Ultimate Guide to Chester and Cheshire

MarketingCheshire

Chester

&

Cheshire

Spring

2018

The

Ultimate

Guide

Issue 03

JANUARY —

APRIL

2018

Featuring:

Plus:

FEMINISM THAT’S

1,000 YEARS OLD:

From a warrior

queen to present

day politics

MAKING THE

MOST OF MACC:

A trip to Treacle

Town

RAGS TO RICHES:

Reclaimed World’s

Jeff Pearce on

salvaging an

empire

EATING OUT:

at the Scottish

Steakhouse

Valentine’s Day in the

walled city

+

Cheshire’s best winter

gardens

+

Spectacular ‘dance circus’

at Storyhouse


Lifting the winter blues

Andrew Lambie

Ness Botanic Gardens is home to a wide range of snowdrops which provide

a welcome respite from the darkness of the winter months and herald the

beginnings of life, with their lush green leaves and milky white heads poking

through the soil in the early part of theyear.

Snowdrop is the common name for the genus Galanthus (from the Greek

meaning ‘Milk Flower’). Consisting of nineteen species, these delightful plants

occur naturally from the Pyrenees to Iran and as far south as Sicily and the

Lebanon. In nature, they flower as early as late autumn (G.reginaeolgae

subsp. reginae-olgae which can be seen in the Alpine house

at Ness Botanic Gardens) through to August (G. platyphyllus).

In Britain flowering occurs from late autumn but generally only

through to March although this is dependant on the species.

Here at Ness, we grow over sixty different species and

cultivars. The best represented is the familiar common

Snowdrop G. nivalis which can be seen at several locations

throughout the Gardens. These came from original plantings

by A.K. Bulley, Ness Botanic Gardens founder and keen

plant collector, and while some may not remain in their

original locations, those in the Azalea Border running

next to the Herbaceous Border do remain as Bulley

planted them. The Pinewoods and Azalea Walk play

host to bigger populations, including robust and larger

varieties such as G. ‘Robin Hood’, and G. ‘Magnet’. On

the opposite sides of the Garden, the Rock Garden

plays host to smaller populations of snowdrops such

as the delightful double bloom Galanthus nivalis

‘Blewsbury Tart’.

Due to the enduring popularity of the ever increasing

snowdrop collection at Ness, we now run an annual

self-guided Snowdrop Trail around the Gardens as well as our

popular guided Snowdrop Walks in February 2018, more

details can be found at our website:

www.nessgardens.org.uk/learn/walks

We’d love it if you could join us!

1

Advertisement Feature


Photo: Phil Kay


2

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0344 879 9113


Making

the most of

the brand

New Year

IMAGE

NESS BOTANIC

GARDENS

Launch yourself into 2018 with the best that

Cheshire has got to offer (or get yourself out of

the post-festive doldrums) with our guide to the

great outdoors. Winter gardens, snowdrop walks,

pubs with fires and even an Alpine sauna all

feature (page 9), or start planning your Valentine’s

Day with an off-the-beaten-track walk and some

very romantic places to eat (page 18).

Fancy a day out? You’d be hard pressed to beat

the market-town charms of Macclesfield (page

54), whose epic Treacle Market is the basis for

a top day trip, or else we give you a run-down

of what to do with the kids over half-term and

beyond (page 32). Elsewhere, we listen to the rags

to riches (and back again) tale of the man behind

Reclaimed World (page 48), and hear first-hand

why a dance-circus performance at Storyhouse

is one of spring’s must-see highlights (page 11).

There’s also the history of Cheshire’s silver

(page 51) and excellent eats at the Scottish

Steakhouse (page 56).

We are also banging the drum for Cheshire’s

women this year – which, given that 2018 marks

100 years since women were granted the right to

vote, feels nothing if not timely. Our potted history

of Cheshire’s women of note traces a route

from a warrior queen to present day politics,

and also gives a run-down of what’s on this year

to celebrate a 1,000 years of feminism. Expect

everything from walks and festivals, with some

theatre and art thrown in for good measure (page

40). And if all that’s not enough, check our full

listings of what’s on and where in Cheshire this

season. As ever – enjoy.

Find out more about what’s on in Cheshire at:

visitcheshire.com

This guide has been put together by

Marketing Cheshire and was made possible

with the help of our editor, Susie Stubbs

and with the invaluable support, ideas and

reality checks of Marketing Cheshire’s

Rachel McQueen and Leanne Eaton, and

Storyhouse’s Jen Chapman and Nancy

Davies. Thanks also to our interviewees and

contributors, including Mark Littler, Jeff

Pearce, Laurel Johnson, Kevin Finnan, Lucy

Dwyer, Nicola Haigh, Bill Elms and Steven

Hayes. Special thanks should be given to

Carolyn Barnwell, for her sterling research

into Cheshire’s suffragettes.

Supported by

Artwork by Lemondrop Creative

Editorial and advertising:

Ashley Shacklady

a.shacklady@marketingcheshire.co.uk

Leanne Eaton

l.eaton@marketingcheshire.co.uk

Front Cover Image: Charge by

Motionhouse, image by Dan Tucker

For more information vistitcheshire.com

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied,

stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by

any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise,

except brief extracts for purpose of review, and no part of

this publication may be sold or hired, without the written

permission of the publisher. Words, photography and design

copyright: Marketing Cheshire 2018, except where stated.

Although the authors have taken all reasonable care in

preparing this book, we make no warranty about the accuracy

or completeness of its content and, to the maximum extent

permitted, disclaim all liability arising from its use. The

publisher gratefully acknowledges the permission granted

to reproduce the copyright material in this book. Every effort

has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their

permission for the use of copyright material.

05


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Get Out Into

The Great Outdoors

Christmas has been and gone. New Year,

too – and no doubt with it all those fine

resolutions (you know, the ones where you

stop checking Facebook every 25 seconds

and start leaving the wine in the fridge).

No matter. Spring is on its way. Leave the

guilt behind, get outside and breathe

deep with our guide to the great

Cheshire outdoors.

IMAGE

DELAMERE FOREST

07


Great winter gardens

Cheshire has a bit of a rep.

when it comes to great

gardens. From sweeping

lawns to hulking great

deer parks, if you’re in

possession of a pair of

wellies and a National

Trust card, Cheshire is your

spiritual home. And some

of its most glorious gardens

are the ones that showcase

the sublime beauty of the

winter landscape. Take

Ness Botanic Gardens

(Ness). Its 64 acres make

for a fine visit at any time

of year, but come February

it’s dusted with snowdrops,

some 80 varieties, including

a bunch planted by the

gardens’ founder in the 19th

century. Keep an eye out

for its snowdrop walks, too:

there’s one that ends with

hot chocolate and a roaring

fire. Cosy. Over at Dunham

Massey (Altrincham), its

relatively recent winter

garden (opened in 2009)

gives Ness a run for its

frosty money. Thousands

of snowdrops, irises and

cyclamen bloom against

a backdrop of black stem

dogwood and beech trees.

Just a short walk across

open fields you’ll also

find the Swan with Two

Nicks (Little Bollington), a

pub whose open fires are

particularly appealing at

this time of year. Like many

creaky old country houses,

Rode Hall (Scholar Green)

closes over winter, but it

reopens in early spring

in order to show off its

snowdrops - a carpet of 70

varieties dazzle in the winter

sun (they hold their own

against the inevitable drizzle,

too). Rode Hall’s snowdrop

walks run from 4 February

until 5 March; the tearoom

(with wood burner, yay) will

also be open. As with all

of these gardens, opening

times and prices do vary,

so check ahead.

FROM TOP

NESS BOTANIC

GARDENS /

DUNHAM MASSEY

From sweeping lawns

to hulking great deer parks,

if you’re in possession

of a pair of wellies and

a National Trust card,

Cheshire is your spiritual

home

Winter adventure

So, when we say ‘winter adventure’ we’re thinking less

climbing the North Face of the Eiger and more an energetic

hike up to the dizzy heights of Bickerton Hill (Duckington,

part of the Sandstone Ridge). Head towards the 3,000

year-old Maiden Castle on a crisp winter’s day and you’ll

see as far as the River Mersey (and get an eyeful of a

reputed nine counties). Top of our list, though, is Lyme’s

Night Run (Disley, 27 Jan). This is a run that takes you past

the Elizabethan mansion that most of Lyme’s visitors are

familiar with and up onto the moors beyond – which far

fewer are. From up here, 800 feet above sea level, the sight

is little short of spectacular. At night, spread out in the valley

below, all the twinkling lights of the Manchester metropolis

glitter – and will surely make the 3km and 6km routes worth

the effort.

08


Outdoors, but also indoors

If you approach country walks with the same sense of dread

as a mother preparing for a four year-old’s whole-class

birthday party – at home – then fear not. There are places

where getting a lungful of fresh air can be done so in small

doses. Take Quarry Bank (Styal), a place made famous

thanks to Channel 4’s The Mill. Yes, you could go on a ramble

around its 400-acre woods. Yes, you could take a wander

around the model village at Styal, created by the Greg family

to house their mill-workers. Or you could simply step inside

its 19th-century glasshouse, whose beautiful, curvilinear

structure was once used for growing exotic fruits – and is

still heated, thanks to a new biomass boiler. Toasty. It won’t

take long to peruse, however, so head over to the Ship Inn

(Styal) afterwards, a 350 year-old pub that does excellent

grub. You’ll definitely have worked up an appetite by then.

FROM TOP

QUARRY BANK

MILL / MOTTRAM

HALL’S ALFRESCO

THERMOSPACE /

THE CHURCH INN,

MOBBERLEY

Elsewhere, we like the sound of

Mottram Hall’s Alfresco Thermospace

(Mottram). It may sound like

something NASA has developed as

part of its space programme, but it

is in fact part of a spa complex that

boasts a Bavarian-inspired sauna and

steam room. There’s a copper oven

covered in pinecones (which shoots

out herbal steam), there’s an outdoor

zone and pine needles on the floor, and

the whole thing is akin to standing in

the middle of a steamy alpine forest.

In fact, a few hours inhaling the herbal

air must surely offer the same benefits

as spending a week hiking in the

Alps. It’s not cheap, though, so unless

your Christmas was a frugal one you

might opt instead for the waterfalls

and wildlife of Lymm Dam (Lymm).

Take an ever-so-gentle (buggy and

wheelchair-friendly) stroll around its

shores, before heading into Lymm for

the pick of its cafes, pubs and eateries.

