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 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.
Middlewich is one of the four Cheshire wich towns. Founded by the Romans under the name Salinae, it was a major Roman site of salt production, and salt manufacture remains an important local industry. Middlewich has also been known historically for silk and agriculture.
The town lies on the confluence of a number of natural and man-made features: the Rivers Dane, Croco and Wheelock; the Shropshire Union and Trent and Mersey Canals; and the A533, A54 and A530 roads. The parish church, St. Michael and All Angels, dates back to the 12th century.
In common with other towns within mid-Cheshire, the good motorway and road links have seen a large influx of people since 1970, doubling the population of Middlewich to around 14,000. Events such as the annual folk and boat festival, and the Roman and Norman festivals have helped to boost tourism in the town.
The chimney-piece from Tabley Old Hall, now ruinous, is displayed at nearby Tabley House. It dates from 1619, and is in painted and gilded wood, with carvings including statues of Lucretia, Cleopatra and a female nude reclining on a skull.
Credit: Peter I. Vardy (April 2010)
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 £150,000 in 2016) 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.
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Reginald Heber (21 April 1783 – 3 April 1826) was a clergyman, biographer and hymn-writer, who was born in Malpas.
After his ordination in 1807, he served as rector of Hodnet for sixteen years. During this period he wrote a biography of the 17th-century cleric Jeremy Taylor, as well as 57 hymns. Only a handful of these remain in use, including "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Brightest and best of the sons of the morning". His missionary hymn "From Greenland's icy mountains" was formerly popular, but became controversial in the 20th century for its lack of sensitivity to non-Christian beliefs.
A fervent supporter of missionary aims, Heber served as the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta from 1823 until his death. He travelled widely within India and worked hard to improve both spiritual and general living conditions within his diocese. After his death in Trichinopoly, monuments were erected to his memory in St Paul's Cathedral and in India. Bishop Heber High School in his home town of Malpas was named for him.
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In this month
Sometyme I was a taverner,
a gentle gossippe and a tapster,
of wyne and ale a trustie bruer,
which woe hath me wrought.
Of kannes I kept no trewe measure.
My cuppes I sould at my pleasure,
deceavinge manye a creature,
thoe my ale Were nought.
And when I was a bruer longe,
with hoppes I made my alle stronge;
esshes and hearbes I blend amonge
and marred so good malt.
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