The Saturday City: Chester

the main street in Chester EnglandIn honor of me being overseas, today’s Saturday city will be about the one I’m in- Chester, England. It’s an old city, dating back to Roman times. Chester was founded in 79 A.D. as a fortress for northern expansion. The city itself is still surrounded by ancient walls and has one of the most complete wall systems in England. The city grew in importance during the early industrial revolution but is now no longer a center of industry but a modern suburb of the larger city of Manchester. Chester is the typical embodiment of a “typical English town” with its Victorian buildings and cottage homes.

In the two days I have been here, I’ve really enjoyed my time. The train ride up led me through the English country side and surrounding estates. All the rain makes England a very green country! Chester itself is a quite town. I was amazed by the quietness that always seemed to envelope me- as if though there were no inhabitants of the city. You rarely hear the sounds of cars or people or even birds except in the downtown center.

a beautiful house in chester england

The Chester center looks like something out of an old novel. The pictures here are pretty representative of all the buildings. Charles Dickens would be proud. The old taverns, the hotels, and little shops all have retained their charm and original paint. I’m not sure if that was on purpose as a way to preserve their past or they were too lazy to modernize. I’m guessing it was the latter.

The homes in Chester are typical Victorian. I keep waiting for Mrs. Havisham to come out in a wedding dress sometime. Small cottages with bricks and criss-cross wood fronts and glass window. It’s all very Dickens. Chester is a big tourist destinations for day trippers and those who like horses. Beginning in May, they have horse racing and everyone comes out in the their Sunday best.

a bustling victorian-style street in chester

While most of Chester’s allure and charm comes from its Dickens feel, there are a few things to do in town. The highlight is the wall. The old city is surrounded by an ancient roman wall that’s a 45 minute walk and allows you to see a variety of the old city, the racecourse, the river, the new city, and a few historic land marks. It’s a good starting point. The most famous part of the the wall is the East gate. On top sits the 2nd most photographed clock in all of England.

Besides the wall is a historic Cathedral. Since it was 4 pounds to enter, I didn’t go in. But it was really nice outside. There are a few ancient roman ruins on southeast part of the city. There’s also an old castle that is now a museum. If you also fancy it, there’s some river boat cruises. Overall, the highlight for me was walking around and just “being” in my vision of England.

a beautiful park in chester, england

I like Chester. It’s a nice city and gives you a typical English experience, if there is such a thing. Chester is the type of city you see in brochures advertising England- country homes, fiends, old Victorian buildings, and lots of “quaint” shops. The city is definitely worth an overnight stay or at least a day trip from Manchester or Liverpool.

  1. Geoff

    As usual, it takes a foreigner to teach me something about my own country. I had no idea Chester was like that – all I know about it is as the home of long-running British TV Teen Soap ‘Hollyoaks’

    I really should give it a visit some time based on what you’ve written

  2. Liv

    Go look for Max and OB, chester legends. They’re a kind of British Bert and Ernie but they’re real human beings.

    By the way, the houses you refer to are Edwardian not Victorian.

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