Chester: A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls

The Chester Amphitheatre

Letters to this site and the local press regarding the current development proposals part VIII On to the latest: part IX

dee house window9/11/00 John Hughes, of Rose Cottage, expresses the opinion of very many Cestrians on the wholesale vandalism of the once dignified city of Chester. Among the eyesores mentioned, he forgot the new court building which is a 'wart' on the face of the city. Those in authority seem to think we all suffer from dementia.
Anne Stuart, Saughall

16/2/01 Chester Clty Councll, acting on the statutory requlrements of the Local Government Act 2000, has Inaugurated its Chester In Partnershlp project to implement a communlty-based process for creating a shared vision of identified civic priorities.
The remit of a recent workshop session was to determine 'What makes Chester special?' Two of the identified prlorlties were the protection and rnanagement of Chester's herltage and the promotlon of Chester as a centre for tourlsm. Durlng discussion the unique contrlbutlon of the amphltheatre was frequently mentloned.
On July 5, 2000, clty counclllors voted to seek permission to demolish Dee House. Two months later it was reported that the councll would work wlth English Herltage and a wide range of other Interested groups to develop a conservatlon plan for the amphltheatre slte, wlth councillors signlng up 'to the near certainty of a £50,000 clty council cost contrlbution' and a simllar sum 'to be sought from English Herltage'.
Nothing more has been heard of actioning the councll vote of July 5.
From Chester In Partnership I have learned that the presence of the new court building precludes the excavatlon of the amphltheatre site, and that plannning policies make it difficult for the city councll to present a justifiable case for the demolition of Dee House.
Permission for the court bullding was granted on the basis that Dee House would be retained. That retention relates, apparently, not to the Grade II listing, but to the fact that the court building was not designed to be seen as closing the aspect down St John Street.
A constant contributlon to amphitheatre dlscussion has been the Image of a benevolent developer offering a vlable economlc use for Dee House in return for a lease on the building variously stated to be 200 years, 120 years, or posslbly less.
The opportunlty Is here, now, for Chester to create the amphltheatre it deserves. The clty council has the statutory duty to utilise the Chester In Partnership project and subsequently plan to fulfil that opportunlty.
Attentlon should not be pald to false prophets, nor to Greeks bearing gifts. It should focus on perceptions of wln-win scenarios and the manipulatlve effect of hldden agendas. Organisational prlnclples of visibility, clarity, transparency and accountability In partnershlp planning and action should be fine tuned to realise the amphitheatre dream, and so facilitate optimal communlty satisfaction in relation to the Roman heritage that is, in name, truly Chester.
Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington

Readers may be interested to know that Chester in Partnership comprises: Chester City Council, Cheshire County Council, West Cheshire College, Chester City Primary Care Group, Chester Rural Employment Group, West Chester Regeneration Board, Cheshire Fire Service, Chester College for Higher Education, Chester Ecomonic Development Forum, Cheshire Rural Primary Care Group, South Cheshire Health Authority, Cheshire Constabulary, Government Office for the North West, Chester Council for Voluntary Service. Their role in supporting the construction of all three phases of the massively-unpopular CDTS guided busway scheme has also attracted a deal of local criticism, as may be read here...

23/2/01 I comment on Lord Irvine's hosting of a fundraising party for Labour at which he urged guests to donate at Ieast £200 per head to the party.
Nobody is suggesting Lord Irvine would corruptly abuse his power of appointing judges and QCs. However, he has compromised his position as Lord Chancellor through a mixture of lack of judgment and plain arrogance.
It is similar to the arrogance he displayed when dealing with the protests over his decision to build a courthouse on the site of Chester's amphitheatre.
Then, he refused to meet or even correspond with the protest group, leaving a junior minister, Jane Kennedy, to take the flak.
David Jones, Prospective Conservative Parliamentary candidate, City of Chester

