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The Northgate part II

A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

The Northgate III: Inns & Brewers

The North Wall

Welcome to the final part of our exploration of Northgate Street and its surroundings

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Long establised in Northgate Street, the Northgate Brewery produced its last pint in 1969 and was replaced two years later by the imposing and aesthetically inappropriate Centurion House which now dominates this part of a street that otherwise has survived relatively unchanged. It formerly housed Cheshire's County Court until this moved to a new home in 2001- a brand new building sitting, unbelievably, on top of part of Chester's Roman Amphitheatre!

Our photograph shows the street before the coming of Centurion House, when this part of the site was occupied by the
Northgate Wine Stores and the entrance to the old brewery was just beyond it. On its site once stood the Golden Falcon Inn, at one time one of Chester's leading coaching inns and where, in 1741, the composer George Friderick Handel stayed. You can see another photograph of the Northgate Brewery, as seen from the City Walls, and read more about it and the old Falcon here (and to learn much more about the vanished inns of Northgate Street and the rest of Chester, go here).

On the subject of coaching inns, aside from the Golden Falcon, the other Chester establishments that were involved in this trade were The White Lion, where the Forum entrance is now, The Pied Bull, of which more shortly, The Coach & Horses- now The Coach House in the square and The Feathers on the corner of Foregate Street and Love Street. Goods traffic in those old days was operated by a system of pack horse trains which could be seen along nearby Upper Northgate Street and Liverpool Road, waiting to be hired and loaded.

old fire stationThe attractive oriel-windowed timber building to the left of the old wine stores was erected in 1911 as a fire station- surely one of the most picturesque in the country- designed by James Strong, a pupil of John Douglas. It closed in 1970 when a new fire station was opened on St. Anne Street, next to the Northgate Arena. It served for a while as retail premises, but has since been transformed into a smart French restaurant.

On the right of the photograph may be seen the Liverpool Arms on the corner of Water Tower Street, standing today much as it did when the Northgate brewery next door supplied its beer- although its external appearance has since been much altered- compare with this photograph of the Northgate a century ago where the Liverpool Arms, minus its 'black-and-white' panelling, may be seen on the extreme left.
The pub was formerly known by a variety of other names: in 1822 it was The Liverpool Tavern, licencee William Towers, at other times over the years The Dog and Partridge, The Bull and Dog and, in 1789, The Loggerheads Tavern- the sign at this time depicted two stupid-looking clowns, with underneath the motto "We three loggerheads be"- the spectator, of course, counting as one of the three!

Travellers along the road between the North Wales towns of Mold and Ruthin- and visitors to the splendid country park there- will have observed a hostelry also called the Loggerheads Tavern- complete with a sign bearing a painting of those two 'loggerheads'! In fact, the entire neighbourhood bears the name of Loggerheads. Does anybody know if there is a connection between the old Chester establishment and the contemporary Welsh one?

The restaurant directly across the road was formerly another pub, The Grosvenor Arms. You can see an old photograph of it in our Lost Pubs of Chester pages.
An earlier, timber-built tavern stood on the same spot in the 18th century known as The Hen and Chickens which is said to "have reaped golden harvests when, in the days of the old Northgate Prison, unfortunate malefactors suffered, close to this spot, the last penalty of the law at the hands of the public hangman" (Hughes 1858).

This entire block of old shops narrowly escaped demolition in 1973 when the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral had the bright idea of erecting a five-storey office block on the site and a housing development behind it. This was thankfully abandoned when the discovery of substantial Roman remains on Abbey Green led to the entire area being scheduled as an Ancient Monument and severe restrictions placed upon new developments.

The production and consumption of strong drink has long been enjoyed in Chester. We know little concerning the drinking places of the Roman occupants of the fortress of Deva Victrix, but much, perhaps, may be inferred from the Roman city of Pompeii, where there were said to be 900 bars (thermopolium) and taverns (tabernae) to serve a population of a few thousand- in addition to the seamen, travellers and traders of the port. Many of these establishments have been wonderfully preserved, down to the drinking vessels (sometimes chained to the bar to deter theft) and grafitti scratched upon their walls.

