Chester is a genuine Roman city, built four-square, within walls, which remain to this day.
Which is distant from Peel Causeway a mile and three-quarters. The Bollin is crossed at a height of 30 feet by a fine and substantial brick arch, which has a span of 45 feet. The present bridge supplies the place of one which fell a short time since, and is now perfectly safe for the heaviest trains. The valley of the Bollin about this locality is particularly attractive – indeed nowhere are there more beautiful green slopes and sunlit glades than those extending from Ashley to Castle Mill. The ever-changing and picturesque views, and the winding paths in this secluded retreat, must make this district particularly attractive to the denizens of Manchester. Indeed, the soil is so sandy, and the air so wholesome all along the line, that we should not be surprised if, in a few years, the locality is studded with handsome residences. Though the water of the Bollin is somewhat muddy, the angler can find enough trout to reward a day of patient pleasure. To the right of Ashley Station may be seen, embowered in trees, the ancient Ashley Hall, formerly the seat of the Asshetons, and now the property of Lord Egerton of Tatton. Here, tradition says, the Cheshire squirearchy assembled at the commencement of the civil war, to consult whether they should espouse the cause of the Royalists or the Parliamentarians; and, after a long and somewhat angry discussion, a majority declared for the Royalists. A mile, however, to the left of Ashley station there formerly stood an old chapel, called Ringway Chapel, in which sundry Puritan divines thundered forth their anathemas against royal tyranny and the bishops; and it would appear that several of the Cheshire squires of that day became thoroughly indoctrinated with their views, for among them a Mr. Dukenfield, who was made a colonel of the Parliamentary army, obtained two pieces of ordnance from Manchester, and by their aid reduced, in 1646, Wythenshawe Hall, the seat of the ancestors of Mr. T. W. Tatton, the present possessor. Colonel Dukenfield also took prisoner Sir George Booth, of Dunham, near Bowdon, at a place near Winnington in Cheshire.
Ashley Station will also form a convenient starting point for the visitor to the delightful Rostherne Mere, which is distant about a mile on the right. The mere is supposed by some to be a relic of a great lake which once extended from Alderley to High Legh. On the heights above the mere stands the interesting old church, which contains numerous family monuments. The romantic tradition is attached to the mere, that the lake being subterraneously connected with the estuary of the Mersey, by that means every Easter Sunday at dawn a mermaid appeared on the mere, “uttering harmonions and dulcet breath,” and ringing a bell which is said to be one of the bells originally intended for the church tower, but which thrice broke its ropes and rolled into the water under some supernatural influence.
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