Ask any tourist about Chester and they'll tell you that they are there to walk the walls for the city of Chester is encircled by the most complete city wall in the UK measuring almost two miles in length. The original parts dates from 70AD although its since been extensively enlarged and improved resulting in a combination of architectural styles which are predominantly Medieval. Walking the walls is one of the citys most well known tourist attractions. Perhaps the best known feature of the walls is the Eastgate Clock which rises majestically over the city and is the second most photographed clock in the world. It was built to commemorate Queen Victorias Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The views from the wall are breathtaking. On a clear day you can see as far as the Welsh Mountains. Even on an overcast day it allows you an aerial view of the eclectic architectural styles of the city.
Like any other city centre Chester is crammed full of thriving shops. But its not the contents of the shops that draws the tourists it's the buildings that house them. Browns department store features a café housed in a crypt complete with sweeping gothic arches and original exposed stonework. The delights of Browns don't stop there. The building itself has Georgian and Tudor facades whilst inside is a breathtaking array of elaborate plaster cornices, enormous chandeliers and glass domed roofs. Chester is one of those citys where the most fascinating details are where you least expect to find them making them all the more spectacular for it. Stand on any street and look upwards for the best views of the city.
Unique to Chester are the rows. Such a simple statement and yet it covers so many eccentricities. The rows are a second tier of shops running above the main shopping streets. Much like any modern shopping mall excepting that this one is outdoors and dates from Tudor times. Despite this the rows are fully wheelchair accessible albeit from the streets behind the rows or via the lift of the modern Grosvenor shopping centre. For the able bodied access is up very steep and very narrow flights of stone steps dotted between shop fronts. Its worth visiting the cafes on the rows just to sit and watch life pass by.
To find out more about the history of Chester you can take a walking tour with a roman legionnaire from the Deva Experience or visit the free Grosvenor Museum in the heart of the city. Theres also an ongoing archaeological dig exposing the site of a roman amphitheatre with a pedestrian walkway running above it so that you can view the excavations without disturbing the archaeologists. A less energetic way to see the city is from one of the city tours open top busses. Wrap up warm though as it can be chilly even in the middle of the summer. On a dark winters evening the Ghost Hunter tours are lots of fun. Wear flat shoes though as heels tend to snag and snap in the cobbled streets.
A far more relaxing way to view the city is from one of the many city cruise boats. These last anything from 30 minutes to a full evening and its possible to have dinner on board too. Themed Abba cruises are currently very popular with the Japanese tourists. Perhaps floating karaoke is a novelty?
Parking within the city is limited, its far easier to use one of the three out of town park and ride sites which cost £1.70 per adult (free for children and subsidised for OAPs) with a shuttle service running at 10 minute intervals throughout the day.
Slightly further afield you're spoilt for choice with Chester's multi-award winning zoo, The Blue Planet Aquarium and Techniquest@Glyndwr within 15 minutes drive.
For visitors arriving by rail Chesters newly refurbished railway station is five minutes brisk walk from the city although theres also a free shuttle service from the bus stop outside the stations main entrance.
I lived in Chester for 26 years before I got married and moved to North Wales, and would like to give my view on this ancient town. My review is aimed at tourists from all walks of life, of all ages and with various tastes in what they look for when visiting a town for the first time.
**A Little Background Information**
As soon as the name 'Chester' is mentioned, the first thing that springs to peoples' minds is the Romans. The Romans built the town in AD71 and named it 'Deva'. They built the famous Roman wall which surrounds the town, and which is still more or less in tact today. The town overlooks the River Dee.
I won't bore readers with the full history of Chester because this review is intended on giving information of what the town has to offer to tourists today. The town is chock full of museums and historical centres which give endless information on the history of the place and, in my mind, it is all part of the Chester experience to look and learn as you go along.
**So What Kind Of People Visit Chester?**
Every year, from April through to September, Chester is inundated with tourists. Visitors in the early part of the year usually consist of exchange students from as far afield as France, Spain, Germany and China. During the summer months, the majority of visitors consist of middle age Americans who are often flabbergasted by this 'little ol' England' town, in comparison to the large cities in the US, Chester also attracts visitors from all over the British Isles.
**What is there to do?**
There is so many attractions catering for visitors to Chester that it would be impossible to go into each one in detail. However, I will try to cover as many as possible.
THE TOWN CRIER'S DAILY SPEECH
This takes place at 12 noon every day at the Chester Cross in the middle of the town. It may be a good idea to stop and have a listen before doing your sightseeing as, quite often, the Town Crier will shout out (and he is loud!) any events happening in the town on that day. If you want a good view though, I would advise you to get there early as the Cross gets busy at this time.
CHESTER GROSVENOR MUSEUM
Situated in Grosvenor Street, the museum is a must for first time visitors of Chester. Do not be deceived by the size of the museum from the front. It looks nothing out of the ordinary at first glance, but once you get into the building, the displays of artefacts seem never ending. The museum comprises two exhibition galleries, a Chester Timeline display, historic stones, natural history exhibition, a 1900 kitchen, a Victorian parlour room, a Georgian Drawing Room, a Stuart dining room, a Victorian schoolroom, and 1920's nursery and Edwardian bathroom.
CHESTER VISITOR CENTRE
In my opinion, not as enthralling as the Grosvenor Museum, but includes brass rubbing, history of Chester displays, a video of the history of Chester and a gift shop.
TAKE A WALK WITH A ROMAN SOLDIER
This is a must for anyone with young children. Any regular visitors to Chester will be familiar with the sound of young children chanting "I want to be a Roman soldier...". The Chester Visitor Centre arranges guided tours for small children with a 'real' Roman soldier who will take them around the town and show them places of interest. Great fun and you can always tell the little ones really enjoy themselves.
The Mall, formerly known as the Grosvenor Precinct, has been much improved over the years. There is an array of well known shops including Debenhams, H&M, Monsoon, La Senza, River Island, Clinton Cards, , Ann Summers, Body Shop, Holland & Barratt and many more.. The only criticism I have of The Mall is the lack of seating areas and lack of eating places. There is one fairly small café in the centre of The Mall but this is always very busy. There is a restaurant in Debenhams but not much else.
The town itself has all the big name shops such as BHS, Marks & Spencer, Boots etc. and the famous Chester Rows is full of shops, boutiques and gifts shops too.
GUIDE FRIDAY BUS TOURS
I would recommend this to anyone visiting Chester for the first time. The double decker buses stop at many places through the town and you can get on and off wherever you like without paying any more money. The tour covers all the major tourists attractions of the town. Some buses have a live guide giving commentary, others have a recorded guide.
The Groves is very popular with tourists, particularly in the summer months. The Groves is a long stretch of promenade along the River Dee and comprises a vast amount of seating, a few cafes, Old Orleans bar and restaurant, bandstand where the local brass band play on a Sunday afternoon and many ice-cream kiosks. You will find artists selling their work along the old sandstone walls which run along the Groves, and you can take a boat ride on the Mark Twaine or Lady Diana cruisers. These usually take you to the small village of Eccleston, and will then turn around and return to the Groves. There are rowing boats for those who don't mind doing the work themselves.
From the Groves, you may like to take a very short walk to Grosvenor Park. The park is renowned for its beauty, particularly in the summer months, and the maintenance of the flowers and shrubbery is first class. There is a very small children's play area and ice-cream kiosk.
Originally, races were only held in May, but now take place throughout the summer, but the 3 day race meeting in May is still the most popular. During the May meetings, Collins Funfair descends on the town and takes place on the Little Roodee car park for one week in the first week of May.
Although situated just outside the town centre, Chester Zoo is one of the most refined zoos in the country, and concentrates mainly on conservation and the breeding of endangered species, rather than just being a tourist attraction. There is a monorail, a water bus and café which is an essential part of your visit because the zoo is so large, it will take a few hours to see everything. There are over 7000 animals and 500 species so you really need a full day.
Situated right in the centre of the town, Chester Cathedral is an exquisite site with its stained glass windows and cloisters. The Cathedral grounds act as a stage for the famous Chester Mystery Plays which take place annually. Well worth a visit.