23/2/01 What a man! Lord Irvine is becoming more arrogant by the day.
First was his expensive wallpaper, then he commissions a utilitarian courthouse to be built over Chester's Roman amphitheatre, now it's Cash for Wigs, next will it be cash for pardons?
New Labour has often followed Bill Clinton's example.
Peter Moore Dutton, Tushingham Hall, Tushingham

30/3/01 Last Saturday I read in one of the national papers a list of available attractions open throughout the country. Under Cheshire there were very few and for Chester there was Chester Castle and Chester's Roman amphitheatre.
This is typical of Labour's half truths (amphitheatre 45%), with Michael Meacher advertising something which his cabinet colleagues and local Labour Party have been doing their best to keep covered up, by building over.
The amphitheatre could be one of Chester's prime attractions. The proposed ways of working for the council would make this and other cover-ups much easier.
Peter Moore Dutton, Tushingham Hall, Tushingham

11/5/01 In a recent letter I suggested that, given the interest generated at a local government, commercial and community level by the discussion in relation to the amphitheatre site, and with the approach of the tourist season, it would be appropriate to have a public exhibition of the amphitheatre models and development plans which are now available.
A wide range of ideas and suggestions were discussed at a public meeting held in the Town Hall on May 10, 2000, under the auspices of the Chester AmphiTrust. Among other contributions a plan for an intriguing building, near semi-circular in shape, to overlook an excavated amphitheatre was displayed by the Chairman of the Chester Civic Trust.
It's proposed ultra-modern construction attracted much favourable comment.
A model designed by Paul Maddock in his student days to represent a fully excavated amphitheatre site was displayed at a meeting of the city council held in the late summer of 2000. After the council meeting the model was returned to storage until 'next time anyone wants it!'
Mr Maddock has broadened discussion by emphasising the need to create a large green lung zone taking in the amphitheatre, Grosvenor Park, the Groves and the Roman Gardens, all linked to other parts of the city.
The development manager of David McLean Developments recently displayed in public a model representing his Arena concept, which supports having a living archaeological interpretation element, possibly with a raised public viewing area and courtyard where visitors could see progressive excavation works taking place below them.
I was delighted to read in your February 16 issue that Mr Thomas underlined my call for an opportunity to be given to a large number of people to see a full range of alternative ideas relating to the amphitheatre site.
During recent meetings of the AmphiTrust further developmental plans have been put forward by two local residents who are respected for their wide knowledge of architectural matters.
One plan suggested a programme of work which related to a 40-year lease of a refurbished Dee House with phased major or full excavation of the amphitheatre site within 50 years.
The other plan presented a novel and exciting design for an AmphiCentre which would incorporate a newly designed Souters Lane footbridge to link a Roman Garden entrance with an interpretation centre and restaurant on the amphitheatre site itself, thus serving to develop Mr Maddock's green lung concept.
These wide-ranging, informed and professional concepts and ideas are largely supplemontary to the development and conservation programme of discussion between Chester City Council and English Heritage and consultation with other parties.
In regard to that discussion and consultation, it is not acceptable that vital decision-making should take place without a democratic partnership process or behind closed doors.
The public, resident and tourist and commercial interests should be given the opportunity to view and comment upon an exhibition of the exciting ideas of those at the centre of the developing amphitheatre and Arena concepts. The exhibition would serve to increase interest and enthusiasm for Chester's heritage during the forthcoming summer tourist season.
It would also aid the city council in its duty to assess the options of the amphitheatre on a partnership basis; the aim being to evaluate, objectively and realistically, the potential of the site as a significant visitor attraction.
Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington, Chester

21/12/01 Last week I went to Middlewich Town Hall to buy some more copies of Tim Strickland's excellent and well illustrated book Roman Middlewich for Christmas presents.
The book was produced as part of the Middlewich Roman Festival held over the weekend of September 15-16.
Last week, I found out how very enthusiastic Middlewich Town Council is about their Roman identity. They have had sponsorship and Lottery funding for their activities and are now looking for income from merchandising and European funding in the future.
It is such a pity Chester is still hiding its light under a bushel- or should I say, under Dee House.
Peter Moore Dutton, Tushingham Hall, Tushingham

