The small county of Cheshire is not noted for its scenic attractions, being mostly level land except for the eastern Pennine mountains. Its claim to fame rests with the city of Chester and the county's "black and white" houses, both of which are a "must" on any travel itinerary.
Chester was established by the Romans. Roman remains include a hypocaust and a Roman amphitheatre. With seating for 7000, the partly excavated amphitheatre is the largest in Britain. The town's defensive walls still stand in the old city centre.
Chester also retains a number of medieval buildings. The 13th century Rows is a series of covered galleries above street level shops found on Watergate, Eastgate and Bridge streets.
The story of Chester's Rows is told in a special exhibit entitled "Our House – The Story of the Rows of Chester" at the Chester Visitor Centre on Vicar’s Lane. The Eastgate clock, built in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria's silver jubilee is another famous Chester landmark.
Museum goers will want to visit the Grosvenor museum with its reconstruction of a Georgian period house, displays of art, silver, furniture, clocks, local crafts and costumes, musical instruments, and much more.
Chester's cathedral started as a Benedictine abbey church and was home for the monks until 1540 when the monasteries were dissolved. At the cathedral can be seen bits of the earlier monastery and a 13th century chapter house.
The town of Macclesfield was, from 1756 to 1981, the home of a silk industry. Its history is detailed in the Silk Museum, located in the Heritage Centre. Here you can learn about the development of the industry viewing av presentations, models, costumes and textiles; another museum looks at silk and design, while the third, Paradise Mill, with its 26 restored looms, gives weaving demonstrations. Plan on a couple of hours or more to take it all in.
Britain's only salt museum is found at Marston. Salt has been produced in Cheshire for over 2000 years. The Lion Salt Works at was a working industrial site using salt production by the ancient open pan evaporation method.
Another Cheshire industry is shown off at the Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate (National Trust) sited in over 300 acres of countryside. Tour the galleries devoted to water and steam power, with hands-on displays and exhibits, and watch an 1830s beam engine and a horizontal steam engine at work. You can learn about the lives of the mill workers and their children and visit the apprentice house (built in 1790) and the mill village.
The town of Sandbach has an ancient site right in the center of the town: the Sandbach Crosses (English Heritage). They have lost much of their original configuration but ancient carvings are still visible. Budding chemists will want to schedule a visit to the Catalyst Science Centre and Museum devoted exclusively to chemistry. It's an interactive center and guaranteed to intrigue the kids. Another scientific place of interest is Jodrell Bank Science Centre, home of the Lovell radio telescope and the Jodrell Bank observatory, the astronomy research centre of the University of Manchester. The centre has eight exhibition galleries, a planetarium, and an arboretum.
For countryside lovers there's the National Trust Hare Hill, a woodland garden with azaleas, rhododendrons, and a walled garden containing a pergola and wire sculptures. There are walks in the area and a connecting path to Alderley Edge. The National Trust also has a restored 15th century mill at Nether Alderley. It's open at various times for visitors.
Little Moreton Hall is a fine example of Cheshire's black and white half-timbered buildings. Set around three sides of a cobbled courtyard and surrounded by a moat, its upper stories project over the lower one. Built between 1450 and 1580, it is well worth a visit. There are no halls in the house, and spiral staircases connect the floors. The fascinating interior is void of furniture except for an original trestle table, spice cabinet, and round table. Wall paintings have been uncovered. There's also an original garderobe and even a secret room.
Tatton Park is home to a Tudor Old hall (1520) and a Georgian manor house, begun in 1780. It was once owned by Sir Thomas Egerton, a lord chancellor of England. The old hall, which became cottages in the 17th century, is a venue for various events such as plays. In the staterooms are collections of Baccarat glass, porcelain, Italian and Dutch masters' paintings, and Gillow furniture. Life "downstairs" is also on the house tour. Gardens include a walled kitchen garden, a conservatory, a beech maze, a fernery, a rose garden, an Italian garden, and a Japanese garden. There are many rare plants collected over 200 years by the owners, the Egerton family. 1000 acres play host to herds of fallow and red deer. A home farm adds to the attractions.