Chester is certainly not short of eateries. In addition to the restaurants situated in the well known high street stores, Chester is now buzzing with modern cafes and wine bars. The most popular are The Office, Bar Lounge, The Fat Cat, Loaf, Arkle (situated in the Grosvenor Museum) and Pizza Hut.
Chester well and truly comes to life at night time, especially on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Probably the most popular venue is Brannigans which has recently been refurbished. Live bands play regularly here. Other venues include Bar Lounge, Telfords Warehouse, Watergates, Alexanders Jazz Bar, Slug & Lettuce, Wetherspoons and many more.
Chester Tourism offer many guided tours around the town. These include general city wall excursions, and around Halloween time, there are speciality ghost walks. Chester is allegedly second in line to York for being the most haunted place in England.
AND A LITTLE OUT OF TOWN...
There are many attractions situated just a short drive out of the city centre. These include The Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port, Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, Beeston Castle (obviously in Beeston), The Catalyst Museum in Widnes, Jodrell Bank Planetarium in Macclesfield and Wirral Country Park.
**So What Are The Advantages Of Visiting Chester?**
Chester is extremely easy to reach wherever you are travelling from. It is connected by the major motorway networks and is a fairly short distance along the motorway from Manchester and Liverpool. Everyone who visits Chester will find something of interest to them.
**And The Disadvantages?**
As with many places, Chester does have some disadvantages. Probably the main problem for visitors, and this view is shared by residents as well, is the parking. Parking in the city centre is very limited. There are two multi-storey car parks in the centre, but these charge at 60p per 15 minutes and can work out expensive. The Little Roodee Car Park charges £3.00 for up to six hours. However, there are three Park & Ride services available: one operating from Chester Zoo, one operating from Boughton Heath and the third operating from Wrexham Road. The fee for a return journey from one of these is £1.70. Children travel free.
Another disadvantage is the city centre is fairly small and, in the high tourist season, it can be busy to walk around. The same applies at Christmas time. However, I would say it is worth putting up with the hustle and bustle - just give yourself plenty of time!
**Finally, Would I Recommend Visiting Chester?**
Definitely. As I said, there is something for everyone and I feel so lucky to have lived in such a lovely place for many years.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my review of Chester and found it useful.
(Also on Ciao - matthewsmum)
Having grown up close to Chester, and having worked there from some years, I found it to be a lovely place. Always full of people, some shoppers, some tourists. A lively buzz fills the air.
Shopping in Chester is good with most probably every high street name you can think of on hand. Most of the smaller shops are located up on the 'rows', the second floor of the high street, as most of the shops are converted from Victorian 4 story buildings. Chester has a few retail parks on its outskirts too.
Other attractions Chester has to offer (apart from its lively night life) are the Roman Walls, Museum, Roman Amphitheatre, Clock Bridge and the River Dee. Also the home to Hollyoaks which is often shot on location in Chester.
Chester is a great place to live also with many new flat developments and also old Victorian town houses. All within walking distance of the city centre.
Chester is a lovely city located in the north west of England, nestled between Manchester and North Wales. It does seem more like an historic town than a city, but it has a cathedral so there you go.
I have visited Chester several times over the years, and it's always nice to come back to. In terms of sightseeing, it's pretty good for its Roman roots and history; the priest at the cathedral told me last time that the Romans settled there for a good time and never went across to Ireland as it was assumed they would do.
There are lots of old buildings which I'm guessing date back to the Victorian/Edwardian eras - some have been converted or half converted into shops, others have been war struck, but it still gives an air of olde world times, despite the typical high street shops that can be found there.
There are the remains on a Roman ampitheatre pretty close to the city centre; it's not very exciting as it is literally a hole in the ground but they are continuing excavation work on it and may dig up some interesting stuff. It's also quite weird to have a roundabout next to it and tall buildings, but that's Chester for you.
Chester cathedral is a very tourist-y thing to see. It's not cheap, but you can get a handheld device that speaks to you via earphones to tell you about all the different bits of the cathedral, and there are gorgeous stainglass windows and remnants of various religious things to look at. It also has a gift shop with a wide variety of goods including recipe books, Catholic crosses and rosaries, postcards and information about Chester and the cathedral itself.
Chester is fun just to wander around, but if it's a nice day the boat ride is always fun. It costs a few pounds but you might be lucky and get a random discount like we did. The trip takes you up and down the river, and whilst it's not riveting, it is interesting. There is also a talk pointing out a few things, but generally it is quite relaxing. There are also one or two ice cream/fast food style places when you get on and off which are good. Alternatively you can relax by the river for free and watch the rowers and ducks and mad people in boats and such.
Overall, Chester is a nice relaxing place to visit whatever you choose to do.
Chester in General is a good article but there are mistakes. The Music Hall cinema wasn't in Brook Street, it was in Werberg Street. It didn't go over to bingo. The author is mixing it up with the Majestic, which was in Brook Street. Bingo was transferred from there in 1970, due to road widening in Hoole. After closing as a cinema the Music Hall became a Lipton supermarket. Today it is a Superdrug store. The Majestic's auditorium was demolished to make way for the road widening.
Matt mentions two cinemas but not the rest and the theatre that was on City Road. Other cinemas were the Picturedrome (1909), the Glynn (1911), Odeon (1936), the Regal (1937), the Tatler/Classic (1936), the Gaumont Palace (1931), the Pat Collins Cinema Deluxe/ Majestic (1921) and the Park in Saltney (1923). The Music Hall had been the Theatre Royal. In City Road stood the Royalty theatre, which opened in 1882 with the pantomime Alladin. By coincidence the last pantomime was also Alladin. The building was demolished in 2002
I'm from Chester so I know it well. I'll split this into sections to make it easier.
By far the best place to stay in Chester is the Grosvenor hotel on Eastgate street, rates start around £200. There are also some good more affordable guest houses around Hoole.
The Grosvenor hotel has 2 restaurants; The Arkle, which does not allow children, and the cheaper and less formal La Brasserie. Moules a go go offers great deals and there are plenty of other places to choose from in the city centre. Outside of Chester, good places to eat include the Cock o' Barton and the Grosvenor arms at Aldford.
A first visit to Chester should include a walk around the Roman walls and a visit to the cathedral. On a sunny day, walk through the Grosvenor park down to the river Dee. Take a cruise on a river boat and have a drink in one of the cafes or pubs at the waterfront. The Ghosthunter Trail is a fun thing to do in the evening. Chester zoo is a fantastic day out, and the Blue Planet Aquarium is not far.
For it's size, Chester is pretty good for shops. You'll find most of the major high street stores. Individual shops include Tesuti - young, trendy designer, Jays - more classic designer, and Lee Louise - a quirky, hippy shop worth a look. For bargain hunters, head to Cheshire Oaks outlet village (which also has cinema and eateries), the number 1 bus will take you there from city centre.
Chester isn't great for nightlife. If you just want a winebar or pub, there are plenty, but avid clubbers may want to travel to Liverpool or Manchester.
I am going to show you my city. Where I was born, where I grew up, and where I still work today (I now live in North Wales, just outside of Chester).
I won't tell you what everyone else has told you though.
I am going to take you on a haunted tour of Chester.
When I was in University, I did a lot of Volunteer work. Some of that involved entertaining kids between 14-17 when they came to Chester University for Summer Schools.
Alongside faux lectures, every year, just as the afternoon was pulling to a close, we would take them around Chester on our very own, personal, ghost tour.
So, pull your coat a little closer around your neck, turn the lights on, and sit back as I tell you about Chester's gruesome past, and spine tingling present.
Chester was founded, about 2000 years ago, as one of the three main Roman legionary fortresses in Britain.You can see our Roman heritage in our Amphitheatre (unfortunately, you can only see half. The other half is underneath some ugly protected buildings. Travesty).
In 1069, the North rebelled against King William. When he retaliated, more than 200 houses were destroyed. In 1070, to keep the town under his rule, William built a wooden castle. It was later rebuilt in stone.