Granted, Pompeii was an affluent, settled civilian town at the heart of the Empire whereas Deva was a frontier military fortress, but we do know that considerable quantities of wine were brought here from the continent and that the legions also became increasingly fond of a brew that had long been produced on these islands, cervese (beer). Accounts dating from AD 90-130 found at the fort of Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall show that considerable quantities of the stuff was purchased from local producers and one such, Atrectus Cervesarius ('Atrectus the Brewer') is the first named maker of beer in British history. And there seems little reason to doubt that others just like him played their part in satisfying the thirsts of the thousands of soldiers, sailors, merchants and others here in the great fortress of Deva.

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Chester strode
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road

The drinking establishments of Saxon Chester are an equal mystery to us; as the Chester historian Thomas Hughes wrote, "The Anglo-Saxons had their eala-hus (ale house), win-hus (wine house) and cumen-hus (inn) but there are no records of their whereabouts". We do know, however, that a variety of weak beer was the staple drink of the entire population, being considered safer than water, and the law stated that anyone brewing or selling bad ale would have to pay a fine of four shillings, or be forced to "sit in a chair full of dung". This is probably a reference to some sort of 'ducking stool' in which the unfortunate offender was immersed into a pond or other body of filthy water. Whatever the case, modern brewers beware!

A millennium later, the Chester Directory for the year 1792 records around 140 inns in the town, and by 1858 the number had greatly increased, Hughes recorded 36 operating in Northgate Street alone, and several considered ancient then continue to flourish today.
There is a much-repeated local tale that Chester once boasted 365 pubs- one for each day of the year. This writer remains to be convinced that this was ever actually the case- at the same time at least- but here is a list of the huge number that actually did exist (aside from those that continue to exist) in the small town. You can also read the reminiscences of a 'frequenter' of one of the most remarkable of them, the extraordinary King's Arms Kitchen.

There is a facsimile of an old notice board outside the venerable Pied Bull Inn (left), a former coaching inn, showing the miles to various distant locations: London 198, Worcester 85, Ludlow 68, Bristol 180 and Bath 185 miles.

pied bullThe first four-horse coach service to Birkenhead and the ferry to Liverpool started from here in 1784, operated by one John Paul. Five years later, the stables at the rear of the inn were destroyed in a disastrous fire. This was reported in Adams’s Weekly Courant, 20th January 1789, as follows:
"On Tuesday Evening last, about six o’Clock, a Fire was discovered in a Stable belonging to the Py’d-bull Inn, Northgate-street, in this City, which raged with increasing Fury, for near three Hours, till by the active Exertions of the Populace, the Flames were prevented from communicating to the adjoining Buildings. The Horses were providentially got out uninjured; but the most shocking Circumstance attending this Accident, is, the Loss of the Life of the Ostler: This unfortunate Man, it is believed, fell a Sacrifice to his own Carelessness, by taking a lighted Candle into the Hay-loft, whilst in a State of Intoxication, and falling asleep, the sad Consequences necessarily followed. The Groans of the dying Man were very sensibly heard, a considerable Time before his Dissolution, and no Assistance could possibly be given him. The Remains of his Body were found among the Hay, in a State too shocking to be described. Mr. John Dennil, the Proprietor of the Premises, returns his sincere Thanks to the Gentlemen and others, for their active and vigilant Assistance in extinguishing the Flames, and preventing the Conflagration from spreading further, and also for the plentiful Supply of Water so generously afforded".

The Pied Bull is now the oldest licenced house in Chester still serving beer. The land where it stands had originally been given by Richard the Butler around 1155 to the Nuns of St. Mary's upon the occasion of his mother, Gunnora, taking the veil and dwelling houses were erected.
In 1267, Roger the Barber was granted a house here, "on the site of Le Lorimersrowe" (a lorimer was a maker of spurs) and by 1533 it seems to have been rebuilt and had become the home of the Recorder of Chester, and known as Bull Mansion. Within 20 years, however, it had become an inn, Richard Grimsditch being the first publican mentioned in the Innkeeper's Accounts of 1571.

(The presence of the long-established nearby Cattle Market- which survived until the counstruction of the Inner Ring Road in the 1960s- led to a proliferation of associated pub names in the neighbourhood- the White Bull a few doors away, the Bull's Head down the street, the still-extant Bull and Stirrup outside the Northgate and the Brown Cow opposite that, as well as the Bull and Dog- now called the Liverpool Arms, which we visited earlier).

pied bull advertismentMuch of the Pied Bull was again rebuilt in the 17th century and the present overhanging front was added during the 18th. The interior retains many antique features: the fine oak staircase survives from the old mansion of 1533 and an interesting 17th century painted coat of arms is preserved above the fireplace. At various times in the past, the Pied Bull has also gone under the names of the Bull Inn and the Delta Hotel. It was listed as The Py'd Bull in Cowdroy's Directory in 1789 when the licencee was James Hartley.

