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CHESTER

Churches Together of Fulwood & Broughton
Pilgrimage - September 12th 2009

Two coachloads from the Fulwood and Broughton Churches Together
left Preston at 9 a.m for a visit to Chester.
Unlike many of our other Churches Together
days out, this one left the day free
for sights or shops until
Evensong in the Cathedral at 4 p.m.

The 'green man' seen in and around Chester appears in the Cathedral miserichords, and with a more modern look on roundabouts and here outside the Town Hall on a 'green' bicycle - a new view of an ancient figure, suited to our times!

Our brief look at the City began here at Northgate.


The Shropshire Union Canal runs alongside the ancient Roman wall, but at the site of 'King Charles' Tower' the walls turn southwards and the canal disappears from view.
right Looking eastwards over the wall


Unusual multiple occupancy 'flats'
on the left of the wall!


DEVA -about 74 AD to 380 AD - about 300 years.

Plaques set in the walls at the site of the various towers (as well as many more in the town), tell us the vital statistics of the city known to the Romans as 'Deva'. Being responsible for 'order' in the whole of the northern province of Britannia it needed a very large garrison. At its height we are told it was occupied by five to six thousand highly trained soldiers in over sixty barrack blocks. The most famous of the Legions there was the 'Brave and Victorious 20th Legion', Valeria Victrix.


above - Garden of Remembrance behind the Cathedral.
left - the Bell Tower, 1974, first free-standing bell tower to be built since the 15th century. All of the 13 bells are named after saints. The Cathedral, named after St Werburgh, a Saxon princess whose shrine is inside, stands on the site of a Saxon church. In 1092 it became a Benedictine Abbey, the monks being there for a further 5 centuries. Cathedral of Chester since 1541.


Part of the Roman gate was incorporated
into the medieval gate


The clock over Eastgate was added
1897-9 to celebrate
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

This arch was built 1768-9 at the expense of
Richard, Earl Grosvenor

ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE

This is just outside the city walls on the south-east side. Two processional entrances led into the arena, from north and south.

below
The Church of St John the Baptist was founded in 698 by Ethelred, King of Mercia, probably on the site of a Roman church associated with martyrdoms in in Amphi-theatre in the 3rd century.. King Edgar came here in 973 to receive the homage of the 'sub-kings' of England, Scotland and Wales. It was built as the Cathedral of Chester, the first of the great Norman Cathedrals and during the middle ages was reputed to contain a relic of the true Cross of Christ, but was reduced to the status of a Parish Church at the Reformation.

On a pillar were traces of medieval paintings (which would once have covered every suitable surface) . The 1st is shown as seen and then enhanced to pick the figures out - mother and child? The 2nd was unfortunately partially obscured by very bright sunlight but is much better preserved. The cross on the right was made by local Churches Together in the City centre for Unity Week 2009
below Virgin and Child from the Lady Chapel, the window over the high altar, and a reminder of mortality over a commemorative plaque.

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ROMAN GARDEN

Begun in the 1950s to showcase many of the Roman remains found in excavations. It looks so 'authentic' that one can easily imagine the colonnades!

 

COCK PIT HILL

Cock fighting was the fashionable sport for gentlemen, from about 1660 (the Restoration) The cockpit itself, a round thatched building, was rebuilt with brick in 1825 and was referred to as 'the little amphi-theatre'. Gentlemen could bet on the fighting here, go the races and return in the evening.
There was also a flourishing industry making clay tobacco pipes here from at least 1781 to 1917.

ROMAN HYPOCAUST

This has been reconstructed using Roman pillars from the public bath area. The baths covered a huge area and the buildings must have been very impressive, 85 metres square with underfloor heating, a sand covered courtyard for out of door exercise and cold, warm and hot rooms. An aqueduct was built to bring water (500,000 litres a day) from Boughton 2 miles east of Chester.

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A half hour excursion along a stretch of the River Dee

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Contemplating yet another attempt to shoot the rapids?

CHESTER CASTLE

was built by William the Conqueror in 1069-70 on the site of a Roman auxiliary fort of 79 AD, overlooking the lowest fording place on the R.Dee. It was originally built in wood with tower and palisades of stout timber but was rebuilt in stone from about the year 1200. The oldest of the stone parts is known as Agricola's tower but had little to do with the Romans. The main objective in the maintenance of the castle during the Norman Conquest was to maintain control over the Welsh and the Welsh border which is only a short distance away. The river also enabled ships to mount invasions from the sea and supply the many castles built in that part of Wales during the reign of Henry III

CHESTER RACES

A short distance beyond the castle a huge crowd was waiting for the start of the 3 pm race. The horses were moving to the start on the far side

They're off!
More spaced out on the second and final circuit -

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Franciscan church of St Francis
Roman soldiers?
Ultra-modern outside the Town Hall
 

Everyone gathered in the choir stalls for Evensong.

The angel with the lute is one of the many elaborate and beautiful carvings from the 14th century, on the undersides of the choir seats. For many more see: miserichords (outside link)

omanesque (Roman style) arch and pillars, almost certainly the earliest part of the building but not part of the earlier temple to Apollo!

The rest of the planned 45 minutes to look around the Cathedral somehow 'disappeared', but left plenty to see on another visit.

Churches Together
enjoying the evening meal in the medieval Refectory
before the coach journey home.

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