Weekly City Spotlight: Chester


Bridge Street, Chester

Chester is a beautiful place to visit, the walled city offers the historic together with a wealth of architectural delights. Located in the county of Cheshire, Chester lies on the banks of the River Dee, close to the Welsh border.  Visitors can explore its Roman and medieval history, as well as the maze of idyllic streets, with the beautiful buildings and many shops which Chester is home to.

Historic Chester  
The Romans built Chester, or Deva Victrix as it was originally known in the 70s AD.  As a Roman Fortress, Deva was a main army base and the home of the Legio Vigesima Valeria Victrix, a Roman Legion.  In addition to the Fort, the area around it developed further, with settlements for civilians as well as the addition of a huge amphitheatre with a capacity of over 8,000, the largest military example in Britain. Today the footpath along the city walls features Northgate and Eastgate which are on the original sites of the entrances to Chester used by the Romans.

Following the departure of the Romans, the Saxons settled and Chester was given its name.  The Saxons built upon Chester further in order to protect the area from the threat of invasion from the Danes.

In 1070, following invasion by the Normans, the building of a castle began under the instruction of William the Conqueror.  Parts of the castle remain in place today and have been built upon following the addition of buildings designed by Thomas Harrison which were incorporated between 1788 and 1813.

With the industrial revolution came further development for Chester with the introduction of the railways and canal network, transportation of supplies such as lead, slate and coal could be made as well as servicing the factories on the banks of the canal.

Today, Chester offers its visitors the opportunity to experience a wealth of history in a beautiful location. With attractions such as Chester Cathedral, the Grosvenor Museum, and The Rows, the many walking, bus and boat tours provide an ideal way to sample so much of what Chester has to offer.

Popular Culture
Chester is a picturesque city, and as such has been a focus in popular culture.

Films & TV
The Wedding Video (2012) – Directed by Nigel Cole and starring Robert Webb, Rufus Hound and Matt Berry, this comedy features many scenes filmed in Chester.

The Mill – a current Channel 4 period drama, The Mill focussing on life at the Quarry Bank Mill (located in Cheshire), during the industrial revolution, filming for the drama has also taken place in the centre of Chester as well as the area by the Crown Court.

Hollyoaks – the long running Channel 4 soap is set in Chester.

The Cage – By CJ Moran, a futuristic novel set in Chester in 2055.

Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls – By Ruth Downie, part of a series of books which feature Gaius Petreius Ruso, this book is a tale of Roman times set in 117AD in Deva (now known as Chester).

Social Media
Additional information on Chester can be found on its official website, Visit Chester as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Famous Faces
Daniel Craig – 2nd March 1968, the English actor who has starred in many films, most notably playing the role of James Bond since 2006, and appearing with the Queen in the opening ceremony of the Olympics, was born in Chester.

John Douglas – born in Chester on 11 April 1830, Douglas was an architect responsible for the design of many of the buildings in Chester, including Eaton Hall, a number of its distinctive black and white timber buildings, as well as the Eastgate Clock.

William De Morgan – was born on 16 November 1839 in Chester and was a Tile Designer and Potter.  He worked as a designer for William Morris, a close friend, where his work included tile, glass and furniture design.



Eastgate Clock

Eastgate Clock
Built in 1899, the Eastgate Clock was designed by John Douglas to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. Now as Grade I listed building, the clock can be found at Eastgate, the original entrance to the fortress in Roman times.

Chester Cathedral
The magnificent Chester Cathedral can be found in Abbey Street.  This beautiful building, takes it origins from the Benedictine Abbey built under the instruction of the Earl of Chester at the time, Hugh Lupus. Following significant development and expansion, the Abbey became a cathedral in 1541, at which time Chester was awarded city status.  From this time the cathedral has been the seat of the Bishop of Chester.  Admission is free, with a suggested donation of £3 per person, with free guided tours on offer, subject to availability.

The Grosvenor Museum
Admission is free to the Grosvenor Museum, opened in 1886 it offers a chance to explore Chester’s rich heritage.  Exhibits at the museum include natural history and archaeology, as well as Roman and Victorian heritage. The museum itself, a fine example of Victorian architecture is located at 27 Grosvenor Street.

The Rows
These distinctive buildings date back to medieval times, and are located on Watergate Street, Bridge Street, Eastgate Street and Northgate Street.  The Rows are a series of black and white timber buildings which are home to a number of wide range of shops, cafes and businesses.

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