4/1/02 We are twins born in Cuppin Street and like other Cestrians have seen many changes to the City of Chester over the years- some good, some bad.
We attended the public meeting on the amphitheatre at the Town Hall, wrote to Lord Irvine and made clear our objections to the developers building law courts near the amphitheatre site.
Eighteen options were given for the law courts to be built elsewhere. However, the council have kept their heads below the parapet, having given agreement for the law courts to be built near the amphitheatre site.
On the December 21 edition of the Today programme on Radio Four, English Heritage stated that it was difficult to contemplate the loss of Dee House. If it is lost to the developers, they will clearly redevelop not refurbish Dee House. Possibly a restaurant on the ground floor and law court offices above for the overspill of administration?
Dee House is full of wet rot, dry rot and, in my opinion, should be pulled down. Please leave the amphitheatre site to those who will enhance it as part of Chester's Roman heritage.
Sheila Baines, Ruth Smith, Heath Road, Upton, Chester

1/2/02 Congratulations to Stephen Langtree and his team for producing such an excellent book, 2000 Years of Building- Chester's Architectural Legacy.
I bought a copy the other day have since bought another copy to give to my niece for her birthday in February, as she is reading architecture at Cambridge University.
At the end of the book there is a paragraph which says: "Chester also needs to develop its heritage attractions rather more than it as done already. We've got a Castle which no-one goes to, towers on the City Walls which are rarely open and an amphitheatre which (despite the recent set-back) still has so much untapped potential.
We do not seem to be making the most of our historical assets- and this complacency could be our undoing".
Peter Moore Dutton, Tushingham Hall, Tushingham

14/2/02 As you know, when BT took possession of the Dee House site no plans existed and I was one of two people who spent three weeks measuring the site and then preparing plans.
Subsequent to this I was involved in the detailed location of every person that worked there. I probably know more of the detail of the interior of the structures on the site than anyone in Chester.
Much of it was rotten then but let's stick to the so-called Georgian bit. The country is littered with Georgian houses but perhaps a good one is significant. Dee House is not a good Georgian house. Detailed examination at ground floor level show at its centre thick irregular walls, forming an equally irregular L-shaped structure which our so-called Georgian house is built on and around. Like everything on the site except the amphitheatre itself it is a hotchpotch of odds and ends and should have been demolished long ago. Chester has precious few, if any, Roman remains which are standing where they were actually built.
The amphitheatre could make up for that. Maximum excavation should take place before any other use is even considered.
Alex Woods, 5 Long Looms, Great Barrow

21/2/02 We must all welcome the government's commitment to wider public consultation ov er new planning legislation. For this to mean anything, however, two things are needed.
First, that sufficient people take part. And second, we must know what we're talking about.
High on the list for public consultation exercise is our amphitheatre. Thousands of visitors come each year to see the less-than-half of it that was exposed in the 1960s. How many more would come if virtually all of it was visible and properly displayed with its own visitors' centre? Dee House and its grounds, which cover most of the unexcavated remains, was built in 1730 and enlarged in the 1 860s after it became a school- and in 1900- and in 1929.
In the early 1970s it was acquired by British Telecom who sold it in 1993. Chester City Council got the 18th century house and some of its extensions and McLean Developments got the area between it and the old Bishop's Palace with the 1929 extension, since demolished. McLean's intended to build an offce block; the city planning committee gave planning consent in 1995, knowing that it would overbuild part of the Roman remains underground which had by then been fairly accurately plotted on the plans.
Shortly afterwards, but before work was started, the planning committee approved a change of use procedure which substituted law courts for the original office block.

