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If you think our Virtual Stroll is entertaining,
that's nothing compared to our real Chester guided walks!
Join us to explore the world famous walls- the most complete in Britain- and discover the rest of our lovely city as well. Quick introductory tours of the city centre or lengthy and detailed study walks upon specific themes, the choice is yours. Available all year round, reasonably priced, friendly, informal and very informative- click on the picture for more details. We'd be delighted to show you around the great city of Liverpool too!

Chester: a Virtual Stroll Around the Walls

A collection of reader's letters

Page Six: new letter added here 22nd April 2015

24/9/06 Hello, I was delighted to find your wonderful and very informative website, whilst doing a bit of genealogy of my own.
We have sadly been exiled from Chester since 1991, when we were relocated first to Sheffield and latterly to Hampshire. Both my husband and myself lived in Chester since the early 1960s and watched some of the extraordinary changes that took place over the years. We still have family in Chester though, and come back as often as we can manage. He was there last week, on a round-about trip, taking our son back to Liverpool University.
We both started our working lives in Dee Bridge House (Lower Bridge Street) and frequented the hostelries around the area. The Bear & Billett had recently been re-opened (1977/78) after extensive renovations. The Falcon was still being propped up! And our company used to put temporary staff up in The Old Kings Head. I am glad to see that the Customs House is still there, as we did much of our courting there (blushes!)
It was interesting to read about The King's Arms Kitchen, as I was working in Midland Bank when the conversion work was going on, and the 'secret' room was rediscovered. It was also fun to remember Mercia Square- somewhere I'd forgotten about- Pierre Griffs was as favourite venue for bank do's!
Anyway - I think I have probably bored you enough, congratulations on the site- I will keep popping back to check on updates.
Melanie & James Nicholson

16/11/06 Steve, I've just been browsing your excellent website.  Absolutely fascinating on both Chester and the Greenway- I will re-visit when I have more leisure time.  The website is really a great achievement- I can see why you get more hits than the Council History website.
Paul Thomas, Cycle Path Land & Maintenance Manager, N W Sustrans, Manchester
12/12/06 Lived in Chester Sep 1939 until 1951 when I joined the Metropolitan Police, London. Moved to Canada 1954. Attended Cherry Grove School. Searched, but in vain for two old school chums, Eric Fort and Sunny Evans, real name Lionel Evans, any clues. I live in Comox on Vancouver Island 80 miles west of Vancouver in the Pacific, weather like Chester. Great site. Merry Christmas,
Raymond Kretchmar

• To get an idea of what it's like where lucky Raymond lives, visit our little gallery of images of the next island along- Cortes Island...

12/12/06 Steve, I would like to congratulate you on the website. I first visited the website over 12 months ago when I started doing my family history and discovered my links to the City of Chester. Now, I had never been out of Australia let alone visit the UK but when offered the opportunity to visit Wales, I jumped at the chance to check out Chester. Your website helped give me an insight into the beauty, charm and proud history of this famed walled city before I had the chance to see it with my own eyes and I was not disappointed.
While walking around Chester and walking down Watergate Street, I had the urge to stop out the front of a classis Chester Black and White building
that I knew this particular building or had some attachment to it. Anyway, the next day while checking out maps in St. Michaels information centre, I became aware of the location of Harrison Court (my GGG grandfather's home from 1841 & 1851 Census) and it turned out it he lived at the rear of this particular building I was drawn to. You wouldn't guess, it was Bishop Lloyds House which I'm sure you would be aware of.
I also managed to find records pinpointing connections to St. John the Baptist Church which I visited also. My GGG grandfather, Francis Howard Pritchard (1829-1898) was baptised in this church and also his siblings, John, Elizabeth, & Edwin. It is also the church where my GGGG grandparents were married in 1823.
I was so thrilled to make a connection to this beautiful city with so much history and character. Even though I'm 5 generations removed, Chester still belongs in the tapestry of my family's history. I fully intend to take my three sons back to their ancestral heartland when they are old enough to appreciate it.
Don Pritchard, Gladstone Park, Melbourne, Australia

• In early November 2007, Don wrote again...

