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Posts Tagged ‘explore chester’

I’m totally in love with Chester. I may just move here 😊😊😊 It’s been a real mixed bag of weather starting with rain just after I arrived, sleet at about 9am yesterday, then rain which soaked me to the skin (I eventually dried out). Besides the weather it’s been an awesome stay with a fantastic walk around the city and perambulation along the Roman city walls when the skies cleared. What an extraordinary city.

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Dewa – Roman Chester

I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to walk along ancient streets, the galleried balconies of The Rows, and strolling along walls along which Roman soldiers and King Charles I amongst many other historical figures have walked. So exciting.  😉

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Ancient streets, The Rows, city gates

So today I took a walk along the canal and ended up in a village called Christleton. To my delight it turned out to be a Domesday Book Village. I started early (08.05) and since it was such a gorgeous day and my last full day, I decided to make the most of it and walk a short way….well a short way turned into a few miles and by 9am I was in Christleton.

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Chester Canal

The canal was stunning with a number of locks, a few small humped bridges, lots of colourful canal boats and a number of fabulous canal-side properties.

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canalside properties

Although I had not been my intention to walk that far, I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. I explored the village and the little church that literally opened as I got there, then stopped for tea and toast at the Ring O’Bells pub; so cosy I could have stayed all day…

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Christleton – Domesday Book Village

but I had a city to explore, so jumping on the next bus to Chester, I arrived shortly after 11.20.

Since I had alighted near to the fantastic Church of St John the Baptist, I stopped off there first and was just in time to hear the 12noon chimes. This church is extraordinary with a history that stretches back to the 7th century. Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time. Founded in 689 AD by Aethelred King of Mercia, it was enlarged by Aethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great and her husband in AD 907. This is one of those churches where if you don’t go in and do research afterwards, you regret not stopping. It is stunning.

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Church of St John the Baptist, Chester

With Norman architecture and pillars adorned with not only Mason marks but ancient frescoes amongst which is a 13th C image of St John the Baptist, memorials from the 17th century, a wooden Jacobean screen, an organ built for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, rebuilt and installed here, Saxon and Viking stones dating from 900-1100 and examples of medieval tombstones including the grave slab for Agnes de Ridley wife of a sheriff of Chester, and so much more, you could stay for hours.

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Mason marks, medieval paintings

In the grounds surround the church are some amazing ruins of the older church, one of which contains a very bizarre object; a coffin shaped hole in the top of the wall. Very bizarre. This church too suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops.

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Chapel of St John the Baptist, Chester

From there I revisited the Roman Amphitheatre “When he saw the blood, it was as though he had drunk a deep draught of savage passion. He fixed his eyes upon the scene and took in all its frenzy ….He watched and cheered and grew hot with excitement” St Augustine Confessions 6.8 Having followed The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury last year, finding this link was quite exciting.  Chester’s amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain and could seat 7,000 spectators; a powerful symbol of Roman supremacy on the edge of the empire. I walked right around the amphitheatre, imagining I could hear the cheers, jeers, shouts and screams and the roar of the crowds ringing in my ears. I wonder what it must have been like in Roman times…brutal I should guess. The spectacle that the crowds could see in the arena wild beast fights, public executions and gladiatorial combats, were not just bloodthirsty entertainment, they were rituals that expressed Roman values. While I was there a Roman soldier followed by a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren entered the arena and soon there were full-blooded cries echoing off the walls. What a terrific way to learn history!!! I think I must go back to school…in Chester!

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The Roman Amphitheatre, Chester

Leaving the amphitheatre I walked through the Roman Gardens located right next to the city walls where you can see various artefacts as well the ruins of Roman baths, one of the most impressive buildings of the Chester fortress. Here again was a Roman soldier putting a gaggle of children through their soldier paces….with fierce screams and stamping feet. Too much fun!!