Finally, we often opt for The Church

Inn (Mobberley), a dog-friendly boozer

that hands out a map for a four-mile

walk that starts and ends at its doors.

Or you could do as we so recently

did and head there with the best of

intentions…. and spend the afternoon

by the fire, drinking Mallory’s

Mobberley Best Bitter, greeting the

sinking of the sun with a rueful smile

- and a resolution to come back again

for that walk, next time, absolutely,

just when we’ve got more time.

And so, from broken New Year’s

resolutions to missed walks, we bring

this feature to an end – but you’ve no

excuses now. Go on: get out into the

great Cheshire outdoors.

09


4

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IN THE HEART OF

CHESTER

Over 60 stores. 400 parking spaces.

Open 7 days a week.

Stay up-to-date with our latest news,

events and offers on our website and

social media channels.

thegrosvenorcentre.co.uk GSCChester GSC_Chester

5


CHARGE!

Art and science come together to spectacular effect at

Storyhouse in February. We speak to Motionhouse’s

Kevin Finnan about ‘dance circus’, science and

high-impact moves.

11


“We used to have a

reputation for working with

video but now the screen we

use is three-dimensional.

We perform on it, in it and

through it.” Kevin Finnan is

attempting to explain what it

is, exactly, that Motionhouse

does. And, to be fair, what it

does is pretty unusual –

a mix of dance, circus-like

moves, multimedia and

set design that leave its

audiences, according to

critics, gobsmacked. In fact,

Motionhouse is a dance

company that’s been going

since 1988, its six-strong

dance troupe playing to

packed houses across

the UK and Europe, its

performances redefining the

boundaries of contemporary

dance. “We call our work

dance-circus,” says Kevin.

“Alongside the traditional

dance vocabulary our

dancers have a wider range

of skills - circus moves such

as hand-to-hand balancing

or aerial techniques –

and we bring those skills

together with music and

digital imagery to create a

level of skill and spectacle

that’s unlike anything you’ll

find in traditional dance.”

He’s not wrong.

Motionhouse has, in the

past, choreographed

dancers with JCB diggers,

the former showing off

super athletic routines

alongside monster machines

not normally known for

their balletic grooves. The

company also worked on

the London 2012 Paralympic

Opening Ceremony and,

this spring, brings its latest

show to Storyhouse, Charge.

“We have performed on a

vast scale, with skydives

and ships and cranes, we’ve

danced on 100 foot-high

buildings, and now we want

to bring the power of the

spectacle indoors,” says

Kevin of the show.

Charge is one of

Motionhouse’s most

ambitious performances to

date. The company’s dancers

tell the story of electricity

within the human body.

As they writhe and twist on

poles and ropes, on each

other and through computer

game-like graphics, they

articulate how electricity

defines us – from the

electrical Charge that sparks

human life to electrical

activity in the brain. Making

such a story stack up was a

huge challenge for Kevin and

his team. “When you think

about energy, you think of

things like the city at night

or putting petrol in a car,

but you don’t really visualize

anything, do you? I thought,

how am I going to make a

show about something you

can’t see?”

“ We have performed on a

vast scale, with skydives

and ships and cranes,

we’ve danced on 100 foothigh

buildings, and now we

want to bring the power of

the spectacle indoors ”

12


What’s On

Chester Cathedral

6

Our Colour

Reflection

Liz West

in the Chapter House

Thursday 1 February -

Thursday 1 March 2018

in collaboration with

SATURDAY 3 MARCH

Chester Philharmonic presents

Красивая русская музыка

Enjoy a Russian Classical Romantic evening

featuring the young Estonian Pianist Maksim

Štšura, with music from Rachmaninoff and Glinka.

7.30pm | Tickets £5 - £16

SATURDAY 10 MARCH

Israel in Egypt performed by

Chester Bach Singers

Encounter frogs, locusts, tidal waves and much

more as Chester Bach Singers return to perform

Handel’s exciting and vivid piece ‘Israel in Egypt’.

7.30pm | Tickets £5 - £20

SATURDAY 17 MARCH

Chester Music Society presents

An Evening with Mozart

The Music Society Choir join forces with the

Liverpool Sinfonia and an outstanding line-up

of soloists to celebrate the genius of Wolfgang

Amadeus Mozart.

7.30pm | Tickets £7 - £20

GOOD FRIDAY 30 MARCH

St John Passion, J S Bach – 8pm

Chester Cathedral Choir, directed by

Philip Rushforth

Eighteenth Century Sinfonia

Robert Murray Evangelist

Tristan Hambleton Christus

Alison Rose Soprano

Marta Fontanals-Simmons Mezzo Soprano

Marcus Farnsworth Bass

The St John Passion was written for Good Friday in

1724 and contains many dramatic moments as well

as intense, mournful beauty. The soloists performing

with the choir are of international repute and will

be accompanied by the superb Eighteenth Century

Sinfonia.

Bach’s St John Passion contains all the ferocity and

sorrow of the Good Friday story but it is also an

optimistic work, anticipating the resurrection with

music of radiance and hope. Do come

and hear this wonderful work in this

most magnificent setting.

FREE – retiring collection

For concert tickets, call 01244 500959 or click to: chestercathedral.com/events


Spring Season

Charge isn’t the only dance act that’s

on at Storyhouse this spring. As part

of a world tour, the acclaimed Saint

Petersburg Classic Ballet brings both

Giselle and Swan Lake to Chester

in February (16 Feb and 17-18 Feb

respectively). Fans of Strictly take note:

Brendan Cole and guests present the

Latin and ballroom-infused All Night

Long on 17 March and, while it’s not

dance-related, the appearance of the

English Touring Opera is also worth a

mention. They perform three classic

productions in March: The Marriage of

Figaro (20 Mar) and a double helping

of Puccini on 21 March, with Il Tabarro

and Gianni Schicchi served up in a

single sitting.

Kevin began researching the

subject, examining theory,

going to conferences, and

eventually stumbling across

the work of Dame Frances

Ashcroft. The award-winning

Trinity College professor is

a specialist in ion channel

physiology – or how cells

process electrical Charges –

with her research enabling

some diabetics to swap

regular insulin injections

for more palatable oral

drugs. When Kevin first

approached Frances she was

unsure. “But we spent time

in her laboratory, I spoke

to her research team at

Oxford University about the

phenomena of electricity

in the body and between us

we developed the idea for

the show.”

Getting a team of

white-coated scientists

from one of the world’s

leading universities on

board is testament as much

to Kevin’s passion as it is

to Motionhouse’s track

record and the process was

genuinely two-way, with

researchers visiting the

studio as the show began to

take visual shape.

The end result is powerful

and persuasive and has been

enthusiastically picked up

by the university. “Oxford is

very proud of it and Frances

is going to show sections of

it at conferences. It has been

a great partnership,” says

Kevin. Charge has done just

as well with audiences, with

rave reviews across the UK,

standing ovations reported

in Italy and a run on the West

End on the cards.

So, do you have to be a

dance aficionado to enjoy

Charge? Not at all, says

Kevin. “Seventy percent of

our audiences are new to

dance. What brings them

is the fact that we’re doing

something of real quality,

that’s never been seen on

the stage.” The show can

be enjoyed on a range of

levels. “We have created

a world that’s informed by

science. You can sit back

and think, wow, that’s a

beautiful visual experience,

or you can find the science

side of it fascinating. It

doesn’t matter,” says

Kevin. In fact, perhaps the

only thing that matters is

seeing it for yourself. The

one-off performance at

Storyhouse may not quite

be dance as we know it, but

it is an unmissable night

nevertheless.

Motionhouse: Charge,

Storyhouse, 7.30pm, 6

February, £16.50-£25.50.

Book at storyhouse.com.

14


7

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Eating out

An Alternative

Day Á Deux

16


Thank goodness for Valentine’s Day. It’s a ray of (pink and sparkly) light

amid the grey gloom of the shortest month – and Chester is an obvious

place to spend this most romantic of days. Follow a road less travelled

with our guide to some of its lesser-known charms.

The best romantic weekends are spent

mooching around pretty places, with

all the time in the world to enjoy each

other’s company. Chester doubleticks

the mooching box, what with

its wonky Rows and two-mile amble

along the Walls, but it has a clutch of

other romantic nooks and crannies,

too – the first being Grosvenor Park

or, more specifically, The Lodge Café

(Grosvenor Park). Restored as part of a

£2.4m regeneration a few years back,

The Lodge sits within landscaped

grounds donated to the people of

Chester by the Grosvenors – who,

fact fans, are an aristocratic family

with connections to the city that

stretch back centuries (Sir Richard

Grosvenor was MP for Chester way

back in 1620). The Lodge today serves

up rather good tea and cake, with

views over the park thrown in for good

measure. Stop here for sustenance

before a romantic meander by the

River Dee, crossing via the wooden

boards of the Queen’s Park Bridge

(The Groves) and gazing dreamily

towards the Meadows and their myriad

weeping willows.

Back in town, Chester’s “most romantic

street” (Godstall Lane) is an obvious

stopping-off point, though perhaps less

so if you’ve yet to introduce your latest

squeeze to your parents – among the

medieval lane’s residents is a bridal

boutique. Chester’s biggest draw is

close by - the Cathedral (St Werburgh

St) – though the handmade chocs of

Rococo (Northgate St) follow hard on

its heels. Ain’t nothing so romantic

as chocolate, eh? But we’re more

interested in the modest charm of the

Abbey Gateway (Northgate St), which

whispers tales of Chester’s ancient

past. Built by Richard Lenginour in 1300

(AKA Richard the Engineer; they were

a sucker for a prosaic nickname back

in the 14th century), the gateway led

to St Werburgh’s Abbey - which later,

much later, became the Cathedral we

know and love today. Duck beneath it

now and you’ll find yourself in Abbey

Square, where once a bakery, brewery

and kitchens served the Cathedral

community. A road leads to the

Kaleyards Gate; it pierced the Walls

only with the permission of

Edward I – who allowed it so long as a

man on horseback carrying a 10-foot

lance couldn’t pass through it. Friday

nights in Chester clearly used to be

quite something.

Head back onto Northgate, this time

heading for Storyhouse (Hunter St).

