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A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

Chester's Visitors through the Ages: 1

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

walls and river dee"In whatever point of view these old ramparts are considered, they possess an imposing interest and confer incalculable benefits. To the invalid, the sedenatary student, or the man of business, occupied during the day in his shop or counting house; to the habitually indolent, who require excitement to necessary exercise, to all these, the the promenade on Chester walls have most inviting attractions, where they may breath all the salubrous winds of heaven in a morning or an evening walk.
Here the enthusiastic antiquarian, who would climb mountains, ford rivers, explore the bowels of the earth, and, regardless of toil, and the claims of nature, exhaust his strength in the search for a piece of rusty cankered brass, or a scrap of Roman earthenware, can scarcely advance a dozen paces, but the pavement on which he treads, or some contiguous object, forces upon his observation the reliques of times of earliest date.
Nor can the philosophic moralist encompass our venerable walls without having his mind, comparing the splendid and gigantic works of antiquity with their present condition, strongly impressed with the mutations produced by the lapse of ages, and the perishing nature of all mundane greatness".
Joseph Hemingway: Panorama of the City of Chester 1836.

aving read Lucian the Monk's comments about Chester, here are some extracts from the accounts of other travellers who have passed through the city over the centuries.

We preface our exploration with a modern translation of The Ruin, the first English meditation on old stones: the Saxon poet strolls, not through Chester- the Roman Deva- but immediately post-Roman Aqua Sulis (modern Bath- although the exact location is disputed): "Down brambled streets, past oozing pipes, carved walls and columns, sculpted heads- and seeing in them not something mute, but a society like his own writ large, a place of weapons and gems and beery halls" (Ronald Wright: A Scientific Romance).

His words would have applied equally well to Deva and the hundreds of other abandoned Roman towns and fortresses throughout 5th century Britain:

The city buildings fell apart, the works
Of giants crumble. Tumbled are the towers
Ruined the roofs, and broken the barred gate,
Frost in the plaster, all the ceilings gape,
Torn and collapsed and eaten up by age.
And grit holds in its grip, the hard embrace
Of earth, the dead-departed master-builders,
Until a hundred generations now
Of people have passed by. Often this wall
Stained red and grey with lichen has stood by
Surviving storms while kingdoms rose and fell.
And now the high curved wall itself has fallen.
The heart inspired, incited to swift action.
Resolute masons, skilled in rounded building
Wondrously linked the framework with iron bonds.
The public halls were bright, with lofty gables,
Bath-houses many; great the cheerful noise,
And many mead-halls filled with human pleasures.
Till mighty fate brought change upon it all.
Slaughter was widespread, pestilence was rife,
And death took all those valiant men away.
The martial halls became deserted places,
The cities crumbled, its repairers fell,
Its armies to the earth. And so these halls
Are empty, and this red curved roof now sheds
Its tiles, decay has brought it to the ground,
Smashed it to piles of rubble, where long since
A host of heroes, glorious, gold-adorned,
Gleaming in splendour, proud and flushed with wine,
Shone in their armour, gazed on gems and treasure,
On silver, riches, wealth and jewellery,
On this bright city with its wide domains.
Stone buildings stood, and the hot streams cast forth
Wide sprays of water, which a wall enclosed
In its bright compass, where convenient
Stood hot baths ready for them at the centre.
Hot streams poured forth over the clear grey stone,
To the round pool and down into the baths.

ephesus streetDespite the centuries of occupation, today, we possess no surviving Roman references to the fortress of Deva apart from its listing in the Antonine Itinerary and all the 'Dark Age' references are mere mentions rather than descriptions. The author of the early ninth century History of the Britons, sometimes attributed to Nennius, lists Cair Legion as one of the twenty eight cities of Britain- not Caerlleon-ar-Wysg in South Wales, by the way, as that's also listed as Cair Legion guar Uisc: "Camp of the Legion on the (river) Usk".

Right: Just such an abandoned street as was described in The Ruin, seen in Ephesus, Turkey. Photograph by the author.

