Chester

United Kingdom

Posted: Sep 15, 2021 | Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Chester is one of England's most beautiful cities, a compact collection of Tudor and Victorian buildings wrapped in a red sandstone wall that was originally built by the Romans to protect the fortress of Castra Devana, and built on by later generations to replace robbed or damaged sections of wall.

If you were thinking that Roman forts always had a playing card shape and Chester doesn't, you would be right to think this; the walls were extended to the river to include Chester Castle built in 1070.

For much of the Middle Ages Chester was the northwest's most important port, but the gradual silting of the River Dee diminished its importance and Chester was overtaken by Liverpool.

Being overtaken by Liverpool in importance is ultimately what contributed to the charm that we see in Chester today. Losing its place kept it from either wholesale redevelopment or the Luftwaffe's bombs when strategically important Liverpool was Blitzed in May 1941.


The Highlights

  1. Chester Walls built by the Romans, extended in medieval times, with a walkway taking you under Queen Victoria's 1897 jubilee clock and various renowned towers.
  2. The Rows are 14th century walkways that were built on top, or in front of the rubble and ruins left behind by the ruins, and for this reason follow the Roman street plan.
  3. Chester Cathedral​ built between the 13th and 16th centuries on top of the 10th century church, the cathedral is an architectural gem.
  4. Roman Amphitheatre just outside the walls this is the largest in Britain although half as been built over.
  5. Grosvenor Museum​ dedicated mainly to Roman Chester.
  6. Beeston Castle not in Chester but close enough, is on top of a high, steep crag giving great views of the surrounding area.

Posted: May 24, 2009 | Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Beeston Castle

Beeston Castle is a former Royal castle in Beeston, Cheshire, England, perched on a rocky sandstone crag 350 feet (110 m) above the Cheshire Plain. It was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, (1170–1232), on his return from the Crusades. In 1237, Henry III took over the ownership of Beeston, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century, when it was considered to be of no further military use, although it was pressed into service again in 1643, during the English Civil War. The castle was partly demolished in 1646, to prevent its further use as a stronghold. During the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

1) Outer lodge and towers
2) The lodge from the inside
3) The outer walls and beyond
4) Inside the outer bailey looking up to the castle
5) Sentry over the Cheshire plain
6) Gatehouse to the inner bailey I
7) Gatehouse to the inner bailey II

Posted: Feb 22, 2009 | Updated: Dec 1, 2021

U-Boot 534

A short drive outside of Chester and near the Mersey ferry is housed the now broken remains of a salvaged German World War II submarine. Unterseeboot 534 (U534) was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of the Kriegsmarine built in 1942. The U-boat is one of only four large German WWII submarines in preserved condition remaining in the world, the only other IXC boat being U-505 in Chicago.

U534 was used mainly for training duties, and during her life sank no ships. The boat was part of a museum until 2006. When the museum closed it was deemed too expensive to move it whole and was shamefully cut into four sections to be displayed at the Woodside Ferry Terminal opposite Liverpool.

1) U534 - Conning tower
2) U534 - Business end of the wolf
3) Forward crew quarters and torpedo room
4) U534 - Starboard of the conning tower
5) U534 - Engine room
6) U534 - Aft battle damage
7) U534 - Museum
8) Life on board U534
9) Daily life on U534
10) U534 - Preserved Kriegsmarine flag

Posted: Jun 21, 2008 | Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Following the Romans

After Hadrian's Wall I headed back South, stopping off in Chester to continue being a tourist this time in my home city. When you start to scratch at the surface there is still plenty left to discover and it's surprising to find yourself still being surprised by what you can learn, or rediscover what you've forgotten.

Chester is compact and much is squeezed in with most places of interest inside the walls. The Roman street pattern is also relatively intact. A number of shops even have Roman or Medieval remains within.

Following on from my last Chester blog, I've focused more on and around the former Roman amphitheatre and the South East corner of the walled part of the city, a part of the city that I've never really known a lot about and was amazed to learn of a 13th century coffin embedded in the ruins of a church and on display.

1) Chester Cross and Rows
2) St Peter's Church
3) The Three Old Arches
4) The Amphitheatre towards the fort
5) Amphitheatre from the North entrance
6) Amphitheatre to the East entrance
7) St John the Baptist Church
8) St John the Baptist Church ruins
9) St John the Baptist Church, 'Dust to Dust'
10) A breach in the Medieval walls
11) The Boat House Pub
12) The Falcon pub

Posted: Dec 22, 2007 | Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Deva Victrix

Deva Victrix, or simply Deva, and now the modern city of Chester. Being a Cestrian, I know that Chester is steeped in history but as is often the case, you sometimes fail to appreciate what you are surrounded by. In the knowledge that Chester is a city that can rival many a destination I have been to, I took to the streets with my camera and guide book to be a tourist in my home city.

I now know a lot more about the city I lived in for most of my formative years and it is good to see that excavations are still taking place, particularly around the Roman Amphitheatre. As Chester continues its regeneration, I am sure that a lot more will be uncovered as the old is pulled down to make way for the new.

1) Chester Cathedral
2) Tudor buildings opposite the cathedral
3) Chester - The Bridge of Sighs
4) Chester walls, Northgate St
5) King Charles Tower
6) King Charles Tower and the walls
7) Chester - Eastgate Clock
8) Eastgate St bridge looking into the city
9) From the historic rows on Eastgate St
10) Newgate and south eastern Roman tower
11) Half the Roman Amphitheatre
12) The Roman Gardens
13) Alms houses within the walls
14) The Wishing Steps
15) The Bear and Billet
16) Old Dee bridge
17) Weir from the old Dee bridge
18) The Roman goddess Minerva
19) Chester Castle
20) Agricola Tower, Chester Castle
21) Chester Racecourse
22) The Roman quay wall
23) The Watertower
24) Morgans Mount

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