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The Roman Gardens, Chester

Chester was known as the Roman Fort of Deva and there is a charming little exhibition that you can visit – the Dewa Roman Experience; experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester.  Just off  Bridge Street, I popped in for a thoroughly enjoyable ‘quick’ visit. Absolutely worth the time, the cost of the ticket minimal and less than 2 cups of coffee.  The kids will love it.

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Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

http://www.dewaromanexperience.co.uk/experience.html

After whizzing through this delightful exhibition, a brisk walk took me through the centre of the city and onto the cathedral where I joined the FREE ground floor tour at 1.30pm. Wow, I wish I had a photographic memory or at least a tape recorder. The guides ply you with so many fascinating and interesting snippets of information, it’s quite overwhelming. Suffice to say, it is well worth the hour and it’s free. Times: 11:00 13:30 15:00

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Chester Cathedral

After this fascinating hour tour I joined the 60 minute Tower Tour at 3pm (£8) a very well spent £8 and 60 minutes; fascinating history and stunning views -we walked up along the narrow passageways around the church looking down onto the floor and up close and personal with the stained glass windows, stopped off in the ringing chamber, had a look at the fantastic bells, and then onto the roof for stupendous 360 degree views of Chester and as far as the Welsh mountains. I stood on the spot where Charles I stood during the Civil War and nearly had his head blown off….after which he ‘forsook the city and made haste elsewhere’. The views outdoors were just as fabulous as the views indoors and being up close to the ceiling was amazing, they are so beautiful. All too soon the tour was over and we returned to the floor of the cathedral. Absolutely fantastic.

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Tower Tour of Chester Cathedral

After a quick cup of tea and cake (included in the Tower Tour price) I made a dash through the streets to the Chester Museum and entered with like 10 minutes to spare, so all I got to see were the Roman exhibitions, which were amazing. It’s so exciting to see items that were made nearly 2,000 years ago and I guess I shall just have to return to Chester for a 2nd visit 🙂

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Chester Museum

Talking of which, I was scrolling through my photos and was reminded of a walk that was of interest; The Two Saints Way – a 92 mile walk from Chester to Lichfield…I’ve ordered the book and started planning hahahaha.

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Two Saints Way – Chester to Lichfield

After my quick visit I headed over to Spud You Like to see the remains of a Roman Hypocaust…wowwww. Now that was seriously impressive. I had to plead and beg and ask very nicely to go in as they had actually just closed for the day, but the young lass on the door heeded my entreaties and let me walk across her nice clean floor and run downstairs to have a look; so just a couple of very quick photos and a touch of the stones and my visit was over. I was disappointed as I had planned on having supper there LOL. Oh well. Sadly I was also told that they were closing as of end March as the lease had run out. What a shame.

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Roman Hypocaust, Chester

And that brought my visit to Chester to a close. I walked back towards the Town Hall looking for something different to eat and ended up at Blackstock’s Fish and Chips. I ordered the battered fish and a portion of chips and mushy peas. Very very disappointing. For a higher price, I got perhaps a 1/4 of the amount of chips I had at Adam’s Fish and Chips and although the chips tasted nice they were not a patch on the ones I had at Adam’s. The fish was tasty but small and to my utter dismay the mushy peas were not only tasteless and vinegary, but they were served in a polystyrene cup and plastic cutlery. Not good enough. When you visit Chester and fancy a cone of chips and fish…try Adam’s Fish & Chips on Bridge Street. 😉

After my meal I strolled through the city, sad to be leaving so soon I felt I could have stayed another day. I will seriously have to go back…perhaps when I do the Two Saints Walk.

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Since I only had a few days in Chester, I set off really early the next morning to explore the city, wanting to see and do as much as possible in my allotted time (although setting off at 9.30am is not really that early LOL). Greeted by a mildly overcast day that promised to brighten up, I hastened into the city stopping first to photograph the clock again…of course. Just look at that date!! 1897. wow. I wonder if Queen Victoria even saw this magnificent clock?! Probably not.