The Annales Cambrie ('Annals of Wales') mention a "Synod of The City of the Legion" in a year which might be 603 or 606- they followed an eccentric chronology all of their own, and it's often difficult to place an event into the correct calendar year. Everyone seems to agree that this 'City of the Legion' was Chester and that the Synod is the one Bede mentions when describing how the British church rejected Saint Augustine's authority. In Bede- who refers to "The City of the Legion, which is called Carlegion by the Britons and Legacaistir by the English"- this then becomes the cause of the Battle of Chester (in the year 613 or 616), when the monks from Bangor Isycoed (Bangor-on-Dee) were slaughtered by the pagan Aethelfrith.

In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, at the end of the entry for the year 893, we read, "on anre westre ceastre on Wirhealum, seo is Legaceaster gehaten"-"in a deserted fort on Wirral, which is called Legaceaster". Arguments have raged for years about whether the old fortress had been deserted since the end of the Roman period or if its inhabitants had recently fled at the approach of the Danish army. There is also the possibility that the local population actually colluded with the Danes, letting them in- something the writer of the Chronicle would evidently rather pass over in silence! The archaeological evidence, however, shows that there were certainly people living in the fort before the arrival of the Danish army.

In 972 (really the following year), Manuscript E of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle says- "And soon after that (his consecration at Bath at Pentecost), the king led all his navy (ship-army) to Legeceaster. And there came six kings to him, and all with promises that they would forever be his vassals on sea and on land". Then, in the year 1000 "Her on issum geare se cyng ferde in to Cumerlande... his scipu wendon ut abuton Legceastre"- "In this year, the King went into Cumberland (probably Lancashire!). And his ships went out from Legceaster".

Five hundred years after the Legions withdrew from Deva, their Saxon successors knew the city as Legecaester, a translation of part of the British (Welsh) Caer Lleon Vawr ar Ddyfrdwy or 'Camp of the great Legion on the Dee'- also Caerleon-ar-Dour.

chester literary societyA fascinating and convincing body of evidence was propounded by Robert Stoker in his book The Legacy of Arthur's Chester (1965) which points out that there were actually two Caerleons (see Henry Bradshaw's poem below) and, after the departure of the Romans, it was Chester that became the ecclesiastical and civil capital of the Kings of Britain and the city of the coronation of the not-so-legendary King Arthur, not Caerleon-on-Usk (Isca) in South Wales. The confusion apparently lies with Arthur's medieval chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose patron, Robert of Gloucester, was Lord of the Monmouth Marches, where Caerleon-on-Usk is

It seems that Geoffrey, doubtess partly in order to please his Lord, attributed all references dealing with 'Caerleon-ar-Dour' (Chester) to 'Caerleon' without qualifying which one was meant. Historians have ever since, for example, been crediting Isca with having an archbishop since AD 180 because the local boy of Monmouth said so in 1100, and nobody has ever checked the record... Whatever the case, think of the still-magnificent old fortress on the Dee as you read Geoffrey's description of Arthur's coronation in the early years of the seventh century:

"From the approach of the Feast of Pentecost, Arthur... resolved the whole magnificent court, to place the crown upon his head and to invite all the Kings and Dukes under his subjection to the solemnity... He pitched upon the City of Legions as a proper place for this purpose, for beside the great wealth of it, above all other cities its situation... was most pleasant, for on one side it was washed by the noble river so that Kings and Princes from countries beyond theseas might have the convenience of sailing up to it; on the other side the beauty of the meadows and groves, and the magnificence of the Royal palaces with lofty gilded roofs that adorned it may even rival the grandeur of Rome. There came... the Archbishops of the three Metropolitan Sees- London, York and Dubricius of the City of the Legions, this Prelate who was Primate of Britain and Legate of the Apostolic See, was so eminent for his piety that by his prayers he could cure any sick person."

pointerIn connection with the above, an interesting article, entitled "Historians locate King Arthur's Round Table" appeared in The Sunday Telegraph, 11th July 2010:

"Researchers exploring the legend of Britain’s most famous Knight believe his stronghold of Camelot was built on the site of a recently discovered Roman amphitheatre in Chester.
Legend has it that his Knights would gather before battle at a round table where they would receive instructions from their King. But rather than it being a piece of furniture, historians believe it would have been a vast wood and stone structure which would have allowed more than 1,000 of his followers to gather.