It may not come with a 700-year

history, but this former Art Deco

cinema has retained its sleek 1930s

curves, which inside give it an ocean

liner kind of feel. Its extension,

meanwhile, is all glass, copper and

brickwork detailing that acts as a

21st-century mirror to the cinema’s

older brickwork. Sitting at the top of

Northgate, surrounded on all sides by

more venerable buildings, Storyhouse

shouldn’t quite work but does – and

its restaurant serves up the sort of

mezze, dips and desserts that were

made for sharing. Check its spring

season for romance-heavy highlights

such as Swan Lake (17 & 18 Feb) and

Giselle (16 Feb).

IMAGES

LEFT: CHESTER

GROSVENOR /

ROUNDEL: THE

ROWS

17


Five eateries

made for

romance

IMAGES

TOP: RIVER DEE

ABOVE: THE CROSS

ABOVE RIGHT: CHESTER

GROSVENOR

RIGHT: THE ROWS

Alderley Edge Hotel (Alderley Edge):

If bling is your thing, then get thee to

a hotel whose restaurant majors on

locally sourced, stellar dishes,

a great wine list – and on creating

the sorts of meals-for-two that are

something special.

Close by is Rufus Court

(off Northgate St). Wedged

between the Walls and the

Cathedral’s grounds, this

little courtyard is full of

eateries and places to have

fun, among them jazz bar

Alexander’s and Covino,

an intimate wine bar that

knows more about wine than

Arvid Rosengren (the world’s

best sommelier, dur). Rufus

Court is a curious place, a

mash-up of the medieval and

the modern, the buildings

on the Walls dating to 1735,

the newer ones slotted in

during the 1990s. Back on

Northgate Street, the Pied

Bull is one of Chester’s

creakiest boozers; it’s also

its oldest, having been

serving up ale since the 11th

century. If it’s something

more up to date you’re after,

then Joseph Benjamin

(Northgate St) plates up

modern British dishes with

a seasonal twist. That in

turn is close to the Bridge of

Sighs, which spans the canal

just past Northgate. This

old bridge is, however, far

less romantic than it might

at first seem. It once led

from the afeared Northgate

prison to a chapel where the

condemned received their

last rites. It’s also a stone’s

throw from the former home

of Chester’s hangman – and

if that (and the wine) doesn’t

get you holding each other

close, then what will?

The Yew Tree Inn (Bunbury):

This is a classic village pub with

an open fire, quirky wallpapers, a

gastropubby menu and the sorts of cosy

nooks that are the dictionary definition

of the word “romantic”.

Meltdown (Handbridge): Sometimes the

best things in life are unsophisticated:

ladies and gentlemen, we give you the

epic cheese toasties of independent

café, Meltdown. It’s a bit out of town,

but worth the detour.

Sticky Walnut (Hoole): Our top tip for

an unpretentious but fabulous meal.

Sticky is hands-down the best bistro in

Chester. Impress your Valentine without

going over the top.

Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor

(Chester): If it is all-out foodie

glamour you’re after, though, Simon

Radley’s Michelin-starred dishes

and the opulence of one of Chester’s

gastronomic grande dames is your

friend. The service is discreet,

the food attention grabbing.

18


9

January - April Highlights

New winter brochure

out now!


Storyhouse

Chester

On Stage

The best critically acclaimed

shows from around the world

hit the Storyhouse Stage this

season! Highlights include:

Jan / Apr

2018

01

Chester’s new

theatre, cinema

and library

is here!

Tickets

storyhouse.com

01244 409 113

Tickets also available

from the Chester Visitor

Information Centre

The Play That

Goes Wrong

Saint Petersburg

Classic Ballet

03

29 Jan – 3 Feb

The multi award winning,

West End comedy comes

to Storyhouse this January.

Hailed a ‘gut-busting’ hit by

the New York Times.

Tickets from £16.50

Motionhouse Charge

01

6 February

Motionhouse bring their

incredible new multi-media

show Charge, a unique

collaboration between art

and science.

Tickets from £16.50

Kabantu

21 February

The Debut Tour Album. Joyous

quintet creating infectious

music from around the world.

Not to be missed concert on

Storyhouse’s main stage.

Tickets £12, £16

Giselle: 16 February

Swan Lake: 17 – 18 February

Combining classical training

and technique with the bestloved

Russian ballets, Saint

Petersburg Classic Ballet’s

performances have an air

of magic, complemented

by a full orchestra and

outstanding soloists who will

take your breath away!

Tickets from £20.50

David Baddiel –

My Family: Not The

Sitcom

23 February

My Family: Not the Sitcom

is a show about memory,

ageing, infidelity, dysfunctional

relatives, moral policing on

social media, golf, and gay cats.

£27

Brendan Cole:

All Night Long

04

02

04

03

Sarah Millican

02

22 February

Sarah Millican is not a

control freak, she’s a control

enthusiast. Funny, frank and

unapologetically filthy.

Sold out

17 March

Brendan Cole and his

sensational cast have been

dazzling audiences with his

brand new show with all of the

magic that one would expect

from Strictly Come Dancing.

£39

20


Coming Soon

Cilla – The Musical

6 – 10 March

The extraordinary story of a

teenage girl from Liverpool

whose dreams of stardom

lead to her becoming one

of Britain’s best-loved

entertainers of all time.

Tickets from £39

English Touring Opera

Puccini’s II Tabaro &

Giann

21 March

Il Tabarro and Gianni

Schicchi could hardly be

more different: one is a

moody romance ending in a

grotesque murder on a barge

in Paris, and the other is a

sparkling comedy about a

family inheritance in Florence.

English Touring

Opera: Marriage of

Figaro

05

22 March

English Touring Opera

presents an energetic new

production of Mozart’s classic

comedy The Marriage of

Figaro.

Tickets from £19.50

Gangsta Granny

11 – 14 April

From the acclaimed

producers of Horrible

Histories comes the awardwinning

West End production

of this amazing story by David

Walliams, the UK’s bestselling

author for children.

Tickets from £16.50

Evita

17 April

Evita tells the story of an

ordinary woman’s meteoric

rise to power at a time of

extraordinary political unrest.

It follows Eva Peron’s, wife

of former Argentine dictator

Juan Peron, journey from

humble beginnings through to

extraordinary wealth,

power and iconic status.

Tickets from £20

Grumpy Old Women

23 April

Hit show starring Jenny

Eclair, Dillie Keane & Lizzie

Roper.

06

Summer at

Storyhouse

5 May – 15 July

After a critically acclaimed

opening season last year,

Storyhouse’s summer

season of home produced

theatre includes Stephen

Sondheim’s gorgeous

musical A Little Night

Music, The children’s classic

Swallows and Amazons and

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Grosvenor Park Open

Air Theatre

6 July – 26 August

The award-winning

Grosvenor Park Open Air

Theatre returns for its 9th

year in its glorious park

setting. This summer

audiences can see the

children’s classic Swallows

and Amazons, alongside

Shakespeare’s The Tempest

and Much Ado About Nothing.

06

Son of a

Preacher Man

05

27 – 31 March

Welcome to the Preacher

Man, the swinging 1960s

Soho joint where kids danced

the night away to the latest

crazes and dared to dream of

love, while legendary owner,

The Preacher Man himself,

dispensed advice to cure the

loneliest of hearts.

Tickets from £20.50

06

© Mark McNulty

21


Cinema New Releases

01

03

The Post

From 2 February

Katharine Graham (Meryl

Streep) is the first female

publisher of The Washington

Post. With help from editor

Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks),

Graham uncovers a massive

cover-up of government

secrets that spans three

decades and four U.S.

presidents. Directed by

Stephen Spielberg.

02

The Disaster Artist

From 5 January

A biographical comedy about

Tommy Wiseau (James

Franco), the director of

the 2003 film The Room

- the film with the spurious

reputation of being the worst

film ever made. Quickly

gaining status as so-badit’s-good

– The Room has

generated a cult following.

The Greatest

Showman

22

01 03

02

From 12 January

Inspired by the story of P.

T. Barnum, The Greatest

Showman is an original

musical celebrating the birth

of show business. Hugh

Jackman stars as Barnum,

on a quest to rise out of

poverty by bringing a raggletaggle

bunch of performers

together to stage the world’s

first circus.

Darkest Hour

From 19 January

Gary Oldman gives a terrific

performance as Churchill.

Newly elected as Prime

Minister he must make

the decision of whether to

negotiate a peace treaty

with Nazi Germany or lead

the country to war on the

principles of freedom and

liberty. As much a political

thriller as war movie,

Churchill’s cabinet is far from

behind him as he wrestles

with one of the major

decisions of the 20th century.

Three Billboards

Outside Ebbing

Missouri 15

From 26 January

Darkly comic drama from

Martin McDonagh (In

Bruges). After months have

passed without a culprit in

her daughter’s murder case,

Mildred Hayes (Frances

McDormand) makes a bold

move, painting three signs

leading into her town with

a controversial message

directed at the town’s revered

chief of police, Willoughby

(Woody Harrelson).

04

Phantom Thread

04

From 9 February

Acclaimed actor Daniel

Day Lewis announced his

retirement last year, making

Phantom Thread potentially

the last chance to see him

on the big screen. Set in

1950’s post-war London,

renowned dressmaker

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel

Day-Lewis) and his sister

Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at

the centre of British fashion.


10

EXPLORE THE WONDERS OF THE

UNIVERSE AT JODRELL BANK

Open Daily 10am - 5pm

Discover the giant Lovell Telescope!

PLUS: Interactive Exhibits and Displays

35 acres of Gardens and Arboretum

Planet Pavilion Cafe and Gift Shop

Playground and Picnic Areas

Year-round Events and Activities


New Releases

Early Man

From 16 February

From the much loved Aardman

Studio and Nick Park (Wallace

& Gromit, Chicken Run) comes

another brilliant family feature.

Set at the dawn of time, when

prehistoric creatures and

woolly mammoths roamed

the earth, Early Man tells the

story of Dug and his side kick

Hognob.

The Shape Of Water

From 23 February

Guillermo Del Torro (Pan’s

Labyrinth) delivers an otherworldly

fairy tale, set against

the backdrop of Cold War era

America. In the hidden highsecurity

government laboratory

where she works, lonely Elisa

(Sally Hawkins) discovers a

secret classified experiment

that transforms her life.

Specials

Storyhouse Young

Film Programmers

Cinema Take Over

01

Feb 1 – 4

Love In All Its Forms

February: the month of love.

Storyhouse Young Film

Programmers are taking over

the cinema to present a season

of films all about Love. Check

storyhouse.com for film titles,

times and special events.

01

LIVE On Screen

As well as mainstream blockbusters, independent, classic

and world cinema, Storyhouse screens productions from

the National Theatre (NT) and the Royal Opera House (ROH),

bringing the finest drama, opera and ballet to the heart of

Chester.

