Historic Chester

Eastgate Clock

The Eastgate Clock is reported to be the second most photographed clock in the United Kingdom after Big Ben.

This beautiful clock was designed by John Douglas and added to the top of the gateway to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria.

The clock can be accessed via the city walls and offers a superb vantage point across the city and towards the Welsh hills.


Town Hall

The grey and red sandstone, gothic style Town Hall, with its tower and spire rising to a height of 160 feet was completed in 1869 and opened by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

The building still retains its Victorian magnificence and is a prestigious venue available for public hire.  Its central location Chester Town Hall makes it a popular choice for a wide variety of conferences and seminars.

For more information about hiring this beautiful venue, please telephone: 01244 977703.


Walls

One of Chester’s historic treasures is the city walls, built in Roman times.  These impressive walls provide a rich history, having been altered and extended during both the Saxon and Medieval eras.

Walking the walls is a great way to get an overview of the city as it enables you to see many Chester attractions including Chester Cathedral, Chester Castle, River Dee, the Eastgate Arch and Clock and the Roman gardens.  The two mile route can be completed by most in an hour and it is free to walk the circuit.


Chester High Cross

This prominent landmark stands as a memorial of the Roman principia.  The cross is located at the intersection of Northgate, Eastgate, Watergate and Bridge streets.

The Town Crier welcomes you to the city standing on the foot of the cross everyday in summer. The city of Chester is the only place in Britain to have retained the tradition of regular midday (10.30am on race days) proclamations at a fixed place and time. 

For further information about Chester’s Town Crier, you can visit the Chester Town Criers website.


Water Tower

The Water Tower, originally known as the New Tower, is a 14th-century tower in Chester, which is attached by a spur wall to Bonewaldesthorne's Tower on the city walls.  The tower, together with its spur wall, has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building.

The tower was built between 1322 and 1325, at which time it stood in the River Dee.  The architect was John (de) Helpston who had also designed castles for King Edward II in North Wales.  Its prime purpose was to defend the port of Chester, and it was also used to monitor the movements of shipping and to ensure that the custom dues were paid.  From 1671 it was leased as a storehouse.

The Chester Mechanics' Institution was founded in 1835.  The institution opened a museum to show its artifacts and the city council leased the Water Tower and Bonewaldesthorne's Tower at a nominal rent for this purpose.  The museum opened in 1838. The Institution closed in 1876 and the exhibits came into the possession of the city council.  In 1954 the Grosvenor Museum reopened it to the public.  The tower is now 200 yards inland from the river, and is probably the least-altered of Chester's medieval towers.


Bonewaldesthorne's Tower

Bonewaldesthorne's Tower is a medieval structure on the northwest corner of the city walls of Chester.

The tower has been documented since 1249.  It was rebuilt or altered in 1322–26 when it became the gatehouse to the Water Tower.  The Chester Mechanics' Institution, which was founded in 1835, opened a museum to show its artifacts and the city council leased the Water Tower and Bonewaldesthorne's Tower at a nominal rent for this purpose.   The museum opened in 1838 and a camera obscura was installed in the tower in 1840 and an observatory in 1848.

The institution closed in 1876 and the exhibits came into the possession of the city council. Although it was recognised that the tower was not suitable as a museum, there was at the time nowhere else to show all the exhibits.  The tower closed as a museum in 1901 to 1902 while the city walls were rebuilt, and re-opened in 1903, attracting 12,000 visitors that season.  The towers were closed to the public in 1916 and in the 1920s they were let for non-museum use.  In 1954 they were bought by the Grosvenor Museum, which reopened them to the public in 1962.


River

The River Dee was believed to be the reason the Romans came to build their fort in Chester, and why the area below the city is now called The Roodee.  This area, which is now occupied by the racecourse, was where the harbour was situated until the silting of the river and the growth of Liverpool made it no longer viable for seagoing vessels.

The Dee is now popular for boating and walks alongside the river bank where you can find entrances to the Roman Gardens, the Walls and Grosvenor Park.

For further information about activities on the river, you can visit the River Dee pages on the Cheshire West and Chester website.


Chester Canal/Shropshire Union Canal

In Chester, from the top of the arm leading down to the Dee, the Shropshire Union Canal follows the old Chester Canal which was built in 1772 to connect Chester and Nantwich.

This canal passes alongside the city walls of Chester in a deep, vertical red sandstone cutting. After Chester, there are only a few locks as the canal crosses the nearly flat Chester Plain, passes Beeston Castle, and the junctions at Barbridge and Hurleston before arriving at the Nantwich basin.

The Mill Hotel organises regular canal trips, for further information, please contact:

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