Steve, as a result of this posting, I have recently been contacted by distant relatives who live on the other side of Australia in Perth, some 3600km's away who I didn't know I had. My posting on the website comments on my GGG grandfather, Francis Howard Pritchard who emigrated to Australia in search of gold in 1852 and his grandson moved to Western Australia in the early 1900's before marrying and starting a family. They have descended from this line of my family tree and could only have made this contact through viewing your website. This was read by the family and they took a chance and contacted us by phone. I would like to let you know that I will be catching up with them early next year (February) when I plan to visit Perth.
"Diolch yn fawr"
Don Pritchard, Gladstone Park, Melbourne, Australia

This virtual tour is very interesting and it must have taken a painstakingly long time to assemble all the information. I have walked the walls many times as I live in the old school house just across from the kaleyard gate but I did not know a fraction of the history of them that I have just read. Thank you,
Miss J. I. Greer

28/1/07 I have been touring your magnificent website while researching the heraldry chapter of a book I'm writing on the cultural transformations of the mythical Phoenix from the ancient Egyptians to Harry Potter.
Your background on Randle Holme's Phoenix carving above the Phoenix Tower's doorway will greatly enhance my discussion of the Phoenix in the 1486 arms of the Company of Painter-Stainers.
Congratulations on building such a splendid website. I look forward to hearing from you- and will, of course, gratefully acknowledge your help in the book.
Best regards,
Joseph Nigg, Ph.D. Denver, Colorado USA

27/2/07 Your site is truly wonderful. You do the marvelous old city of Chester full justice with your telling of her tale. Thank you for all that!
Since, on the introductory page, you say you're going to add a chapter "telling the stirring story of Chester between the times of the Romans and the Normans" may I make a suggestion?.
Is it possible that at that time, you reset your text to a narrower measure? It really is "unnatural" to have to scan such incredibly long lines of words on any subject, no matter how interesting (and your history is so interesting). It really takes a long scan to go from one side of a monitor screen to the other to read one line; it is, in fact, a little distracting.
No book or newspaper or magazine asks this of readers, yet so many designers of web pages subject their viewers to this punishment. The inclusion of illustrations within the text gives a tiny relief by narrowing the copy block ever so slightly, but it's not nearly enough. Confining text width to a maximum of 85 to 95 characters would help enormously.
The too-long text lines in fact make your fabulous site quite hard work. I hope you'll take this criticism in the spirit in which it's intended. Thank you for all YOUR hard work.
Eric Hall, Philadelphia, USA (formerly of Liverpool)

• Well, that's telling us. Anybody else having this problem? This is certainly the first we've heard of it from all of our hundreds of correspondents.
Books and magazines have their text fixed to the width of the printed page but the width of web browsers can be adjusted at will to create the most comfortable layout for the reader. The page's content then 'flows' into the available space. Pretty obvious really (or perhaps not?)- just grab the browser's bottom right-hand corner and drag...

15/3/07 Hi Steve, Congratulations on your website, which I have been aware of for some time and which must be the most definitive on the city anywhere on the net. I applaud your hard work with the project. Funnily enough I had just recommended your site to one of the local readers who requested my articles, but was looking for other sources of information regarding the destruction of the Legionary Baths Complex in the city.
Please feel free to use whatever information you like on your excellent website, as informing/educating people was the object of the exercise. Sadly, as you say, such details are often easily forgotten or disposed of, which probably explains why the city's heritage has been so badly neglected in the past and continues to be subjected to modern encroachment. Given current trends, it does not seem too fanciful to suggest that in the future, people will have to 'visit' Chester's historic attractions through websites such as your own, as the real thing will no longer exist. If things continue as they have future Cestrians will only be able to boast about the historic artefacts that they 'used to have' and not those that remain in situ.
Philip Jones

Phil has graciously contributed his wonderful history of our city- Chester: the Fortress of Deva- for inclusion on our website. Read it here...