ROH Live: Rigoletto

16 January

£19.50

Aged Under 26: £14.50

David McVicar’s acclaimed

production of Verdi’s

potent and tragic opera is

conducted by Alexander

Joel, with an excellent cast

led by Dimitri Platanias,

Lucy Crowe and Michael

Fabiano.

The Royal Opera |

Composer: Verdi

Dimitri Platanias / Lucy

Crowe / Michael Fabiano

Conductor: Alexander Joel |

Director: David McVicar

ROH Live: Tosca

7 February £19.50

Aged Under 26: £14.50

Drama, passion and

fabulous music in Puccini’s

operatic thriller. Drama,

passion and fabulous music

– Puccini’s operatic thriller

is one of the great opera

experiences.

NT Live: Cat on a Hot

Tin Roof (15)

22 February

£19.50

Aged Under 26: £14.50

Tennessee Williams’

twentieth century

masterpiece Cat on a Hot

Tin Roof played a strictly

limited season in London’s

West End in 2017.

02

02

32nd Chester

International Film

Festival

25 Feb - 7 March

Presented by Chester Film

Society

Storyhouse is delighted to

host the annual Chester

Film Society International

Film Festival. A remarkable

global selection of recent

films that share stories and

experiences from an array

of countries. Titles include:

Loving Vincent, The In

Between and Mensashe.

24


Portrait Advert: 145mm (w) x 220mm (h)

11

WHERE HISTORY

COMES ALIVE

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

The Boaty Theatre Company

presents Dungeness 23 and 24 February

Easter Boat Gathering 30 March to 2 April

The Boaty Theatre Company

presents The Accrington Pals 23 and 24 June

Bicycles and Boats 15 July

Horses at Work and at War 13 August

The Boaty Theatre Company

presents Twelfth Night 17 and 18 August

The Boaty Theatre Company

presents Hamlet 28 to 30 September

Halloween events and activities

27 to 31 October

Santa Cruises – weekends in December

Please visit the website for museum opening times, prices

and for more on our boat trips exhibitions and events.

canalrivertrust.org.uk/nwm

SOUTH PIER ROAD, ELLESMERE PORT, CHESHIRE CH65 4FW T: 0151 355 5017


Activities

WayWord

01

Percy the Pirate

Words for Wellbeing

17 - 24 February

Week-long festival of

children’s writers, gamers,

storytellers, artists and

thinkers!

Save the date!

See storyhouse.com for full

festival line-up

Harry Potter

Book Night

Thursday 1 February

4.30pm – 6pm

Under 16s and their parents

Storytelling and magical

activities themed around

Fantastic Beasts. A

chance for young people

to celebrate J.K. Rowling’s

wonderful series and

to pass the magic on to

younger readers who

haven’t yet discovered these

unforgettable books.

FREE

The Den

Winter Warmers –

Family Storytime

3 & 4 January

A heart-warming

storytelling session for

the new year. Becky the

Storyteller is back and

her sack is filled with new

stories for the New Year.

Interactive storytime with

songs, games and fun.

Each story is brought alive

with sensory play, singing

and lots of opportunities to

join in.

£2

Babies (with a paying

sibling) and parents free.

8 and under

The Den

02

22 January

24 January

27 January

12pm

11am (Saturday 27 January)

Come and help Percy find

his hat!

A family friendly show

which invites audiences to

participate in an actionpacked

adventure where

children will go on a journey

across the ocean with Percy

the Pirate.

This children’s theatre show

has been especially devised

using the theme of emotions

and feelings.

Wear your best pirate

costume!

FREE

The Kitchen

Improv Gym for

over 50s

4 January (10 week course)

11.30am

A series of drama

improvisation workshops

open to the over 50’s, ideal

for those who want to

discover their playful side

and enjoy the moment.

There’s no audience and

the atmosphere is nonjudgmental

and fun, so

that we can see where our

creativity takes us. Expect to

work together as a team to

create group laughs, stories

and sketches, seemingly

from nowhere!

£4

The Meeting Room

01

02

4 January – 15 February

Fortnightly 6 sessions

12.30 – 2.30pm

A creative wellbeing

session for people who

are experiencing stress in

their lives, or are part of

a recovery community, or

those who want to pursue

some self-help through

creative writing, inspired

by listening to poetry and

stories together.

£5

The Meeting Room

© Mark Carline

26


12

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YOUR

INNER APE

15

PER PERSON

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Book at goape.co.uk

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Participation and supervision ratios apply - please see our website.


N

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01

Cinema Events

Family Cinema

01

Saturdays, 11am

Each Saturday morning,

we bring the best family

films back to the big screen.

Highlights this season

include Ferdinand, Dr

Doolittle and The Justice

League.

My First Movie

First Tuesday of every

month, 11am

Introduce your pre-schoolers

to the magic of cinema!

Parent & Baby

Screenings

Every Wednesday, 11am

Cancel the babysitter and

enjoy the best new releases

on the big screen in the

company of other parents

and their babies.

For parents with babies

under 12months

Silver Screenings

Every Tuesday and Thursday

before 5pm

Over 60’s enjoy 25% off all

cinema screenings before

5pm

F







H

L

01

28


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The Kids Are

All Right

Young people – they don’t

know they’re born. Or do they?

We speak to Storyhouse about

how Chester has learned to

love the young.

We’ve all been there. Rolled

our eyes at that noisy baby

in the café. Tutted at a

tantruming toddler rolling

beneath the tinned beans

in aisle 15. Skirted past a

huddle of teenagers and

muttered under our breath

about their misspent youth.

From the terrible twos to

terrifying teens, kids are

written off as nothing but

trouble, underestimated

until they hit 18 - when we

expect them to emerge, like

so many butterflies, as fully

formed adults.

Yet the stereotypes belie

the truth. Generation Z,

those teens currently aged

around 14, are a serious

bunch. They care about the

planet, they want a job that

makes a difference and

they understand that their

Instagram is about as real

as Donald Trump’s personal

news feed. And by the time

that toddler you spotted

in aisle 15 leaves school

she’ll probably be managing

an internet start-up while

vlogging about the housing

crisis on the side.

That’s something that the

folk at Storyhouse are keenly

aware of. “We work with

young people interested in

making art, and we work

with those who aren’t –

but whatever their interest

we need to make room for

them,” says the venue’s

Nicola Haigh. “As our artistic

director Alex Clifton says,

we need young people to

stay in Chester, to build a

creative community here.”

It’s an approach that’s

paying off. “After 3.30pm on

any weekday the place fills

up with young people. They

see Storyhouse as a refuge,

it’s where they do their

homework and hang out,”

says Nicola.

It’s not just teenagers who

have a home at Storyhouse.

Its dedicated children’s

library brings the written

word to life for the very

young, while regular family

events include cinema

screenings, baby signing

and craft activities. The

venue also hosted Breastival

in 2017, a celebration of

breastfeeding that attracted

around 150 new mums. It’ll

run again this autumn and

“we’ll go bigger and better,”

says Nicola.

But perhaps what’s

most encouraging about

Storyhouse is its attitude to

accessibility. From signed

performances to a building

that’s entirely wheelchair

friendly, it is open to all – as

is Chester itself. Chester

was crowned the most

accessible city in Europe

in 2017, an accolade that

comes after almost a decade

of quiet investment.

Take the historic Rows and

Walls, for example: despite

their age they’re both

wheelchair accessible,

with an impressive 11 places

to get on or off the Walls.

And what works for

wheelchairs works for

parents with buggies,

or parents with (elderly)

parents – in fact, it works

for us all. Child friendly,

wheelchair friendly, teen

friendly: these are just

different ways of saying

the same thing. Chester

is people friendly. And the

kids? Well, they’re all right.

IMAGE

WAYWORD

FESTIVAL 2016 BY

MARK CARLINE

30


14


Enjoy the award-winning

Ice Cream Farm with

over 50 mouth-watering

ice creams and sorbets

on offer!

IMAGES

Top places

to take your

toddlers or

teens

TOP: ICE CREAM

FARM / ABOVE:

WAYWORD /

RIGHT: ANDERTON

BOAT LIFT

Half term, Easter weekend:

sometimes it’s hard to

think of what to do with

the smallest people in

your life. Fear not. The Ice

Cream Farm (Tattenhall)

is just as popular when it’s

cold out. It doesn’t matter

if Mr. Frosty is feeling

hypothermic - your kids will

opt for an ice cream as big

as their head despite dreadtales

of Brain Freeze. Well,

they were warned. David

Walliams is fast becoming

a National Treasure, and

his rip-roaring adventure

about the secret life of

grandparents is coming to

the stage. Catch Gangsta

Granny at Storyhouse

(11-14 Apr, Chester).

Dinosaur Live, meanwhile,

brings the Triassic to life

via an interactive show for

children aged 3 and up (7

& 8 Apr, Storyhouse), and

the WayWord Festival is a

boredom buster for those

on half term thanks to a mix

of readings, comedy, denbuilding,

coding and music

(17-24 Feb, Storyhouse).

There are regular cinematic

treats at Storyhouse,

too, including the twiceweekly,

toddler-tastic

My First Movie. Children

big and small can enjoy

bouncy fun on Flip Out’s

trampolines (Chester),

though I’ve always had a

soft spot for the Anderton

Boat Lift (Northwich). My

son reckons its strapline

should be “not as boring as

it sounds” – so young, yet

so cynical – but watching it

heft boats 50 feet from river

to canal is one of Britain’s

industrial wonders. Ness

Gardens lays on a Winter

Wildlife Trail for half term

(10-25 Feb, Ness) and,

talking of wildlife, Tatton’s

Deer Feed and Trailer

Ride (20 Feb, Tatton Park)

gets you and the smalls

up close to red and fallow

deer. Finally, don’t miss the

Lady Lever Art Gallery’s

take on Chinese New Year:

it tells the tales of Dragon

Legends in a show designed

for children aged 5 and over

(22 Feb, Port Sunlight).

32


IMAGES

LEFT: TATTON PARK

BELOW: STORYHOUSE

Best places for

a feed (and tips

for travels with

a baby)

New mum? Sick of staring at the same

four walls? Ease yourself back into

public life by finding a few quiet, buggyfriendly

places to go, preferably not too

far from the car (or bus, or train). Take

more wipes, nappies and changes of

clothes than seems reasonable and,

most importantly, don’t try to do too

much. You may once have shopped

till you dropped, lunched with friends,

nipped to the Post Office and called

your mum all in your lunch hour –

but those days are over, for now at

least. As for places to go, Storyhouse

is a no-brainer. It’s buggy-friendly,

pro-breastfeeding, has good baby

changing facilities and is big enough

to absorb a little screaming (from your

babe, not you). Breastfeeding Friendly

Chester should also be your go-to.

