Sunday, 23 September 2012


Saturday was a clear, sunny (albeit crisp) day so we decided to take a day trip to Chester with our fellow ex-pats and friends, the Seppannens (Jay's blog).   Chester is a small city that is known for its Roman connections, a complete set of medieval city walls, and "The Rows" of medieval looking (but Victorian refurbished) half-timbered shops.  It made for a nice, relaxing day out with friends.  The photo above is along Eastgate and gives you a glimpse of The Rows and Chester's famous clock.  (more on that later)

Chester is close to the Wales border which I've crudely traced in above.  It's about 1.5 hours from Derby.  I've highlighted Liverpool and Manchester so you can see that it is closer to the former.   It's essentially on the route to N. Wales.  Conwy, from our August visit, is in the red box.

Here's a closer view of the Eastgate Clock.  It was erected to commemorate the previous (Queen Victoria's) Diamond Jubilee in 1897.  I thought it was amusing that they bickered about the financing so much that it didn't actually complete until two years later.  It's supposedly the second most photographed clock in England (next to Big Ben).  No telling how they actually determined that.

Here's the gang up top.  Sorry I chopped you off, Lori.  Not my best photography week as you'll see.

Chester was established as a large Roman fortress in 79 AD.  (Remember that the Romans were busy conquering/expanding and got into Britain in their hey-day.  They had some trouble with the areas that are now Scotland (Hadrian's Wall) and Wales).

One of the key artifacts from the era is a Roman Amphitheater, the largest discovered in Britain (fairly recently in 1929).   You can also see one of the entrances to the city (via the arch) on the right.

Here's the gang walking around the amphitheater.  Fortunately no lions around.

The oldest church in the city is St. John's which dates back to the 7th century (though most of the building you see if from medieval times or later).  I found it interesting that it ended up being a key location for the Civil War as Parliamentarians "captured" it and used it as a launching point for canon bombardments into the city (which became heavily ruined as a result).

another shot of the church -- the sun posed problems for my photography this week.  Apparently my lens could used some cleaning.

after milling around a bit, we took a short (30-40 minute) Heritage Bus Tour.  It gave us a nice tour of the city with some decent commentary.  Nothing too exciting, but generally worthwhile.

As mentioned above, Chester has "the most complete" set of city walls in Britain (shown above).  Some of the walls date back to Roman times but they were largely completed in the 12th century.  The perimeter is about 2 miles which makes for a nice walk (which we did later in the day).

Not too many usable photos from the bus.  This is actually back to St. John's on our way to the River Dee after the tour.

Nice shot of the kids outside of our lunch destination of Hickory's Smokehouse.  Not sure what the deal with the rhino is though.

here are the kids enjoying their lunch (an their own table -- nice)

And the ladies . . . it was a nice meal with good service.  Glad we went.

very posh faucet in the restroom ("toilet" in UK speak) -- I had to snap this quick as someone came in and I didn't want to get beat up for having a camera in there

The River Dee (and the tour boats)

The Old Dee Bridge with its 7 unique arches (and more sunspots from the photographer -- sorry).  A Roman bridge was built on the same location but the one you see above was likely from reconstructive work in 1387 (!).

 two swans along the river (had to get an animal shot in)

Here's an example of the black and white, half-timbered buildings in the city.  The snootier folks might say they are "fake" in that most were part of a revival in Victorian (mid to late 1800s) times rather than medieval but I like them all the same.

Next up was the Grosvenor Museum which has some nice information on the city's Roman history as well as some bits from the Victorian era (and it was free making it all the better).  Roman's were quite impressive with their engineering feats.  I liked this depiction/explanation of the aqueducts.   Reminded me of my childhood favorite Richard Scarry's "What Do People Do All Day" book.

rendition of what Chester looked like in Roman times

Roman headstones that have been uncovered.  Many were used as filler in the walls and other places!

 my two enjoying the Victorian hats upstairs in the musuem

This is a small version of "The Rape of the Sabine Women".  The larger, original version is in Florence.  It reminded me of our trip to Rome and seeing Bernini's "The Rape of Proserpina".  To be honest, I'm not sure what the story behind this smaller version is.  [Note that "rape" means abducted in this sense]

more of the Victorian half-timbered store fronts

youngest street singer we seen so far -- he was jammin' to some 80's hair band tunes (not bad, particularly for his age)

a shadowy view of the Rows from near the Cathedral

and the Cathedral itself . . . . it's always hard to get a photo of these large cathedrals because you invariably can't get far enough away to take it all in without running into another building.  The cathedral dates from 1093 but was largely built in the 16th century.

 inside the cathedral . . . I guess the lady took my picture as well!

stained glass, likely from the 19th century as the cathedral was besieged during the civil war

David handing over Goliath.  Apologies again for the photo (tilt).  Rotating it tended to blur it so I didn't.

 massive organ

 Roman/Norman and Gothic arches

after doing all the time critical events, we decided to have our walk along the walls (and another sunspot photo)

The Chester Racecourse is the oldest still in use in Britain.  I believe there were races scheduled the week before and after our visit.  The first recorded race here was in 1539.

Partial castle shot.  The castle here is different than most in that in was built around 1800 (which was like yesterday here).    As with many, a Norman Castle (1070) was built on this site though.

 another wall shot -- our gang is up top there

Roman Gardens -- date back to . . . the 1950s though the artifacts themselves are much older

My slug streak is extended by a technicality (no real slugs in the city fortunately)

All and all a great day.  Unfortunately, our (my) evening meal didn't work out very well but I'll save you from the whinging.  It didn't ruin the day so all is well.  Glad we could enjoy the weather and activities with our friends and look forward to the next outing.

Bonus Pic of the Week
Saturday morning, 7 am or so, cool/crisp with the sun shining.  I guess the sun was "baking" the water out of the fence.  Steam was rising out of the top.  I'd never seen this before so I quickly took a photo.

Weird, huh?

Have a good week everyone and thanks for reading.


  1. Sounds like a fun day. We paid for the audio tour in the cathedral and it was miserable. Good job on opting out.

  2. Nice job on the post even with your shoddy photography. Haha. I had one of those days a few weeks ago, about a quarter of my pics weren't usable. I liked the arches pic in the cathedral and the steaming pile of fence pics.