19/3/07 Hello there. How wonderful your website is! I am a history student at university in Manchester, and I am currently writing my dissertation on the life experiences of women in Chester during the Second World War. Some of the stuff on your website has been enormously helpful to me and my work. It really was a great help, I didn't realise how big a following Chester had!
Gillian Chiltoon

28/4/07 Dear Sir, Many thanks for all your hard work which I really appreciate. As you will notice my address is from Texas but I was raised in West Kirby and spent many a day roaming Chester. Also working at De Havillands at Broughton.
John A Johnston, Fort Worth Texas USA

4/5/07 Your website is wonderful. I have used it to answer various questions and just for interesting facts about the city. I and my colleagues have found it invaluable, very well organised and very easy to find information on it. 
It's always a shame when hard work hasn't been recognised, but I have recommended your site many times to visitors to the city from all over the world, so even though the recompense wasn't forthcoming, I suspect a lot of people have appreciated your work.
It looks as if Cestrian businesses have always found putting their hands in their pockets difficult! 

Chester Reference Library, Northgate Street, Chester

Indeed. The PayPal button is just below!...

14/6/07 I have just today found your website and have spent several lump-in-the-throat filled hours.
The Vanished Pubs section is brilliant! I moved down to Kent nearly twenty years ago and I haven't spent much time in the City for the past two decades apart from a couple of two-night breaks over the years. A lot of the pubs where I mis-spent my youth in the late seventies and early eighties seem to have closed down or been "modernised" only in the past five years. However, I hope soon to be moving back into the area I still call "home" and showing my Londoner husband the delights of Chester.
I would be very interested in any further information on The Bars Hotel- I (like a lot of other people) have recently been researching my family history and have found that my great-grandmother was working at the hotel at the time of her marriage in 1907. If anyone has a photo of the hotel (from any period really but pre-WWI would be lovely) I would be most interested.
You didn't mention the Dublin Packet as being 'vanished'- can I hope that it is still there? We used to drink "mild over bitter" there (they haven't heard of mild ale down here in Kent!). I remember my grandad saying that Dixie Dean used to be the landlord there and had all his caps behind the bar. Can anyone confirm?

Yes, the 'packet' is very much alive and well. And yes, it was proverbially known as 'Dixie's' as the great man was indeed the gaffer there.

I haven't read every word of the website thoroughly- do you have any reference in the vanished pubs section to The Ambassadors by Henry James? I remember in reading it some years ago he sets several chapters in Chester and mentions some coaching inns.
Also, are there any references on the site to Thomas de Quincy's Confessions of an English Opium Eater who talks about his mother living in a house near St John's. I went to the preparatory school of the Ursuline Convent and was always fascinated by the church and ruins across the road from us- even at the tender age of seven or eight. De Quincy also talks about walking in the fields around the Roodee in his book, I know he wasn't a native of Chester but was born in Manchester, so not so very far away.

You'll find references to both of these on page six of my 'Quotes from Chester's Visitors' -and there's also quite a lot of info about De Quincey and his mother's house in the St. John's Church chapters. There's some stuff about the Ursuline Convent in the amphitheatre chapters...

Enough for now, I have made a small donation and do hope you will be able "keep up the good work"
Many thanks,
Cathy Pinnock

14/9/07 Hello. Many thanks for providing the Virtual Stroll site. It was very useful to me when I was planning my visit to Chester earlier in the week. You can see the results of my dodgy camera work at-
(click on the 'Next' buttons for some of the rest of the pictures I took that day).
As I used your site as the main source of the information on mine, I thought it only right to credit you there. As this may lead to more visitors, I'm also delighted to make a donation via Paypal for the upkeep and expansion of your excellent site.
Nigel Stapley, Wrexham

Hi guys, Just a note to say how impressed I was with the photographs of the city (Liverpool), I remember many of these places as depicted and it was a great nostalgic trip.

