Heritage > Counties > England


The county town of Chester dates back to the Roman times and although overshadowed in recent decades by the emergence of it's powerful neighbours of Lancashire and, more recently, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, can claim to be one of the most beautiful of all English counties.

Cheshire covers 900 square miles and includes, as it's main towns, Chester, Warrington, Crewe, Widnes, Macclesfield and Congleton. It's physical features include the rivers Mersey, Dee and Weaver. These rivers make Cheshire mostly a fertile plain.

The tourist attractions that Cheshire has to offer include salt mines and geologically rich copper workings which were worked from the Roman times right up until the 1920's.

The county has a population of just under One Million and combines the traditional commercial activities of dairy farming with those of the modern era in the textile and chemical industries.

Facts on the region

Origin of name: Chester means the camp or fort. The Britons originally called it Legacchestir, meaning the camp of the legions. This was then shortened to Chester, a corruption of the Latin word castra

Name first recorded: 980 as Legecasterscir.

County Town: CHESTER An ancient city with a long and impressive history and some of the finest half-timbered buildings in the world.

Main rivers: Dee, Mersey, Weaver, Dane.

Highest point:Black Hill at 1,908 feet.

Cheshire's local government: Cheshire County Council governs about half of the County of Cheshire under a two-tier system with six district councils: Chester, Crewe&Nantwich, Congleton, Ellesmere Port & Neston, Macclesfield and Vale Royal. Then there are five unitary councils shared with Lancashire - Halton, Manchester, Tameside,Trafford and Warrington - and two wholly Cheshire - Stockport and Wirral. Tintwistel is two-tier administered by Derbyshire County and High Peak District Councils.

The local landscape

From the Wirral, a wedge of silted land between the rivers Dee and Mersey, the ancient boundaries of Cheshire swing up into a corner of the Peak District, some 60 miles to the west, and swoop down towards the Midlands, taking in rich farming land, manor houses and churches, mill towns and moors.

In the south of the county is rich red marl in which grows some of the best pasture in Britain, so this is good dairy farming county - and in 1759 noted for its cheeses "esteemed to be best in England".

The river Weaver in the southeast runs through what were once the largest salt fields in the kingdom. Nantwich, Northwich and Middlewichmade up the Salt Wiches. Hollows caued by subsidence of salt subsequently filled with water and formed small lakes called flashes.

Macclesfield Forest is a wild, hilly area some 1,800 feet above sea level.

In the northwest the isaldns of Hilbre, Little Eye and Middle Eye, off the Wirral, are quiet havens for birdlife; in the northeast the 18-mile Gritstone Trail passes hills of the tough sandstone rock known as Millstone Grits, on its route from Lyme Park to the Staffordshire border.

Local Towns and Villages

CHESTER An ancient city with a long and impressive history and some of the finest half-timbered buildings in the world.

BIRKENHEAD Prosperous port founded by Vikings, who called it Birken Haven. Remains of 12th Century Priory. Imposing Williamson Art Gallery.

GRAPPENHALL Nice village whose Church has a grinning Cheshire cat on its tower!

HALTON Ruined 11th century castle, attractive Castle Inn, and Chesshyre Library with many rare volumes, plus glorious views over to Wales and Lancashire.

HOYLAKE Comfortable residential and seaside resort with a 4-mile promenade and famous Royal Liverpool Golf Club links. Once, it was a mere hamlet from which people set off for Ireland.

KNUTSFORD Olde-worlde atmosphere still around with good hotels and guest houses.

MACCLESFIELD Mentioned in the Domesday Book. Once the leading silk-manufacturing town in England with a legacy of 18th- and early 19th-centruy mills.

NANTWICH Famed for its brine baths with medicinal qualifies. The leather trade flourished here and its streets were said to be paved with scraps of leather.

NEW BRIGHTON The promenade here is Liverpool’s answer to the seaside.

STOCKPORT Its bridge over the Mersey was blown up in 1745 to prevent a rebel army marching from Scotland into the centre of the kingdom. Grew rich on silk, cotton, textiles and engineering. Captured by Prince Rupert in the Civil War.

Places to Visit

Adlington Hall, Macclesfield, Cheshire

Arley Hall & Gardens, Northwich, cheshire

Capesthorne Hall, Siddington, Cheshire

Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire

Beeston Castle, Tarporley, Cheshire

Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, Malpas, Cheshire

Chester Roman Amphitheatre, Vicars Lane, Chester, Cheshire

Dorfold Hall, Nantwhich, Cheshire


Saturday nearest 25 January: The people of Nantwich recall their 1644 defeat of the Royalist army with a re-enactment on Holly Holy Day.

June-July: every five years Chester holds its famous series of Mystery Plays.

June: Cheshire County Show at Knutsford.

June: Woodford Air Show near Cheadles Hulme.

World Worm-charming championships near Nantwich, in June!

Event's at Tatton Park near Knutsford and Arley Hall near Northwich - including outdoor music.

Famous names from the region

Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson lived in the little town of Knutsford and has left her legacy in a memorial tower: as Mrs Gaskell she described the area in her 19th-century novels Cranford and Ruth.

Footballer Joe Mercer, who led Manchester City to the FA Cup in 1969 and the League and Cup Winners Cups in 1970, was born in Ellesmere Port in 1914.

Glenda Jackson, actress and MP hails from Birkenhead, also the birthplace of Keeping Up Appearances actress Patricia Routledge.

Actor Ronald Pickup was born in Chester in 1941.

Lyme Park, a lovely Elizabethan mansion in Disley, doubled as Pemberley for the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Granada TV’s 1979 screen version of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited was partly set at Tatton Park, a Georgian house in Knutsford.

TV soap Hollyoaks is set and filmed in Chester.

Outspoken cricketer Ian Botham was born in Heswall in 1955. He went to Milford School.

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