Beneath the Tudor staircase, some say they can feel a chill presence as they enter the cellar. A Coroner's report of 1609 records that one John Davies "casually fell down a pair of stairs leading to the Sellar belonging to the Pied Bull Inn and with a knife in his hand... and dyed".

Or then again, it may just be the cold draught from the open cellar grating...

In the mid-19th century, when the great days of coaching were drawing to a close, the Pied Bull was described as "a venerable hostelry, serenely triumphing over the dust of centuries, and still one of the most respectable inns of the city". Here we see an advertisment for the inn from The Visitor's Chester Guide in 1884.

An old fire bell was long displayed at the Pied Bull which once hung above the debtors' courtyard at the grim gaol which once stood where the Queen's School is now. The bell was said to have had a reputed range of ten miles and it bore an inscription under the royal arms, "Patent No. 3291- Naylor Vickers & Co., Sheffield. 1863. Cast Steel." How it came to be displyed here and what became of it afterwards is unknown.

Before setting out upon a walking tour of Wales which resulted in his (highly recommended) 1862 work, Wild Wales, George Borrow, a Norfolk gentleman, who had taught himself Welsh in his youth, stayed at this "old fashioned inn", where was a Welsh chambermaid, "with whom I soon scraped acquaintance, not, I assure the reader, for the sake of the pretty Welsh eyes she carried in her head, but for the sake of the pretty Welsh tongue which she carried in her mouth". He described his less-than-favourable first encounter with Chester ale here, "I shall find the ale bad, said I, for Chester ale has a villanous character"- by treating us to Sion Tudor's memorable earlier quote:

Chester ale, Chester ale! I could ne'er get it down,
'Tis made of ground-ivy, of dirt, and of bran,
'Tis as thick as a river below a huge town!
'Tis not lap for a dog, far less drink for a man...

You can read more of this (including what he thought of the Cheshire cheese!) and of his other impressions of our city here. The entire, excellent, text of Wild Wales is available to read and download here. We should also reassure you that, with certain notable exceptions, the quality of 'Chester ale' has drastically improved since Mr Borrow last sampled it! In common with many of Chester's old inns, the Pied Bll used to make its own ale on the premises. With the rise of specialist large breweries, such as the Northgate Brewery just along the road, this practice came to an end towards the end of the 19th century. But, in 2011, a micro brewery was re-established at the Pied Bull, the only one within the City Walls.

bluebell inn 1930And should you ever have the opportunity to visit, or stay at, the old Pied Bull, pause to consider that thirsty travellers have been (perhaps with the exception of Mr Borrow!) enjoying 'a pint or two' on this very spot for nearly four-and-a-half centuries. Their website will tell you more...

Next door to the Pied Bull,
The Red Lion, establish here since at least 1600, endured an unfortunate few years when it was renamed Scruffy Murphys, an 'Irish' theme bar- before, in September 2001, reverting back once more to its ancient name. A former landlady of the old Lion assured this writer that the cellar of the pub is definitely haunted. (nearly all of Chester's pubs have got their ghosts- with the exception of poor Henrietta at the Blue Bell (see below)- commonly called 'George'. Well, where would you prefer to haunt?)
In February 2011, the old Red Lion was extensively refurbished and relaunched under its original name by new owners.

A couple of doors down, in the last remaining part of the vanished 12th century Lorimer's Row- and dispenser of refreshment to the traveller since at least 1494, when the first licence to serve ale was granted, is the venerable Blue Bell Inn (right). This is the oldest 'domestic' structure in Chester, and our only surviving example of a genuine medieval inn. The braced King-Post roof points to a construction date for the present building of between 1250 and 1400, although parts of the building may date from as early as the 11th century.

The Bell may refer to the house's proximity to the Abbey (now Cathedral) and the curfew bell in the bell-yard, rung every evening to warn 'strangers' to leave the city before the gates were closed at 8pm. The brewhouse which operated within the Abbey precincts, close to the still-surviving 'Little Gateway' just across the street, may well have supplied the Bell with its beer.

During the Civil War in the 17th century, the underground cellars of the Bell were put to good use as storage for grain and other provisions, safe from the bombardment of the besieger's guns.