(By no stretch of the imagination is this true, as explained by Sextus Marciarnus below)

When, after building work was well under way, the legality of the change of use was questioned, the opinion was briefly aired that the new building might have to be demolished, but the project was completed.
If Dee House were to be brought back into an appropriate use, what must be done? Not just a repair job and a makeover. Whether plushy chambers for lawyers, or yet another restaurant and club. Dee House would have to meet the full range of today's building regulations and health and safety requirements. It would also need fundamental changes in plan to satisfy such uses.
During years of neglect, and after fire damage, dry rot rampaged through the roof and floor timbers; it is still active. Structural walls are collapsing; they are stable at the moment, but only a forest of internal scaffolding keeps Dee House standing. Even the author of the conservation plan could not examine some parts when making their inspection, because of risks to their personal safety.
Any future use will impose much heavier loading on the new floors, walls and foundations than in the past. Keeping Dee House will involve a very substantial rebuild behind the front wall, not just the refurbishment, to the extent that- once through the front door- we shall walk into a building that is not the listed Georgian town house that it one was, whatever its use may be.
The authorities have been very coy about the likely cost of all this- in 1999 a sum of almost two million pounds was mentioned. Over two years later, the building hasn't come down, but how much has the cost of delay gone up? If Dee House is rebuilt, the city council- quite reasonably- will want to keep it going as long as possible to try and get some return on onr money.
That also provides a ready-made excuse for doing very little about excavating the buried more-than-half of our amphitheatre. If it's not excavated within this decade, it could become inaccessible for generations. The plan identifies the source of this risk (p.89, 4.3.3)- "Vulnerability to future development pressures . . . the trend towards use of inner city sites could . . . either damage existing remains or prevent investigation and future public display".
When we remember that in 1995 a city planning committee allowed a commercial developer to overbuild a Roman monument of international importance the mind recoils at the thought of what its successors might be capable of in a few years time.
C. F. Wright Great Boughton, Chester

27/2/02 On Friday night after the Chester/ Senigallia Twinning Ceremony, my wife and I talked to an Italian, living in the North West, who is employed as a guide for his countrymen visiting the area.
Before the ceremony the party from Senigallia and the Italian consul were shown around Chester. The guide told us that he was overcome with emotion when he learnt that Chester had allowed the Roman Amphitheatre to be built over. He said in the poorest countries in Africa they would do all they could to show off their Roman heritage, so he could not understand how Chester, a relatively wealthy city, could let such a terrible thing happen. He was very sad.
Peter V Moore Dutton, Whitchurch, Shropshire.

28/2/01 May I congratulate your correspondent Mr C. F. Wright (see above) on his excellent letter on the amphitheatre which makes many valuable points.
I would, however, like to correct one small detail which I think is very Important. He states: "Before work was started (on the office block over the amphitheatre), the planning committee approved a 'change of use' procedure which substituted law courts for the original office block". This is not true, for although the planning committee gave consent for an office block, the decision for the change of use to law courts was taken in the council pianning department.
This decision was made perfectly clear in the Head of Planning and Building Control report to the planning board on 26th April, 2000. A number of councillors asked the Head of Planning about this matter and questioned if this was the correct democratic procedure. His reply was to the effect that the decision had been taken by the planning department, without reference to any councillors, under "delegated powers", and that, if they were not satisfied with the planning department exercising this power, they should take him to court.
It is the lack of transparent procedure, which denies the ordinary citizen and, arguably, even the councillors, the ability to exercise democratic influences over critical decisions, which frustrates and angers so many people. Their views are ignored, not only on the future of the amphitheatre but on so many other issues, as witness tte letters in The Standard from the Anti CDTS campaign etc,
One wouldn't think the city council had signed up to Agenda 21.
Sextus Marcianus

