County of northwest England, which has contained the unitary authorities Halton and Warrington since April 1998.
Area 2,320 sq km/896 sq mi.
Towns and citiesChester (administrative headquarters), Crewe, Congleton, Macclesfield
Physical chiefly a fertile plain, with the Pennines in the east; rivers: Mersey, Dee, Weaver; a sandstone ridge extending south through central Cheshire together with Delamere Forest constitute a woodland and heath landscape
Features salt mines and geologically rich former copper workings at Alderley Edge (in use from Roman times until the 1920s); Little Moreton Hall (15th century); Tatton Park Mansion (1790); Old Hall (1520); Chester Roman Amphitheatre (the largest in the UK); Chester Cathedral (1092), Chester Zoo (1930), Chester Races (16th-century; the oldest in the UK); discovery of Lindow Man, the first ‘bogman’ to be found in mainland Britain, dating from around 500 BC; Museum of the Chemical Industry on Spike Island; Quarry Bank Mill (1784) at Styal is a cotton-industry museum
Agriculture arable farming in the north; cheese (at one time produced entirely in farmhouses) and dairy products in the centre and south of the county
Industries aerospace industry, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, salt, textiles, vehicles, oil, financial services, tourism
Famous people Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Elizabeth Gaskell
Population (2001) 673,800
Boundaries Cheshire is bounded on the north by Merseyside and Greater Manchester; on the east by Derbyshire and Staffordshire; on the south by Shropshire; and on the west by Wrexham and Flintshire. The new unitary authority of Halton consists principally of the former Cheshire towns Widnes and Runcorn.
History Chester was a major Roman fortress. Many Cheshire towns were market centres serving large rural areas in which there were comparatively few villages. In Nantwich there is a splendid 14th-century church, and also many houses from the Tudor and Georgian periods. Sandbach has two Saxon crosses and many villages have handsome churches, almost all built in the local red sandstone. From the Norman Conquest to the Tudor period Cheshire was a county palatine (an area under an overlord that did not send representatives to Parliament).
County of Cheshire
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