail to make any gains in the general election.

6 May: Work commences on the £107 million Bridge Street Quarter project in Warrington town centre.

29 April: Jodrell Bank chosen as the permanent headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope project.


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.

William Webb (1621), quoted in George Ormerod's History

Newest articles



 Towns &  Districts CHESHIRE | PLACES | CIVIL PARISHES | 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 Community Woodlands
 History HISTORY | TIMELINE | 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 | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury 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 | Runcorn | Sandbach | Wilmslow | Warrington
 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. | 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 | Scouting | Walks
 Economy ECONOMY | 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 &  Services SCHOOLS | UNIVERSITIES | Manchester Metropolitan University | University of Chester | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture &  Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | 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

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