In medieval times, Chester was the stronghold against the Welsh, and Handbridge, a part of Chester, was so frequently burned down, that it earned the name Treboeth, "burnt town" in Welsh.
The first stop on our tour is what used to be the Blue bell inn on Northgate Street.
The building dates from 1200-1400. It's hard to distinguish exactly when it was built, because there may have been a house there before it. As says the sign on the front, the building became a licensed pub in 1494.
In the window directly above the sign, people have sighted a forlorn ghost, named Henrietta.
In 1645, a cavalier and his family lived in the room above the inn. The cavalier was called to the battle of Rowton Moor, near Chester, on the 24th September 1645.
He never came back.
Henrietta was his wife, and people have seen her, face pressed against the window, crying, waiting for her husband's return.
Next on the list is the Coach and Horses pub, directly next to the town hall.
Along with the usual strange occurrences (sliding ashtrays, bumps in the night), the old management and bar staff tell a haunting tale of a sad old man, in need of a pint.
In 1988, an old gentleman, well dressed and alone, came into the pub. As he sat at the bar, the staff enquired if he was alright. He told them that his wife had recently passed away, and that he wasn't comfortable at home with all the bad memories.
He asked if he could book a room for the night, paid cash, gave over his details, and told them he was going for a walk, and would be back later in the evening. He never returned.
When he still hadn't returned by two o clock in the morning, the management called the police, giving them the gentleman's address and name. The police searched the city, to no avail.
The decided to check his house in Birkenhead, where they were told that the man had lived there, but had passed away shortly after his wife, eight years ago.
Makes you wonder whether the staff checked if the cash was real...
Next to the Boot inn, Apparently, it was once Chester most notorious brothel, and female moans (ooeer) and laughter can still be heard by the patrons. I think that might possibly be a side effect of the beer though. I used to regularly frequent the Boot, and never heard a whisper.
Next on to Chester Cathedral.
I performed in an opera there a few years back, and I wholeheartedly agree that the Cathedral is incredibly creepy.
Chester Cathedral is bloody ancient. It was originally build as an abbey church for a Benedictine monastery, upon an earlier Saxon church, built at the end of the 10th century.
Records of 1906 tell of a mark on a flagstone in the cloisters. People reported it was the devils mark, and when the flagstone was removed and replaced, the mark reappeared. Spooky.
Thorntons chocolate shop, on Eastgate street, is, suprisingly, probably one of the most haunted places in Chester.
Host to a number of ghosties, the most famous is poltergeist Sarah. Sarah likes to play with the chocolates.
Sarah was, as history tells it, jilted on her wedding day, and was so distraught, that she hung herself. As a result she takes out her anger on the chocolate arrangements, and the poor staff, who often report of being pushed or shoved from behind, and then finding no one there. Sarah has also proved useful to Chester police, after a burglar broke in, and swiped the money from the safe. He was so spooked out, and fled in such a hurry he left behind all his tools and a full set of fingerprints.
Sarah gets most aggressive on Valentines day, completely destroying window displays.
I suppose Valentines day brings out the worst in us all.
Next we have the Marlbororough arms, St John Street. Nope, I haven't spelt it wrong.
The Marlbororough was previously a coach house for the hotel next door, but was burned down in an awful fire that killed many people and animals.
Phantom gurgles can be heard from the cellar, where the Victorian landlord tragically felt compelled to slit his own throat.
Another story I have heard is of a group of builders who were doing work in the cellar of the Marlbororough. One by one, they quit their jobs, refusing to go into the cellar, claiming that too many weird things happened.
One builder became so distressed after being in the cellar on his own, that he refused to ever enter the building again.
A little girl can be seen in the mirror of the women's toilets.
That last snippet freaked me out so much that I used to completely avoid looking in the mirror in the toilets, just in case.
Grosvenor Park is also a haunting hotspot. Overlooked by the old ruins, people have reported that the park gates have locked, and unlocked, at strange times, inexplicably.
Don't walk through the park at night. Or outside it for that matter, down the cobblestone walkway, and steps down to the river. Very creepy. Especially with all the greenery to one side.
Whilst taking a shortcut one night, me and my friend were walking from the river, past the park, with the ruins to out left.
We could hear footsteps on the other side of the gate, following us, at the same pace as us, up the steep hill.
It could have been our imagination, but we ran like bats out of hell up the stairs to the safety of the road.
According to Supernatural Britain report, conducted by Lionel Fanthorpe, one of the UK's leading authorities on the unexplained, Chester is, joint second with York, one of the most Haunted cities in England. Derby came first, and Leeds came last. Chester was found to have 11 sightings per 10,000 people.
I shall cut this short now. I could go on forever. For pretty much every building in Chester, there is a ghost story. Most have been passed from person to person, elaborated on and exaggerated, but it has to be said, in the dead of night, away from the drunken students, the lampposts and the car headlights, Chester is a spooky old place.
Im also stopping because Im a wimp. Im on my own writing this. Perhaps not such a good idea. I shall shy away from all mirrors in my house, ignore the tappings at the windows, and keep the TV on loud.
Until I can get away to Leeds, where there are, apparently, no ghosts to be found.
To learn more about the many Chester hauntings, visit this useful website.
Also, if you happen to visit Chester, then how about booking yourself onto a proffesional ghost tour (see website),
Much better than my amateur efforts ;)
Rather than write about how Chester is now, I decided to take a different approach and give you a history of the city from day one to present day. Admittedly, the history is quite sketchy, but I found it quite difficult to find more detail than is already included. Naturally, any further information on the topic would be gratefully received, and if I manage to find anything else out for myself, I will also add that. Due to difficulties in finding information, I found it easier to write the review in a chronological order of date (Sorry if it seems to jump about a bit!!). Anyway, back to the subject of my review. In AD 43, Roman Emperor Claudius visited the site that was later to become Chester, during the third invasion of Britain. At this time London was founded. In the year of AD 74 , Chester was originally founded as the Roman fortress of Deva, contained within the loop of the river Dee. The fortress, like many Roman fortresses, was constructed in the shape of a playing card. Inside the walls, you would find 24 hectares of land, or about 240,000 square metres. Enclosed within these walls, a standard grid pattern was seen implemented in the construction of streets and military buildings along with the cross which marks the centre of the city. The Roman wall, or the walls as they are commonly known amongst the locals, was built alongside a large turf bank, making it difficult to launch an attack on the city. The walls were also well served defensively by the twenty six towers dotted around and the four fortified gateways, which can still be seen today. The first sketchy bit comes here. Between AD 74 and 100 I have struggled to find any history of the events. In AD 100, the gradual redevelopment of the Roman fortress Deva and the amphitheatre in stone began, and a civilian settlement began to grow outside of the city walls. All I know about the following 283 years is that Chester, or Deva as it was, remained Roman. I think that maybe this period co
incided with the Roman invasion and, once conquered, the Romans lost interest. The fortifications they had built had obviously been neglected, as when they abandoned Chester the fortress fell into ruin. This is the most logical explanation I can come up with for this happening. Once the Romans had left, the Saxons extended the walls all the way down to the river Dee, creating a fortified setup against any potential Danish invasions. Another seeming gap in Chester's recorded history can be seen between AD 383 and 603. Saint Augustine, the North African Bishop and Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, meets Chester's Celtic bishops in Chester, or Legeceaster meaning the city of legions. Chester seemingly rejects Saint Augustine's authority sparking the tragic Battle of Chester in AD 616. During this conflict, 1200 monks, who had prayed for the enemy, are slaughtered by Northumbrians. Solon, the king of Britons, and king Cetula were also removed. In AD 620, a large fleet gathered by King Edwin of Northumbria, Deira and Bernicia, a fleet later used to capture Anglesey and the Isle of Man. By AD 660, a new church had been constructed on the site where Chester Cathedral can now be found, by King Wulphere. He also constructed a convent on this site, which he dedicated to saints Peter and Paul. 29 years later, in AD 689 if you'd forgotten, St. John's Church was founded by Aethelred, the King of Mercia. In AD 779, Mercia's King Offa became King of all England and three years later the Anglo-Saxons marked the Anglo-Welsh border with the construction of the Offa's Dyke. This was a barrier, built from earth, which stretched from the most northern point of the Welsh border, which happened to be Chester and its most southern point which turned out to be Bristol. Nowadays, there is a community called Broughton where the Offa?s Dyke pub can be found. 15 years later, King Offa was founding things again, this time St. Bridgets Church, whi
