CHESHIRE

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Cheshire autumnCheshire is an ancient land, with a long history of human inhabitance stretching back to 40,000BC before the last ice age. Over the years, it saw the Celts, the Romans, the Normans, the latter who severely punished the region for its resistance to their rule by laying waste to the lands. Despite this, Cheshire has always been an influential and relatively wealthy county. It is a rural county and it is famous for producing Cheshire cheese, salt and silk. For a countryside escape, Cheshire is the perfect destination, mixing timeless villages with superb natural scenery.


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Points of Interest:  1. Cholmondeley Castle  2. The Bridgestones  3. Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker  4. Beeston Castle

 

Chester [pop. Chester city walls77,040] is one of the best preserved walled cities in the UK, with around 3km of wall stretching around the old Medieval city. However, this history of this grand little city actually stretches back to the AD70s, when the Romans founded a fort here and called it Deva Victrix. They stayed for almost four centuries and the remains of their life here can still be seen. You could also be forgiven for thinking that the Medieval architecture of Chester has remained to this day, but in fact, many of the 'black and white' buildings were restored in the Victorian Era. Chester is known these days for its unique heritage shopping environments.

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River DeeChester is situated on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales. The main railway station is situated outside the old city, on Station Road. Bus services can easily be found outside the station. The bus interchange is between Princess Street and Hunter Street, just west of Chester Cathedral in the centre of town.

 

 
Chester rowsChester Rows [free entry] are unique forms of architecture found only in four of Chester's main streets. These galleried walkways transform the street into a double decker phenomenon with not one but two lines of shop fronts. Although they originally date to the middle ages, many of the shop fronts are the result of Victorian and Edwardian restorations. There are Rows in Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Eastgate Street, and Upper Bridge Street.  

Chester's City Walls [free entry]are a remarkably well preserved, so much so that the Chester is often called 'The Walled City'. However, the walls are really result of 2000 years of building and rebuilding, first  erected by the Romans in 79 AD and last altered in 1966 to make way for the A5268. There are 3 km of wall to explore and they are always open.

Chester Castle & WallsChester Castle [Grosvenor Street, +44 1829 260464, free entry but open only for guided tours] overlooks the River Dee. Built in 1070 by Hugh Lupus, the first Earl of Chester, the castle was most likely in the motte-and-bailey style originally but it has been steadily reconstructed over the centuries. During the English Civil War, Chester Castle was besieged (as was the rest of the city) by the Parliamentarians. The impressive Neoclassical elements of the castle today were the result of renovations by Thomas Harrison in the late 18th century when the building was being used as a prison and was home to a garrison.

Chester CathedralChester Cathedral [Saint Werburgh Street, +44 1244 324756, £5] began life as the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery, although there may have been a basilica here during the Roman period. Nevertheless, as with many English churches, it encompasses the history of ecclesiastical architecture with Norman, Gothic, Perpendicular, Tudor, and Victorian elements. Despite the brutal iconoclasm of Henry VIII's men, Chester Cathedral will contains some fine instances of stonework from before the Reformation.

Explore the world of Roman Chester, the area's natural history, and more recent social history at the Grosvenor Museum [27 Grosvenor Street, +44 1244 402008, free entry]. Amongst the highlights are Roman tombstones and six recorders made by Peter Bressan, four of which make up the only complete set in the UK.

Located in the barracks at Chester Castle, Cheshire Military Museum [The Castle, +44 1244 327617; 1244 403933, Adults £3] preserves the history of four regiments in the county: the Cheshire Regiment, the Cheshire Yeomanry, the 3rd Carabiniers, and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. The museum also covers the history of the Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School.  

Cheshire Roman AmphitheatreChester's Roman amphitheatre [Vicars Lane, beyond Newgate, free entry] is the largest in Britain. The 20th Legion of the Deva Victrix fortress used to train here but of course the amphitheatre was also used for entertainment like gladiatorial combat. A bright trompe l'oeil mural skirts the walkway wall and draws the viewer into a realistic depiction of the amphitheatre as it would have appeared to the Romans.

Dewa Roman ExperienceThe Dewa Roman Experience [Pierpoint Lane, Off Bridge Street, +44 1244 343407, Adults £4.95] is a must for families offering a fun and hands on learning experience: there is a reconstructed Roman street filled with the sights and smells of the period and Soldier Patrols, where kids can find out what it took to become a Roman soldier – as well as see some of the Roman sites in Chester.   
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Cholmondeley CastleThe picturesque Cholmondeley Castle [Malpas, Cheshire, +44 1829 720383, £5] dates to the early 19th century and is surrounded by gorgeous English gardens. The castle is open to groups only and bookings need to be made in advance but the gardens can be visited with no appointment – just be sure to check the opening times and dates on their website.

Were they erected to remember a murdered young married couple? Were they named for the goddess Brigantia? The Bridestones [Near the village of Timbersbrook, Congleton, Cheshire, free entry] are mysterious stone slabs that were hewn and set upright during the Neolithic period. The cairn, a kind of stone monument that typically takes the form of a pile, was once of considerable size but over the years the stones were stolen to be used in new buildings nearby or simply destroyed.

Hack Green missileFor something a little different, why not pay a visit to the Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker [Nantwich, Cheshire, +44 1270 629219, Adults £6.80]? Hack Green started out as a bombing decoy site but in 1941 it came under the remit of the RAF and was subsequently used as a radar station. Later, as the Cold War loomed, Hack Green was converted into a secret government bunker.

Beeston CastleEnjoy a panoramic sweep that takes in eight counties from Beeston Castle [Chapel Lane, Beeston, +44 1829 260464, Adults £5.50], the 'Castle of the Rock'. The superb natural defences of this site mean that it has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. However, the castle dates to the 1220s and was begun by Ranulf de Blondeville, the powerful Earl of Chester. The inner bailey has the deepest well in England, which was rumoured to have held the missing treasure of Richard II. Unfortunately, searches have so far proven unsuccessful.

   

    

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