THOUSANDS clapped and cheered as beacons were lit across Cheshire to celebrate the Queen's 70-year reign.

Residents, villagers and visitors gathered as volunteers lit flares across Knutsford, Holmes Chapel, Lower Peover, Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich.

As dusk fell on the first of four days of jubilee celebrations, the Queen symbolically led the lighting of the principal jubilee beacon.

Her Majesty touched the Commonwealth Globe of Nations, created for the beacons project, in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle.

That was the signal for Prince William to illuminate the 3,500 lights on the beacon centrepiece at Buckingham Palace, a 21-metre Tree of Trees sculpture.

In Holmes Chapel, a special celebration was enjoyed by a big crowd.

Winsford Guardian: Crowds gathered in Holmes Chapel to watch a beacon being lit Picture: Karoline PeachCrowds gathered in Holmes Chapel to watch a beacon being lit Picture: Karoline Peach

A proclamation by the town crier was followed by a piper who played a special bugle call entitled ‘Majesty’.

“As the beacon atop the tower of the medieval St Luke’s Church burst into flame, crowds below clapped and cheered and snapped pictures of the once in a lifetime event.”

Winsford Guardian: The beacon lighting was carried out with pomp and ceremony Picture: Karoline PeachThe beacon lighting was carried out with pomp and ceremony Picture: Karoline Peach

Lots of people had their picture taken beside the knitted Queen, created by Holmes Chapel Community Yarn Bombers.

Winsford Guardian: A bugler plays beside a knitted sculpture of the Queen in the grounds of St Luke's Church in Holmes Chapel Picture: Anita ArmittA bugler plays beside a knitted sculpture of the Queen in the grounds of St Luke's Church in Holmes Chapel Picture: Anita Armitt

This seven-foot sculpture, lovingly made from six-inch knitted squares, is on display in the grounds of St Luke’s Church.

The beacon ceremony was one of 3,50 being lit around the UK and the Commonwealth.

In Knutsford live music heralded the start of the royal celebrations at Barncroft, behind the Moor.

Winsford Guardian: A bugler heralds the start of the celebrations in Holmes Chapel Picture: Karoline PeachA bugler heralds the start of the celebrations in Holmes Chapel Picture: Karoline Peach

Residents baked Jubilee tarts and a band led the music until the beacon was lit.

In Lower Peover, a beacon was lit at St Oswald’s Church.

Winsford Guardian: A beacon was lit on the roof of St Luke's Church Picture: Karoline PeachA beacon was lit on the roof of St Luke's Church Picture: Karoline Peach

Fireworks were set off at Verdin Park in Northwich where another beacon was lit.

In Winsford, live music, children’s entertainment and food and drink were served as crowds gathered at the Marina to watch a beacon being lit.