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The Cheshire Portal


Cheshire Plain from the Mid Cheshire Ridge

Cheshire shown within England

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 around 450 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

South range of Little Moreton Hall, showing the Long Gallery (left)

Little Moreton Hall is a moated half-timbered "black and white" manor house near Congleton. The earliest parts of the house were built for prosperous Cheshire landowner William Moreton in about 1504–08 on the site of a medieval building. The remainder was constructed in stages by successive generations of the family until about 1610. The house remained in the possession of the Moreton family for almost 450 years.

Highly irregular, with three asymmetrical ranges forming a small, rectangular cobbled courtyard, the house has been described as being "lifted straight from a fairy story, a gingerbread house". Its top-heavy appearance, "like a stranded Noah's Ark", is due to the Long Gallery that runs the length of the south range's upper floor. The building is listed at grade I, and the site is also a Scheduled Monument.

The house has been owned by the National Trust since 1938, and is open to the public. The gardens were recreated in the 20th century, and include a knot garden, planted to a 17th-century design.

Selected image

Three Shires' Head on the River Dane

Three Shires' Head on Axe Edge Moor is the point at which Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet. The old packhorse bridge over the River Dane suggests that silk was carried from Hollinsclough in Staffordshire to the mills in Macclesfield via this spot.

Credit: Rob Bendall (3 June 2009)

In this month

Portrait of Edward I in Westminster Abbey

1 August 1984: Lindow Man bog body discovered.

2 August 1957: Lovell Telescope took its first image.

3 August 1952: Pianist Martin Roscoe born in Halton.

4 August 1643: Attack on Nantwich by Royalists led by Lord Capell during the Civil War.

4–6 August 1896: Princess Louise visited Crewe Hall and opened bazaar in aid of Crewe Memorial Hospital.

6 August 2012: Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell died in Swettenham.

8 August 1953: First (private) motor race at Oulton Park.

9 August 1886: Grosvenor Museum officially opened by the First Duke of Westminster.

10 August 1933: Acton swing bridge over the Weaver opened.

11 August 1642: Confrontation between Sir William Brereton and Royalist forces near Ravensmoor during the Civil War.

13 August 1277: Foundation stones of Vale Royal Abbey laid by Edward I (pictured) and Eleanor of Castile.

15 August 1538: Dissolution of Chester's three friaries.

23–26 August 1617: James I visited Chester, Nantwich and Utkinton Hall, and hunted in Delamere Forest.

24 August 1538: Warrant issued for the dissolution of Vale Royal Abbey.

27 August 1781: First recorded game of cricket in the county.

29 August 1940: An air raid destroyed around fifty houses in Crewe.

Selected list

St Michael's Church, Baddiley, an example of a timber-framed church partly encased in brick

A total of 43 churches and chapels in Cheshire are listed at grade I. Although Christian churches have existed in the county since the Anglo-Saxon era, no significant Saxon features remain in its listed churches. Surviving Norman architecture is found, notably in Chester Cathedral and St John the Baptist, Chester.

Most of the grade-I-listed churches are in the Gothic style, dating between the 13th and the 17th centuries, predominantly in the Perpendicular style. There are some examples of Neoclassical architecture, including St Peter, Aston-by-Sutton, and St Peter, Congleton. The only buildings dating from a later period are Waterhouse's Eaton Chapel in French Rayonnant style, and Bodley's Church of St Mary at Eccleston, in Gothic Revival style, both from the 19th century.

Major building materials are the local sandstone and limestone. A handful of timber-framed churches survive, some of which have been encased in brick; examples include St Michael, Baddiley (pictured), St Luke, Holmes Chapel, St Oswald, Lower Peover, and St James and St Paul, Marton.


Top: Map of modern Cheshire showing urban areas (grey) and the major road network. Chester (red) is the county town, and Warrington has the greatest population. Towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants in 2011 are highlighted; the size of dot gives a rough indication of the relative population. Wales and the adjacent English counties are shown in capitals.

Bottom: Relief map showing the major hills. The Mid Cheshire Ridge is a discontinuous ridge of low hills running north–south from Beacon Hill (north of Helsby Hill) to Bickerton Hill. Most other high ground falls within the Peak District in the east of the county. Shining Tor (559 metres), on the boundary with Derbyshire, forms the county's high point.


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.

Selected biography

Jonathan Agnew in 2006

Jonathan Philip Agnew (born 4 April 1960), nicknamed "Aggers", is a cricket broadcaster and former professional cricketer, who was born in Macclesfield.

He had a successful first-class career as a fast bowler for Leicestershire from 1979 to 1990, playing for England six times in Test matches and One Day Internationals. His greatest success came towards the end of his career, after he started to swing the ball. He took 100 wickets in a season in 1987 and was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1988.