Right: The venerable Blue Bell Inn photographed in 1908 and, below, in a view of Northgate Street from 1910

A tragic story of those unsettled times gave rise to the legend of the 'Blue Bell ghost'. During the conflict, the Bell provided lodgings for many a Loyalist soldier and his family. On the day of the Battle of Rowton Moor (or Rowton Heath: 24th September 1645) a Cavalier was staying here with his lover. He bade her farewell, saying he hoped to return by 10 o'clock that evening and she went to the upstairs window to see her man going off to battle. The news from Rowton Moor was not good and the Loyalists were beaten. Full of trepidation, the lady awaited his return, but alas it was not to be, her lover had been killed. Stricken with grief she staggered down into the cellar and committed suicide. Her name was Henrietta, and it is said that to this day, her ghost climbs the cellar steps and walks through the upstairs restaurant to the very window where she waited for her lover to return, all those years ago...

The unique 'cabin' extension at the front was erected, "without consent", in 1684 by Elizabeth Halliwell for use as a barber's shop, which it, remarkably, remained until the 1920s. During the 18th century, this extension also served as a stage coach ticket office. A small window that still may be seen high on the building was once used to sell tickets to those passengers who were sitting on top of the coach.
By 1700, the ancient inn had become a house and shop, but by 1807 was an inn once more, and still bearing its ancient name.

blue bell in 1910For nearly one hundred years, from 1826, the Blue Bell was run by the Hodgson family. The last licensee was the wonderfully-named Thomas Podmore Tushingham, from 1924-30 (in which year the fine picture of it above was painted by Alfred Bennet Bamford). In the same year, 1930, the building was bought for £1000 by the by the Improvement Committee of the local council, who planned to demolish it for road widening- a decision that outraged the local people. The views of a correspondent in the local press in April 1936 were typical..

"A number of letters have been printed... expressing regret at the approaching demolition of the Blue Bell and its Row. It certainly is a great pity that this quaint house with its roof, which appears to be unique, in Chester at all events, is doomed, but it is only one of a series of acts which bring nearer the time when Albert Smith's "Rare Old City of Chester" may be nothing more than a memory, more utterly lost than the sturdy Roman remains which lie beneath the surface.

In the same Northgate Street a dignified eighteenth century house, and part of an adjoining one which possessed the most beautiful corniced roof in the city, have been pulled down to provide a site for a very modern cinema (the Odeon) and it seems imminent that the old coaching inn, the Pied Bull, will lose its attractive front, which already has been mutilated. In a short time, therefore, apart from the Abbey Gateways and the section of an eastern Row, Northgate Street will have qualified to compare with the dull features of an industrial town with 'up to date' aspirations. In the present case it is said that the scheme would admit of the construction of houses for firemen and the widening of Northgate Street would facilitate the the flow of traffic. Does this justify the proposal, escpecially when the increased toll of life and limb consequent on the acceleration of speed through a busy street is taken into account?"

During a council debate upon the matter, presided over by the Mayor, Alderman H W Talbott, certain interested (doubtlessly financially) parties, described the inn in terms such as "a bunion sticking out of a lady's foot", "an outstanding lump of material", "an eyesore" and "a living lie", whatever that may have meant. Inevitably, at this time when the needs of the motorist first started to outrank all other interests, the Blue bell's location was described as "a danger to traffic". One charmer addressed the outpouring of objections by deploring "this epidemic of false and sickly sentiment"..

postcard of the blue bellBy 30 votes to 16, the council rejected a proposal to borrow £2,500 to undertake repairs and the place sat abandoned for six years, falling into serious decay, despite protests from the Chester branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the Chester Archaeological Society, and the Duke of Westminster. Eventually the Office of Works intervened, asking the council to reconsider, and pointing out that the plan to widen Northgate Street was impracticable since the Northgate itself was a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Although the council was thus prevented from destroying the Blue Bell it refused to spend money preserving it and the building remained shamefully unrepaired in 1939 but was nontheless utilised as an antique shop.

Right: this old postcard features the three old inns in Northgate Street

The inn was next endangered by the 1944 Greenwood Proposals for a new Inner Ring Road, which would have see the new road follow the course of King Street and emerge through a widened Northgate, obliterating all properties along the way. This was never done, thankfully, but the revised course was equally destructive, breaking as it did through the ancient circuit of City Walls at St. Martin's Gate instead.

