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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, 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

Peckforton Castle (right), with Beeston Castle in the background

Peckforton Castle is a grade-I-listed Victorian country house built in the style of a medieval castle. Faced in red sandstone, it features a gatehouse, portcullis, dry moat, two large towers and external windows that are little more than arrow slots. It stands in woodland at the north end of the Peckforton Hills, near the villages of Peckforton and Beeston. The ruins of the genuinely medieval Beeston Castle are about ¾ mile to the north.

The castle was built in 1844–50 as a family home for John Tollemache, a wealthy landowner, estate manager and Member of Parliament, and his family continued to live in the house until 1939. It was designed by Anthony Salvin in the Gothic style. George Gilbert Scott described the building in 1858 as "the largest and most carefully and learnedly executed Gothic mansion of the present" and "the very height of masquerading".

The chapel and entrance lodge, also by Salvin, are listed at grade II*, and part of the surrounding woodland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The castle has been used as a filming location, including for the Doctor Who serial The Time Warrior and a 1991 film of Robin Hood.

Selected image

The Golden Gates of Warrington Town Hall

Warrington Town Hall, built in 1750, was formerly the Georgian country mansion of Bank Hall. It was sold to Warrington council in 1870. The elaborately ornamented gateway, known as the Golden Gates, was exhibited at the London Exhibition of 1862.

Credit: Racklever (22 July 2006)

Selected list

Part of the north wall of Chester, showing Morgan's Mount

Chester city walls surround the medieval extent of Chester. The circuit of the walls extends for 2 miles (3 km), rises to a height of 40 feet (12.2 m), and "is the most complete circuit of Roman and medieval defensive town wall in Britain." The walls and associated structures are a scheduled monument, and almost all parts are listed, mainly at grade I.

The walls originated between 70 and 90 AD as defences for the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix. The earliest walls were earth ramparts surmounted by wooden palisades, with wooden gates and towers. Rebuilding in sandstone started at the end of the 1st century and took over 100 years. The existing circuit was completed by the end of the 12th century. The four main gates were replaced during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

By the 18th century the walls were becoming popular as a promenade, and £1,000 (equivalent to £170,000 in 2018) was spent in 1707 on repairs and paving the footway. Distinguished visitors who walked the walls at that time included John Wesley and Samuel Johnson. They remain a significant tourist attraction.


Map of modern Cheshire showing urban areas (grey) and the major road network.

Towns with more than 25,000 inhabitants in 2011 are highlighted.

In the news

April: Candidates are announced for all seats in the borough council elections in Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester, to be held on 2 May.

19 March: Middlewich residents reject adoption of the proposed neighbourhood plan in a referendum, only the third settlement in England to do so.

6 March: Plans for a major redevelopment of Chester Racecourse are rejected by Cheshire West and Chester council.

22 February: Widnes Vikings rugby league club goes under administration.

8 February: Darren Martland is confirmed as Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary.

7 February: Horse racing across Britain is suspended after horses from a stable in Cholmondeley test positive for equine influenza.

3 February: Demonstrators rally outside Cheshire Constabulary headquarters in Winsford, demanding that the police take more action over illegal fox hunting.

8 January: Plans for sand extraction from farmland at Cranage, near Holmes Chapel, are approved by Cheshire West and Chester council.

15 December: A Cheshire Constabulary police constable is jailed for 25 years for the rape of a 13-year-old girl he met in the course of his police duties.

15 December: Visitors are evacuated from Chester Zoo because of a fire in the roof of the Monsoon Forest area.

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 • 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 • 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 • 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

James Chadwick in around 1935

Sir James Chadwick (20 October 1891 – 24 July 1974) was an English physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his 1932 discovery of the neutron. He later measured its mass.

Born in Bollington, he studied at the University of Manchester. His early research, under Hans Geiger, showed that beta radiation produces a continuous electromagnetic spectrum. He was Assistant Director, under Ernest Rutherford, of the University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory for over a decade, when it was one of the world's foremost centres for physics research.

In 1935, Chadwick joined the University of Liverpool, turning its physics laboratory into an important nuclear physics research centre by installing a cyclotron. During the Second World War, he was involved in the Tube Alloys project to build an atomic bomb, and later led the British team working on the Manhattan Project. Knighted in 1945, he served as Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge 1948–1958.

Did you know...

St John the Evangelist's Church, Sandiway

In this month

Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker

1 April 1974: Widnes and Warrington gained from Lancashire; Hyde, Dukinfield and Stalybridge lost to Greater Manchester; parts of the Wirral lost to Merseyside; and Tintwistle lost to Derbyshire in local government reorganisation.

1 April 1998: Halton and Warrington became unitary authorities.

1 April 2009: Unitary authorities of Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East took control.

5 April 1847: The Port of Runcorn became an independent customs port.

5 April 1847: Birkenhead Park, the UK's first publicly funded civic park, opened.

8 April 1889: Conductor Adrian Boult born in Chester.

10 April 1964: Runcorn designated a new town.

10 April 1998: Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker (pictured) opened as a museum.

11 April 1830: Architect John Douglas born in Sandiway.

17 April 1948: Train crash near Winsford killed 24 people and injured 10.

17 April 1951: Peak District became the UK's first national park.

20 April 1857: Cheshire Constabulary formed.

21 April 1913: George V and Queen Mary visited Crewe Railway Works and Worleston Dairy Institute.

23 April 1610: First St George's Day race held at Chester Racecourse.

24 April 1643: Royalist forces plundered Acton, Dorfold, Ravensmoor and Sound during the Civil War.

25 April 1956: Construction of Silver Jubilee Bridge began.

26 April 1761: Emma, Lady Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson, born in Ness.

30 April 1851: Accident in Sutton Railway Tunnel killed nine people and injured at least 30.


The huge yellow somethings went unnoticed at Goonhilly, they passed over Cape Canaveral without a blip, Woomera and Jodrell Bank looked straight through them – which was a pity because it was exactly the sort of thing they'd been looking for all these years. ... Miles above the surface of the planet the huge yellow somethings began to fan out. At Jodrell Bank, someone decided it was time for a nice relaxing cup of tea.


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.



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 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 | 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 | 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 | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture & Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | Storyhouse | 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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