"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on September 5, 2018 by Sioux under General
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Once in Chester, we walked from the station through the quaint city to the Chester cathedral. Dating from between 1093 and the early 16th century, it as with many English cathedrals has been modified many times since being built. However with the city of Chester having been an important Roman stronghold, the site itself may have been used for Christian worship since Roman times. 

The cathedral was built using new red sandstone from the Cheshire Basin as the stone lends itself to detailed carving, although easily eroded by the elements, and badly affected by pollution. As with the other red sandstone buildings, Chester is one of the most heavily restored of England’s cathedrals. The restoration, which included much re-facing and many new details, took place mainly in the 19th century. 

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Cloisters within Chester cathedral 

Paul has long been fascinated by old stained glass and Chester’s windows certainly didn’t disappoint!

 

Much of the glass however, only dates back to the 19th & 20th century due to severe damage inflicted during the English Civil War. The Cathedral also has representative examples of  trends in stained glass design from the 1850’s onwards. 

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The Cheshire Garden of Remembrance

The cloisters and some domestic buildings were completed around 1250 by which time the architectural style had changed to Gothic pointed arches and ribbed vaulted ceilings.

By the 1250s the church in the early Norman

Romanesque style of architecture was considered old

fashioned and unfashionable and the monks decided to rebuild their church in the more

‘up market’ date Gothic style, so from around 1260 ‘new build’ work continued until 1490 and most of what still stands today dates from this later medieval period.

This monument inside the Cathedral is dedicated to the first Duke of Westminster and was erected in 1902. The Duke’s feet rest on a hunting dog known as a ‘Talbot’, a now extinct breed. The dog represents ‘faithfulness’ and the Duke’s interest in hunting.

Inside the Cathedral is a small chapel which houses the Shrine of St Werburgh, the daughter of a 7th century Mercian king. 

 

She became famous for miracle healings and in 907 her remains were placed in the church which later became Chester Cathedral.

Built in 1597, this quaint building looks totally  out of place, wedged between the modern         day structures.

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Just outside of the Cathedral is the St Oswald’s Chambers building. Built in the late 1890’s as a commercial building, it was purpose built to enhance the view towards the cathedral.

From the Cathedral, we meandered along the busy streets        towards the remains of the ancient Roman Walls. Construction  of the Chester city walls was started by the Romans between    70 and 80 AD. From about 100 AD they were reconstructed      using sandstone, but were not completed until over 100 years    later. They form an almost complete circuit of the city as it was

in the medieval era, and measure almost 3.2 km in circumference. 

Newgate is an arch bridge carrying the walkway of the city walls over the road near the Roman amphitheatre; and was built in 1938 to relieve traffic congestion.

Eastgate and the Eastgate Clock stand on the site of the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix. It is a prominent landmark in the city and is said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben.

 

The original gate was guarded by a timber tower which was replaced by a stone tower in the 2nd century, and this in turn was replaced probably in the 14th century.

 

The present gateway dates from 1768 and is a three-arched sandstone structure which carries the walkway forming part of the Chester city walls. In 1899 a clock was added to the top of the gateway to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria two years earlier. 

 

Walking along the cobbled streets was quite surreal, thinking of all who had passed that way! If only the cobbles could speak – what amount of history could be told!

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These foundations of the original Roman fortress wall were built between AD 74 & 96.

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The amphitheatre was our next stop. It is the largest one uncovered in Britain,

so far, and dates from the 1st century. The ruins are those of a large stone amphitheatre, and although it was long believed that a smaller wooden one existed on the site beforehand, excavations have shown that the wooden grillage is the base of the seating. Only the northern half of the structure is exposed; the southern half having been covered by newer buildings, some of which are themselves listed as historically important and therefore cannot be disturbed.

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A trompe l’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) mural was commissioned in 2010 to enable visitors to experience the illusion of a complete amphitheatre as well as showing how the original structure may have looked. The image spans the 50m walkway wall, and merges into the recreation of the original walls and seating towards the centre, allowing the viewer to experience the illusion of being inside the actual amphitheatre. The mural will be a permanent feature of the amphitheatre.  

Right behind the amphitheatre is the Church of St John the Baptist, reputedly founded by King Aethelred in AD 689, was a cathedral during the Middle Ages, though only the seat of the bishop in practice from 1075 to 1095. 

On the right is all that remains of the Northwest Tower of the church. While it was being repaired in 1881, following a collapse, it collapsed again, destroying the north porch. The crash was heard all over Chester.

We spent some time at the church then ambled along the banks of the River Dee, before heading back to the station, Liverpool and dinner with good friends. A fabulous day out – me revisiting places I had seen many years ago during my first visit to the UK, and for Paul so many new sights to behold.

In the walls of the Eastern ruins of the church is one of Chester’s great mysteries – a 13th century coffin bearing the inscription “Dust to dust”. Shrouded in bogus lore, the coffin has been seen as that of a murdered monk; a real vertical burial in the walls, facing east to await the Resurrection; or a coffin installed by the Devil himself so that the corpse of its sinning occupant could look down in perpetual penance on the world. In reality it appears to be a rare survival of a medieval wooden coffin discovered in the1840’s and mounted into the wall on the instructions of the 1878 Rector. 

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One response to “Seeing the City of Culture with new eyes #2 – day tripping #2 – Chester”

  1. Cheryl Wilkinson says:

    Lovely pics S, for once I could relate my Mother loves Chester, as you know she lives in Wales and spends a lot of time in Chester. We have been there a few times together so brings back some good memories :o)

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