Friday, June 22, 2018


Bridge over River Dee, Chester / G Sutton 2018

On our recent holiday in the UK, my wife suggested we re-visit Chester--I'm glad she did. There's a sort of timelessness as you walk amongst the restored "black and white" shops, tour an old cathedral, enjoy an ice cream by the river Dee, or stroll along ancient sandstone walls.

We arrived by rail from Euston station, London and stayed in a hotel near the ornate 1768 East Gate-- less than a mile from the railway station. The 1899 clock atop the gate comemorates Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.

East Gate, Chester/ G Sutton

On our first day, we walked about Grosvenor Park, stopping for photos and enjoying the scenery. The small railway looks like a fun ride for children.

Grosvenor Park, Chester / G Sutton 2018

Railway at Grosvenor Park, Chester / G Sutton 2018

Caught this bird near Grosvenor Park

We crossed the River Dee on two bridges and ambled about the picturesque city storing one image after another lest we forget.

Here's a video of the calm waters of the river Dee from a different bridge.

Here's an example of the "black and white" architechture--a hallmark of Chester architecture. The buildings are part of a 19th century Tudor Revival.

We listened to street entertainers and enjoyed fish n' chips at one of the local pubs. Some entertainers were quite good.

Here's a video clip from the a street musician.

Some pretty good Fish 'n Chips followed by a cuppa.

After fish 'n chips

On the second day we toured Chester Cathedral, examined the Roman finds (link), and circumnavigated the city along the two miles of walls. See my post on the Cathedral for more details of that experience.

Section of the south wall by the river Dee

We enjoyed an outdoors lunch by the old pink and buff colored town hall with a green-grey slate roof and three-sided clock.

Chester Town Hall 1864-1869

And on the third day we visited the Grosvenor museum (link), cruised the River Dee, and enjoyed our surrounds.

BTW--there's lots of spots to eat along the river bank including ubiquitous ice cream stands.

Cruise boats on the River Dee, Chester


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Thursday, June 21, 2018

CHESTER- Roman and Norman England

Chester Castle / Geoff Sutton 2018

In the 70s, Chester was a Roman outpost in the west of England. It was established following the successful invasion of Britain in 43. The Roman fort was known as Deva Victrix. The Romans abandoned the fort when they left Britian in 410.

The Roman layout of Chester was a rectangle with rounded corners. Today, visitors can see the remains of a large amphitheater that could seat about 7,000.

Roman Amphitheatre Chester / G Sutton 2018

Southwest of the amphitheater are Roman Gardens. I took both photos from the city wall.

Roman Gardens, Chester / G Sutton 2018

A number of artifacts from the Roman period can be found in Chester's Grosvenor Museum. Several gravemarkers have been found and are on display. The one below was found in 1874 along with two skeletons, a gold ring, and a coin of Domitian. They are in remarkably good condition given their age.


Chester was occupied by the Saxons following the Roman period. The city was re-established in 907 by Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great. The city walls were strengthened at the time and have often been reinforced over the centuries. A High Cross (pictured below) was built at the city center. St. Werburgh's Abbey was also founded in the Northeast part of the city.

High Cross, Chester / 2018

Finds from the Saxon period can also be found in the Grosvenor Museum. Pictured below are silver pennies from the 9th and 10th centuries.


Soon after the invasion of 1066, the Normans arrived in force. They built Chester Castle (pictured at the top of this page) as a motte-and-bailey castle in the South. By the 12th century, walls encircled the entire city. During the reign of King Edward, Chester became a place of operations against theWelsh tribes (Northern Wales is a few miles to the West).

The walls have been reinforced over the years and offer the opportunity for a two-mile walk around the city.

City Wall Chester / 2018
City Wall Chester by River Dee


There is no charge to walk around the walls or visit the Roman sites like the gardens and the amphitheatre. Various books are available in local bookstores and the museum for those interested in a more in-depth history. We also saw a number of tour groups around the city. Some walking tours are free. And we saw troops of youngsters dressed in Roman garb obediently following a Roman soldier.

There is no charge to enter the Grosvenor Museum located near the southern part of the city close to Chester Castle. The museum houses other interesting exhibits in addition to the items mentioned in this post. The exhibtions change to click on the above link for current information.

Here's my link to other places to see in Chester. And more about the cathedral.

Here's a link to Chester and the surrounding area:


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chester Cathedral England

Chester Cathedral is a working place of worship as well as a trove of English history.

Originally, a Benedictine abbey was founded here in 1092 (abbey of St. Werburgh). However, there are references suggesting the possibility that it was the site of worship since the Roman era.

You can still see parts of the old Norman building. The church has been rebuilt and modified over the centuries. The current Gothic style building took 275 years to create. In 1541 it was known as the cathedral of Christ and St. Mary.

Chester Cathedral was one of six cathedrals "refounded" by Henry VIII following his break with Rome.

Inside the cathedral complex you will find open spaces, a falconry, and gardens.

The stained glass windows are mostly of recent origin (19th-20th century). Earlier windows were lost to Parliamentary troops during the English Civil War. The cathedral also suffered some damage in World War II.

The art work is magnificent.

The massive organ is impressive.

In addition to walking about the Cathedral, we purchased a guided tour to the top of the Cathedral.

As part of the tour, we learned about the clock and bells. Only a couple of bells remain in the Cathedral. Other bells are in a separate clock tower building built in the 20th century.

In addition to great view of the inner courtyard and campus buildings, you can see much of Chester, the hills of Northern Wales, and a glimpse of Liverpool from atop the Cathedral roof. We thought the tour worthwhile.

When we visited in 2018, a LEGO model of the cathedral was under construction. Visitors can add to the project for a small donation. The model is 4m by 2m and, on completion, will include 350,000 bricks. You can follow their progress on the cathedral website.

Check the cathedral website for current information about hours, fees, and so forth.


More on Chester:

Visiting Notes

Entry is free

It is open most days but check the website for visiting hours and service times.

There is a store with a range of gifts for people of all ages and a wide price range.

There is a cafe, which serves baked goods and meals.

The toilets were clean and well maintained

There are several eateries nearby. We enjoyed a take-away lunch on a bench outside the main entrance facing the old town hall.

The falcon event looked interesting but when we watched from the walls, it seemed as if the falcon was reluctant to return as many attempted bird calls went unanswered.

The tour to the height of the cathedral requires a certain level of fitness and tolerance of heights and closed-in spaces. The winding staircases are narrow at points and we needed to duck our heads even though we are not tall persons.

Read more history at this British History link.


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