Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Origin Historic
Region North West England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 25th
2,343 km²
Ranked 25th
2,083 km²
Admin HQ Chester
ISO 3166-2 GB-CHS
ONS code 13
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
- Admin. pop.
Ranked 18th
424 / km²
Ranked 14th
Ethnicity 98.3% White
Arms of Cheshire County Council
Cheshire County Council
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament
  1. Ellesmere Port and Neston
  2. Chester
  3. Crewe and Nantwich
  4. Congleton
  5. Macclesfield
  6. Vale Royal
  7. Halton (Unitary)
  8. Warrington (Unitary)
The Cheshire Plain - photo taken adjacent to Beeston Castle
The Cheshire Plain - photo taken adjacent to Beeston Castle
The Cheshire Plain - photo taken towards Merseyside
The Cheshire Plain - photo taken towards Merseyside
The Cheshire Plain panorama - photo taken from Mid-Cheshire Ridge
The Cheshire Plain panorama - photo taken from Mid-Cheshire Ridge
Cattle farming in the county
Cattle farming in the county
Black-and-white timbered buildings on Nantwich High Street
Black-and-white timbered buildings on Nantwich High Street

Cheshire (or archaically the County of Chester) is a county palatine in North West England. Its county town is the city of Chester. It is one of the most affluent counties in England, with numerous rural towns and villages. It borders the ceremonial counties of Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Staffordshire (with Stoke-on-Trent), and Shropshire. It also borders the unitary authorities of Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales.

Some northern parts of the county are effectively suburbs of Manchester or Liverpool, and many of those who work in these cities commute from other parts of the county.

Cheshire's largest town is Warrington — although approximately half of the town lying to the north of the River Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal (the area covered by the pre-1974 County Borough plus Warrington Rural District and parts of Golborne Urban District and Whiston Rural District) is traditionally part of Lancashire. The administrative centre for Cheshire is Chester, the historical county town. Other important towns in Cheshire are: Northwich, Crewe, Altrincham, Wilmslow, Ellesmere Port, Macclesfield, Runcorn and Widnes. Warrington and Halton (including Widnes and Runcorn) are unitary authorities.

The county is home to some of the most affluent areas of England, including Alderley Edge, Wilmslow, Prestbury and Knutsford. The area is sometimes referred to as The Golden Triangle on account of the area in around the above mentioned towns and villages.

As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plantlife chose the cuckooflower as the county flower.

Music critic/writer John Harris, who was born and raised in Cheshire (he still retains a slight cheshire burr), describes his home county on his website as "probably England's least remarkable county!".


Cheshire in the Domesday Book was recorded as a much larger county than it is today. Its northern border was the River Ribble, and it was recorded with eighteen hundreds, six of which were north of the River Mersey.

In 1182 the land north of the Mersey became administered as part of the new county of Lancashire instead. Later, the hundreds of Atiscross and Exestan became part of Wales. Over the years the ten hundreds consolidated to just seven — Broxton, Bucklow, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, and Wirral.

In a local government reform in 1974, some areas near the border with Lancashire became part of the new metropolitan counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside, notably Stockport, and much of the Wirral Peninsula was also lost, as was the North-Eastern tip, comprising the areas of Woodhead and Tintwistle, which transferred into Derbyshire. Also at this time, Cheshire gained Warrington and the surrounding district from Lancashire, as well as Widnes.

Halton and Warrington became unitary authorities independent of Cheshire on April 1, 1998, but remain part of the county for ceremonial purposes, as well as fire and policing. A referendum for a further local government reform connected with a regional assembly was planned for 2004, but was abandoned.


Cheshire is a mainly rural county with a high concentration of villages. Agriculture is generally based around the dairy trade and cattle are the predominant livestock. Most of the industry is in the North adjacent to the Mersey, notably the centre of the British chemical industry, including ICI at Runcorn (originally sited here because of the proximity of salt mines). Crewe was once the centre of the British railway industry and remains a major junction. Towns in the east of Cheshire form Manchester's most affluent commuter belt with some of the UK's highest property prices outside the Home Counties. Cheshire is rich in canals, particularly the east of the county with its strategic importance between Manchester, Stoke and Birmingham. The Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals have been restored for leisure use, forming the "Cheshire Ring".

The following is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of Cheshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 11,828 272 4,673 6,883
2000 14,879 188 5,049 9,641
2003 17,159 225 4,988 11,945

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding


Cheshire covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Wales and the Peak District of Derbyshire. This was formed following the retreat of ice age glaciers which left the area dotted with kettle holes, locally referred to as "meres". The bedrock of this region is almost entirely Triassic sandstone, outcrops of which have long been quarried, notably at Runcorn, providing the distinctive red stone for Liverpool Cathedral and Chester Cathedral.

The eastern half of the county is Upper Triassic Mercia mudstone laid down with large salt deposits which were mined for hundreds of years around Northwich. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A 51km footpath, the Sandstone Trail, follows this ridge from Frodsham to Whitchurch passing Delamere Forest, Beeston Castle and earlier iron age forts.