ch was situated in Lower Bridge St for all those locals wondering. This church remained a fixture in Chester for over a thousand years, before being lost to the inclusion of Grosvenor St in the city's profile. Chester's next hundred years are relatively boring, with only the odd appointment of a king. The only major event was Chester's capture by King Egbert of Wessex. In AD 894, Chester suffered a Danish invasion. Sadly, King Alfred's army was to arrive too late, and was therefore unable to prevent the capture of the fortress. Alfred decided to wage a war of wit rather than aggression, and the Danes were forced to leave, due to a miserable existence. Alfred?s men went through the area destroying all corn and cattle they came across, causing the Danes to turn their dietary attentions to horse flesh, yummy!! Predictably, the Danes couldn't handle it, and gave up the fortress and fled to Wales. Hurray for Chester!! Victory was short lived, however, as AD 897 saw the Danes return for the winter, seizing as many inhabitants, cattle and assets they could before leaving again. In AD 907, the Saxons refortified the city against the dangers of marauding Danes. AD 1066 saw the Norman invasions. Chester, uncannily was resilient again, being the last English stronghold to fall in 1070. King Harold is reported to have died in the Battle of Hastings, but it is believed quite strongly that King Harold fled to Chester and lived the rest of his life near St. John's Church near the banks of the Dee. It is rumoured that King Harold's ghost haunts these buildings which are situated behind the amphitheatre. Following the Norman conquest, the appointment the first Earl of Chester, Hugh Lupus who was William the Conqueror's nephew, in 1071, he built Chester Castle, which is now partly used as the crown courts, to dominate the Welsh border, reinforcing the city once more. In 1092 the Saxon Church became a Benedictine abbey. 47 years lat
er, in 1139, Chester Market received its first mention in the history books and in 1208 the first shopping charter was officially used. Only the people of Chester were allowed selling rights under this charter, with only annual fairs giving outsiders a chance to sell within the city. The charter was confirmed in 1239 by Henry III, and this remained until the Great Charter of 1506, which will be covered later on. In 1236 a Dominican friary was established, which is now known as Black Friars, located near the police station. The following year saw the appointment of Chester's first mayor, William the Clerk as he was known. In 1251, Chester Castle, built only 180 year previously was rebuilt in stone by King Henry II. Three years later, Prince Edward, who was to later become King Edward I, was attributed with the role of Earl of Chester. The Kaleyards gate, which still stand today, with an accompanying tea room, was built by the monks of Chester in 1275. The traditions of locking the gate at 8pm and reopening them at 6am still stand today, reinforcing the historic feel of the city. 1277 saw King Edward I make his base for the conquest of North Wales in Chester. The following year, the city was devastated by the 'Great Fire of Chester' which nearly the whole of the city contained within the walls. The thirteenth century also witnessed the construction of Chester's most famous exhibit, The Rows. These include shops or warehouses at street level with a series of half timbered buildings which were joined with long walkways on the first floor. The layout can be seen in not just one, but four streets in Chester. These streets are Bridge St, Northgate St, Eastgate St and Watergate St, which all meet at the central cross. The rows are so famous due to them being the only existing rows in the country. The first quarter of the fourteenth century saw more developments in the city as it became an independent Palatinate, what I believe to be a terr
itory under the jurisdiction of a Count Palatine. Basically this meant that Cheshire was a county where royal privileges and exclusive rights of jurisdiction were held by its lord, or earl as in this case. 1307 saw the introduction of the Murage tax, supposedly to pay for the upkeep of the city walls. Three years later at the site which is now the cathedral, St. Werburgh's shrine was built followed by the erection of the water tower on the city walls, at a bargain price of £100. The conclusion of the first half of the fourteenth century is rather more tragic than the beginning, as the Black Death, which killed a third of England's population, tore through Chester. In 1375 the Chester Mystery Plays were first performed, something which can still be seen today. Mystery in old English means trade guilds, or for the working people. Two years later, Chester's High Cross was first mentioned in the history books. The High Cross is a sandstone post about five feet tall, and I believe it was originally created as a recreation of a crucifix which had been destroyed in a previous civil war. Upon construction, the cross was used to mark the central point of the city, but now is mainly used to stick direction posts on. Sad really. Anyway, moving on, the next important issue is the Bluebell Inn, Chester's oldest and only surviving real medieval inn. Most of the building was built between 1250-1400 but some parts date all the way back to the eleventh century. Four years later, the Welsh were barred from Chester on pain of death. I believe pain of death to refer to the creation of a bylaw allowing cestrians, inhabitants of Chester, to use a crossbow to kill any Welshman found inside the city walls after a certain time of night, I believe to be 9pm. This bylaw has lived hundreds of years, although I believe it was recently dismissed. As I say, I'm not sure of the link here, but is my most logical explanation of the two events. 67 years later in 1
470, the central tower of St. John's Church, which was the cathedral as explained earlier, collapsed. Again, more vagueness as I do not know the full extent of the collapse, or when or whether it was rebuilt. In the final year of the century, 1499, the Midsummer Watch parade begins for the first time. In 1503, Chester underwent more modernisation, as the first proper pavements were laid at the cross. The Great Charter was granted three years later, granting Chester a mayor. From my searching I have found the first mayor to be William the Clerk in 1237, however I have also found information to suggest that Chester received its first mayor in 1506, due to the Great Charter. Make of it what you will, as I have not managed to find any further evidence to confirm either appointment's claim as the first. Anyway, moving on, how did the locals react to the Great Charter? Well the answer is, very well indeed. The locals had a sharp eye for business and acted immediately to include coal and cattle markets. Names were given to the rows according to what they were used for. The names for these rows were the ironmongers row, shoemakers row and a cooks row. Within this multi-purpose shopping centre, a pepper alley and fish shambles could be found. As if this was not enough, there was a linen hall, in what is now Linenhall Mews, where the Linenhall stables can be found. Chester also featured a fruit, root and herb market. In those days Chester was seen as a complete shopping city. If you wanted something, Chester most probably sold it. Between 1508 and 1510 St. Ursula's hospital was built which was quite lucky really due to the misfortunes to come. In 1517, the plague struck Chester once more, fortunately this time with less fatal effects, perhaps due to the fortuitous recent construction of the previously mentioned hospital. Due to everybody having to stay at home though, the grass around the central cross in Chester grew to a massive whole foot hi
gh. Shocking!! 1538 saw Henry VIII going mad with his dissolution of the monasteries routine, as three friaries were seen to surrender on the fifteenth of August. By 1541, Henry VIII had shut down Chester Abbey, formerly known as the Saxon Church, temporarily, before reopening it the following year to serve the newly created Diocese of Chester. These events came about due to a disagreement Henry VIII was having with the Pope. The Pope would not grant him divorce, as it was not in the interests of the religion, according to the Pope. Henry VIII, however, disagreed and thought that he should be allowed to get shut of any wife who bore a daughter instead of a son. Inevitably, Henry VIII decided to make his own church. This created six new bishoprics, one of which happened to be Chester, hence the new cathedral and Diocese. One highlight to come out of this period of madness was the first Chester Races, which took place on the Roodee in 1540. The same site is still used today for the yearly racing events. 1547 saw Henry VIII dissolving St. Ursula's hospital, with it continuing as Sir Thomas' Almshouses. I think these Almshouses are now known as the Bluecoat almshouses, and can be found just outside of the north gate by the canal bridge. This, as far as I can tell from research, is the last action by Henry concerning the city as he died in this year. 1551 saw the last performances of the legendary Mystery Plays, a gap of 400 years ensuing. I have never seen the Mystery Plays, and have very little understanding of them, but would be interested in any input. I think they were some sort of religious cult, as they are performed in the cathedral grounds nowadays. Talking about religion, George Marsh, a Protestant martyr, was burnt at the stake a mere four years later. Just as things seem to be going from bad to worse under the reign of Henry, there was light at the end of the tunnel, but not before the boys of Chester were seen to be playing football on