The Blue Bell was threatened for a third time in 1960, also for reasons of road widening. There was even a serious proposal to accept the offer of an American, who wished to dismantle the entire inn and ship it to the USA! Local people would, once again, have none of it, and once again it miraculously survived and for the next 22 years, still tenanted by the antique dealer and subsequently as Snow White's clothes shop. In 1984 it reverted to its ancient name and became a traditional English restaurant.

Then in early 2006, the venerable Blue Bell was transformed into East Glory, an oriental restaurant. Excellent though it was that eating and drinking should continue here after all these centuries, it seemed unforgivable that the new tenants, in their wisdom, had swept away all trace of its ancient name. We could only have hoped that poor Henrietta, the Blue Bell ghost, agreed- for how would her lost Cavalier love now be able to find his way back to her? We took the trouble to tell the story to the new occupants, who appeared to be rather distressed by the prospect of upsetting the spirits and, passing by the establishment in August 2009, were pleasantly surprised to see the name had once again changed- to that of The Blue Bell Oriental Restaurant!

In the Summer of 2011, we were even more pleased to see the Blue Bell- which is owned by Cheshire West and Chester Council- getting a smart new coat of paint and, for a short time, the old place looked better than it had in many years. A mere two years later, however, rainwater was once again gushing down the facade from broken gutters and the new paint was bubbling and peeling.

chester guided walksIn the Summer of 2013, after eight years of trading, the Chinese restaurant closed and was soon replaced by an "international tapas" restaurant that opened in September 2013.

The Blue Bell may have long ceased trading as an inn but the other establishments remain and, should you feel the need this early on in our walk, continue to serve a fine pint. In addition to the Pied Bull (which did survived that threat of road widening intact and still retains its fine facade), Northgate Street once had another, more luxurious, coaching inn, The White Lion, which stood for centuries at the far side of the Market Square, where the unsightly entrance to The Forum is now. Stages departed from its door to London, Ireland and all parts of the kingdom. The coming of the railway brought about the decine of the old coaching inns and, in 1856, local author and guide Thomas Hughes, who remembered the place in its heyday, recalled that it had been, "always full of the right sort of visitors, and seldom was a stall vacant in the immense stabling at the rear... Times are changed now; every dog has his day and doubtless every Lion too: at all events, our White Lion is neither so brisk nor so vigorous as he was of yore. The present worthy landlord is himself a retired whip, and as he rambles up and down through those noble rooms, once swarming with company, must often, we fear, look back gloomily upon the past".

Market SquareIf you pass through the ornate stone archway in the corner of the square, between the ironically-entitled, and extremely ugly, Forum shopping centre and council offices and The Dublin Packet pub (this arch being the last mocking remnant of the superb Victorian Market Hall which once stood here) you will see through a glass window on your right the remains of a rock-cut aerarium or strongroom, which is virtually all that survives of the vast Principia, the grand headquarters complex of the Roman fortress of Deva. This must have been a truly splendid building and its colonnaded frontage, around 244 feet long, an awe-inspiring sight to the hut-dwelling native population. Some impressive column bases of the Principia's north wing survive today in the nearby basement of a clothes shop at no 23 Northgate Street, and were open to public view, albeit from above, through a tiny inspection hatch. With change of ownership, even this has now vanished..

Bear in mind that Town Hall Square (or Market Square, as it is also known) was once a real market place where the twice-weekly markets and thrice-yearly fairs were held from ancient times. (Here, for example, is a photograph of it around 1900) Today, as our illustration above shows, it is a hodge-podge of concrete flower beds and amateur sculpture. For a while, it was also graced by a row of flagpoles- also seen in the picture- which, amazingly, cost over £42,000 and were described in the local press as, among other things, 'giant hat stands', 'gallows' and 'dockyard furniture'. They contributed nothing to the dignity and atmosphere of the square, but, in the words of one commentator, "might at least serve to mask the presence of the Forum's facade" - not to mention the branch of McDonald's which, to local amazement, was permitted to open right next door to the Victorian Gothic Town Hall and directly opposite the west front of the medieval Cathedral. In September 2001, however, the masts were removed to other locations.