Historians believe regional noblemen would have sat in the front row of a circular meeting place, with lower ranked subjects on stone benches grouped around the outside. They claim rather than Camelot being a purpose built castle, it would have been housed in a structure already built and left over by the Romans.

Camelot historian Chris Gidlow said: “The first accounts of the Round Table show that it was nothing like a dining table but was a venue for upwards of 1,000 people at a time. We know that one of Arthur’s two main battles was fought at a town referred to as the City of Legions. There were only two places with this title. One was St Albans but the location of the other has remained a mystery.”

The recent discovery of an amphitheatre with an execution stone and wooden memorial to Christian martyrs, has led researchers to conclude that the other location is Chester. Mr Gidlow said: “In the 6th Century, a monk named Gildas, who wrote the earliest account of Arthur’s life, referred to both the City of Legions and to a martyr’s shrine within it. That is the clincher. The discovery of the shrine within the amphitheatre means that Chester was the site of Arthur’s court and his legendary Round Table.”

westminster hotel advert 1955This material was apparently expanded into a TV programme that was aired on the History Channel during July 2010.

There are, of course, all manner of problems with the above, not least the twice-stated statement regarding the "newly discovered" Chester amphitheatre- which actually occured in 1929, as you'll know if you've followed our brief history of the monument. Just one more example concerns that 'shrine'- actually altar- within the amphitheatre, which, as is known to everyone that has visited it, is dedicated to Nemesis, patron goddess of amphitheatres and goddess of retribution, and was placed there by the Centurion Sextus Marcianus "after a vision". It has nothing at all to do with 6th century martys. You can see a picture of it and learn more on the first page of our story of the amphitheatre.

* Go here to read T. H. White's lively description of Arthur's entry into 'Carlion' from his great novel The Once and Future King.

Half a millennium later, Chester was the last city in England to fall to William the Conqueror's army- a full three years after the Battle of Hastings. In around 1086, the city was visited by William's commissioners for assessment as part of the great Domesday Survey.

Soon after the completion of the Domesday Book was born William of Malmesbury (c.1095-1143), a monk of that Abbey, who was of mixed Anglo-Norman birth. He spent most of his life as a librarian at Malmesbury, but he also travelled widely throughout England. He is considered the first English historian after Bede (c.672-735) William wrote this account aroundthe year 1125...

"Chester is called the city of the Legions because the veterans of the Julian legions were settled there. It adjoins the country of the northern Britons. The region, like much of the north, is barren and unproductive of cerials, especially corn, though it is rich in beasts and fish. The natives greatly enjoy milk and butter; those who are richer live on meat and are much attached to bread made from barley and wheat. Goods are exchanged between Chester and Ireland, so that what the nature of the soil lacks, is supplied by the toil of the merchants. In the city there was once a monastery of holy nuns, now re-established for monks by Hugh, Earl of Chester."

In 1189 Gerard Barry, better known as Giraldus Cambrensis ('Gerald of Wales'), accompanied Archbishop Baldwin on an epic journey around Wales, preaching the Crusades, and kept a record of his impressions. He wrote of Chester:

"A genuine city of the Legions, surrounded by walls of brick, in which many remains of its pristine grandeur are still apparent, namely immense palaces, a gigantic tower, beautiful baths, remains of temples and sites of theatres, almost entirely enclosed by excellent walls in part remaining. Also both within and without the circumference of the walls subterranean constructions, watercourses, vaulted with passages. You may also see furnaces constructed with wonderful art, the narrow sides of which inhale heat by concealed spiracles." He added that he saw there "an animal partly an ox and partly a stag, and a woman, born without arms, who could sew with her feet"...

