Cheshire


Cheshire
/chesh"euhr, -ear/, n.
1. formerly, Chester. a county in NW England. 910,900; 899 sq. mi. (2328 sq. km).
2. a town in central Connecticut. 21,788.
3. Also called Cheshire cheese, Chester. a hard cheese, yellowish, orange, or white in color, made of cow's milk and similar to cheddar.

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Administrative (pop., 2001: 673,777), geographic, and historic county, western England.

Established in 1974, it includes most of the former county that was Cheshire except for parts now in Merseyside and Greater Manchester; the county seat is Chester. Cheshire borders Wales, fronts the Dee and Mersey estuaries to the north, and lies partly within Peak District National Park. Evidence of hill forts from the Bronze and Iron ages have been found, as well as ruins of structures from the Roman occupation. The county is largely agricultural, with dairy farming predominant.

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      administrative, geographic, and historic county of northwestern England, bordering Wales to the west, fronting the Dee and Mersey estuaries to the northwest, and flanked by the Pennine (Pennines) uplands, partly within the Peak District National Park, to the east. The administrative, geographic, and historic counties occupy somewhat different areas. The administrative county comprises six districts: the city of Chester and the boroughs of Congleton, Crewe and Nantwich, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Macclesfield, and Vale Royal. The geographic county comprises the entire administrative county and the unitary authorities of Halton and Warrington. The historic county excludes the parts of the two unitary authorities north of the River Mersey, which belong to the historic county of Lancashire, but it encompasses several areas outside the geographic county: the metropolitan borough of Wirral in the metropolitan county of Merseyside; the part of the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester south of the Rivers Mersey and Tame (below Mossley), including parts of the metropolitan boroughs of Oldham, Tameside, Stockport, Manchester, and Trafford; and the north side of Langdendale, in the High Peak district of the administrative county of Derbyshire.

      Most of the geographic county is underlain by Triassic sandstones and marls, which give a distinctive red colouring to many soils and building stones in churches. Atop the simple structure of the Cheshire Plain, however, lies a highly fragmented pattern of glacial clays, sands, and gravels, meandering rivers, and scattered distinctive small lakes, or meres.

      Hill forts of the Bronze and Iron ages were built on the lightly wooded sandstone mid-Cheshire ridge, the watershed between the catchments of the River Dee in the west and the Rivers Weaver and Dane in the east. The Romans built a legionary fortress at Chester (Deva) about 71 CE as a base for the conquest of northern Wales and the defense of the northwest. For some four centuries after the Roman departure, Celtic-speaking Britons defended the area, but in 830 the Anglo-Saxons conquered it and incorporated it into the kingdom of Mercia. Norseman invaded and occupied the Wirral peninsula during the 9th and 10th centuries, when the historic county of Cheshire first emerged as a subdivision of Mercia.

      During the late Middle Ages Cheshire enjoyed a measure of self-government and freedom from aristocratic control as a direct dependency of the crown. The county participated in the rebellion led by Sir Henry Percy (Northumberland, Henry Percy, 8th earl of) (Hotspur) in 1403 and generally sided with the Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses (Roses, Wars of the). Beginning in the 17th and 18th centuries, the towns of Northwich, Middlewich, and Nantwich prospered through the mining of rock salt. During the 18th century many of Cheshire's towns, like those of neighbouring Lancashire, became centres of textile manufacture. Congleton and Macclesfield specialized in silk production, while other towns produced cotton. The town of Crewe developed as a railway centre during the 19th century. The expansion of the industrial region of Manchester into northeastern Cheshire, the incorporation of Wirral into the port complex of Liverpool, and the development of a chemical industry during the 19th century consolidated the historic county's position among Britain's major industrial areas.

      Historic black-and-white half-timbered farmhouses are characteristic features of Cheshire's countryside. This vernacular style has also survived in several ancient towns, such as Nantwich, and was even revived in the 19th century in Chester. Chester's city walls and entrance gates are well preserved (which is unusual for England), and the richly carved timbers in its buildings, especially in two-tiered galleried shops called the Rows, are a major tourist attraction. The administrative county maintains a strict policy of building control in the countryside and of conservation in the historic towns.

      Large areas of the geographic county are rural and agricultural, and large dairy farms predominate on the Cheshire Plain. Cheshire cheese is still made in only a few farmhouses and is now largely a factory product. During the 20th century the Forestry Commission reforested the northern part of the mid-Cheshire ridge in the ancient hunting ground of Delamere Forest. The commission also planted large tracts of Macclesfield Forest on the western flanks of the Pennines.

      The geographic county's textile industry declined considerably during the late 20th century. Crewe, however, remains a centre for railway engineering and the manufacture of luxury automobiles; salt is still produced in Cheshire; and the chemical industry remains important in Halton, Warrington, and Ellesmere Port. In many Cheshire towns engineering, high-technology, and telecommunications firms have compensated for the decline of older industries. Several large houses and estates in the county have been converted into research establishments and office parks. Chester is the historic county town (seat) and administrative centre. Area administrative county, 804 square miles (2,083 square km); geographic county, 903 square miles (2,339 square km). Pop. (2005 est.) administrative county, 679,900; geographic county, 993,400.

      county, extreme southwestern New Hampshire, U.S. It consists largely of a hill-and-valley region bounded to the south by Massachusetts and to the west by Vermont, the Connecticut River constituting the western border. Other waterways include the Ashuelot and Cold rivers, Spofford and Highland lakes, and Lake Monomonac. Monadnock Mountain (3,165 feet [965 metres]) rises above Monadnock State Park and lends its name to the monadnock type of rock formation. Additional parklands are Pisgah and Rhododendron state parks and Annett and Wantastiquet Mountain state forests. Timberland consists of a mixture of pine, maple, birch, beech, spruce, and fir.

      Cheshire, one of New Hampshire's original counties, was formed in 1769 and named for Cheshire, Eng. The county seat is the industrial city of Keene, which developed as a centre for the manufacture of pottery, glass, furniture, and textiles. Elsewhere, early industries included milling in Alstead and Harrisville, yarn making and woodworking in Fitzwilliam, and glassmaking in Stoddard. Other communities are Swanzey, Jaffrey, Rindge, and Winchester. Several covered bridges that predate the American Civil War span the Ashuelot River. The county's economy is based on tourism and the manufacture of metal products and industrial machinery. Area 707 square miles (1,832 square km). Pop. (2000) 73,825; (2007 est.) 77,725.

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Universalium. 2010.

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