The Palladian mansion Tabley House, built in 1767, has two virginals—an unusual musical keyboard instrument, only 6 of which are thought to survive in the world. Furniture and paintings are also on show. There's a 17th century chapel as well.
Peover Hall is an Elizabethan House dating from 1585. Its attractions are the Carolean stables, Mainwaring chapel, and 18th century landscaped park. There's also a topiary garden, walled garden, and herb gardens.
Arley Hall was first built in 1469, but the present house dates from 1832 and is a family home. The library reflects the Victorian gothic style. One bedroom in the house was home for a short time to Napoleon III. Arley Hall’s 12 acres of gardens contain an outstanding herbaceous border, a collection of shrub roses, two walled gardens, a kitchen garden, and an avenue of pleached limes leading to the house.
Bramall Hall and gardens, set in 64 acres, is located near Stockport. It's one of Cheshire's best examples of a black and white timber framed house. Built first in the 14th century, it was added to in Tudor and Jacobean times, then rebuilt by the Victorians. Period plasterwork, original roof timbers, and 16th century wall paintings are part of the attractions. A Victorian kitchen and servants' quarters are on view, and special exhibits and activities take place from time to time.
Capesthorne is one of Cheshire's jewels. Built between 1719-1732 in the Jacobean style, the site was a family home from medieval times. Inside are collections of antique furniture, art, tapestries, and marble sculptures. The house is set in 100 acres of parkland and has lakeside gardens and the remains of an ice house and boat house.
North of Macclesfield is Adlington Hall, home to the same family since 1315. The great hall was built between 1480 and 1505. A moat once surrounded the manor house, two wings of which are half-timbered black and white. The other two wings, constructed 1749-1757, were done in red brick. In the house is the largest 17th century organ in England. The mid-1700s gardens are done in the style of Capability Brown and include a number of follies, a rose garden, and a yew maze.
Gawsworth Hall is another half-timbered manor house, built in 1485 to replace an earlier home. Like many older homes it has undergone remodeling over the years. It is set in lovely green lawns with nearby ponds. It's a lived-in family home and almost all of it is on display, which makes it all the more interesting. At one time there was a priest's ladder in the back of a closet that led up to attic rooms with a secret way back down into a bedroom, and then on into a tunnel that went through to the church nearby. St James the Great church has stained glass by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.
Lyme Park, of Tudor origin, evolved in the 1720s into an Italian style palatial house. Home for 600 years to the Legh family, it sits in 1400 acres and includes a deer park with a 18th century hunting tower. Elaborate staterooms display Mortlake tapestries, Grinling Gibbons carvings, and a collection of clocks. An Elizabethan long gallery, a drawing room, and the library are notable. Victorian gardens, a rose garden, and a conservatory decorate the grounds. In addition there's a 1400-acre red and fallow deer park.
Dunham Massey (National Trust) is a red brick house dating from Georgian times and restored during the Edwardian years. It is built around two courtyards, one of which has a fountain and garden. The interior, seen by tour, contains walnut furniture, paintings, and Huguenot silver. Highlights include the library and the long gallery. The servants' quarters are also on the tour. Outdoors is an orangery, old trees, planted borders, a Victorian bark house, a deer park, and a well house.
Cheshire has a castle with a view. Beeston is a 13th century ruin sitting on a 500-foot high red sandstone cliff commanding long-ranging views over the countryside. Defensive walls and a gateway remain. Legend says Richard II buried a fortune in the castle. Remnants of a bronze age hillfort occupy the same cliff top. An exhibition, "Castle of the Rock", details the 4000 year history of the castle.
Cholmondeley Castle isn't the real thing. It's a 19th century copy. There are lawns, gardens, and a lake to be enjoyed as well as a collection of rare breeds farm animals.