Ranulf Higden, also a Benedictine monk of St.Werburgh's Abbey, who died about 1364, was said to have been the author of the celebrated Chester Mystery Plays but he is better remembered for his Polychronicon. Originally a compilation from old chronicles and books upon natural history and other subjects penned by one Roger, a fellow monk of the Abbey at the beginning of the 14th century, Higden expanded greatly upon this, dealing with the countries of the known world, especially Britain, and a history of the world from the Creation down to his own time. The work was first translated into English in 1387 and later added to by the famous early printer William Caxton, who continued the narrative down to the year 1460. He printed this expanded translation "a lytel embelysshed fro tholde" in 1482. It remained the standard reference work for hundreds of years. Only 26 copies of the book are know to exist, of which only two are perfect. This description is a digression in an early section of the work and is quoted from the edition printed by Winkyn de Worde (a pupil of Caxton) around 1495...

" CHESTRE, where this cronicle presente was laborede, in the coste of Wales betwene two armes of the sea whiche be callede Dye and Meresie (Dee and Mersey) whiche was the chiefe cite of Northe Wales in the tyme of Britones, the firste founder of whom is not knowen. For hit scholde seme to a man beholdenge the fundacion of hit that werke to be rather of the labor of gigantes, other Romanes, then of Britones. That cite was callede somme tyme in the langage of Britones, Caerelyon, in Latyn Legecestria, and hit is callode now Chestre, other the Cite of Legiones, in that the legiones of knyghtes tariede ther in wynter, whom Julius Cesar sende to Yrlonde to subdue hit to hym.

This cite habundethe in euery kynde of vitelles, thaughe William Malmesbury dreamede in other wise, as in corne, flosche, fische, and specially in salmones, whiche cite recoyvethe and sendethe from it diuerse marchandise, whiche hathe nye to hit waters of salte and metalles.

That cite, somme tyme destroyede by men of Northumbrelonde, but reedificate by Elfleda, lady of the marches, hathe under the erthe voltes to be meruailede thro the werke of ston, and other grete stones conteynenge the names and pryntes of Julius Cesar, and of other nowble men, with the wrytyinge about."

Higden was buried in the South Choir Aisle of the Abbey. In 1873 his tomb was opened to reveal "the exact form of a body still wrapped in coarse woolen cloth of a reddish-brown".

"I cannot repeat perfectly my pater noster as the priest it singeth,
But I can repeat rhymes of Robin Hood and Randal, Earl of
Langland: Piers Plowman

The great Welsh bard Lewys Glyn Cothi (c.1420-1489), whose works re-awoke a consciousness of nationhood among the war-torn and subjugated people of Wales, lived for a time in Chester until he was evicted, perhaps as a result of the law which denied Welshmen the right to settle in the boroughs- or maybe as a result of his having married a widow from the city without the consent of the burgesses.
He referred to his experiences in his poem The Coverlet:
Go, complaint, to Gwynedd's sun,
I complain of the mongrels,
So crafty they were, so cold,
Mobs in the town of Chester.
It's they who plundered my house
Of my bed and fine bedspread,
And they have left me barer
Than salmon swimming a stream.

Whatever the reason, Cothi ever after bore considerable ill-will towards the city and its inhabitants, as powerfully illustrated in another poem, The Sword, from which we present the following extracts:

The lion with the golden mane
Who lives down in Croes Oswallt,
Mighty Dafydd ap Gutun,
May he never grow white hair.

This request I make of Dafydd,
It's given before I ask,
Not for gold, and not for land,
A sword, one of his weapons.

It has, for proper gripping,
A short hilt round as a cask;
There's a white-corniced cover,
And a clamp like a round ring.
There's a belt, forked and crooked,
A wooden sheath and bent cross.
By the cross it's so fashioned,
It is broader than a hand.
It has a point that's as thin
As a wing's tip, a needle,
A thorn like a fine-honed dart,
Keen steel, two feet three inches,
Blest cross against boorish boys,
Protecting cross, stripped naked.