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The famous Chester clock located on the East Gate of the city

Next stop the Chester High Cross located next to the Guild Church of St Peter

I then took a stroll along the galleried walkways of The Rows; Britain’s oldest shopping arcade. The history of these buildings is phenomenal and it felt quite weird and exhilarating to be walking along these corridors where thousands of people have walked for centuries.

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galleried walkways of Britain’s oldest shopping arcade

Next up a visit to the Guild Church of St Peter’s. As with all these wonderful ancient churches, the history is phenomenal and architecture beautiful with stunning stained glass windows telling the stories of the Bible, as well as a phenomenal edition of the Chester Breeches Bible.

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The Guild Church of St Peter, Chester where you can see the Chester Breeches Bible

From here I strolled around the streets photographing just about every building I passed and then some LOL they are all so gorgeous. I just wish that the councils of this historic towns & cities would ban shop signs. A discreet sign above the door should be sufficient.

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The Black & White style was part of a wider Tudor Revival in 19th-century architecture.

I spied the cathedral looming large at the end of one cobbled street so made my way over for a visit.

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Chester Cathedral at the end of the street

Founded in 1092 as a Benedictine abbey dedicated to Saint Werburgh, the original church was built in the Romanesque or Norman style, some of which you can still see today. What an extraordinary building. I have visited over 30 cathedrals in various cities and countries and they are all so very different and so very beautiful.

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Chester Cathedral

Although the site itself may have been used for Christian worship since Roman times, the current Grade I listed building, rebuilt from about 1250 in the Gothic style, which took 275 years to complete, the church as we see it today is a stunning structure with oodles of history; part of a heritage site that also includes the most complete set of monastic buildings in England with remains of Roman barracks on the Dean’s field. The original windows of the abbey were destroyed by Parliamentary troops and the current stained glass windows, dating mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries, are a sight to behold with some fabulous windows in the cloisters that contain the images of 130 saints.

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the cloister windows contain the images of 130 saints

After spending an hour or so exploring the church I booked myself on one of the free ground floor tours for the following day, after which the 60 minute Tower tour for £8.

After exploring the church I went walkabout in the city centre… what a cute little elephant sculpture, I would have loved to have a ride on that bus and I saw the ghost of a Roman soldier!!! Hmmmm, maybe not!

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Chester – so much to see!!!

From there I then set off for the North Gate to walk the City Walls. Oh my gosh, what a fantastic experience.

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Chester City Walls starting from the North Gate I passed the King Charles Tower (awesome!)

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along Chester’s City Walls and passed beneath the East Gate clock (more awesome)

Enroute I diverted slightly to visit the Roman Amphitheatre

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Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre

At the Bridge Gate I made another diversion to visit the river and stroll along in the sunshine, stopping off at the cafe tucked behind the bridge for tea & scones (pre-vegan).

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The River Dee flowing through Chester

Then headed back along the pathway past Chester Castle, founded by William the Conqueror in 1070. Someone told me its was a private residence and not open for tours so I didn’t bother to go in, but on further research I see it’s an English Heritage property ….I guess I’ll just HAVE to go back for another visit then LOL no hardship 😉 Also that will teach me to do proper research before visiting a place.

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Chester Castle and Water Tower Street

Then back onto the walls till I got back to the North Gate. There are so many things to see from the walls that I can seriously recommend you make the time to visit. Approximately an hours walk will take you around, unless like me, you stop for 100s of photos!

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along Chester’s City Walls

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The North Gate – currently sections of the wall near this gate are under reconstruction

Welcome to Chester. I used mapmywalk app to record my route around the city

There are so many wondrous things to see in Chester, so after my city wall excursion I went walkabout once again. This just fascinated me – 3 Old Arches 1297!! I mean seriously!

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Three Old Arches – 1274 AD – Three Old Arches, at 48 Bridge Street, incorporate part of the famous Chester Rows and is a Grade I listed building. The stone frontage at the street and row levels is considered to be the oldest surviving shop frontage in England.

After my marathon walkabout I strolled back through the city and along the canal back to the BB for a snooze and a meal.

