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Travel Guide for Chester, Cheshire

JulieC from Chester

The beautiful city of Chester has attracted visitors since the Romans first arrived in 79AD. The Saxons, Normans and Benedictines have all contributed to a rich heritage of carvings and architecture, adding to the roman columns, walls and buildings. Chester is still a vibrant and busy place, with a good selection of shops and restaurants and is one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom.

The city is small and compact and most people will have no difficulty in both navigating and walking around. A town crier stands at the Cross, a central meeting point, at regular intervals throughout the day during the summer. The World Town Crier championships are held here frequently.

Foregate Street and Grosvenor Hotel, Chester

Foregate Street and Grosvenor Hotel in Chester

Chester Mystery Plays

Produced in a five-year cycle since the fourteenth century, the Chester Mystery plays will be staged next year from the end of June (2008). This medieval street theatre was originally intended to allow the uneducated populace to understand stories from the Bible as church services were then held in Latin. Banned in the 16th century, the plays were revived in 1951 and Chester has one of the most complete set of medieval scripts.
www.chestermysteryplays.com

Suggestions for One Day in Chester

The Cathedral

Work on this huge sandstone church commenced in 1092. A former Benedictine abbey, the highlights are the beautifully engraved Quire stalls, which are over 800 years old and amongst the finest in the country, and the beautiful monastic cloister.

Be sure not to miss the tiny cobweb picture, one of only two left in the world. Woven in 1629 in Innsbruck on the spun silk of a spider's web, and based on "Mother and Child" by Lucas Cranach.

A Walk Around the City Walls

The Eastgate Clock on city walls, Chester

A walk around the intact walls, dating from Roman times, takes just over an hour to cover a distance of approximately two miles, giving a great perspective of the architecture and sights of the city, including a beautiful view of the Welsh mountains and the Roodee racecourse.

From King Charles tower, in the north-eastern corner, the king watched the defeat of his army at the Battle of Rowton moor, in 1645.

It is possible to stop in several places to investigate further or call into one of the many pubs near the walls, including Telfords Warehouse, The Albion pub or the many eating places on Upper Northgate Street.

Explore the Rows and Shopping Galleries

Dating back to the 13th century, the Rows are a unique two storied shopping gallery built in a half-timbered style and one of the most photographed sites in England. Most of the major United Kingdom retailers have stores on Foregate St, but wander down Watergate and Lower Bridge Street for a lovely selection of smaller independent shops, including antiques, fashions, interior furnishings and an excellent vintners. The famous Eastgate clock towers are above the main shopping area as the city walls run through.

The Rows, Chester

The Rows in Chester

On a Beautiful Evening

Wander down through the Roman Gardens or Grosvenor Park to the Groves for a stroll along the River Dee or take a boat trip along the river.

Longer in Chester?

City Tour

The walking tours of Chester with a guide are always popular, and the tour groups visit the Roman remains and amphitheatre, visitor centres and medieval side streets of Chester. It is possible to have a Roman centurion as your guide, a Roman Tour, a History Hunter or Ghost Hunter tour.
www.visitchester.com

Chester Zoo

The world-renowned zoo is a short bus ride from the city centre and a great day out. The zoo has over 7,000 animals and reptiles and a new elephant calf was recently born.
www.chesterzoo.org

Roman Chester

In addition to the amphitheatre and city walls, Roman treasures are scattered throughout the city. The newly restored Roman Garden contains columns and carvings brought from other parts of Chester, also a reconstructed underfloor heating system.

The Roman Amphitheatre has recently been cordoned off and wrapped in plastic bags by archaeologists. They are now in conference.
www.chester.gov.uk/amphitheatre/

Chester Races

The season starts in May with a fixture list running throughout the summer. The races are very popular and a national event. Many people "dress up" for the occasion, particularly on Ladies Day. Chester is especially busy and colourful on race day and even non-race goers can enjoy the spectacle.
www.chester-races.co.uk

Other Chester Attractions

Other Chester attractions include The Grosvenor Museum and bus tours from the Visitors centre. The ancient and beautiful St John's church was Chester's first cathedral. Children absolutely adore the Crocky Trail in Waverton; though old clothes are essential.

For a detailed guide to Chester and her rich history, go to www.bwpics.co.uk, a truly in-depth and informative website. For general information and a good on-line guide to Chester and Cheshire, including accommodation try www.visitchester.com.

Exploring the Area With a Car

The countryside around Chester is beautiful and very close. A short drive can take you to the Welsh border hills and Offa's Dyke or to the Sandstone trail, a lovely walking trail probably accessed most easily from the Pheasant Inn at Burwardsley.