Norton Priory museum and gardens has 16 acres of gardens and a ruined 12th century Augustinian priory with an 800 year old vaulted storage range. The 38 acre site includes the magnificent 800 year old vaulted storage range and a St Christopher statue, one of the great treasures of medieval Europe. The walled garden has one four "in bloom" awards.
Stapeley Water Gardens advertises itself as the world's largest water garden centre. In the grounds is the national collection of water lilies, exotic plants, and a palms tropical oasis with sounds and colour.
The Wirral peninsula is home to several country parks and scenic villages although most meld one into another. Port Sunlight was built in the late 19th century by Viscount Leverhulme as a model industrial village. It's set in gardens and wide tree-lined roads. There's a museum that tells its story.
The village of Thornton Hough is home to a number of half-timbered houses, a village green, a church, and a smithy. Eastham village's twisting narrow streets are the site of a several old cottages and St. Mary's Church, parts of which date back to Norman times. A yew tree in the churchyard is thought to be almost 2000 years old.
New Brighton boasts an eight-mile long promenade while West Kirby's is one mile long, but it has a beach, a marine lake and a sailing centre to add to its attractions. There are views across the Dee Estuary to north Wales. This is the spot to start a visit to Wirral country park or a trip to Hilbre Island.
Willaston is another Wirral village with interesting buildings that include a windmill, an old hall, and 17th century cottages. A village green is thrown in for good measure. A waymarked village trail is available. Bidston village has been around since the Domesday book. The church tower dates to 1520; a farmhouse in the village, built in 1696, still has its bread oven from that date. The Viorrey embroidery centre in the village is a haven for followers of the art.
For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.
5 miles north of Macclesfield
Tel. 0 1625 829 206
Anderton Boat Lift
Lift Lane, Anderton
Northwich, CW9 6FW
Tel. 0 1606 786 777
Web: Anderton Boat Lift
Arley Hall and Gardens
Arley (near Great Budworth by Northwich)
Tel. 0 1565 777 353; Fax. 0 1565 777 465
For photos and more information see our article Arley Hall and Gardens
Web: Arley Hall
11 miles south-east of Chester on minor road off the A49 or A41
Tel. 0 1829 260 464
South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port
Just off Junction 9 of the M53
Tel. 0 151 355 5017; Fax. 0 151 355 4079
Web: Boat Museum
Bramhall Park, Bramhall, Stockport
Tel. 0 1614 853 708
Web: Bramall Hall
Burton Mere Wetlands
off A540 outside Burton village; nearest town is Neston, Cheshire
Tel. 0 151 353 8478
Tel. 0 1625 861 221; Fax. 0 1625 861 619
Web: Capesthorne Hall
Catalyst Science Centre and Museum
Mersey Road, Widnes
Tel. 0 1514 201 121; Fax. 0 1514 952 030
12 Abbey Square, Chester
Tel. 0 1244 324 756; Fax. 0 1244 341 110
Web: Chester Cathedral
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens
Tel/Fax. 0 1829 720 383
For photos and more information see our article Cholmondeley Castle Gardens
Market Square, Congleton
Tel. 0 1260 276 360
Web: Congleton Museum
Walton Hall Gardens
Walton Lea Road, Higher Walton
Warrington, WA4 6SN
Tel: 0 1928 711 395
One mile from Nantwich
Tel. 0 1270 625 245
Tel. 0 161 941 1025; Fax: 0 161 929 7508
Tel. 0 1260 223 456
For photos and more information see our articles Gawsworth Hall and St James the Great church