Since his retirement, Agnew has become a leading voice of cricket on radio, as the BBC radio cricket correspondent and as a commentator on Test Match Special. He has also appeared on the Australian Grandstand team. He is known for his humour and occasional innuendo. His notorious on-air "leg over" comment in 1991 has been voted "the greatest sporting commentary ever" in a BBC poll.

Did you know...

Former Congregational Chapel, Monks Lane, Nantwich

Selected town or village

Spike Island, Widnes

Widnes is an industrial town on the northern bank of the River Mersey, where the estuary narrows to form the Runcorn Gap. Historically in Lancashire, it became part of Cheshire in 1974, within the borough of Halton. It had a population of a little over 60,000 in 2011.

Before the Industrial Revolution, Widnes consisted of a small number of separate settlements on predominantly marsh and moorland. In 1847, the first chemical factory was established, and the town rapidly became a major centre of the chemical industry using immigrant workers from Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and Wales. The town was described in 1888 as "the dirtiest, ugliest and most depressing town in England". Although there has been a degree of diversification of the town's industries, Widnes remains a major manufacturer of chemicals.

Spike Island (pictured), where the disused Sankey Canal terminates, has been reclaimed as a recreational area. The nearby Catalyst Science Discovery Centre is the world's first museum dedicated to the chemical industry.

In the news

Crewe Market Hall
Crewe Market Hall

29 October, 1 November: Warrington council and the mayor of Crewe each announce plans to bid for city status in 2022.

13–14 October: Prince Edward visits Chester and opens a Fire Service training centre in Winsford.

8 October: Castle Street shopping area in Macclesfield reopens after refurbishment.

4 October: Restoration of the grade-I-listed Bridgegate, part of Chester city walls, is completed.

25 September: A bronze frieze by the sculptor Tom Murphy is unveiled in Warrington, as a memorial to the band Viola Beach.

9 September: The fifth stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race takes place in Cheshire, starting at Alderley Park and finishing in Warrington.

24 July: The grade-II-listed Crewe Market Hall (pictured) formally reopens after refurbishment.

15 July: Crewe, Runcorn and Warrington are awarded potential funding under the "Town Deal" government scheme.


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.



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 | Cats Tor | Kerridge 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 Woodlands
History HISTORY | TIMELINE | [Agricultural history | 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 | Warrington Museum | Weaver Hall Museum  | PUBLIC PARKS | Grosvenor Park | Marbury Country 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 | Neston | 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 | Congleton Town F.C. | Macclesfield F.C. | 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 | Agriculture | 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 | HIGHER EDUCATION | University of Chester | University of Law | Reaseheath College | HEALTH | Countess of Chester Hospital | Halton General Hospital | Leighton Hospital | Macclesfield Hospital | Warrington Hospital | PRISONS | HMP Risley | HMP Styal | HMP Thorn Cross | SERVICES | Fire and Rescue | Police | United Utilities
 Culture & Media LITERATURE | Cheshire Cat | Cheshire dialect | THEATRE | The Brindley | Lyceum Theatre | Storyhouse | CONCERT HALLS | Parr Hall | 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

Recommended articles

Towns & Villages 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 | Goat tower | Jodrell Bank Observatory | Little Moreton Hall | Lovell Telescope | Lyme Park | Norton Priory | 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 | Dispute between Darnhall and Vale Royal Abbey | Eddisbury hill fort | Lindow Man | Maiden Castle
Geography & Transport Bridgewater Canal | Chester Canal | Manchester Ship Canal | Northern England | Peak District | River Weaver
People Jonathan Agnew | Muthu Alagappan | Ben Amos | Adrian Boult | Thomas Brassey | Neil Brooks | Sir John Brunner, 1st Baronet | James Chadwick | Djibril Cissé | Daniel Craig | Hilda Ellis Davidson | John Douglas | Rowland Egerton-Warburton | Thomas Harrison | Reginald Heber | Eddie Johnson | Margaret Ursula Jones | Levi Mackin | One Direction | Peter, Abbot of Vale Royal | Plegmund | Joseph Priestley | Mark Roberts | Nick Robinson | Edmund Sharpe | Robert Tatton | Stuart Tomlinson | Alan Turing | William Windsor
Lists Castles | Church restorations, amendments and furniture by John Douglas | Grade I listed churches | Houses and associated buildings by John Douglas | Listed buildings in Runcorn (rural area) | Listed buildings in Runcorn (urban area) | Listed buildings in Widnes | New churches by John Douglas | Non-ecclesiastical and non-residential works by John Douglas

Things you can do


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