Blue blade, when it is displayed,
Sheet of glass like a razor,
A light it is, a long crutch,
And like true gold it glitters,
Killer, like a Jew's dagger,
And keen as a lion's tooth.

This I request of Dafydd,
If this request he will grant,
I will shave, by Saint Non's hand,
All of the lads of Chester.
On every churl I'll whet it,
Rib of steel, if I come there.
Not one leaves, till Saint Dwyn's Feast,
The hot town head unbroken.
I'll carve, if I come near them,
Twenty thousand naked curs.
That day, after drinking wine,
I'll wield the blade of Cyffin,
I'll deal with my hands a hurt
To that two-faced town yonder.

From the towns of Rhos at dawn,
By nightfall to dark Chester:
Let me kill, if my day arrives,
With Dafydd's sword two thousand!

Fellow Welsh poet Guto'r Glyn observed, as quoted by George Borrow that the women of London itself were never more "carn strumpets" than those of Chester..

Henry Bradshaw (d. 1513), born in Chester and educated at Gloucester College, Oxford, was also a monk of St.Werburgh's Abbey. He wrote a a verse life of St.Werburgh in 1500 and a chronicle of Chester- now sadly lost- the De Antiquitate et Magnificentia Urbis Cestriae in the year of his death, 1513. This extract is taken from the earlier work, which survives only in a printed edition of 1521, of which only five copies are known...

"This 'cite of legions' so called by the Romans,
Nowe is nominat in latine of his proprete
Cestria quasi castria, of honour and pleasance:
Proued by the buyldynge of olde antiquite
In cellers and lowe voultes, and halles of realte
Lyke a comly castell, myghty, stronge and sure,
Eche house like a toure, somtyme of great pleasure.
Of frutes and cornes there is a great habundaunce,
Woddes, parkes, forestes, and beestis of venare,
Pastures, feeldes, comons, the cite to auaunce,
Waters, pooles, pondes, of fysshe great plente;
Most swete holsome ayre by the water of dee;
There is great marchandise, shyps, and wynes strang,
With all thyng of pleasure the citezens amonge".
And here is Bradshaw's description of the two old Roman fortresses sharing the British (Welsh) name of Caerleon-

"Two Cities of Legions in chronicles we find;
One in South Wales in the time of Claudius
Called Caerusk by Britons had in mind;
Or else Caerleon built by King Belinus:
Where sometimes was a Legion of Knights Chivalrous.
This City of Legions was whilom the Bishop's See
To all South Wales nominate Venedocie.
Another City of Legions we find also
In the West part of England by the waters of Dee
Called Caerleon of Britons long ago,
After named Chester by great authority...
This City of Legions so called by Romans...
Proved by buildings of old antiquity...
Each house like a castle, sometimes of great pleasure"

John Leland wrote of Cheshire folk in his Itinerary of 1540:

"The people of the countrey are of nature very gentle and courteous, ready to help and further one another; in religion very zealous, howbeit somewhat addicted to superstition. Otherwise they are of the stomache stout, body and hardy; withal impatient of wrong, and ready to resist the enemy or stranger that shall invade their countrey. So have they always been true, faithful and obedient to their supervisors insomuch that it cannot be said that they have at any time stirred one spark of rebellion either against the King's Majesty, or against their own peculiarhord or Government"

old picture of the RowsThe following lengthy and interesting description was written in about 1575, and is taken from an account of Cheshire by William Smith (c 1550-1618), a local man who lived for periods in London and Nuremberg, and became a herald (rouge dragon pursuivant) in 1597...