Ken Latham

25/10/07 I live in Tucson, Arizonia, USA & we visited your area with a tour about 7 yrs ago.
My Grandmother's maiden name was DEESE/DEES. I read somewhere that people with this name came from the DEE River area. That they took the name of the river when surnames were required...
I have sent your site to all my cousins & children. You did a wonderful job. I have a Genealogy site & used 3 different programs to get it the way I wanted... Thank you for the site!!
Florence Moore

13/11/07 Hi Steve, First let me tell you how much I love the website. I now live in California & have been here 4 years but I'm lucky because I get back to Chester 4 times a year, boy I miss that place.
My school was Hoole Bank House, now the Hammond, so not far away from you.
Nightlife started for me at "Quaintway's" & "The Bars" where they had the "Cavalier Disco" 2/6 to get in & that wonderful "Ultra Violet" light that showed up every bit on your clothes. One lad use to wear white socks which looked impressive in that light.
My favourite pub was "The Talbot" in Lower Bridge Street, remember "The Steps" cafe just passed the "Talbot"? Also the "Bear & Billet" where you got REAL scrumpy.
Later in life I was the Landlord of "The Boot Inn" on Eastgate Row from 1984 until 1990, I was also the Landlord of "The Northgate Arms 1991-93, sad to see it now closed.
Keep up the good work.
Peter Kinsey

14/11/07 Hi Steve, Me again.
Weather here is great, we are nowhere near the fires, we are about 500 miles away.
I was not the tenant at the Talbot, just a customer. The pub was owned by the Grosvenor Hotel I believe, some of their staff had rooms above the pub. I know the managers name was Patrick but can't remember his last name. They sold Scottish & Newcastle, also Watney's Red Barrel & Double Diamond. Wish I could remember more.
Reading about the Royalty Theatre, I saw Hermans Hermits there in Panto (Robinson Crusoe) also saw Miki & Griff, still got their autograph somewhere.
The club in Love Street was originally called the Alpine & Monte Carlo. Did you ever here of a club on Christleton Road called the Flamingo? Huntington also had a club called Braces & Garters, then changed names to Pinto's. I think all these clubs were owned by Gordon Vickers ('Mr Chester') who has now got the Mill Hotel. On Monday nights at the Mill there is a jazz group playing called The Wall City Jazz Band, they use to play at Quaintways & also The Cavern. Still got the original trumpet player, aptly called "Tom Jones", we use to work together & I pop in to see him play when I come over.
People have long memories. Every time I'm back in Chester somebody will know me from my day's at the Boot or the Northgate, I suppose when you have lived as long as I had in Chester you get to know a lot of people.
I know it's a long shot but for years I have been trying to trace some old teachers from Hoole Bank, but have had no luck, not sure when the school closed but its over 40 years since I was there. Will you ask your mate if he ever heard any info on the old school, thanks.
Would love to have a drink with you when I'm over, hope we can arrange to meet.

22/2/08 I have been surfing and came across this site for Chester. I did a tour of the British Isles in 1999. I saw many sites while I was there, but without a doubt my favourite place was Chester. I hope to one day return there and see what I missed out on last time.
Great web site. Thanks for the memories.
Joan Swan, New South Wales Australia

10/7/08 Congratulations on your Chester website, which I very much enjoy browsing. It's by far the most interesting and informative site dedicated to a town or city that I've seen anywhere on the web.
David Plant, British Civil Wars & Commonwealth website (

14/8/08 Whenever I feel jaded I access your web pages. Before long I am smiling and feeling so much better, even though the weather continues to be awful. I can gaze at the beautiful photographs and read to my hearts content. Then smile or even laugh out loud at the comments you make.
Thank you so much for giving us all so much enjoyment whilst reading the fascinating history of Chester. The Busway letter pages are just as interesting as they show the true grit of most people living in Chester and the longing they have for open green spaces everyone not using a car can enjoy.
Audrey Hodgkinson

20/10/08 I am in Canada. My Great Great Grandmother Mary (Blundell) Stanley is buried in Overleigh Cemetery in 1875. Apparently she is buried in unconsecrated ground. What does this mean. I believe that she was Catholic married to a protestant. Her husband was a farmer in Canada when she died.
I found your site so informative. I have not visited Chester yet but I intend to some day soon. I feel that I almost know the place already because of your website. Thanks for your info.......
Norma Stanley

8/4/09 Dear Sir, I, as a student of old London and the British Empire, applaud your website! It far exceeds any I have seen, and I pour over it constantly. If I am not careful, hours will dwindle away until something interrupts me!
As a entertainer, I have plenty of time to explore your site, and I wanted to take the time to "Thank You" for all your hard work and let you know how much I enjoy it! BRAVO Sir and keep up the great work!
Best Regards,

Dan Rocco Chicago, IL USA

Be sure to visit my new friend Dan's sites and listen to his beautiful music!