Prehistoric burial grounds can be found at the Bridestones, near Congleton (neolithic) and Robin Hood's Tump, near Alpraham (bronze age).[1] The remains of iron age hill forts are found on sandstone ridges at several locations in Cheshire. Examples include Maiden Castle on Bickerton Hill, Helsby Hillfort and Woodhouse Hillfort at Frodsham. The Roman fortress and walls of Chester, perhaps the earliest building works in Cheshire remaining above ground, are constructed from purple-grey sandstone.[2]

The distinctive local red sandstone has been used for many monumental and ecclesiastical buildings throughout the county, for example, the medieval Beeston Castle, Chester Cathedral and numerous parish churches. Occasional residential and industrial buildings, such as Helsby Station, Helsby (1849) are also in this sandstone.

Many surviving buildings from the 15th to 17th centuries are timbered, particularly in the southern part of the county. Notable examples include the moated manor house Little Moreton Hall, dating from around 1450, and many commercial and residential buildings in Chester, Nantwich and surrounding villages.

Early brick buildings include Peover Hall, near Macclesfield (1585), Tattenhall Hall (pre-1622) and Pied Bull Hotel in Chester (17th C). From the 18th century, orange, red or brown brick became the predominant building material used in Cheshire, although earlier buildings are often faced or dressed with stone. Examples from the Victorian period onwards often employ distinctive brick detailing, such as brick patterning and ornate chimney stacks and gables. Notable examples include Arley Hall, near Macclesfield, Willington Hall, near Chester (both by Nantwich architect George Latham) and Overleigh Lodge, Chester. From the Victorian era, brick buildings often incorporate timberwork in a mock Tudor style, and this hybrid style has been used in some modern residential developments in the county. Industrial buildings, such as the Macclesfield silk mills (for example, Waters Green New Mill), are also usually in brick.

Famous products

Famous people


This is a list of the major towns and cities in Cheshire.

(*) Traditionally part of Lancashire.

(**) Traditionally part of Cheshire but which since 1974 have been administered as part of other counties.

Places of interest


  1. ^ Cheshire County Council: Revealing Cheshire's Past
  2. ^ Images of England
County of Cheshire
Unitary authorities: Halton • Warrington
Boroughs/Districts: City of Chester • Congleton • Crewe and Nantwich • Ellesmere Port and Neston • Macclesfield • Vale Royal
Cities/Towns: Alderley Edge • Alsager • Bollington • Chester • Congleton • Crewe • Ellesmere Port • Frodsham • Knutsford • Lymm • Macclesfield • Middlewich • Nantwich • Neston • Northwich • Poynton • Runcorn • Sandbach • Warrington • Widnes • Wilmslow • Winsford

United Kingdom | England | Ceremonial counties of England Flag of England

Counties of the Lieutenancies Act 1997

Bedfordshire | Berkshire | City of Bristol | Buckinghamshire | Cambridgeshire | Cheshire | Cornwall | Cumbria | Derbyshire | Devon | Dorset | Durham | East Riding of Yorkshire | East Sussex | Essex | Gloucestershire | Greater London | Greater Manchester | Hampshire | Herefordshire | Hertfordshire | Isle of Wight | Kent | Lancashire | Leicestershire | Lincolnshire | City of London | Merseyside | Norfolk | Northamptonshire | Northumberland | North Yorkshire | Nottinghamshire | Oxfordshire | Rutland | Shropshire | Somerset | South Yorkshire | Staffordshire | Suffolk | Surrey | Tyne and Wear | Warwickshire | West Midlands | West Sussex | West Yorkshire | Wiltshire | Worcestershire


United Kingdom | England | Traditional counties of England Flag of England

Counties that originate prior to 1889

Bedfordshire | Berkshire | Buckinghamshire | Cambridgeshire | Cheshire | Cornwall | Cumberland | Derbyshire | Devon | Dorset | Durham | Essex | Gloucestershire | Hampshire | Herefordshire | Hertfordshire | Huntingdonshire | Kent | Lancashire | Leicestershire | Lincolnshire | Middlesex | Norfolk | Northamptonshire | Northumberland | Nottinghamshire | Oxfordshire | Rutland | Shropshire | Somerset | Staffordshire | Suffolk | Surrey | Sussex | Warwickshire | Westmorland | Wiltshire | Worcestershire | Yorkshire

Districts of North West England Flag of England

Allerdale | Barrow-in-Furness | Blackburn with Darwen | Blackpool | Bolton | Burnley | Bury | Carlisle | Chester | Chorley | Congleton | Copeland | Crewe and Nantwich | Eden | Ellesmere Port and Neston | Fylde | Halton | Hyndburn | Knowsley | Lancaster | Liverpool | Macclesfield | Manchester | Oldham | Pendle | Preston | Ribble Valley | Rochdale | Rossendale | St Helens | Salford | Sefton | South Lakeland | South Ribble | Stockport | Tameside | Trafford | Vale Royal | Warrington | West Lancashire | Wigan | Wirral | Wyre

Counties with multiple districts: Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside

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