"The Walles of the Cittie, containe at this present day in Circuite Two English myles. Within the which in some places, there is certayne void ground and Corne feilds, Wherby (as also certaine Ruines of Churches, and such Lyke great places of Stone) it Appeareth that the same was, in old tyme all Inhabited. But Looke what it wanteth at this day within the walles: It hath without, In very faire and Large Suburbes"

Right: Eastgate Row North by George Cuitt (1779-1854)

"It hath foure principall gates. The Estyate, towards the Est. The Bridge gate, towards the Sowth. The Watergate towardes the West. And the Northyate towardes the North. These gates in tymes past, and yet still, according to an Antient order vsed here in this Cittie: Are in the protection or deffence, of dyvers noble men, Which hold, or have their Landes Lying within the Countie pallatine.

As first, the Erle of oxford, had (till of Late yeares, but now Sir Christopher Hatton) the Estyate. The Erle of Shrewsbury, the Bridge gate. The Erle of Darby hath the Watergate, who in the Right of the Castell of Hawarden (not farr of) is Steward of the Countie pallatine. And the northyate belongeth to the Cittie, where they kepe their prisoners. The Estyate, is the fayrest of all the Rest. ffrom which gate to the Barres (which are also of Stone) I ffynd to be 160 paces of geometrie, And from the Barrs, to Boughton almost as much.

Besydes these 4 principall gates: There are certaine other lesser, Lyke postern gates, And namely St. John's gate, ( Newgate or Wolfgate) betwene Estyate and Bridge gate, So called, because it goeth to the said Church of St. John, which standeth without the walles.

coat of armsThe Bridge gate, is at the Southpart of the Cittie, At the entring of the bridge (Comonly called Dee Bridge) which Bridge is builded all of Stone, of viij. Arches in length. Att the furthest end wherof, is also a gate. And without that (on the other syde of the water) The Suburbes of the Cittie, called Handbridge.

Thc Watergate, is on the west syde of the Cittie. whereunto in tymes past, great Shipps and vessells might come, at a full Sea. But now scarce small boates are able to come, The Sandes have so Choaked the Chanell. And although the Citezens have bestowed marvelous great charges, in building The New Tower, which standeth in the very River, betwene this gate, and Northyate: yet all will not help. And therefore all the Shipps, do come to a place, called The New Kay, 6. myles from the Cittie. (Neston)

Left: the coat of arms of the City of Chester. The Latin motto, Antiqui Colant Antiquum Dierum translates as 'Let the ancients worship the ancient of days'.

The Castle of Chester, Standeth on a Rocky hill, within the Wall of the Cittie, not farr from the Bridge. Which Castell, is a place having privelege of it selff. And hath a Constable. The building thereof seemeth to be very Ancient. At the first coming in, is The gate house, which is a pryson for the whole County, having dyuers Roumes and Lodgings. And hard within the gate, is A howse, which was somtimes the Exchekor: but now the Custome house. Not farr from thence, in the base court, is A deepe well, and thereby, Stables and other howses of office. On the left hand is A Chapell. And hardby adioyning thervnto, The goodly ffayre and Largo Shyre hall. newly Repayred. Where all matters of Law, touching the Countie pallatine, are hard, and judically determyned. And at the end thereof is The Brave new Exchequer, for the said Countie pallatine. All these are in the Base Court.

Then there is A draw Bridge into the Innerward, wherein are dyvers fayre and pleasant Lodgings, for the justices, When they come. And herein The Constable hym selff dwelleth.
The Theeves and Fellons, are Arraigned in the said Shire hall, And being Condemned: Are by the Constable of the Castell, or his deputie, delyvered to the Shireffs of the Cittie, a Certayne distance, without the Castlegate, At a Stone, called The Glovers Stone ffrom which place, The said Sheriffs do Convay them throwgh the Citty, to the place of Execution, called Boughton.

chester poster 1939PARISH CHURCHES IN CHESTER Tho Cittie is devyded into ix Parishes. The first wherof is named St. Werburgs. otherwise called The Abbay, or Minster, And is The Cathedrall Church, having the parish Church in the South yle of the same. This is a goodly, fayre and Large Cross Church, having a square Steple in the middest, And at the West end, is A Steple begon, but not halff finished. Hardby adioyning, is the Bishopps pallace, and not farr of The Deanes howse.