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The Canal in Chester’s Industrial Heart and Chester’s Industrial Outskirts

After a short rest I once again headed back into the city centre; I simply couldn’t get my fill of the city walls so had another short stroll along from King Charles Tower, past the Eastgate Clock

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Chester at night

and onto the Bridge Gate where I disembarked and walked along the riverfront to the Queen’s Park Suspension Bridge

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Ye Olde Kings Head – built 1622 and the Queen’s Park Suspension Bridge built 1852 and my shadow alongside the city walls

after which I stopped for a second meal at Adam’s Fish and Chips. They were sensational and for the 2nd night they created a very clever cone for me to take away my fish cake and chips.

Adam's Fish and Chips Chester

Adam’s Fish and Chips Chester – best ever fish cake and chips

Meandering about the city, trailing a heavenly aroma, eating my chips and fish I eventually found myself back at the cathedral. I saw that the lights were on and could hear music from inside. So thinking it was some night-time service, I strolled around to the side door and walked in. There was a crowd of people milling about and no-one seemed to mind that I was there, so I just meandered about and took some more photos (it’s not like I didn’t already have enough) and then I left.

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Chester Cathedral at night

It seems I actually gate-crashed a private event, but not a soul said anything and the young man at the door even held it open and wished me a good evening when I departed. LOL marvellous. I was thrilled to see one of the 2014 Tower of London WW1 poppies on display…I wonder if it’s the one I planted!! Probably not LOL

I took some more photos of the buildings, looking ghostly in the dark

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The Rows at night

and then with one final photo (again) of the Eastgate Clock

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Chester’s Eastgate Clock – 20:30 and all is well

I took a slow stroll through the streets of Chester, along the canal and back to my B&B. What a marvellous day. I can say for sure that I am totally charmed with Chester.

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I couldn’t believe that I was finally here. After years of wanting to visit, it was thrilling to be walking these ancient streets, lined with all the amazing black and white buildings. I was giddy with elation and came close to photographing every single blessed building LOL

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The wonderful canal, famous black and white buildings and the world famous Chester clock

To say that I was charmed and delighted by Chester would be the understatement of the year.

Soon after I arrived, and after dropping my luggage, I set off from the AirBnb where I was staying and walked back into the city in the waning hours of the day. The sky was painted a soft blue with a pink tinge to the west, the last remnants of the setting sun. First stop was to photograph the lovely little houses on the canal…..the lights casting yellow reflections on the water. I determined there and then to walk along at least a part of the canal during my stay.

I soon reached the city centre and stood with my jaw agape, thrilling at the many black & white buildings, albeit many of them being Victorian restorations, they were utterly charming. I meandered here and there, my camera clicking away, thrilled to see the famous Victorian Chester clock above the city gate.

I love these old Roman towns with their city walls and gates. It always gives me an absolute thrill to walk beneath them or along them. Chester’s city walls are in a remarkably good condition and I noticed that I could practically walk right around the city via the walls……tomorrow.

The cathedral stood majestic and proud, shadows casting a spell in the early evening light, the building looked mystical, magical, ethereal and otherworldly. I walked along the famous Rows in the heart of the city, described as the oldest shopping arcade in Britain they were between 1220 and 1350 when Chester was a booming market town and port.

I walked along the 4 main thoroughfares and then with the Chester High Cross behind me I walked down to the river. Passing through the medieval Bridgegate that guarded the approach to Chester from North Wales I soon crossed the medieval bridge over the River Dee. Bliss. I stood there for ages and then retraced my steps through the city and back to the B&B. Tired but happy. I could barely wait to explore the next day.

Originally a Roman settlement, Chester was one of the 1000s of villages listed in the Domesday Book (great survey of 1086) and adds to my ever growing list for Project 101…I may just have to make it Project 202 at this rate LOL. Chester appears in 9 entries in Domesday Book.

One last photo of the clock, and although it was only 7.30pm it was totally dark. And so to bed, perchance to dream…….

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the Chester Clock

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