The Facebook group behind Breastival

has compiled an invaluable directory

of cafés, shops, restaurants, pubs and

even schools that actually, you know,

like babies, among them Marks and

Spencer (Foregate St), Watergate Deli

(Watergate Row) and Joseph Benjamin

(Northgate St). Keep an eye out for

the window stickers that denote who’s

baby-friendly – and good luck. It does

get easier. Honest.

33


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E -

35

06/12/2017 16:26


36


One thousand

years old, one

hundred years on

From an Anglo-Saxon queen to present-day politicians, we tell

the story of Cheshire’s women of note – in what promises to

be a very special year.

History has rarely been kind to women.

Save for a few figureheads they’ve

been airbrushed out of the picture.

Take Chester. It was founded by one

of England’s most remarkable female

rulers, a woman who led the English

resistance to Viking invaders and who

batted away their attacks as easily as

if she were swatting flies. Her name?

Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, a

woman so revered in her time that

some grumbled about her eclipsing

the achievements of her kingly brother.

Oh, the irony – Aethelflaed’s name

has all but been forgotten. Happily,

this year gives us a chance to right

that particular wrong. It is 1,111 years

since Aethelflaed founded modern-day

Chester, an anniversary that coincides

with 100 years of women being

granted the (partial) right to vote. So,

let’s begin 2018 by remembering some

of Cheshire’s women of note, and by

making the efforts of our historical

sisters heard in the here and now.

Cheshire’s historical sisterhood

Ah, Aethelflaed. The daughter of Alfred

the Great may have had a starring

role in TV epic The Last Kingdom

(enjoyable as much for its liberal

use of guyliner as for its portrayal of

the birth of a nation), but the series

hasn’t got to the interesting bit yet –

the bit where Aethelflaed becomes

the de facto ruler of Mercia after her

husband’s death. It was a rule that

saw Aethelflaed fortify towns such as

Tamworth and Stafford, wrest control

of Derby and Leicester back from the

Vikings, and defeat the Danes in an

audacious battle both outside and

inside Chester’s bloodied walls. Later,

she brought the remains of Saint

Werburgh to the city, thus founding the

abbey that became Chester Cathedral.

Military leadership, political strategy

and building churches: it was all in a

day’s work for our Aethelflaed. While

few women (or men) can match her,

among Cheshire’s other women of

note is Hannah Greg, the intellectual,

Unitarian wife of Samuel Greg. While

Samuel built Quarry Bank Mill in 1784,

it was thanks to Hannah that it gained

a reputation for pioneering healthcare

and workers’ education, putting it light

years ahead of Manchester’s dark,

satanic mills.

IMAGES

LEFT:

SUFFRAGETTE

IN 1909 /

RIGHT: CHESTER

CATHEDRAL

37


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17

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• Writing masterclasses & residential courses

• Lectures

• Evening events

• Language courses

• Literary festivals

• Delicious lunches & afternoon teas

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Visit our website

to view our full

programme of

events

NEW FOR 2018

Cruises on a rare 1903

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or from Cheshire

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Cruises for 2.5 hours, half or full day, April-October 2018 from £22.50 per person*

• The SS Daniel Adamson is 15th on the

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• Volunteer crew offer tours to explain the

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• The ship was restored with £3.8 million

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• Boasts opulent Art Deco saloons, which

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• Refreshments are available

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Politics

today

The suffragettes would surely dance

a merry jig if they could see the shape

of local politics today. Chester’s first

Lord Mayor – an honour granted by the

Queen in 1992 – was Susan Proctor,

while today’s Lord Mayor and Sheriff

carry on that tradition, the posts being

held by Razia Daniels and Jane Mercer

respectively. Their roles are largely

ceremonial, though not so for the High

Sheriff of Cheshire, a 1,000 year-old

post currently held by Sarah Callander

Beckett. Elbow deep in day-to-day

politics, meanwhile, are the heads

of Cheshire East and Chester West

councils. Samantha Dixon heads up

the latter, while Rachel Bailey leads

Cheshire East. Remarkably, both

their deputies are women, as is the

opposition leader at Cheshire West.

ABOVE

SARAH CALLANDER BECKETT

Cheshire’s suffragettes

Those mills ignited political

dissent that was to burn

throughout the 19th century,

the calls for workers’ rights

gradually joined by calls

for votes for women. Calls

turned into a clamour – and

into the direct action of the

suffragettes in the early

1900s. Cheshire’s members

included Dr. Alice Stewart

Ker. The 13th female doctor

to be registered in Britain,

Alice chaired the Birkenhead

and Wirral Women’s

Suffrage Society, wrote a

book on motherhood and

was imprisoned (and force

fed) for joining a windowsmashing

protest in London.

Frodsham’s Harriet Shaw

Weaver was a literary force,

too. The editor of feminist

magazine The Freewoman,

she was a member of

Emmeline Pankhurst’s

Women’s Social and Political

Union and was close to

Dora Marsden, a former

Altrincham headmistress

who became so incensed

by British politics that she

hoisted herself into the

roof space of the Southport

Empire Theatre so that

she could heckle Winston

Churchill, due to speak at

a political rally there the

following day.

Then there was Ada Nield

Chew, whose letters

to the Crewe Chronicle,

detailing the appalling

conditions of her fellow

textile workers, caused a

scandal (and got her the

sack). Sick of the rubbish

schooling that girls received,

meanwhile, Elizabeth

Clarke Wolstenholme

Elmy set up her own girls’

school in Congleton. The

school wasn’t the half

of it: Elizabeth spent 50

years lobbying for women’s

rights, was one of the first

women to give evidence

at a Parliamentary Select

Committee and was

nicknamed “the scourge

of the Commons”. Alice,

Harriet, Dora, Ada and

Elizabeth – they are just a

few of the women who faced

derision, discrimination,

sackings and imprisonment

for standing up for women’s

rights. One hundred years

later, we still have so much

to thank them for.

39


How to celebrate 1,000

years of feminism

From walks and hill forts to art, theatre and festivals,

here’s how to make the most of 2018.

IMAGES

TOP: CHESTER

MYSTERY PLAYS

BOTTOM: AMAZED

BY SCIENCE

Aethelflaed may be ancient

history, but muse on her

achievements during a walk

up Old Pale Hill (Delamere

Forest, Northwich) –

its panoramic view reveals

what was once just a slither

of her kingdom. Nearby are

the remains of the Iron Age

Eddisbury hill fort. Beefed

up by Aethelflaed,

its continuing existence

must surely owe something

to her attentions.

International Women’s Day

(8 Mar) has its own history.

Created by the suffragettes

in the early 1900s,

it’s celebrated by millions

of women across the globe

and what better place to

spend it than at Storyhouse,

which has been quietly doing

its bit for gender equality for

years. “Our policy of having a

50/50 gender split of actors

on all our home-produced

shows has been in place

since 2012,” says the venue’s

Nancy Davies. Which means

that its summer shows,

among them The Crucible

(from 16 Jun) and Swallows

and Amazons (from 26 May),

have a cast of exactly half

men, half women.

In April, Storyhouse also

hosts a weekend of what

it calls ‘Thinkins’ festival

(27-29 Apr), loosely based

on last year’s Women of

the World festival; expect

talks, workshops and

performances, with the full

festival making a return

in 2019. The Chester

Mystery Plays (24 Jun-14

Jul, Chester Cathedral),

meanwhile, have their roots

in the bible stories originally

acted out on the streets of

medieval Chester. Revived in

1951, and performed every

five years, this year’s plays

have been written by awardwinning

playwright, Deborah

McAndrew. The Cathedral

also hosts Our Colour

Reflection, a solo exhibition

by Liz West (1-28 Feb) where

mirrored discs shimmer on

the floor, creating a playful

installation that feels like

it should climb inside your

colour-drenched eyeballs

and reenact the disco scenes

from Saturday Night Fever.

Elsewhere, this year’s

Sandstone Ridge Festival

(16-20 May) is dedicated to

the anniversary of women’s

suffrage. Its line-up includes

Grasping the Nettle,

a one-woman show about

the remarkable life,

music and writing of

suffragette composer,

Dame Ethel Smyth. Set up

in the 1960s as a means

for likeminded women

to meet up, the National

Women’s Register brings

its annual conference to

Chester (23 & 24 Jun);

open to all, sign up for its

walks, talks, workshops and

tours. Amazed by Science,

at venues across Cheshire,

aims to get kids of both

sexes interested in science

(May half term), while an

exhibition at the Old Sunday

School (Macclesfield,

until 28 Jul) tells the tales

of two women who travelled

down the Nile in 1873

in search of mummies,

tombs and adventure. This

was an era when Egyptian

exploration was the preserve

of men, though it’s not an

attitude that put a stop to

Marianne Brocklehurst

and Mary Booth’s fun. In

fact, Cheshire’s influential

women have rarely let the

small matter of what they

should do stop them from

doing what they want to.

Join them in 2018, and keep

an eye out for the many

other events that will make

this year a celebration of the

best of women then, and the

very best of women now.

40


Family days out by bus.

Getting there is half the fun.

20

Whether you’re zooming to the zoo,

hitting the shops or visiting a city centre attraction,

let Stagecoach take you there on the X8.

Chester City Centre

Liverpool City Centre

Chester Zoo

Cheshire Oaks

Catch the X8 from

Chester Bus Interchange

or Chester Rail Station.

X8

£11

family

ticket

pay on bus by

contactless

@StagecoachMCSL

Stagecoach Bus App

www.stagecoachbus.com


21 22

EARLY BIRD

DISCOUNT

AVAILABLE

In association with

the perfect show for planning your perfect day...