Web: Gawsworth Hall
Gladstone Memorial Library
Hawarden, next to St Deiniol Church
27 Grosvenor Street, Chester
Tel. 0 1244 402 008
Over Alderley, Macclesfield
Tel. 0 1743 708 100 (Regional Office)
Fax. 0 1743 708 150
Jodrell Bank Science Centre
Dept of Physics and Astronomy
University of Manchester
Tel. 0 1477 571 321
Web: Jordrell Bank Science Centre
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Port Sunlight village, Wirral
Tel. 0 151 478 4136
Lion Salt Works
Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich
Tel/Fax. 0 1606 41823
Web: Lion Saltworks Trust
Little Moreton Hall
Tel. 0 1260 272 018
Tel. 0 1663 762 023; Fax. 0 1663 765 035
Macclesfield Silk Museums
Park Lane, Macclesfield
Tel. 0 1625 612 045; Fax. 0 1625 612 048
Pillory Street, Nantwich
Tel. 0 1270 627 104
Web: Nantwich Museum
National Waterways Museum
Tel. 0 151 355 5017
Web: National Waterways Museum
Ness Botanic Gardens
South Wirral, Cheshire, CH64 4AY
Tel: 0845 030 4063
For photos and more informations see our feature at Ness Botanic Gardens
Web: Ness Botanic Gardens
Norton Priory and Gardens
Tudor Road, Manor Park
Tel. 0 1928 569 895
Over Peover, Knutsford
Tel. 0 1565 632 358
Port Sunlight Village and Heritage Centre
95 Greendale Rd, Port Sunlight, Wirral
Tel. 0 151 644 6466
Web: Port Sunlight Village
Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate (NT)
Quarry Bank Road, Styal, Wilmslow
Tel. 0 1625 527 468; Fax. 0 1625 539 267
Web: Quarry Bank Mill
Red Rocks Nature Reserve
Dee Estuary, on Wirral peninsula
Rode Hall Gardens
Church Lane, Scholar Green, 5 miles south-west of Congleton
Tel. 0 1270 873 237
Web: Rode Hall
Vicars Lane beyond Newgate
Tel. 0 1612 421 400
Stockley Working Farm
Smithy House, Arley Estate
Arley, Northwich, CW9 6LZ
Tel. 0 1565 777 492 for organic produce or 0 1565 777 323 for farm enquiries
Web: Stockley Working Farm
Mill Lane, Stretton (near Farndon) Cheshire
Tel. 0 1606 271 640 (Weaver Hall)
Tel. 0 1565 750 151; Fax. 0 1565 653 230
Web: Tabley House
4 miles south of Altrincham, near the A5034 and A50
Tel. 0 1625 534 400
Web: Tatton Park
Weaver Hall Museum
162 London Road, Northwich
Tel. 0 1606 271 640
Wirral Country Park Visitor Centre
Tel. 0 1516 484 371
Cheshire Tourist Information Centres
20 Stamford New Road
Tel. 0 161 912 5931
Chester Town Hall
Northgate Street, Chester
Tel. 0 1244 402 111
Chester Visitor and Craft Centre
Vicars Lane, Chester
Tel. 0 1244 351 609
Walking tours available
Town Hall, High Street
Tel. 0 1260 271 095
Toft Road, Knutsford
Tel. 0 1565 632 611
Town Hall, Macclesfield
Tel. 0 1625 504 114
Church House, Church Walk, Nantwich
Tel. 0 1270 610 983
1 The Arcade, Northwich
Tel. 0 1606 353 534
Civic Hall, Off Park Lane
Tel. 0 1625 872 238
6 Church Street, Runcorn
Tel. 0 1928 576 776
Tel. 0 161 474 4444
The Market Hall
Academy Way, Warrington
Tel. 0 1925 632 571
Council Offices, South Drive
Tel. 0 1625 522 275
Photos by Barbara Ballard and
Quarry Bank Mill and Wirral Country Park by Boots n Paws
Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain as follows:
Tatton Park Japanese garden courtesy Tom Pennington
Arley Hall west front courtesy David Tranter
Adlington Hall courtesy Ken Crosby
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Some of our Cheshire Articles
St James Great Church at Gawsworth Hall
Arley Hall and Gardens
Cholmondeley Castle Gardens
Ness Botanic Gardens
Church of St James and St Paul
Little Moreton Hall
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The Salt Industry