21 Jun 2008 - Chester, England
After Hadrian's Wall I headed back South, stopping off in Chester to continue being a tourist in my home town. 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 find out.
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.
Chester - The Cross and Rows
This stone pillar marks the town centre. Four roads that follow the original Roman plan fan out from this point and are Watergate, Northgate, Eastgate and Bridge Street. It has been the site of public proclamations since medieval times, the earliest known proclamation being in the 15th century. During the Civil War, the Cross had served as a rallying point for the Royalist citzens, but after their eventual surrender to Parliamentary forces at the end of the siege it was pulled down.
Chester - St Peter's Church
St Peters Church stands at the centre of Chester adjacent to The Cross. It was founded in AD 907 and is Chester's oldest church. It once had a large spire and the exterior has been restored several times. The church is unusual because of its square form. It is constructed out of local sandstone and stands on top of the Roman headquarters building. the Principia. In 1086 the church was mentioned in the Domesday Book and referred to as 'Templum Sancti Petri'.
Chester - The Three Old Arches, Upper Bridge Street
The Three Old Arches form the facade of a row building from the 12th century, believed to be the earliest surviving shop frontage in England. The structure behind was rebuilt in the early to mid 14th century, as an impressive stone town house with a hall which is partly intact.
Chester - Roman Amphitheatre, viewed towards the City
In the background can be seen The Newgate, built to replace a Medieval era gate. This falls just outside of the Roman fortress, the walls to the left of the gate being the approximate position of the South West corner of the fort.
Chester - Roman Amphitheatre, from the North entrance
One of the two processional entrances or porta pompae. These gave direct access to the arena and its northern and southern ends.
Chester - Roman Amphitheatre, to the East entrance
Close to the church side of the Amphitheatre are the remains of the steps leading to the Roman officer's seats. From this position to Roman elite would have watched the events unfold. The alternative theory is that this is an early Church. And was replaced by the one near by.
Chester - St John the Baptist Church I
This church is adjacent to the amphitheatre and built on the site of an older Saxon Church in 1075. It is now considered to be the best example of 11th–12th century church architecture in Cheshire
Chester - St John the Baptist Church II
The church was a cathedral but following the Dissolution of the Monasteries (A formal process between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monastic communities in England, Wales and Ireland and confiscated their property) and became a church. The eastern end of the church, abandoned in 1581 is now a ruin.
Chester - St John the Baptist Church, 'Dust to Dust'
Placed high in the wall of the ruin has been placed a medieval solid oak coffin found during repairs in 1813. Inside are painted the words "Dust to Dust". I think that something like this should be held and preserved in a museum rather than slowly decay in the ruin.
Chester - Evidence of a breach in the Medieval walls
This section of the walls shows the breach that was made in the walls during the Civil War siege of Chester. It can be seen where the breached section has been rebuilt. Though the Parliamentarian forces were successful in creating a breach, fierce Royalist resistance beat back all attempts to enter the city.
Chester - The Boat House Pub
This pub is just outside of the city centre and next to the park in the Groves area. This is a popular area in the summer due to its river location. I have included this picture for no other reason than it reminds me of many a drunken night spent here in my formative years.
Chester - The Falcon pub
The first house on this site was built around 1200. This was longer and reached further down the Street. In the 13th century the building was altered and a row walkway was added through the front of the property. In the 17th century the row walkway was enclosed. Other residents followed suite and as a result Lower Bridge Street lost its ancient rows. They can be seen from within the pub though and are worth a look. The Falcon was first used as an Inn in 177 and restored in 1980 to the pub that you can see today.
Kay - 9 May 2013, 13:28:44
Just visited Chester yesterday, had a great day walking the walls, saw the clock, the river and a great little bookshop just near the Northgate. I definitely plan to visit Chester again!