26/4/09 Hi, love your website! I now live in California, but Chester was my home in 1968 to 1972. Fond memories of the YMCA and its denizens (my first home in 1968) and several rented places later. At least one of these I believe had Gordon Vickers as landlord.
The music scene in those days was fantastic. At Quaintways I saw John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Thin Lizzy, Edgar Broughton – and those are just some of the ones I remember (the rest may have vanished in a 60s haze…). And we all hung out at “The Steps” in Lower Bridge Street – the classic 60s coffee bar at the time.
I guess most of the cool places are gone now?

David Aslin

Having myself received training as a guide at a World Heritage site in Kingston, Canada, I was recently privileged to participate in a tour that I would have been proud to have delivered. It was an artful balance of informed historical narrative with humour infused in a charming delivery. Proper pauses were given to appreciate the local ales and culinary offerings, as required. The guide's choices of pubs and restaurant well suited our group's diverse needs.
We are anxious to return to Chester and share this experience with our friends and family. I am confident each new tour will take on its own unique character as it suits the interests of those who participate.

Caroline & Tom Worthy, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
(Caroline- Head Teacher, Tom- Department Head and teacher).

Hello again Caroline and Tom! It was my pleasure to meet you and my privilege to be able to show you around and tell you a few stories. Details of our Chester and Liverpool guided walks may be found here.

11/12/09 Hi Steve, I have visited your virtual stroll site on many occasions for years and the comprehensive detail is brilliant, there’s some work gone in to the site... amazing.
Mark, Holding Lodge and Devonia Lodge Guest Houses, Hoole Road, Chester

4/7/10 Good evening. I wanted to congratulate you and thank you for your amazing site. I moved into Chester in January '09 and stumbled across it very quickly. Since then I have returned time and again to search through and have found it to be an excellent source of information. Thank you!
Abi Johnson (from Hoole)

20/7/10 Hi, fantastic website
- I have learned so many things from my birthplace that I have never known before. Not even my parents who are Cestrians didn’t have a clue about a lot of it.
Jack J

14/9/10 Dear friend, I enjoy your website, it helps me to remember all that I saw when I visited and all of the research I have done, and I want to thank you for all of your work and for a job well done.
By far the best research was visiting your amazing town. I love it. I left a piece of my heart there which I mean to retrieve soon :)
I am very thankful for your information, and thank you for recognizing my enthusiasm, it is the driving force behind my writing and what makes it all so fun!! When I come back I will definitely take you up on your offer as a guide, I can not wait to get back!I made a little donation to your site.

Katy Lundsteen, Illinois USA

17/1/12 I just wanted to send my regards and say to you how much I appreciate having access to the information on your site. My wife and I live in North Carolina, USA. We have a dear friend who lives in Chester. Your wonderful photos, maps, history, etc. have allowed us to learn about and virtually visit Chester without actually, physically being there. Again, thank you.
Ken & Bonnie Pittman

5/2/12 Hi Steve, I remember going onto your website a long time ago and being impressed then, but this is quite something else!! WOW!!! I can’t wait to see your shop. Very cool.
An Cronin, Hoole

28/3/15 Steve I have spent many a time reading and viewing what information you have provided at the various sites and full enjoyed them. I myself come from Ellesmere Port so have an interest in both Chester and Liverpool as well. Your sites are treasures for someone that has lived in Australa for a long now.
Barry Stanford

29/3/15 I sent a link to your site to Canada to an ex-Chester resident and it made him home sick and they came back to Chester that same year. He was made up with it. I love to read it and and learn new things about Chester. Well Done you have a fantastic website it really must be the best website for a City.
Chris Redmond

22/4/15 Thanks for the hours of pleasure you have given me browsing your site. I never tire of visiting it and always find something new. I am researching my own family name and was looking for information on the Glass House Inn in Christleton. Not only I find Info but a picture as well!
Colin Kelsall

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