the frozen river Dee during the great frost of 1564. Three years later and four taverns were licensed in the great walled city, and just another year later Northgate Street was paved. Things were beginning to look up. Mixed fortunes were again on the horizon though. Just four years later a massive proportion of St. John's church collapsed, and eleven years after this the choir and chapels were pulled down. In 1591, Stanley Palace was built as the town house of the Stanley's, who were from Alderley. This family were the sergeants of the Watergate in these times. Nowadays, it is free to view, open to the public Monday to Friday, between the hours of 10am and 4pm. Its main use today, apart from being a tourist attraction, is for meetings. Slightly down the road from here stands the Bishop Lloyd's House, built in the seventeenth century. This building holds panels detailing various biblical scenes. Another historical point on this street is a building bearing the inscription "Gods Providence is my Mine Inheritance", just below the first floor window. These words refer to a plague in the seventeenth century. During this time, this was the only building in the street to remain unaffected by the plague. New laws were introduced in 1595 forbidding plays and bearbaiting within the city and four years later the bullring was removed form the cross. I am not sure if the bullring was used for the purpose intended, in fact I have a suspicion that it was possibly used for crucifixions, but I have found no evidence to support this theory. The river Dee was the source of some more misery four years later when the weir was broken and the mills remained totally dry from February to May. This was disastrous for the city as a good shipping trade existed prior to this. The drying out of the river meant the cease of passage through the town and alternative routes were therefore sought. As the river recovered its status, the shipping routes reverte
d to include Chester. In the thirteenth century, Chester was the second most important port in Britain. In 1683, Chester's port trade was dominant with the shipyards recording more ships built than in nearby Liverpool. 50 years later, the decline of the Dee began. Work began to canalise parts of the Dee to form what is now known as the Shropshire Union Canal. A few years later in 1739 due to lowered water levels, the river is frozen solid for a quarter of the year and, according to records, a sheep was roasted on the ice. 1771 saw the opening of the new Dee cut and 91 ships docked in the city. By the early part of the 19th century, its status was lost due to the silting of the river estuary, which was accelerated in later years by reclamation of land processes. The early 1600s saw much activity, again events were varied in forms of joy and sorrow. At the start of the century, the Tudor House was built in Lower Bridge Street in 1603. This building still stands today and is used as a sandwich bar. It is clearly detailed on the exterior of the building that this is the Tudor House, with both the name of the building and the year of construction etched into the face. In the two years following, the plague struck again and was to claim thousands of victims. During this period, the oldest remaining Cathedral bell was cast, the end of an era!! More construction work ensued as a new viewing gallery was built on the racecourse in 1607 and just a year later, the Wolf gate contained in the city walls was rebuilt. Eight years later, royalty visited in the form of King James. Upon this visit he walked along the shoemakers row. I think this is the row found on East gate Street, but don't quote me on it. The ironmongers row detailed earlier is situated on Northgate Street and I believe Watergate Street or Bridge Street to be the cooks row. Chester's historic walls were to feature once more in the city's history between 1643 and 1646 as the city
was besieged by Parliamentarian armies during the Civil War. The Roman built fortifications duly played their part in defending their keepers and as peace returned to the city so did its mixed fortunes. Elegant Georgian terraces and squares began to spring up all over the place, enhancing the visual impact of the already impressive city. Just a year later, progress was delayed once more as more than two thousand Cestrians fell victim to the plague. The following hundred years sees mostly peaceful times and focus is dedicated to progression rather than aggression. In 1657 the first Chester to London coach is established. Northgate Street still to this day holds signs of mileages to various cities in the country by the Pied Bull. The Midsummer shows are forbidden eleven years later in 1678 by the mayor, again I presume these have some religious connections. Continuing the peaceful times again, the city walls were converted to house a peaceful promenade for visitors and inhabitants alike. These walls are now one of the major tourist attractions, as complete sets of Roman walls are hard to find. 1745 saw a momentary return to feuds as the Jacobite rebellion saw the Watergate and Northgate both blocked up. Staying on the subject of gates, the medieval East gate was replaced with an arch in 1768 and a Roman gate was found in the old masonry. Construction continued to alter the appearance of the city five years later the library was built, a feature that can still be seen today at the back of the bus station. Four years later two Roman hypocausts were dug up, reinforcing the great Roman history of the city. A hypocaust, just in case you are wondering, is an ancient Roman system in which heated air is circulated under the floor and in between double walls, acting as a central heating system if you like. A welcome return to trivial matters is seen a year prior to this as a horseman rides the two miles around the top of the city walls in just nine and a half minute
s for a bet. I don't know if that was a record, but I do know that in 1784 a Chester to London mail coach set a new record of a staggeringly quick time of 22 hours and 45 minutes!! Much of Chester Castle was reconstructed in 1788 in a classical style, as the regeneration of the city was to continue. Five years later the Bridge of Sighs was built over the canal in between the Northgate and the Blue Coat Almshouses. I believe these almshouses were used to keep nutters inside and the Bridge of Sighs was used for the purpose off hanging. The site is now a particular hot spot for paranormal activity. Twelve years later, the pillory and stocks were removed from Chester Cross and three years into the 19th century saw the prohibition of bull baiting at the same site. The Gaol, or jail as we call it now, in Northgate Street was closed in 1808. I believe that this building is the Blue Coat Almshouses. All in all, Chester was becoming a more attractive place to live. Civilisation was flourishing in the town. The shopping trade was very strong and both recent and future developments in the city could only strengthen its status. In 1807, gas pipes were first laid in the city, a luxury we today take for granted. Fourteen years later the lamb row collapsed into the street. I have a sneaking suspicion that these were situated on East gate Street where a row of modern high street stores can now be found, such as Boots, BHS, Virgin Mega store, HMV, McDonalds and Marks and Sparks. Princess Victoria, as she was in 1832, opened the Grosvenor Bridge, situated near the racecourse and police station, which now links the city to the valuable business park on Wrexham Rd, containing the European headquarters of the MBNA Bank. In 1852, the first Queens Park suspension bridge is built across the Dee, allowing passage from the Groves, where the Boathouse Pub can now be found, into Hand bridge. 1836 sees the tolls end at all of the city gates, further allowing out of town tr
ade to enter. More developments on this front are seen just a year later, as the construction of the Chester to Crewe railway is begun in 1836. Eleven years later, the Chester General Station is opened. Amenities are the next thing to be included in the features of this growing city as the City Baths are opened near the Water Tower in 1848. Five years later in 1853, King Charles Tower on the walls is converted to an observatory. The following fifty years include more developments and progressions in many forms, the first being the last public hanging in Chester, occurring in 1866. I have not found information to support the theory that this meant the end of all hanging. I think this just stopped the hangings on the Bridge of Sighs, but private hangings possibly continued. A year later an extremely famous man was to visit the city as Charles Dickens came and gave a reading at Chester Music Hall. The Music Hall later became a cinema in 1921. I think this building was in Brook St, and if I am correct, it was to become the bingo, before it moved to the Mecca site by Gorse Stacks. The following year saw more progression and famous faces visiting as the Prince of Wales reopened the Town Hall. The Roman connection was again strengthened in 1881 with the discovery of Roman gravestones inside the city walls close to the Northgate. Seven years later Chester?s status as a leading English city is reaffirmed as the city becomes a County Borough. 1892 sees the racecourse cash in on the demand for horseracing, as the Roodee is enclosed during races, and an admission charge of one shilling is introduced. This is a vital part of Chester?s modern economy, as the races are very popular, and bring a lot of money to the area, as race-goers spend generously in local shops, pubs and restaurants. Taxi firms also benefit greatly from the vast amount of people in the city for the annual events. 1896 sees the first electric lights installed in the city and three years later the East