AT TATTON PARK, KNUTSFORD

3-4 FEBRUARY 2018, 10am–5pm

Spectacular choreographed fashion shows

Band performance stage 1 Dressed marquee showcase

Wedding dresses 1 Florists 1 Jewellery 1 Bridesmaids’ dresses

Hair and beauty 1 Groomswear 1 Photographers 1 Cars

Venues 1 Cakes 1 Champagne bar

Tickets £10 in advance*

www.bridetheweddingshow.co.uk

*Booking fee applies

2018

Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th March

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th March

Doors open 10am - 4pm

Combined and single

attraction TICKETS tickets AVAILABLE now

available ONLINE to buy online

www.reaseheath.ac.uk/lambing

janec@reaseheath.ac.uk

01270 613215

Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 6DF

ABL_UG_AD_Layout 1 04/12/2017 12:00 Page 1

23

FREE

ENTRY

Anderton Boat Lift

Cheshire’s Award Winning Attraction

A fantastic day out for all the family. Take a river cruise, boat trip through the lift or simply

explore with free entry into our coffee shop, interactive exhibition, gift shop and grounds

with NEW play area. Events throughout the summer.

Visit canalrivertrust.org.uk/Anderton for more information or telephone 01606 786777

to book your boat trip.

@AndertonLift

@AndertonLift


Event

Guide

Jan / Apr

2018

10 January

BULLEY’S BIRTHDAY

To celebrate the birthday

of the Garden’s founder

Arthur Kilpin Bulley, born

10th January 1861 in New

Brighton, admission to the

Garden is free to everybody.

nessgardens.org.uk

20 January

APPROACHES TO

WRITING POETRY

In this practical

masterclass, poet Ian Parks

explores the ways in which

poems begin to emerge.

Starting with a blank page,

journal entries, and visual

images, the session offers

insight and encouragement

for beginners and some

alternative ways of

approaching poetry for

those with more experience.

Write, draft and take a poem

or two away with you.

gladstoneslibrary.org

21 January

WEDDING FAIR

Hosted by the Brides Up

North Wedding Fair.

This award-winning luxury

wedding fair is definitely

worth a visit.

capesthorne.com

1 February – 1 March

OUR COLOUR

REFLECTION

In a collaboration with

Chester Visual Arts, Chester

Cathedral presents this

exhibition by international

artist, Liz West. ‘Our

Colour Reflection’ creates

a conversation between

the viewer and the Chapter

House using hundreds of

mirrors made of coloured

acrylic. During the

exhibition, there will be a

chance to Meet the Artist

at an exclusive event,

and undertake Half Term

Workshops inspired by Liz

West’s work.

chestercathedral.com/

events

3 & 4 February

BRIDE: THE

WEDDING SHOW AT

TATTON PARK

Plan your perfect day at

the North’s premier bridal

exhibition in the spectacular

marquee set in the grounds

of the estate of Tatton

Park which will be packed

with more than 150 of the

region’s finest wedding

suppliers. There will be

sensational choreographed

catwalk shows, live music, a

dressed marquee showcase,

stylish Champagne bar and

much more.

bridetheweddingshow.co.uk

IMAGES TOP TO

BOTTOM

OUR COLOUR

REFLECTION

/ BRIDE: THE

WEDDING SHOW

AT TATTON PARK

/ NESS BOTANIC

GARDENS

43


3 & 4 February

HEARTH LITERARY

FESTIVAL

Four of the most exciting

contemporary writers gather

around the fireside to talk

about their work. Visit for

the day or make a weekend

of it by staying overnight. A

perfect spring weekend.

gladstoneslibrary.org

4 Feb – 5 March

SNOWDROP WALKS

AT RODE HALL

One of the finest displays

of snowdrops in the North

West. Tearooms are also

open serving homemade

light lunches and cream

teas complete with roaring

wood burner.

rodehall.co.uk

7 February

INTRODUCTION TO

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY

Ever wanted to learn how to

photograph the night sky?

Join in this informal and

fun session that includes

an introductory workshop

(co-presented by Dr Anthony

Holloway), along with a

chance for you to try out

your equipment and talk to

the knowledgeable Jodrell

Bank team.

jodrellbank.net

10 – 25 February

FAMILY WINTER

HALF TERM FUN

Winter Wildlife Trail -

Follow the easy route around

Ness to discover the plants

and animals of winter. Enjoy

the stunning swathes of

beautiful snowdrops and

answer the quiz about them.

Wrap up in your hats and

scarves and slip on the

wellies. The views

are spectacular and can’t

be missed!

Winter Crafts in the Coach

House - Join the education

team who will help you make

some seasonal crafts in the

cosy Coach House.

nessgardens.org.uk

19 - 23 February

HALF TERM AT

JODRELL BANK

Discover the Dark Side of the

Universe at Jodrell Bank this

half term. With Live science

shows, Meet the Expert

sessions, science busking,

and more, there’s something

for all the family to enjoy.

jodrellbank.net

23 - 25 February

THE LOVE SCHOOL:

THE PRE-

RAPHAELITES AND

THEIR WORLD

25 Feb - 7 March

CHESTER

INTERNATIONAL

FILM FESTIVAL

Presenting a diverse

collection of some of

the finer films of world

cinema in a relaxing and

appreciative atmosphere.

festival.chesterfilmfans.

co.uk

3 March

CHESTER

PHILHARMONIC

ORCHESTRA

PRESENTS

A Russian Classical

Romantic evening. Featuring

the young Estonian Pianist

Maksim Štšura, with music

from Rachmaninoff and

Glinka, you are certain

to enjoy the evening of

beautiful Russian music.

chestercathedral.com/

events

10 March

ISRAEL IN EGYPT

PERFORMED BY

CHESTER BACH

SINGERS

Encounter frogs, locusts,

tidal waves and much

more. The story is about

the Israelites escaping from

captivity in Egypt (it’s what

happened after Joseph’s

technicolour dreamcoat was

long gone!), with a little help

from plagues of insects and

other catastrophes visited on

the Egyptians to persuade

them to let the Israelites

go – and the choir is the

Israelites. Chester Bach

Singers will be joined by

regular partners, the 18th

Century Consort Orchestra

under the baton of Martin

Bussey.

chestercathedral.com/

events

IMAGES

LEFT: HALF TERM

AT JODRELL BANK

BELOW: CHESTER

ANTIQUES FAIR

(PENMAN FAIRS)

8 – 11 February

CHESTER ANTIQUES

FAIR

This famous fair takes place

over three floors of Chester

Racecourse’s famous

County Grandstand. With

prices from less than £25

to more than £25,000, the

fair offers plenty of choice

both for stylish pieces for

inspired home decoration

and fine examples to

enhance a private collection.

All exhibits are labelled

with their price, age and

description and have been

vetted for quality and

authenticity.

penman-fairs.co.uk

Starting as an antiestablishment

secret

society, the Pre-Raphaelite

Brotherhood soon set the

Victorian art world on fire.

In this lavishly-illustrated

course, Adrian Sumner looks

more closely at John Millais,

William Holman-Hunt, Dante

Gabriel Rossetti, Edward

Burne-Jones and the waves

of influence they exerted

on William Morris, the

Arts and Crafts movement,

Symbolism, Art Nouveau

and more.

gladstoneslibrary.org

44


24

Puddle jumping, Leapfrogging and climbing our 9M HIGH BAOBAB TREE

and discovering AMAZING ANIMALS all over the Z000oo0ooo

www.chesterzoo.org/play


12 – 16 March

BRITISH SCIENCE

WEEK

To celebrate British

Science Week, the zoo will

be running lots of special

events and activities

throughout the week

with free pop-up science

demos with equipment and

artefacts to show how they

use science day to day in

the zoo.

chesterzoo.org

17 March

CHESTER MUSIC

SOCIETY PRESENTS

AN EVENING WITH

MOZART

Chester Music Society Choir

join forces with the Liverpool

Sinfonia and an outstanding

line-up of soloists under

the direction of Graham

Jordan Ellis to celebrate the

genius of Wolfgang Amadeus

Mozart.

chestercathedral.com/

events

29 March – 2 April

NANTWICH JAZZ,

BLUES & MUSIC

FESTIVAL

An annual music festival

not to be missed offering an

eclectic line-up of wellknown

international artists.

Held in various venues in

Nantwich, many of which

are free.

nantwichjazz.com

31 March – 2 April

CHESTER FOOD,

DRINK & LIFESTYLE

FESTIVAL

A weekend packed with

delicious food from around

the world. If you have never

been to this event before

then you really don’t know

what you are missing.

As soon as you enter your

senses are aroused with the

most marvellous smells,

colours and tastes. Watch

chef demonstrations, taste

delicious food and drink and

there are even kids cooking

classes for the youngsters.

chesterfoodanddrink.co.uk

31 March – 2 April

BRITISH GT

CHAMPIONSHIP

The Oulton Park meeting

will feature two one-hour

races from the British GTs

on the Bank Holiday Monday,

alongside plenty of support

and off-track entertainment.

oultonpark.co.uk

10 April

IMAGES

THE HISTORICAL

NOVEL – A VERY

SLIPPERY GENRE

WITH RACHEL MALIK

LEFT: BLUEBELLS

AT ARLEY HALL

ABOVE: CHESTER

FOOD AND DRINK

FESTIVAL

Join Rachel as she traces a

brief history of the historical

novel before turning to the

genre’s apparently unending

contemporary appeal.

gladstoneslibrary.org

Until 15 April

MODEL IMAGE

June Duncan (1924-2014)

was a Liverpool-born dancer

and model who, in the 1950s,

became one of Britain’s

top fashion models. This

exhibition highlights some

of her best-known images,

part of a recently-acquired

collection of more than 90

photographs dating from the

1930s to the 1950s.

liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/

ladylever

22 April

SPRING PLANT FAIR

Enjoy a day out browsing the

specialist plant nurseries

selling unusual plants,

shrubs, trees and spring

flowering bulbs and gather

great ideas for your garden

for the coming seasons.

arleyhallandgardens.com

28 & 29 April

ESTATE & BLUEBELL

WALKS

Enjoy huge carpets of

bluebells and many other

wild flowers and take a walk

by the Lake to see many

kinds of water birds and

experience countryside not

normally disturbed.

arleyhallandgardens.com

THE ROWS

REVEALED

Tours are not just for

tourists!

Locals and visitors alike

can take a walking tour

of Chester city centre no

matter what the weather

is like. The Rows Revealed

explores the ins and outs

of Chester’s unique and

atmospheric two-tiered

shopping galleries, first built

in the Middle Ages,

and added to over the

centuries, particularly

during Tudor, Georgian and

Victorian times.

Your Guide will take you

inside buildings to discover

unexpected ancient

treasures, tucked away

amongst the modern

bustling shops today.

Tours take place on the last

Sunday of each month (28th

January, 25th February, 25th

March & 29th April) and

start at 2pm from the Town

Hall Visitor Information

Centre on Northgate Street.

