We planned a short break in the gently rolling countryside of Cheshire, a part of the country we were both unfamiliar with. We frequently head to cities and large towns so just for a change we opted for a relaxing stay in a secluded barn tucked away down a leafy lane in the tiny village of Wrenbury.
We came off the M6 motorway near to the historic town of Nantwich and decided to take a look there first. It had been raining heavily all morning and didn’t seem to be showing any signs of improving as we parked our car, so with hoods up and brollies held high, we set off to explore.
Strolling along Pillory Street, we came across Nantwich Museum and as it offered free entry we walked up the few steps to its entrance door to learn something about the history of the town. The museum building was originally built to house the Nantwich Free Library and is next door to the site of the old gaol.
The first interesting thing we learnt was the meaning of ‘Wich’. Around these parts of Cheshire there are several towns with this suffix including Nantwich, Middlewich, Leftwich and Northwich. It apparently meant a settlement in Anglo-Saxon England characterised by artisanal activity, in this case a place for making salt. A lead salt pan, discovered in 1981 is on display as proof that the Romans were extracting salt here from early times.
Continuing through the museum, one room gives an insight into cheese making whilst other galleries display footwear from the local tanning, leather and shoe industry covering a wide range of styles from factory clogs to bespoke shoes. A Newsham fire engine from the 1740’s takes pride of place in the main hall complete with its original leather buckets. In 1583 the Great Fire of Nantwich burned for 20 days destroying 150 houses, inns and other buildings rendering half the population homeless with the loss of two lives.
There was more to see upstairs and after finishing our look around we continued along Pillory Street coming across some fine examples of Tudor architecture.
Higgledy-piggledy black and white buildings line the market square which is also home to the 14th century parish church of St. Mary’s. It was such a shame the weather was so poor, but we still enjoyed wandering through the town.
Before returning to the car we glanced in some of the smaller shops and enjoyed a pot of tea in one of the inviting little cafes.
It was then just a fifteen minute drive to the Cheshire Boutique Barns in the small village of Wrenbury where we had arranged to stay in the Garden Room, one of four of its luxurious self-catering retreats. It was everything we could have wished for and more and I plan to give special mention to our stay there in my next post.
Wrenbury has not one but two gastro pubs, one of which just a ten minute walk away so we wandered along there early in the evening. The Dusty Miller was formerly a 19th century corn mill and is now an attractive pub overlooking the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal at Wrenbury Bridge.
Just as we were approaching its rare single span timber lifting bridge was being raised allowing two narrowboats to pass through which was interesting to observe. The pub itself was pleasant and I’m certain would be even nicer on a warm summer’s evening when one could sit outside by the canal.
We returned to our idyllic retreat snuggling up in front of the cheerful wood burning stove before sleeping in the king size wonderfully comfortable bed on the mezzanine level.
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