8/3/02 It was interested to read the letter from Alex Woods published in your Points of View columns (February 15th).
The view that "the country is littered with Georgian houses" is pen to challenge. The view that "Dee House is not a good Georgian house" has evidence to support it. The 'desirability' of retaining Dee House was explained by an English Heritage spokesman on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme of December 21, 2001. He stated that it would be rather nice to retain Dee House and that it would be difficult to contemplate its loss. It is to be noted that Brian Harris's 1975 book Chester records "the demolition of the 'listed' Georgian building" that stood at the site of the 1975-built Goldsmith House.
Alex Woods admits that Dee House is part Georgian. The eastern section of the house is Victorian. That Dee House has been allowed to deteriorate to its present deplorable condition is the responsibility of its owner, Chester City Council.
That council has openly proclaimed the "unique environmental asset" of Chester district's 2,358 listed buildings and claimed an "exemplary record in preserving" them. It also proclaimed its "careful guardianship" of them, together with "a particularly pro-active role in carrying out that guardianship by means of encouragement and control".
Dee House, in its present state, stands as a humiliation to the claims of the city's political leaders, past and present, and as a shame to Cestrians. Despite the expressed standpoint of English Heritage and others, it might be considered desirable to demolish what Alex Woods describes as the Georgian 'bit'. I am conscious of the continual criticism of the council's mid-1960s decision to demolish the Victorian Market Hall. I am aware that the loss of the Georgian section of Dee House would not be mourned by many whose interest lies in the excavation of the amphitheatre. I would, however, support the retention and refurbishment of the Victorian section, if part-retention of Dee House turns out to be the order of the day. Such retention at the amphitheatre site would rise as a beacon of Victorian achievement in the city and could be gainfully utilised as an Amphimuseum portraying the importance to historic Chester of the amphitheatre and of the contribution made to the city's culture by architecture.
Alex Wood's view that "Maximum excavation should take place before any other use is even considered" does not address the existence of the controversial county court building.
I suggest that the best amphitheatre supporters can hope for is an 'optimal excavation', however that may be defined when a viable solution has been agreed.
Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington

22/3/02 Chester district's 2,358 buildings (3% listed Grade 1, 9% listed Grade II, twice the national average) are recognised by Chester City Council 'as a unique environmental asset'.
The council claims,
• The prime importance of its 'careful guardianship of the listed buildings'.
• 'A particularly pro-active role' in carrying out that guardianship by means of encouragement and control.
• An exemplary record in preserving its listed buildings with 'comprehensive repair programmes' instigated as far back as 1968.
It may be that, after taking ownership of the Grade II listed Dee House, the council's perception of what really constitutes a 'unique environmental asset' allowed for the structure to deteriorate. Had the building been in private ownership, very serious consideration would have been given to the serving of an Urgent Works Notice requiring the owner to take action to maintain the building.
After considerable public protest, together with pressure by interested organisations, the council took action sufficiently only to weatherproof and waterproof Dee House.
Consideration of the future of Dee House has been placed into a cosy cocoon of democratic process involving wide discussion aimed to culminate in a collaborative offer to produce a conservation plan.
In September 2000 the acting regional director of English Heritage estimated that plan preparation and consultation on a draft version prior to adoption would take between 12 and 18 months. The clock remains ticking, and the Georgio-Victorian building remains a very 'Bleak House.'
I propose the relevance of three essential questions:
• To what extent does the city council claim to have taken a 'particularly proactive role' in the preservation of Dee House?
• During its ownership of Dee House, what lead has the council given in the 'careful guardianship' of listed buildings?
• At what cost and over what period would council taxpayers be expected to dig deeper into their purses to fund whatever grandiose accomplishments may be mooted for the preservation of the hermaphroditic Dee House- the 'Baron Hardup' and 'Tinkerbell' of Chester's environmental assets?
The legions of the Chester Amphitheatre Trust, headed by Legatus Alanus Bonarius and Sextus Marcianus, ambassadors for Chester's glorious Roman heritage, stand ready to march and to bring, plus or minus a demolition or two, a greater appreciation of the amphitheatre's contribution to the social and cultural life of the legionary fortress of Dewa.
Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington, Chester