The Anderton Boat Lift

This is a monumental feat of Victorian engineering and fascinating to anybody with an interest in engineering, the canal systems of Britain or just an interest in an amazing example of human ingenuity and imagination. Built in 1875, the enormous hydraulic lift was engineered to lift or lower full-size canal boats from the River Weaver to the Trent and Mersey canal fifty feet above.
www.andertonboatlift.co.uk

Also Ellesmere Port boat museum.
www.boatmuseum.org.uk

Arley Hall and Gardens

The home of the Ashbrooke family and winner of Small Visitor Attraction in the Northwest 2006, not least for the beautiful gardens. A popular garden festival is held in June.
www.arleyhallandgardens.com

Also Within Easy Driving Distance

National Trust

Several National Trust properties including Dunham Massey and Lyme Park (the BBC Pemberley from "Pride and Prejudice"). Tatton Park has wonderful gardens and RHS flower show in July.
www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Jodrell Bank Observatory

Home of the Lovell radio telescope and astronomy research centre.
www.jb.man.ac.uk

Shrewsbury

Ancient Shrewsbury with the Abbey and twisting lanes.

Liverpool

Chester is also a great base to visit Liverpool from, with half hourly direct trains taking 45 minutes. Attractions include Tate Liverpool, the Walker gallery and the Beatles story. In 2008 Liverpool will be the European City of Culture.
www.liverpool08.com

Accommodations

There is a wide selection of accommodation in Chester, both in the city centre and in the countryside. Chester operates an excellent "Park and Ride" service from several locations around the city and has reasonable bus service. Parking can be tricky, so it is worth considering a less central location and catching a bus into town. Here is a small selection of hotels and B&B's. It is very difficult to find any accommodation during a race meet, so booking well in advance is advisable at those times.

Chester Grosvenor Hotel: www.chestergrosvenor.com
Five star hotel right in the city centre, with a spa and Michelin starred restaurant. A beautiful hotel in an excellent location.

Blossoms: www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/blossoms
Another large hotel in a great location in the city centre, due to reopen in April 2007 following a massive refurbishment.

Green Bough Hotel: www.greenbough.co.uk
A small hotel on the outskirts of the city, with an excellent reputation and a good restaurant. The hotel has won many awards over the past few years. A good bus service runs into the centre from outside the door, though it is possible to walk.

Carden Park Hotel and Spa: www.devere.co.uk
A good choice for golfers, as the four star Carden Park has excellent courses, including the Jack Nicklaus course. Twenty minutes from Chester in open countryside.

Visit Chester: www.visitchester.com/site/where-to-stay
For a large selection of Bed &Breakfast, Self catering and small hotels, try this site. Places of note include The Pheasant Inn, Burwardsley, The Baba Guest House, Grove Villa, Broxton Hall Hotel and Chester Town House though there is a huge selection on this website.

Restaurants and Places to Eat

As Chester has increased in affluence in recent years, and also in visitor numbers, the number of restaurants has also increased. This is just a selection of the many available.

Arkle Restaurant, Grosvenor Hotel
The Michelin-starred restaurant in this luxury hotel.

Moules a Go-go: www.moulesagogo.co.uk
Popular restaurant, obviously serving mussels but has other dishes on the menu. Very modern decor.

Telfords Warehouse: www.telfordswarehouse.com
Consistently good food and reasonable prices. Telfords is in nice position on the canal bank with huge picture windows looking out over the waterway. Several tables outside. Live music most evenings and one of Chester's liveliest spots then.

La Taverna: www.la-taverna.org.uk
Highly recommended and independently owned Italian restaurant, specialising in Tuscan food.

Chester Tandoori: www.clarence.ndirect.co.uk/large/restaurants/chestand.htm
One of Chester's oldest curry houses and consistently good. Avoid after 11pm, as with every other Indian restaurant in the UK.

As well as being a beautiful city in its own right, Chester is a good base to strike out to areas in Snowdonia and the North Wales coast or Liverpool and Manchester. Direct trains run to Holyhead ferry terminal with connections to Ireland.

Tourist Offices

Tourist Information Offices: Town Hall, Northgate Street, Chester. Tel +(44) 01244 402111

Chester Visitor Centre: Vicar's Lane, Chester. Tel: +(44) 01244 351609

Guidebooks

"Chester: More Than a Guide", Jarrold City Guides

"The Chester Guide" by Gordon Emery

"Circular Walks along the Sandstone Trail", by Carl Rogers

"Pathfinder Guide to North Wales, Snowdonia and Offa's Dyke", Ordinance Survey

Resources

www.nationaltrust.org.uk: National Trust, historic houses and gardens

www.bwpics.co.uk: A detailed guide to Chester and her rich history

www.visitchester.com: Visit Chester, general information and a good online guide to Chester and Cheshire, including accommodations

Get more information from the Wikitravel Chester Travel Guide.

Get more information from the Wikitravel England Travel Guide.


© JulieC, 2007

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