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 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

Model of Deva Victrix

Deva Victrix (also known as Deva) was a Roman legionary fortress and town on the site of the modern city of Chester. The fortress was built by the Roman legion Legio II Adiutrix in the AD 70s as the Roman army advanced north against the Brigantes. Covering 62 acres (25 hectares), it contained barracks, granaries, military headquarters, military baths, and an unusual elliptical building that might have acted as the governor of Britain's headquarters.

The fortress was rebuilt in stone at the end of the 1st century AD when it was occupied by the Legio XX Valeria Victrix, and again in the early 3rd century. The legion probably remained at the fortress until it fell into disuse in the late 4th or early 5th century.

A civilian settlement grew around the fortress and remained after the Romans withdrew. Peripheral settlements included Boughton, the source of the garrison's water supply, and Handbridge, the site of a sandstone quarry and the Minerva Shrine, the only in situ, rock-cut Roman shrine in Britain. Chester Roman Amphitheatre is the largest known military amphitheatre in Britain, seating 8,000 to 10,000 people.

Selected image

Shropshire Union Canal, near Nantwich

The Shropshire Union Canal was completed in 1835, with Thomas Telford as the engineer. The main line connects Wolverhampton and Ellesmere Port. The canal now forms a popular recreational route as part of the Four Counties Ring.

Credit: Mari Buckley (February 2007)

In the news

15 July: The Bank of England announces that the mathematician Alan Turing, who died in Wilmslow, has been chosen as the theme for the new £50 note.

7 July: Jodrell Bank Observatory is named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

27 June: A major fire occurs in a warehouse in the Golden Triangle Industrial Estate, Widnes.

18 June: Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane calls for the police and crime panel's chair to resign, after the latter criticised Cheshire Constabulary's deputy chief constable for wearing a rainbow lanyard in support of the LGBT+ community on duty.

13 June: Over 4,000 greater Bermuda land snails, previously believed to have been extinct, are returned to Bermuda after a captive breeding programme at Chester Zoo.

12 June: Severe flooding in the Nantwich and Crewe area blocks roads and disrupts the Crewe–Chester and Chester–Shrewsbury railway lines.

27 May: In the European Parliament election, 3 Brexit party, 2 Labour, 2 Liberal Democrat and 1 Green are elected in the North West.

22 May: Cheshire East and Cheshire West and Chester councils elect Labour leaders – Cheshire East's first – after no party gained an overall majority on either council in recent elections.

Selected list

Runcorn Railway Bridge

The 61 listed buildings in Runcorn urban area include two at Grade I, nine at Grade II* and 50 at Grade II. Runcorn's earliest listed buildings, Halton Castle and Norton Priory, date from the 11th and 12th centuries and are now in ruins. The oldest standing building, the Seneschal's House, dates from 1598. Other early buildings include ones relating to stately homes, such as the loggia and ice house in the grounds of Norton Priory; domestic buildings, such as Halton Old Hall, and church-related buildings, such as Halton Vicarage and the Chesshyre Library.

The diversity of Runcorn's buildings increased during the Industrial Revolution. Structures such as Bridgewater House were associated with industry, while large domestic buildings such as Halton Grange were financed by the new wealth created. The enlarged town required new civic buildings and transport infrastructure such as the railway bridge (pictured) and the tide dock, while the needs of the growing population were met by structures such as Norton Water Tower. The most recent listed structure is the Silver Jubilee Bridge, constructed in 1961.


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.

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

Thomas Brassey in his mid-forties

Thomas Brassey (7 November 1805 – 8 December 1870) was a civil engineering contractor and manufacturer of building materials. At the time of his death, he was responsible for building 1 in every 20 miles of railway worldwide.

Born in Buerton, the son of a farmer, he attended school in nearby Chester. After an apprenticeship in Overton, Flintshire, he established a business in Birkenhead. His first railway commission was Penkridge Viaduct, completed in 1837.

Brassey was responsible for building about one-third of Britain's railways and three-quarters of those in France, as well as major lines across Europe and in Canada, Australia, S. America and India. He also constructed the associated docks, bridges, viaducts, stations, tunnels and drainage works. His other works included steamships, mines, locomotive factories, marine telegraphy and water supply and sewerage systems, including part of the London sewerage system. His estate was valued at over £5 million.

Did you know...

Garden front of Capesthorne Hall

Selected town or village

The centre of Acton village, with St Mary's church tower in the background

Acton is a small village and civil parish lying immediately west of Nantwich. The civil parish covers 762 acres (3.08 km2) and also includes Dorfold and part of Burford, with an estimated population of 340 in 2006. The area is agricultural, with dairy farming the main industry.

The parish is believed to have been inhabited since the 8th or 9th century. Acton appears in the Domesday Book of 1086, when it was one of the wealthiest townships in the Nantwich Hundred, being valued for the same sum as Nantwich. The name means "oak town", referring to the pedunculate oaks that predominated in the adjacent Forest of Mondrem. During the Civil War, the village was taken by siege several times. The Shropshire Union Canal reached the parish in 1835, using a long embankment to avoid Dorfold Park. The parish contains many historic buildings, notably Dorfold Hall, considered by Nikolaus Pevsner to be one of the two finest Jacobean houses in Cheshire, and St Mary's Church, whose 13th-century tower is among the earliest in the county.

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.


Ere our Kennel a coal-hole envelop'd in smoke,
Blood and bone shall give way to hot water and coke;
Make and shape, pace and pedigree, held as a jest,
All the power of the Stud in a copper comprest;

The green collar faded, good fellowship o'er,
Sir Peter and Barry remember'd no more,
From her Tarporley perch ere the Swan shall drop down,
And her death-note be heard through the desolate town,

Let Geoffrey record, in the reign of Queen Vic,
How the horse and his rider could still do the trick;
Let his journal, bequeath'd to posterity, show
How their sires rode a-hunting in days long ago.

From "On the Picture of the Cheshire Hunt" by Rowland Egerton-Warburton (1840)



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 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 | 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 | UNIVERSITIES | Manchester Metropolitan University | University of Chester | HEALTH | Countess of Chester Hospital | Halton General Hospital | Leighton 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 | 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 | Dispute between Darnhall and Vale Royal Abbey | 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 | Stuart Tomlinson | 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

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