28/3/02 May I add my voice to those who | are dismayed by the failure, thus far, to demolish Dee House.
If Chester City Council are spending money in continuing to prop up a building in such a perilous state, with no future, then it is disgraceful to increase council tax.
Chester is fortunate in having a fine and almost unique example of a Roman amphitheatre which, if excavated and developed, will raise the profile of Chester, and therefore of tourist revenue.
To have allowed the erection of a new court building on part of this site is indeed near-sighted.
One hopes that any 'consultation' exercise will be just that, and that voters and taxpayers will have their chance to have their views acted upon.
Frances Holland, Newton Lane, Chester

I applaud the manner in which The Chronicle makes space available for the diversity of views expressed on amphitheatre matters.
The letter from Frances Holland (previous letter) makes rewarding reading. Her support for the demolition of Dee House and call for a wider public discussion is presented at an opportune time.
The Chester Amphitheatre Trust was founded on April 5, 2000. Its activities led to the establishment of the Amphitheatre Panel which is composed of representatives of the city council, English Heritage, and interested organisations.
At the February meeting of the panel a description was given of the deplorable internal state of Dee House. The view was expressed that the cost of preservation of the structure would be significant and unlikely to result in any financial benefit.
The corporate stance of English Heritage in arguing the case for the retention of Dee House appears to be as determined as ever. Consultations on the future of the amphitheatre site are taking longer than the 12-18 month period predicted by an English Heritage representative in September 2000.
Development suggestions thus far presented include the folbwing:
• 'Concept'- Stephen Langtree of Chester Civic Trust (May 2000)
• 'Masterplan'- Paul Maddock (a university thesis publicised in August 2000).
• 'Strategy'- James Latham, architect (October 2000).
• 'Arena'- David McLean Developments Limited (November 2000).
• 'AmphiCentre' - a member of the Chester Amphitheatre Trust (February 2001).
The Amphitheatre Panel has commissioned a brief for the development of the amphitheatre site with companies being asked how they would interpret the site for the maximum benefit to Chester. The bids will be evaluated and the best way forward would be selected and then worked into a business case.
My letter of May 11, 2001, to The Chronicle argued a case for widening corsultation to involve members of the public, and suggested that an exhibition of the various proposals to date be put on public display. The idea was not adopted.
It is important that all interested in a sensitive and seemly development of the amphitheatre site maintain pressure to make known their opinions known by the means that appear to them to be most appropriate.
It is to be hoped that the case selected by the Amphitheatre Panel will be presented in a manner which meets the criteria of transparency, clarity and accountability expected by Chester's council tax payers. Supporters of the Amphitheatre Trust need to be seen as pro-active as they were two years ago in drawing public attendon to the manner in which the clty council deals with the protection and development of the amphitheatre site.
Corporate organisations express corporate viewpoints- viewpaints that tend to resist change. It is vital that entrenched views be swayed in the face of reasoned argument.
The problem remains how best that may be achieved where there are suspicions that important decisions are being made behind doors closed to the public.
Dee House is a sad rearguard among the city council's own listed buildings that are much vaunted by the council as 'environmental assets'.
In my imagination I can hear the poor, neglected, dilapidated, composite Georgio-Victorian structure saying with Lennox (Macbeth, Act II, Scene ii):

Our chimneys were blown down: and, as they say,
Lamentings heard i' the air, strange screams of death,
And prophesying with accents terrible
Of dire combustion and confused events
New hatch'd to the woeful time.

Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington, Chester

19/4/02 I am frequently asked by readers of The Chronicle to reveal the identity of your correspondent who writes under the name of Sextus Marcianus.

