Cheshire: a beacon of sanctuary

For centuries Cheshire has drawn people seeking sanctuary, from weary pilgrims needing a safe haven, to modern visitors looking for peace and quiet.

Norton Priory is a site of both natural spirituality and religious significance. Wildlife thrives in its woodlands, wildflower meadow and walled garden. It is also the most excavated monastic site in Europe, the story of which is told in its fascinating museum (under redevelopment). It features material from the monastery, including a giant medieval sculpture of St Christopher.

Birkenhead Priory has welcomed visitors since 1150, and the recently refurbished museum illuminates the history of the medieval priory and its residents. Visitors are also transported, both physically and spiritually, by a trip up St Mary’s tower with its stunning views across the Mersey.

Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum is an important Methodist heritage site, with an extensive archive and museum exploring the story of the Primitive Methodists. Space for contemplation can be found in the small chapel and adjacent graveyard.

Cheshire is blessed with beautiful open and cultivated spaces. Tatton Park has one of the country’s best-known gardens, being home to the annual RHS show. Visitors roam 1,000 acres of deer park and take in the stunning landscaping and gardens, including an extensive kitchen garden. Port Sunlight village is also home to beautifully-maintained gardens, including areas on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

However, there are also less obvious places of sanctuary; gems nestled amongst Cheshire’s industrial areas. The Lion Salt Works’ Butterfly Garden is home to the Cheshire Buddleia Collection, the National Waterways Museum tells the tale of cottage gardens at Porters Row, while Nantwich Museum features the local Tudor herbalist, John Gerard. There are gardening and religious connections aplenty across the Museums of Cheshire.

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