Tho Second parish Church, is called St. Johns. and is hard without the Walles vppon tho banck of the River Dee. A very fayre and Large Church, with a fayre brode Steple at the West end therof, Which Steple the yeare past Anno 1574, did halff of it fall downe, from the very topp to the Bottome. Two squares did fall downe, And two squares do stand still. but it is building upp agayne.

Right: a holiday advertisment for Chester which appeared in the Radio Times, 5th May 1939, just before the start of World War Two.

St. Peters, at the high Cross, In the middest of the Cittie, A ffayre Church, with a Spyre Steple, vnderneath which Church is The Pendice, wherof more shalbe said, shortly after.
St. Trinities, betwene St. Peters Church, and the Watergate, A ffayre Church, with a Spyre Steple also.
St. Michaells, in the Bridge Strete.
St. Brydes, Right over against St. Michaells.
St. Olaffs, comonly called St.Tolas, in the same streete nerer to the Bridge.
St. Maries, on the Hill, by the Castle gate, a very ffayre [sic] with a square brode Steple. In which Church are certayne fayre Tombes, of dyvers gentlemen, and ospecially of the Troutbecks, Who (as it should appeare) Were ffounders therof.
St. Martins, not farr from the freres, towards the west part of the Cittie.
St. Thomas, without Northyate.

OF THE MAIOR, ALDERMEN AND SHERIFFS OF THE CITTIE, ETC. The Estate that the Maior of Chester kepeth is great. ffor he hath both Swordbearer, Macebearer, Sergeants with their Silver Maces, in as good and Decent order, as in any other Cittie of England. His howsekeping accordingly, but not so Chargeable, as in some other Citties, because all things are bettor cheape there.

He Remayneth most part of the day, at a place called The Pendice. (demolished 1803) Which is a brave place, builded for the purpose, at the High Cross, vnder St. Peters Church. And in the Middest of the Cittie, In such sort, that a man may stand therein, and see into the Marketts, or 4. principall streets of the Cittie.

There was wont to sitt also (in a Roume adioyning) the clarks of the said Maiors Courts, Where all actions Were entred, Recognizances made, and such Iyke, but this is now Removed into the Comon Hall of the cittie.
old picture of Telford'sThere is none chosen alderman, except he have byn first Maior. The Sheriffs (as also the Maior) on the workdaies, do go in fayre Long gownes, Welted with velvet, and Whyte staves in their handes. But they have Violett and Scarlett also, for festival daies.

The Canal Packet House c.1840. The building to its right is today a fine pub, restaurant and live music venue known as Telford's Warehouse.

Not farr from the Pendice, towardes the Abbay Gate is The Comon Hall, of the Cittie, Which is a very great howse of Stone. And serveth in stead of their guildhall, or Towne house.

The Buildings of the Cittie are very Antient. And the howses build in such sort: that a man may go dry, from one part of the Cittie, to another, and never come in the street, But go, as it were in galleries, which they call The Roes which have Shopps, on both sydes, and vnderneath, with dyvors stayres to go vpp and downe, into the streets. Which maner of building, I have not hard of, in any p]ace of Christendome. Some will ay, that the Lyke is at Padua in Italy. But that is not so, for the howses at Padua, are builded, as tho Suburbes of this Cittie be, that is on the ground, vppon posts, that a man may go dry Vnderneth them, Lyke as they are at Billings gate in London. But nothing Lyke to these Roes. It is a goodly sight, to see the nomber of fayre Shopps that are in these Roes, of Mercers, grocers, Drapers and Haberdashers. Especially in the Street called the Mercers Row. Which Street, with the Bridgestreet (being all one street) reacheth from the High Cross, to the Bridge, in Length 380 paces of geometry, Which is above a quarter of A myle.

There are certayne Conduits of freshwater. And now of Late (following the example of London) they have builded one, at the High Cross, in the middest of the Cittie, And bring the water to it, from Boughton"

Onward to the Seventeenth Century and more traveller's tales of Chester...

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