I am not at liberty to disclose his identify, but I can confirm that he is passionately concerned with Chester's Roman heritage.
On July 2, 2000, Sextus Marcianus was involved in a rally organised by the then recently-formed Chester Amphitheatre Trust. The rally, led by a Roman gladiator, was fully reported in The Chronicle issue of July 7, 2000.
Together with hundreds of adult and child Cestrians, many arrayed in togas, Sextus Marcianus marched from the amphitheatre site to the city centre where, from the Town Hall steps.
In the mid 1960s, Chester City Council approved a proposal to demolish the Victorian Market Hall and to replace it witb the Forum Shopping Precinct. Within 40 years of that much-criticised development the Forum itself is under threat of demolition.
Sextus Marcianus and I have followed with interest the recent articles by The Chronicle's chief reporter, David Holmes, on the Northgate Development which is proposed for the heart of the Roman fortress and Medieval/Saxon town.
In the final article he referred to the evidence of the unique elliptical Roman fortress building which was situated where the present Forum now stands, and reported that attitudes have changed and that mistakes of the past will not be repeated. Maybe the elliptical building could arise in modern form within the proposed development.
On the basis of extensive research into Roman imperial archives, I have established that the original Sextus Marcianus was second-in-command of the Dewa Garrison during the third quarter of the third century. He had responsibility for maintaining the structures within the garrison complex and developed a special interest in the design of elliptical buildings. He was unsuccessful in his ambition to be promoted to the command of the garrison. This led him to submit the following petition which has been freely translated from the original Latin:

Legate! My task is well nigh done; defences now complete:
And peace doth reign as you have planned, on every Deva street.
Behold me vaults, the barrack blocks, Praetorium and baths;
I've laboured well to meet your needs. Come! Walk our fortress paths
Our great achievements starkly stand, applauding Roman might;
Throughout the centuries to come they'll prove a treasured sight.
The time has come, you must accede, that I should search anew
To make my name in distant climes, and serve as I've served you.
Thus post me now to new command to labours that I seek
To work upon Aurelian plans and thus achieve my peak.

Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington, Chester

(None of the above is true, needless to say...)

26/4/02 On A recent trip to Chester, my family and I visited the Roman amphitheatre just by the walls.

I have always thought of Chester as a Roman city, so we were pleased to see some of the Roman past. However, it is unfortunate that only half the amphitheatre is visible.
Are there any plans to excavate the other half of the amphitheatre? It seems a flne and interesting structure and would add to the tourist attraction of Chester.
In Canada something like this would be a national monument.
Mark Tushingham, Ottowa, Ontario, Canada

24/7/02 I recalled a letter written by Dora Taylor which appeared in your issue of July 21, 2000, which read: 'The amphitheatre... is just a dip in the land and could be placed in any old field... Chester needs the amphitheatre like it needs a hole in its head... No one needs more empty space.'
Since the foundation of the Chester Amphitheatre Trust on April 6, 2000, I have, through the courtesy of your columns strongly argued the case for the amphitheatre.
In my role as Legatus Alanus Bonarius, I have offered to lead in full imperial regalia, a triumphal march through the city when the objectives of the 'AmphiTrust' are finally codified and achieved.
At its meetings and through the medium I have consistently warned the 'AmphiTrust',

• to beware of false prophets and of Greeks bearing gifts
• to watch its back
• to recognise the manipulative effects of the hidden agendas of others
• not to countenance a mere representative's rubber-stamping of a cabal decision made behind closed doors, in a saloon bar, or on the golf course.

Given the earlier example of the county court furore over the amphitheatre site, and the current spate of city housing developments of 'Luxury Apartments for Discerning Owners', I find myself wondering which of the views, pro- and anti amphitheatre, represents that of the Dodo and which that of the Phoenix.
With my colleague, Sextus Marcianus, I recall the maxim, 'Tarde venientibus ossa' (Those who come late to the table find nothing but bones').
'AmphiTrust' take note!!
Alan Bonner, Meadow Lane, Huntington, Chester

Now go on to the next selection of letters about the Chester amphitheatre...

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The Other Side: some alternative views | Save our Amphitheatre! (1932) | 'Round in Circles' by Flavius