Tickets direct from the Guide

on the day (£7 adults, £6

concessions). Tour duration

90 mins approx.

Includes steps.

For more information please

visit chestertours.org.uk

46


The Bridgewater Hall

Classical Highlights

Academy of St Martin in the Fields

Joshua Bell violin

Monday 22 January 7.30pm

Programme includes Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons

Manchester Camerata

Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

Mozart Requiem

Wednesday 31 January 7.30pm

Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

Tomáš Netopil conductor

Alisa Weilerstein cello

Monday 12 February 7.30pm

Mozart Overture, Don Giovanni (6’)

Dvořák Cello Concerto (43’)

Dvořák ‘New World’ Symphony No.9 (45’)

The English Concert

Handel’s Messiah

Thursday 29 March 7.30pm

A re-staging of this acclaimed dramatic Bristol

Old Vic production, directed by Tom Morris.

The Bridgewater Hall

Brendan Cole

All Night Long

Friday 19 January 7.30pm

25

Box Office: 0161 907 9000

www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk

Box Office: 0161 907 9000

www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk

The Bridgewater Hall

The Bridgewater Hall

Transatlantic Sessions

Friday 9 February 7.30pm

Friday 2 February 7.30pm

The most famous drum ensemble in

the world demonstrate the rhythm,

beauty and power of this Japanese

tradition in their new show for 2018.

Box Office: 0161 907 9000

www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk

Jerry Douglas and Aly Bain return with special guests Suzy

Boguss, Shawn Camp, Daoirí Farrell and Julie Fowlis plus regulars

Phil Cunningham, John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael

McGoldrick, Russ Barenberg, John McCusker, Donald Shaw

and James Mackintosh.

Box Office: 0161 907 9000

www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk


From fast fashion to creating a shopping

destination: we talk to Reclaimed

World’s Jeff Pearce about salvage,

leather trousers – and why retirement

isn’t for everyone.

Reclaimed

World

Most people approach

retirement with a sense of

glee. No more early starts.

No more listening to Boris

in accounts droning on

about profitability with all

the charm of an oil tanker

bearing down on a rubber

dinghy. And, most important

of all, no more work.

But Jeff Pearce isn’t most

people. The former fashion

retailer discovered that

retirement was a little bit,

well, dull – though that’s

hardly surprising for a man

whose career has spanned

everything from market

trading to stunt riding at

Pinewood Studios. “I thought

I’d peaked,” he says of

his decision to retire, “but

then a plot of land came

up and I thought I’d open a

reclamation yard on it, just

as a hobby business.”

That land was a threeacre

site near Tarporley,

and Jeff’s idea for a hobby

quickly became Reclaimed

World, a reclamation yard

that sells everything from

bricks and red telephone

boxes to armchairs and

vases – and attracts

shoppers from as far away

as Devon. “Holidaymakers

ask if we can deliver and of

course I say yes. In fact, I’ve

not long got off the phone to

someone asking if they can

bring coach tours, and I said

yes to that as well,” he says.

Saying yes to things, taking

a punt, selling bricks to

Cheshire: it’s all par for the

course for a man whose

life could be described as

colourful. He left school at

14, after a childhood spent in

Liverpool’s post-war slums.

His ability to sell saw him

rise from market stallholder

to heading a fashion

48


chain and, eventually, to becoming a

millionaire. He also had a talent for

grabbing headlines: his decision to

sell leather trousers for £1 a pop in

the 1983 January sales was rewarded

with overnight queues, and the front

page of the Liverpool Echo. This was

a glorious tale of (glad) rags to riches,

but he lost everything in the recession

of the 1990s and spent the next decade

clawing it all back – a remarkable story

detailed in his autobiography, a book

that, you guessed it, became a national

bestseller.

Jeff’s life story matters now because

it was while building a fashion empire

that he first developed a taste for

reclaimed materials. “I had very

little money to fit the shops out, and

so I started using reclaimed wood -

long before it was fashionable,” he

says. It sparked a 35-year interest in

reclamation; opening the yard felt like

an obvious next step. Today, Reclaimed

World sells all manner of materials –

wood, masonry, stained glass, cobbles

and Jeff dispenses the kind of expert

advice alongside that’s priceless.

This retail experience is evident

in other ways. “Most reclamation

yards are a nightmare, with bricks

everywhere, but everything here is

neat, it’s all priced, and it’s a proper

shopping experience,” he says.

There are no teetering piles of dusty

junk. Instead, alongside traditional

salvage items, distinct ‘showrooms’

reveal a range of different looks. “We

show people what a whole room could

look like, we show them what they can

do with reclaimed wood, and we give

them ideas. I don’t mind if someone

just comes to us for ideas,” says Jeff,

before the salesman in him notes:

“Mind you, they do always end up

buying something.”

Five years on from getting that plot of

land, Reclaimed World is a destination

in its own right. With stock sourced

from auctions and house clearances,

trades and antiques fairs, one visit

is never like another. Bespoke and

upcycled furniture, one-off shepherds

huts and wood burners combine to

make it much more than a standard

reclamation yard – there’s even an

outdoor pizza oven which fires up over

summer. “You have to be passionate

about what you do,” says Jeff, when

asked why he thinks the yard has

proven such a success. “If you’re not,

you shouldn’t be in business.”

Reclaimed World, Tarporley Road,

Little Budworth, CW6 9ES.

reclaimedworld.com

49


26

Chester Antiques Fair

8 - 11 February 2018

Fine Art Interiors Jewellery

40 stands displaying Antique & Unique Items for the Home

in the County Grandstand, Chester Racecourse. CH1 2LY

Ticket to the Chester Antiques Fair

Chester Racecourse,

Chester, CH1 2LY

Admit Two

with the Compliments of

&

Ultimate

Cheshire

Magazine

Furniture, Ceramics, Silver, Jewellery, Paintings,

Glass, Sculpture, Treen, Virtu, Books

& Decorative Accessories

Everything is Vetted by experts

& labelled with price, date & attribution.

Appraisals on Friday & Saturday, from 2pm

Thursday ~ Sunday

You can expect to find quality pieces from

Stuart, Georgian, Victorian & Edwardian periods

also Arts Nouveau & Deco, mid-Century modern

and some Contemporary works of art.

8 -11 February

Excellent in-house catering,

with a restauant on each floor.

Due to possible building works,

please use the Car Park Entrance

Free Parking on the Racecourse

(subject to availability)

10.30am ~ 5pm

Organised since 1989 by

www.penman-fairs.co.uk

Office: 01886 833091

At the Fair: 07961 371961


Mark Littler

sets out an

indispensible guide

to the real deal:

the hallmarked

charms of Chester

and Liverpool’s

silversmiths.

All that

glitters is

not gold

HALLMARKS

There are several conventions that are British

to the core: drinking tea, complaining about

the weather, standing patiently in line - and

hallmarks. The markings struck to show that

whatever you had in your hand, from jewellery

to tumblers, was of the King’s standard (in other

words, was sterling silver) were introduced in

London as far back as 1300. A second mark was

introduced in 1363 to identify the maker. Not

long afterwards, in 1378, another denoted the

town in which the article was assayed (the term

“hallmark” comes from the assay halls where

items were marked – literally “the mark placed

at the hall”). Finally, in 1478, a mark was added

to indicate the year in which the item was

marked, thus creating a means of identifying

silver and gold that was – and remains – the

envy of the world.

Mark Littler is an

independent antiques valuer

and consultant

marklittler.com

THE CHESTER ASSAY OFFICE

Chester had a Guild of Goldsmiths from the

early 15th century, though records from the

Chester office only begin at the end of the 17th

century after tighter legislation (another British

convention?) was introduced. The earliest pieces

of Chester silver were struck with the Arms of

Chester: three wheatsheaves and a sword set

against a shaped shield. From 1701 the mark

changed to the Arms of Chester impaling those of

the Earl of Chester (three lions), but reverted to

the earlier mark almost 80 years later. By far the

most prolific family of local silversmiths was the

Richardson family, with the tumbler cup pictured

made by Richard Richardson II. Typically around

five to ten centimetres high and very plain, such

cups were common from the time of Charles II,

their weighted bottoms keeping them upright

and their contents intended to be drunk in one

swift dram. There are stories of such cups being

presented at cockfights, though there’s little

evidence to support this.

IMAGES

LEFT: CHESTER HALLMARKS:

THE HALLMARKS FOR

RICHARD RICHARDSON II,

CHESTER 1747 (AS PER THE

TUMBLER CUP)

ABOVE: TUMBLER CUP:

A GEORGE II PROVINCIAL

TUMBLER CUP BY RICHARD

RICHARDSON II, CHESTER

1747. PRICED AT £2,950

FROM ALASTAIR DICKENSON

marklittler.com

51


Bethold Mueller and foreign imports

Chester’s official assay office opened in 1700

and remained important throughout the 19th

century, a place where both local and foreign

silversmiths’ work was assayed. Bethold Mueller

is a name often associated with the office, a firm

that predominantly distributed silver produced

by Neresheimer & Co. Based in Hanau, Germany,

Neresheimer & Co. produced copies of much

earlier pieces of silver. It was Mueller who

imported these copies to England, and to comply

with our hallmarking regulations each piece

had to be tested for purity and marked. The sign

that your piece of silver has been imported is the

inclusion of a letter ‘F’ (implying ‘foreign’) within a

shield as part of the hallmark.

IMAGES

TOP: SHIP: A

VICTORIAN NEF,

NERESHEIMER

& CO OF HANAU,

IMPORT AGENT

BERTHOLD

MULLER, CHESTER

1900. SOLD

FOR £42,000

BY TENNANTS

AUCTIONEERS.

ABOVE:

GROSVENOR

MUSEUM

History of Liverpool silver

Until the end of the 17th century, hallmarking

regulations were less strict and so, given the

poor condition of the roads and the dangers of

highwaymen, silversmiths used their own marks

rather than risk the journey to an assay office.

Liverpool’s silversmiths were no exception, and a

handful of these rare hallmarked pieces survive

– the use of the word “sterling” stamped

alongside the makers’ marks identifying

them. The silver spoon (pictured) was made

by Liverpool silversmith Edward Lewis

in 1680; he incorporated the Liver Bird

into his mark. By the 18th century, however,

Liverpool’s use of own-brand hallmarks died out,

the silversmiths forced to mark their work in an

official assay office. Many chose to do so

in Chester.