gate Clock is erected in celebration of Queen Victoria?s Diamond Jubilee. A strong Victorian presence was emerging in the city as time passed. By 1903, transport within and around the city had developed quite handsomely, with the installation of electric trams. Chester now had a valuable train and tram network to replace the diminished ports, continuing its important trading status. 1917 saw the return of trivial matters as a local publican decided to take his car out for a spin on the frozen river Dee!! One of the most important discoveries in Chester's history was to follow in 1929, as the Roman Amphitheatre was uncovered. Along with other discoveries, the amphitheatre confirmed that Chester was most definitely an important Roman town. One of the things that make the discovery so important is that when it was discovered it was the largest stone amphitheatre to have been discovered. People from all over the world come to Chester purely to see the Roman heritage. Most people in Chester take our rich culture for granted, but Chester's Roman connections are very strong and the historical sites are something that we should be proud to hold. The almost two thousand year old amphitheatre, built in about AD 86, was excavated in the 60s and by 1972 had been opened to the public. In its day, the amphitheatre probably seated about seven thousand people, more than the local football clubs stadium holds now (a measly 6000!!). Within the excavated wall the arena wall, main entrances to the north and east and a shrine dedicated to the Greek goddess Nemesis can be seen. The shrine dedicated to Nemesis, the Greek goddess of vengeance, is a strange feature for a Romano-British amphitheatre. The original altar is kept in the Grosvenor Museum about 200 yards down the road in the Grosvenor Museum, which sits by the Castle, but a replica has been placed beside the arena in its place. Around the grass banks of the arena Little St. John Street makes a wide curve, a road
which probably went right over the top of the site. Still today, half of the arena is located under the grounds of a convent. I believe this is a listed building and this is why the site has not already been further excavated, but there is still fierce debate over whether this building should make way for the total excavation of the amphitheatre, a site I believe would become an even bigger tourist attraction given the correct attention, and possible reconstruction of the tiers. If inclined, the local council could totally rebuild the site to its former glories and re-enactments could be held, something which would benefit the tourist culture, and the relevant history for the youngsters to study in the city. Chester has continued throughout the ages to prosper as a trading city, and has grown and grown. The regeneration work continued in 1935 when the Odeon cinema was opened near the library in Northgate Street. 1951 saw the return of the mystery plays. These plays are acted out every four years, I think, taking place in the Cathedral grounds. 1966 saw Queen Elizabeth I visit Chester Races for the first time and more royal development occurred seven years later as Prince Charles was awarded ?Freedom of the city?. The racecourse suffered a minor setback in 1985 as the County Stand burnt down, but has now been replaced with a brick structure stand, and looks amazing on a race day when filled. 1992 saw a bronze statue erected in the Town Hall Square, which most of the locals find quite hideous, but is a curious sight for tourists, fascinating all who visit. The statue was erected as 'a celebration of Chester'. In 1997, the nave floor of the Cathedral was replaced, and a couple of years later much of the city centre was repaved, ridding the town of many of the cobbled streets that were once present with smooth surfaces. The regeneration of the city continues today, with new properties constantly springing up in place of old derelict sites. Ch
ester is now seen as a very desirable place to live with a booming economy. It is now one of the richest cities in the land, and many posh wine bars are being opened around the city. The shopping has continually improved in the city with many old sites being redeveloped into shopping centres, such as the Greyhound Park, where the local football and greyhound stadiums could once be found, and Broughton Retail Park. The price of housing has rocketed in the city and city centre apartments boast values of £100,000 upwards. The development of the business park on Wrexham Road has been crucial in attracting people as well as businesses to the city. Things, as Tony Blair would say, can only get better!
This review is part of the HOMETOWN challenge where members are asked to write about any aspect of their home town - or a town they'd like/not like to be their home town. You can find all the participants by going to: http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/internet/internet_sites/dooyoo_co_uk_in_general/_r eview/426988/ Since this will be my second review, I figured it would be best to write about something I know about, and what could be better than my home town. Surely living somewhere for 19 years will give me a little bit of inside information. Chester is based just on the border of Wales, and you will probably all know it as the home of ?Hollyoakes? (even if it is filmed in Liverpool). Chester was one of the three original walled cities built by the Romans, making it an interesting place to visit; it has experienced a lot since and you can find history from various era?s littered around the place. So what is there to do? Well, one of the first things you will see are the Chester Walls, dating back from the Roman times, this is well worth a walk round as it has interesting things all the way. You can still get inside some of the old towers; and there are scheduled visits and so forth for someone looking to know more. If you just fancy a stroll round plaques are erected often enough, giving you the back round of the area. This tour will take you round other things as well; you will end up next to the cathedral, as well as the river and all things in between. There is history all over the place, so you are best going to the Tourist information office, as this will help you along, as Chester hides as much as it shows. You can walk into normal shops and it will have stairs going down to the old ruins which is nothing short of fascinating. Chester has an amphitheatre as well, which is actually a crying shame for the city, it is only half uncovered, and if excavation were allowed on the other half, hidden
by offices, it would be the only fully uncovered amphitheatre in the country; which would obviously help tourism enormously. There is more culture in the town than I could possibly have finger power to write down, but other things well worth seeing are The Museum, the famous zoo, roman ruins and the racecourse. All of w hich are unique in their own way. Obviously if you wanted more information then I suggest you walk outside and get up here as quickly as you can. But obviously it is not just the people looking for culture that will come to Chester, and admittedly we don?t pull many people in for our football team either. So what else is there to do which won?t make your brain hurt? Shopping, now I don?t think it is fantastic myself, but all the Chester Uni girl students I talk to seem to love it, the high street over a matter of years has strangely developed in a world of banks. But we do have a load of shops as well. Chester has the benefit of the fact that a lot of the shops have other shops above them on the rows, so you can often find some fantastic places just tucked away. My obvious advice to you would be to come and have a look. Drinking, well, what can I say, I do like a good drink myself, and Chester is a fantastic place to drown your sorrows. My local is in fact the oldest pub in Chester, called The Boot Inn, dating back from the sixteenth century you find all sorts of things (and people) tucked away that have been there for centuries. For instance a musket used in the civil war, or part of the original stick and mud wall. Now, I am no small person, and by that I mean I do enjoy my food, and to be fair Chester is not a place where you rely on McDonalds to get you through the day, will some fine restaurants that aren?t just part of a chain you can eat some fantastic food no matter what your tastes are. Chester obviously has the usual town things, a less than brilliant football team, cinemas, laser q
uest, chippies, all the things that make a good town and I really do suggest that if you fancy going somewhere then just come down here, a truly good experience.
