Cheshire ( CHESH-ər, -eer; archaically the County Palatine of Chester) is a county in North West England, bordering Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, and Flintshire and Wrexham County Borough in Wales to the west. Cheshire's county town is the City of Chester (118,200); the largest town is Warrington (209,700). Other major towns include Crewe (71,722), Runcorn (61,789), Widnes (61,464), Ellesmere Port (55,715), Macclesfield (52,044), Winsford (32,610) and Northwich (19,924).
The county covers 905 square miles (2,344 km2) and has a population of around 1 million. It is mostly rural, with a number of small towns and villages supporting the agricultural and other industries which produce Cheshire cheese, salt, chemicals and silk.
Adlington Hall is a grade-I-listed country house in the village of Adlington. The Legh family has lived on the site since the early 14th century. The hall follows a courtyard plan. The medieval Great Hall was built in 1480–1505 with a timber frame; it has a hammer-beam roof, a rare wooden canopy dated 1505, and an organ dating from the late 17th century, which was played by Handel, a friend of the Legh family. The Great Hall was encased in brick after the Civil War, when the hall was twice occupied by Parliamentary forces. The east wing dates from 1581, and retains its original "black and white" appearance. The remainder of the house largely dates from the 18th century, when Charles Legh transformed the hall into a Georgian manor.
The grounds were laid out as gardens, woodland and parkland in the 18th century; they are listed at Grade II*. They include Shell House, which has an interior decorated with shells and coloured mirrors, and Tig House, a pavilion which is an early example of the Chinoiserie style. The hall and grounds remain in private ownership, and are occasionally open to the public.
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)
In the news
3 April: East Cheshire NHS Trust requests donations of medical scrubs on Twitter for Macclesfield Hospital.
17–19 March: The Storyhouse theatre in Chester, the Lyceum Theatre in Crewe, and The Brindley theatre in Runcorn all close for a temporary period.
18 March: Cases of novel coronavirus are confirmed across Cheshire, including Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington and Halton.
13 March: The Queen's planned visit to Crewe and Macclesfield on 19 March has been postponed owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
10 March: Unilever announces that it plans to close its washing powder plant in Warrington, threatening more than 120 jobs.
25 February: Cransley School in Great Budworth closes for a week to reduce any possible risk of novel coronavirus spreading after pupils returning from a holiday in Bormio, northern Italy had respiratory symptoms.
18 February: Stanlow Refinery at Ellesmere Port is one of two British plants to share a government grant to begin manufacturing hydrogen as a low-emission industrial fuel.
21 January: Halton Transport, which provides bus services in Runcorn, Warrington and Widnes, has entered liquidation after making losses of £620,000 in 2019.
16 January: A stretch of Chester's Roman walls collapses due to excavations from adjacent building work.
The 59 listed buildings in Great Budworth include two at Grade I, one at Grade II* and the remainder at Grade II. Most are in the village of Great Budworth, formerly within the Arley Hall estate. In 1860–1900, Rowland Egerton-Warburton, the hall's owner, commissioned new buildings and the restoration of existing ones in the village, employing architects working in the Vernacular Revival style, including John Douglas, Edmund Kirby and William Eden Nesfield. Almost all the buildings in the village centre, those in Main Street, Church Street (pictured) and School Lane, are listed.
The Grade-I-listed St Mary and All Saints Church originated in the 14th century and was virtually complete by the end of the 16th century. The Grade-I-listed Belmont Hall, designed by James Gibbs in about 1750, incorporates Palladian features. The Grade-II*-listed Old School House dates from 1615. Many of the Grade-II-listed buildings are 17th-century timber-framed houses and farm buildings, most of which have been recased in brick. There are two listed public houses: the Cock Inn and the George and Dragon. More unusual listed structures include the churchyard walls, a sundial, stocks, lychgate, guidepost, two wellhouses and a telephone kiosk.
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Selected town or village
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 this month
To which I may add, that special gift which God hath bestowed on the soil in and near to that place, for the excellency of the cheese there made; which, notwithstanding all the disputations which many make to the contrary, and all the trials that our ladies and gentlewomen make in their dairies, in other parts of the country, and in other countries of the kingdom, yet can they never fully match the perfect relish of the right Nantwich cheese; nor can, I think, that cheese be equalled by any other made in Europe, for pleasantness of taste, and wholesomeness of digestion, even in the daintiest stomachs of them that love it.
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