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 Peak District is an upland area of England that forms the southern end of the Pennines. Lying mainly in northern Derbyshire, the region also covers the east of Cheshire as well as several other counties. Most of the area falls within the Peak District National Park, the first National Park in England and Wales to be designated and, as of 2010, the fifth largest.
The Cheshire region forms part of the South West Peak area of the Dark Peak, whose gritstone and shale supports heather moorland and blanket bog environments. Rough sheep pasture and grouse shooting are the main land uses. Features include the hills and edges of Shining Tor, Shutlingsloe, Tegg's Nose, The Cloud and Windgather Rocks, the Dane, Dean and Goyt rivers, and the woodland of Macclesfield Forest.
Tourism forms a major part of the economy. Recreational activities include walking, climbing, fell running, orienteering, horse riding, cycling, hang gliding, paragliding and birdwatching on the fells; sailing, fishing and canoeing on reservoirs such as Lamaload; and visiting historic houses such as Lyme Park. With an estimated 22 million visitors per year, the Peak District is the second most-visited national park in the world.
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)
Of the over 200 Scheduled Monuments in Cheshire, at least 129 date from the Medieval period, more than half the total. Scheduled Medieval archaeological sites are defined as dating from between 1066 and 1539, and range from the remains of deserted villages and large buildings to boundary stones. Monuments are defined as sites deliberately constructed by human activity; in many cases they consist only of earthworks or foundations.
The 55 moats or moated sites are the most frequent monument remaining from this period. Houses were built on moated sites during this period partly for defensive purposes but also as a sign of prestige. The remains of twelve motte and bailey castles and three abbeys are scheduled. There are many churchyard and wayside crosses, such as the one at Woodhey (pictured), which were variously used as sites for prayer and pilgrimage, for public proclamations, as guides to local abbeys, and as "plague stones", used for the transfer of money and items during periods of plague. Other monuments include holy wells, halls, bridges, Chester city walls, a lime kiln, a pottery kiln, a hospital, a former chapel, a monastic grange, a tomb, an ice house and a hunting lodge.
Robert Tatton (1606 – 19 August 1669) was a Cheshire landowner who supported King Charles I in the Civil War.
He inherited the family estate in Wythenshawe, then in Cheshire, aged ten, and married Anne Brereton in 1628. When Civil War broke out, he joined the Royalist side, despite his wife being closely related to Sir William Brereton, who commanded the Parliamentary forces in Cheshire. Tatton is perhaps best known for his defence of his family home, Wythenshawe Hall (pictured), during its three-month siege in the winter of 1643/44 by a Parliamentary force commanded by Robert Duckenfield. Parliamentary casualties included Duckinfield's second-in-command, but their victory was inevitable when cannons were brought in. On surrender, the hall's contents were valued at almost £1650 (now around £230,000).
Tatton served as the High Sheriff of Chester between 1645 and 1646. Although heavily fined by Parliament for fighting on the side of the king, he was subsequently rewarded for his loyalty by Charles II following the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The Wythenshawe estate remained in the Tatton family until the 1920s.
O! thou thrice happy Shire, confinéd so to be
Twixt two so famous floods as Mersey is and Dee.
Thy Dee upon the West from Wales doth thee divide;
Thy Mersey on the North, from the Lancastrian side,
Thy natural sister Shire; and link'd unto thee so,
That Lancashire along with Cheshire still doth go.
As tow'rds the Derbian Peak, and Moreland (which do draw
More mountainous and wild) the high-crown'd Shutlingslawe
And Molcop be thy mounds, with those proud hills whence rove
The lovely sister Brooks, the silvery Dane and Dove;
Clear Dove, that makes to Trent; the other to the West.
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