The Grosvenor Museum

Want to find out more? Our own Grosvenor

Museum (Grosvenor St, Chester) holds one of

the best collections of local silver – and with

hundreds of pieces it’s well worth a visit to get up

close to the hallmarks (and silver) on display.

IMAGE

ABOVE: SPOON:

A CHARLES II

TREFID SPOON,

EDWARD LEWIS,

LIVERPOOL,

C.1680. PRICED

AT £4,450 FROM

MICHAEL BAGGOTT

marklittler.com

52


27


Macclesfield

What’s in a

name?

A trip out to Treacle Town reveals much

more than just a market town.

Macclesfield is a market

town with many a name.

Some abbreviate it to

Macc. Others call it Treacle

Town thanks to some sort

of medieval incident that

involved a horse, cart and a

barrel of treacle, the locals

apparently scooping up the

sticky remains and making

merry with it.

Silk Town is another

moniker, a reference to the

70-plus silk mills that once

thrummed on Macclesfield’s

streets. It’s a reminder of the

wealth that flowed through

a town that was at one point

the world’s biggest producer

of finished silk – and was

once also surrounded by

walls and ramparts, with a

castle on top. And for several

years my eldest laboured

under the impression that

the town was, in fact, called

Mackerels-field, but that’s

another story. (“I did think

it was odd,” he later said,

“because there are no fish.”)

The town may be historic but

its main draw is altogether

more modern. The monthly

Treacle Market (last Sunday

of the month) was set up

only in 2010, and while

there is no treacle there

are 160 stalls that cluster

around Market Place and

the streets leading off it, a

selection of antiques and

vintage, flowers and plants,

and artisan food and drink

stalls that are among the

best I’ve come across. In

its short life the market

has been shortlisted for

or won several national

accolades (among them a

nod from the BBC’s Food &

Farming Awards), and it’s

little wonder. The Grade

II-listed St Michael & All

Angels Church (Market

Place) overlooks the market,

its churchyard hosting

community stalls, while

live music, kids’ activities,

performances - and

occasional events in the

neighbouring Town Hall

(Market Place) - all make

the Treacle Market a hugely

enjoyable, family affair.

It gets busy, but there’s

usually a parking space to be

found off Churchill Way.

54


Macclesfield’s past is evident

in its cobbled, winding

streets, home to boutiques

such as ethical bridal

store The Conscious Bride

(Church St) and the Cherry

Blossom Bakery (Church

St), or in tiny independent

eateries such as Tempranillo

(Back Wallgate; good for

tapas). Even among the high

street chains of Mill Street

are a few indies, including

The Print Mill, showcasing

the wares of local makers,

and, on the corner with Roe

Street, Cheshire Fish, which

pretty much does what it

says on the tin. Special

mention must be given to

the Café Nero that overlooks

Market Place. Yes, it’s a

chain, but its surprising size

and big picture windows

make it a winner for bigger

groups and families – plenty

of room to get a seat or to

stash a buggy. It’s also dog

friendly (as most of Macc

seems to be).

IMAGES

FAR LEFT: TOWN HALL

/ ROUNDEL: TREACLE

MARKET / LEFT: MILL

STREET MISSION

MEMORIAL / ABOVE:

WHITE NANCY

Get closer to history at the

Old Sunday School (Roe

St, free), which is squished

between a car park and a

hulking great B&M Bargains

store. It opened in 1814

as a school for the town’s

mill-working children (who’d

be toiling in the mills from

the age of just six); today it

houses exhibitions dedicated

to Macc’s past, a sweet little

café, shop and a community

cinema. The nearby Silk

Museum (Park Ln, £4.50,

kids free) isn’t quite as

grand as its name suggests;

its rather tired displays

illustrate the process of

silk-making. A more up

to date articulation of the

past can be found in the

biennial Barnaby Festival

(15-24 Jun 2018). Like the

Treacle Market it was set

up in 2010, though it has its

roots in the 13th-century

Barnaby Fair. Street theatre,

live music, performances,

a parade and exhibitions

all feature, in venues right

across the town. The 2016

event featured the everbrilliant

Wild Rumpus, and

the festival was granted Arts

Council support for the first

time in 2017 – expect good

things for this year’s affair.

Out of Town

Out of town Macclesfield is remarkably

well placed for a rural outing, sitting

as it does between the Cheshire Plain

and the Peaks. Kerridge Hill can be

glimpsed from Market Place,

for example, while the Grade II-listed

White Nancy at its peak can be seen for

miles. Originally built for the Gaskell

family (of which the author Elizabeth,

of Cranford fame, is its most famous

member), the cone-shaped monument

is regularly whitewashed to keep her

pristine. She’s also regularly decorated

and currently sports the Manchester

bee – a sign of solidarity after last

May’s atrocity. The views from Kerridge

Hill are spectacular; walk up from

nearby Bollington, starting (or ending)

your walk at the Vale Inn (Adlington

Rd). You don’t get much more local

than the local ales served here - they

hail from the Bollington Brewery, just

150 feet away. The 11-mile Middlewood

Way is also nearby, a former railway

line that leads from Macc up to the

edge of the Peaks – good for cyclists

and walkers alike. Macclesfield Forest

(park at Trentabank Reservoir,

SK11 0NE) was originally a royal

hunting ground, a patch of land prized

by royalty for its deer hunting. Part of

this ancient forest formed the lands

given to the Legh family in the 14th

century as recompense for supporting

Edward III during the Hundred Year War

and that land forms today’s Lyme

(Disley), the deer park, gardens, house,

moors and adventure playground that

are cared for by the National Trust. Like

much of Macclesfield the views at Lyme

can be breathtaking. Head up to Park

Moor for the best.

55


eviewed...

The Scottish

Steakhouse

A night at Chester’s Scottish Steakhouse does

wonders for one ageing writer; one steak in and

she felt like a new woman.

“The problem is, I just don’t

feel that old.” One of my

oldest friends was explaining

how he, as a dad of three,

ended up at 2am, cocktail in

hand, swaying along to Afro

Beats in a sweaty basement

nightclub. “Give over, you’re

older than Violet Brown.”

My friend said nothing, just

raised an eyebrow that said

a) no, I’m not and b) wait,

who is Violet Brown? “She’s

that Jamaican woman who’s

117,” I answered, before

our waitress saved me from

certain death by enquiring as

to whether we’d finished our

mains or not.

Said friend and I were in the

Scottish Steakhouse, the

restaurant that sits within

the four-star surrounds

of the Macdonald New

Blossoms Hotel. The hotel

itself is a historic beauty,

a 400 year-old building

that’s within haggis-hurling

distance of the Eastgate

Clock. Or, to put it another

way, you don’t get much

more central than this –

though it’s curiously quiet

inside (when we step out

afterwards, it’s into the

maelstrom of a Saturday

night in Chester, but more on

that later).

While the hotel has an oldworld

feel, its restaurant

is all booth seating and

stripped-wood floors, the

shining glasses that stand

on tables catching in the

light, a glossy sheen to

everything that feels very

Cheshire (but without, as

can often be the case going

completely overboard). In

fact, the restaurant prefers

to riff on the hotel’s more

northerly roots, going for a

Scottish theme that includes

steak sourced from Scots

farms, a black pudding

Scotch egg and ‘Mrs.

Macdonald’s’ fish pie, though

I think we can safely assume

it wasn’t made by her own

fair hand (it’s actually the

work of local chef,

Daniel Hostead).

56


Everything is carefully

executed here, the service

quietly attentive, the menu

peppered with classic dishes

(steak, fish of the day, posh

burgers) – and while there’s

nothing here that will blow a

gastronome’s mind, there’s

nothing that isn’t done well,

either. My steak came with

a smoke-infused taste and

texture, the result of cooking

over a charcoal grill; served

with a peppercorn sauce and

fries it reminded me how

good simple cooking can

be. My friend’s fish pie had

a rich, creamy sauce and a

certain bite – far better than

the bland offerings so often

banged out by less assured

hands. Our starters deserve

a mention, too, especially

a haggis ‘bon bon’ that sat

sweetly on the plate, its

crumbling texture given a

grainy zing thanks to the

mustard dressing.

By now our waitress had

intervened on more than one

occasion, as conversation

veered from German

sauna etiquette to why it’s

annoying when your mum

rearranges your sock drawer

(conclusion: you’re still her

little baby, even if you’re

squaring up to the big 4-0).

A baked New York

cheesecake appeared and

was swiftly demolished,

the only quibble an orange

sorbet that was too sweet

for such a stellar, creamy

slab. On the other side of the

table, two giant profiteroles

appeared, swimming in a sea

of chocolate sauce. “Good?”

There was no reply; my

friend was too busy eating.

And so it went: eating and

talking, eating and talking,

with the Scottish Steakhouse

forming the perfect backdrop

for a conversation-heavy

night – for two friends

enjoying a rare chance to

chat, to endlessly take the

mick, to remind ourselves of

what it used to be like, back

when we were kids.

We settled up and stumbled

out of the New Blossoms

Hotel, tilting headfirst, or so

it seemed, into a Saturday

night in Chester. And so it

came to pass that I ended

up, not quite at 2am, swaying

along to Afro Beats in a

sweaty basement nightclub.

“Hey,” I shouted to my

friend. He raised an eyebrow.

“You’re right. I don’t feel old

at all.” Reader, I’ll leave you

to guess how old I felt the

morning after.

Everything is

carefully executed

here, the service

quietly attentive, the

menu peppered with

classic dishes

57


Maps

Chester

26

6

4

5

20

2

28

20

1 Ness Botanic Gardens

2 The Scottish

Steakhouse at

Macdonald New

Blossoms Hotel

3 Crewe Lyceum

4 Grosvenor

Shopping Centre

5 Brewery Tap

6 Chester Cathedral

9 The Brindley

10 Jodrell Bank

11 National Waterways

Museum

12 Go Ape

13 Fir Trees

Caravan Park

14 The Ice Cream Farm

17 Hack Green Secret

Nuclear Bunker

18 Gladstone Library

20 Stagecoach

21 Bride: The Wedding

Show

22 Reaseheath College

23 Anderton Boat Lift

24 Chester Zoo

25 Bridgewater Hall

26 Penman Fairs

28 ChesterBoat

29 Cheshire Oaks

Cheshire

25

11

9

21

1

29

24

12

23

10

18 13

14

22 3

17

Not featured on map:

7 Safe Chester

8 Chester Bid

15 Explore Flintshire

16 Mark Littler

19 The Danny

27 Slant

58


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Cruises subject to weather, correct

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29

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