Chester was founded By the romans many years ago (I can't find exactly when, in either books or on the net). From what started off a small market place, gathered over the years to become a hugely visited city. Located in the north West of england, just on the welsh Border. Shopping ~~~~~~~~ The main shops are located in or around the city Centre. It has a vast range of stores as well as well known high street brands, such as HMV, boots etc. One shop i would reccomend, is the old sweetshop, located opposite Chester Cathedral. One thing, you'll notice about chester is, most companies have atleast two shops in the city, so your never far away from the shop you need. While on your shopping spree, visit the little shops, such as corner shops etc, as you'll find some of the cheaper products in them. Restaurants ~~~~~~~~~~~ Theres quite a lot of Resteraunts in chester, thats for sure. Fatty Arbuckles, macdonalds, Burger King and not forgeting the 5 star restaurants, these posh nosh places are located everywhere. Chester has Restautants/chip shops and cafes for every taste bud out there, american, cantonese, chinese, japanese, and of course english. Pubs and clubs -------------- In the last couple of years a lot of public houses have appeared in and around the centre. The main places to go to on a friday and saturday, are Rosies and Brannigans, be on the look out for famous people, as you'll definatlly find one or two. There clubs and pubs is fierce competition now which is great news for the consumer. Various bargains can be found at lunchtimes and early evening to try and attract you into their establishment. Although what we really want is cheap booze. The sights ----------- This really is the place to go for sights, ok so you dont have lights like you do in blackpool, but during both day and day, there are plenty on things to do. Chester Zoo - is a bi
g attraction, for the family. This is a great place to visit, while there take a look in the bat cave, travel the monorail, but most of all Dont ask to feed the goats. I did once, went in the pen to feed them, one goat nicked my wallet and ran off with it, luckily i got it back but with a fiver missing( guess the goat, wanted to pay to see the elephants). Its a one of price, but enjoyable for all the family. River Dee, this is a great place to go to in day and night, take a tour of the river with a ferry ride, go canoeing and more. At night, its quite romantic, with bars on the river front (Just don't blame me if you fall in the river after too many drinks). The wall, this is worth looking at, but will be bored after five mins, cos hey, once you've seen one wall you've seen them all. Laser Quest - great for kids parties Plane Flights - just outside the city is a place where you can learn to fly, great place but slightly expensive. The North GateArena is the local sports centre. It has all the usual facilities you would expect to find such as swimming pool, gym, squash courts etc. This also has a computer fair, something like every two months. Chester Fc, may not be a premiership team, bout the tickets are cheap, and games are worth watching. Accommodation -------------------- There is quite a lot of places to accommodate you on your visit to Chester, personally I've never slept in one, due to the fact I live there, but a hotel called Grosvenor Pulford Hotel, or known locally as the grosvenor. This hotel is usually recommended by everyone and quite popular for visitors and has an excellent service. Grosvenor Pulford Hotel Wrexham Rd Pulford Chester Cheshire CH4 9DG Tel: 01244 570560 Other ------ What ever you do, don't get injured enough to go to hospital, The countess of chester, has recently been given a rating o
f one of the worst hostpitals in the uk, with a grade of 1/10. Transport ~~~~~~~~~ The buses in chester are quite good, as well as the train station Although locally most people drive cars and public transport can be a bit pricey. Taxis are a total luxury and charge a small fortune to get you home from a night on the town. Recommend Redline Cars 01244 681900, good service, quite cheap. Overall I think Chester is a Great city to shop in and go out for bite to eat or a drink. The definate place to go, great tourist attraction.
Chester races, what a fantastic day out. Our most recent visit was to an evening meeting last summer with a party of friends to celebrate one of them having a new job. The racecourse is one of the oldest in the country and occupies a beautiful position on the ‘Roodee’, backing on to the High city walls one side, the river Dee opposite and the Welsh Mountains in the distance. We took a picnic and a bottle of wine and had a wonderful time, though my confidence was dented as the so-called racing expert when I managed to pick only one winner out of the six races. One of the ladies present who professed to know nothing about horses just backed horse number 5 in every race and came away £40 better off with five winners – I think I’ll try that next time! But Chester isn’t just about horse racing, its one of Britain’s most beautiful cities with plenty to do and see and an absolute must if like me you enjoy history. It is a very old city, founded nearly 2000 years ago by the Romans and therefore boasts some of the country’s richest archeological and architectural treasures. It is the only English city to have preserved its Roman and medieval walls in their entirety and they provide one of my favourite urban walks, a two mile circuit with excellent views of the city and its surrounding countryside. Walking round the walls is a great way to start a visit to Chester - they absolutely drip with history. You can visualize the Roman centurions keeping guard as the walls stretch out before you, in weather beaten and rounded stone with steps worn smooth by the countless number of people who have completed this walk over the centuries. From the walls you can see many of Chester’s famous historical sites – the castle, the cathedral, the long lawned gardens of the city’s manor houses, the Roman ampitheatre and the racecourse (excellent view and its free). The Watchtower and the
King Charles tower both house museums, whilst one of the best stretches is from the cathedral to Eastgate street, in the centre of the city, where the famous wrought iron clock was erected in 1897. I love walking around the walls early in the morning or on a warm summer’s evening, watching the sun rise or set here is incredibly romantic, a truly enjoyable experience. Chester or Deva as it was known in Roman times has such a long history under the Romans, Saxons and Normans and even flourished as a port until the silting of the Dee in the 15th century and it became very prosperous as a commercial centre in the 18th century. Fortunately much has survived from all these periods to provide some real historical treasures. One of the main sources of Chester’s distinctive character is undoubtedly the galleried tiers of shops known as The Rows – timber buildings, built on two tiers with a continuous upper gallery which dominate the city’s shopping centre. A wide variety of specialist and high street shops open on to balustraded walkways reached only by steps from the road.The Rows were clearly the forerunners of today’s shopping malls, they were first built in the 13th and 14th centuries and the original structures have survived in many places though the beautifully decorated timber work and oriel windows are 19th century. Bishop Lloyd’s House in Watergate Street is a lovely richly carved building, but The Rows are probably shown at their most varied and attractive where Eastgate Street meets Bridge Street. Here, views of the cathedral and the town give the impression of a perfectly preserved medieval city, an illusion which is helped by the Town Crier who calls the hour and announces the news in the summer months from his post by the Cross, a reconstruction of a stone crucifix destroyed in the Civil War. Add to this the many and varied buskers which inhabit the streets and the rows and range from folk singers
to jugglers to stand-up comedians and very professional chamber quartets, and you have a wonderful atmosphere for shopping or just sightseeing. It always reminds me of a twenty first century version of those medieval street scenes you used to see in films about Robin Hood and his ilk. I love it. Places to include in your itinerary if you visit Chester, are undoubtedly: The sandstone Cathedral, which has been beautifully restored and incorporates extensive Benedictine monastic remains and is especially noted for its richly carved woodwork. Its refectory is a beautiful place to go for a cup of tea or coffee, its very spacious and peaceful and the food is excellent and good value for money. The Castle mainly dates from the 19th century now, though the 13th century Agricola tower is largely original. The castle contains the Cheshire Military Museum encompassing the The Cheshire Regiment, Cheshire Yeomanry, 5th Royal Inniskillin Dragoon Guards and the 3rd Carabiniers. Its very impressive, colourful and well put together. The Heritage and Visitor Centres provide excellent illustrations of Chester’s history using audio-visual techniques and has a reconstruction of a scene in The Rows in Victorian times. They also run excellent guided tours and a ‘ghost walk’, which I’m planning as a birthday treat for my daughter and some of her friends. The Grosvenor Museum has an outstanding collection of Roman artifacts. The river Dee provides a southern border to the town, it is wide and picturesque and ideal for boating. The park is beautiful and the ‘prom’ which borders the river is a wonderful place to watch the boats and the world go by. I remember sitting by the bandstand last summer watching the tour boats come and go. There was one with a band on board, and one with a wedding party – everyone wearing kilts and a bit the worst for wear. Still, they were all enjoying themselves and it cert
ainly provided us with an amusing ten minutes. Look out for the artists who sell their paintings by the city walls adjacent to the river – there is some really good stuff here at reasonable prices. Chester is cram packed with black and white buildings and many of them are occupied by excellent places to eat and some really homely and traditional inns. My own favourite restaurants are Franks in Cupping street, a very popular Brasserie where French rock beats out over tasty Plats du Jour. Sundays are family days when children eat free, but its very popular and you have to book ahead; and Mamma Mias by the Cathedal a great Italian restaurant that has plenty of atmosphere and lovely authentic pasta dishes. Well, I’ve written a more than I expected too, I got a bit carried away, but there again it has so much going for it and so much to do, its difficult to know when to stop. If I were you I’d try it yourself, go for a day trip or a weekend away, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Who knows, if you choose a race day and back the right number it could even pay for itself.