Before moving on, a mention must be made of a local delicacy that may bring back affectionate memories to those who grew up in Chester during the postwar years. A product of Griffith's Bakery in Northgate Street, it was sold in slices and variously known as 'Wet Nellie', 'Aunt Nellie's Wedding Cake' or 'Chester Cake'. At the start of each week, Griffith's would boil up a motley selection of the previous week's unsold cakes, add some fruit, sandwich the result between two layers of pastry and bake it. The end result was always unpredictable but its cheapness made it a local favourite, although the heavy, thick slices were also occasionally less respectfully referred to as "tram stoppers"...

The Vanished Pubs of Northgate Street

Having digested that, it's time to take leave of the Northgate area and commence our stroll eastward along the North Wall...

Curiosities from Chester's History no. 3

  • saracen's head advert907 Ethelred died and Æthelflæd, the 'Lady of the Mercians', took command. She founded a burh at Chester as a defence against raids from the Danelaw and Irish Sea Vikings, extensively repaired and extended Chester's decaying Roman walls, by extending the north and east walls to the River Dee, and added new towers "placed within bowshot of each other." Chester becomes the major power centre in the north-west of Mercia.
  • 923 The heads of Gruffydd, Prince of Wales and Leofrid, a Dane, cut off and set upon the gates, after seizing the city.
  • 925 Athelstan (c.825-939) becomes king of England
  • 940 Edmund I, (922-946) brother of Athelstan, becomes king of England
  • 946 Edmund is succeeded by his brother Edred (reigned 946-955)
  • 955 Eadwig, "the fair", also known as Edwy (941-959), son of Edmund, becomes King.
  • 973 King Edgar "The Peaceful" (943-975), crowned at Bath. This event forms the basis of the present-day British coronation ceremony. Having reviewed his western fleet, he came to Chester attended by his court. Legend tells us thay the King's Palace (or Royal tent) stood on the far bank of the Dee in a field, which from time immemorial has been known as Edgar's Field. From this Palace it is said that he was rowed up the Dee by eight tributary Kings- the rulers of small Kingdoms- as far as St. John's Church where they disembarked and entered the Priory in order to swear a loyal oath to the King. When this was done, they rowed him back to his Palace.
  • 975 St Edward the Martyr (926-978), king of England.
  • 979 Edward's short reign was brought to an end by his murder at Corfe Castle, Dorset in circumstances which are not altogether clear. Ethelred II, "the Unready" (968-1016), crowned at Kingston
  • 982 Danish pirates returned to Chester. It is said that, when one was captured by the citizens, they beheaded him and, for amusement, kicked his head around the city. It was said that this proved so popular that it was repeated whenever a Dane was captured. First Viking colonies established in Greenland.
  • 1000 Beowulf written. Lief Ericson, son of Eric the Red, discovers America (Nova Scotia). Millennium causes widespread fear of the end of the world and Last Judgement. Danegeld becomes general tax in England. Chinese invent gunpowder
  • 1013 The Danes masters of England; Ethelred flees to Normandy.
  • 1035 Canute dies and his kingdom divided between his three sons: Harold "Harefoot" (1015-1040) is given England, Sweyn 'Forkbeard" Norway and Harthacnut (or Hardicanute) Denmark.
  • 1040 Duncan of Scotland murdered by Macbeth, who becomes king- until 1057, when he is in turn murdered by Malcolm.
  • 1040 King Harold dies, succeeded by Hardicanute (1018-1042), who dies two years later and is succeeded by Ethelred's son, Edward the Confessor
  • 1053 Harold Godwinson (1022-1066) succeeds his father Godwin as Earl of Wessex. The Welsh epic, The Mabinogion written about this time.
  • 1057 During an attack upon the city by King Gruffydd (Gruffydd-ap-Llewellyn) the remains of St. Werburgh were carried onto the City Walls by the monks and were said to have "struck the king blind". A stained glass window in the cathedral commemorates this event. Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and his wife, the beautiful Lady Godiva (997-1067) restored the crumbling St. Werburgh's church.
  • 1059 Edwin becomes the last Saxon Earl of Chester.
  • 1066 Edward the Confessor died and was succeeded by Harold II (1022-1066). The fateful year of the Battle of Hastings; Harold killed in battle and succeeded by William of Normandy "the Conqueror" (or "the Bastard"- Guillaume le Bâtard- depending upon who's telling the story)- William I of England (1028-1087). ( a local legend has it that King Harold was not killed in battle, but fled to Chester and lived out his life as a hermit on the banks of the Dee near St. John's Church)

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