My first memories of Chester go back to my childhood when as a 7 or 8 year old, armed with paste butties (sandwiches to non Liverpudlians) I boarded the huge green double decker bus and set off excitedly with my school mates on a school trip. It was a very long time ago and my memories are clouded somewhat, but I do remember the beautiful cathedral and how impressed I was at being able to play hide and seek within the cloistered arches (not very reverent I suppose). My next visit was as a rather young and trendy teenager with a group of pals. We boarded the Royal Iris and ferried over the Mersey for our day out. Once again the Cathedral featured heavily in my memories, but this time I mainly remember sitting on the banks of the River Dee in glorious sunshine eating sandwiches and feeling very grown up. Since those times I have visited Chester on many occasions as it is easily accessible from where I live and indeed my family all live in the area. No matter how many times I've visited, the novelty has never worn off and I still love the City deeply, indeed I've outlined my memories above in an effort to show how the area appeals to old and young alike. The City is always bustling, no matter what the time of year. It is full of history from the tudor styled houses to the Roman remains. The Romans first invaded Chester (or Deva as it was then called) in the first century AD and it is possible nowadays to visit the Roman Ampitheatre which is situated just outside Wolf Gate. On the other side of the road to this a roman garden has been reconstructed from stones found elsewhere in the City and it is possible to view this garden from the walls which surround Chester. The walls in themselves make for a wonderful walk where you will encounter historical gate houses and King Charles' tower which is located to the North of the City. Onto the door of this you will find the inscription l6l3 and inside the tower is a small ex
hibition describing Chester at the time of the Civil War. And who would want to miss seeing the famous Eastgate Clock which was erected in l897 to mark Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. This clock features on many postcards and it looks over both Eastgate and Foregate Street. From here you can see timber buildings which reputedly date from l571.. Chester has a remarkable history and evidence of this abounds almost everywhere you go. The town hall which is gothic in style was built between l865-l869 and is located in Market Square which in itself is worth seeing if only to view some of the grand houses surrounding it. Alternatively, it is possible to visit the Grosvenor Museum for a more indepth history. In summertime Chester has a town crier who makes public declarations each day at l2.00 noon and is adorned in all his tudor finery for the event. Returning to the Cathedral. It is said the bones of St Werburgh are located here and the building and atmosphere here are well worth a visit. Chester Racecourse can be visited or merely viewed from the Walls, but if walking isn't your scene, you can merely spend a leisurely day sitting on the banks of the River Dee watching the passenger ferries taking people up and down the river, or alternatively have a leisurely lunch in one of the many pubs or restaurants overlooking the area. For young children there is a small arcade area by the river or boat trips to be taken. I know my son used to be happy just jumping up and down the steps there and as no traffic is allowed in this particular part of Chester, it is a safe place for them to play. Additionally, the cathedral is not austere as some churches are and it would be an educational experience for the slightly elder child. If this doesn't appeal to them there is always the Northgate arena which has a huge swimming pool and also of course Chester Zoo is located only one or two miles away and is easi
ly reached by jumping on the park and ride bus which stops outside H.Samuel in the town centre. Keen gardeners can enjoy the garden areas located around the City and there is an abundance of top quality shops for the shopaholic, including Marks and Spencer, Littlewoods etc., all located in the City Centre. Tourists also shouldn't miss the shopping arcades which have a grand elegance and compare favourably with all the new shopping complexes such as the Arndale Centre in Manchester. A short journey by car will also take you to the Outlet Village where you can purchase designer wear at bargain prices. Antique collectors will find these shops located just outside the main City Centre and if husbands are tired of shopping they could actually spend a few hours fishing in the River Dee, although I believe licences have to be purchased beforehand. If you are considering Chester for a holiday, bear in mind other places of interest in the area, Beeston Castle, Frodsham, Eastham Woods or even Liverpool if you have the mind to visit my home City. There is a vibrant nightlife, but I understand the City Centre of 'Chester can be somewhat threatening these days, so care should be taken. There are of course many nightclubs to visit, although I'm afraid I don't frequent them so can't give an opinion here. Of all the eating places, I personally would recommend Weinholts, where you will come across old fashioned courtesy and luscious cream cakes and hot chocolate or frothy coffee. Go early though as it's a popular place and becomes very crowded around lunchtime. If you have visited York and liked it, you will love Chester as it is very similar. Give it a try and when eating your butties by the River Dee, think of me.........
I was surprised to find this type of thing on this website. I have only recently visited Chester myself so I'll tell you opinion. It's a very small town, and its very tranquill and pretty, I guess you would say. I was actually visiting as part of my art intrests as there are galleries nearbye, and i heard that this is a nice place to stay. The town is small, but they still managed to cram in a lot of the high street stores, for those of you who can't manage without spending your dooyoo earned cash! One of my favourite stores was the Warner Brothers store. This had w great collection of drawings in a small gallery section, some originals in there dating back from the early days of animation. The town does have a nice collection of cafes also, most of them raised at balconies so that you can get away from the crowds of tourists. There isn't that much to do, it's more of a place to visit to see the area, as it has a lot of history dating back to the romans. You can visit the town's cathedral which has been modified for tourism, but it is very nice to visit. The town also has some interesting sculptures, which is part of the reason why it appealed to me. There is aslo a village wall surrounding it, and you can walk allong that, and see the area from a different perspective. I'd say the place is aimed more at the older generations, who are looking for a short break somewhere with a history, and somewhere that generally is very nice to look at. Leading on from my title! I found out, from one of the people at the place I was staying at, that after midnight, in the centre of Chester, it is still legal to kill a welsh man, with a bow of at least two metres long! I was very shocked to learn that, and I thought I'd add that as I think it is a very interesting fact!
Sure, if you are a tourist it one hell of a place to go, you could spend a good couple of days here and still not see everything it has to offer. Chester is an old Roman town, when the Romans first came to Britain they built three key towns, one was York, one was Chester, and the other was some Welsh town that I forget the name of (that isn't a dig at the welsh by the way) because of this there are so many different pieces of Roman History around the place. The River Dee is a very popular place to go, with our famous weir that makes Chester an unreachable destination by boat (which tacticul genious thought that up, well I could tell you, but I don't want to bore you to badly) this means that there are little cruises you can go on. We have our walled city, a lot of money has been put into that to make it more disirable to tourists, if you walk around the walls you come across little plaques which tell you information about what you are looking at. This brings you close to the Chester Cathedral, and what a fine place that is, I have been forced to work there at some point, and I could bore you along and give you the full information, like a online tour, but I actually want you to read this. They have a stunning choir which is well worth a visit to go and watch, not my thing I have to admit but I know a lot of the older visitors would find it great to go and watch. Then there is our infamour Amphitheatre which could be one hell of a tourist attraction. You see there is an old office block on one side of it which nobody seems to be able to knock down, and no matter how much appealing the Chester people make they just seem to make any difference, however it is the most revealed in this country so well worth a visit. And this is without starting, there is also Chester Castle as well and Chester racecourse, need I go on? You see what I am saying is if you are interested in going to a town as a tourist t
hen Chester is definitely the place to go. If you are looking for fun then go somewhere else. If you are looking for fun then Chester has very little to offer, we have Chester Zoo, but I would say that is more for younger people, if you are aged between about 14-17 then you are pretty much stuffed. Chester has a cinema and a megabowl, both are very limited, we actually have two cinemas, but the bwoling and cinema are actualy a fair walk out of town. What about the shopping? Well what about it, the highstreet is mostly filled with banks, and I have to admit that it doesn't really get me exited, maybe that is just me. Then there is the nightlife, well to be fair that is not so bad. We have a reasnable arrangement of clubs and bars, the top clubs in Chester are Rosies and Alchemey (be warned Friday at Alchemey is gay night) we have some other clubs such as Loves and Stringers but if your 18 or above it really isn't the place to be going, the list of bars and pubs is endless, but I will name a few for you. Weatherspoons, Edwards, Via Vita's, Watergates, Temple Bar, Yaties There are loads, that is only a very selct list, some good some bad, but all well worth a visit. I hope if you were planning a visit to Chester that this review helps.
To anybody looking for somewhere to go for the weekend look no further than Chester. We've got every thing you could possibly want or need. For people who want history theres the roman walls(the only complete set of walls that you can walk all the way round),the cathedral,museums,town hall,buildings dating back hundreds of years, plus a lot more. For those that like shopping theres plenty of shops to spend your money in. We have the best zoo in England bar none. We have boat trips on the river.You can go for walks in our huge park. There are plenty of wine bars ,cafes,restaurants and fastfood outlets. There are about 100 to 150 hotels and B&Bs going from £20 to £500 a night. If you do visit Chester then go on the tours and learn all about the place. You won't regret it.