Chester’s architecture through the ages

A city steeped in rich heritage, Chester has much to offer those excited by historical architecture. Side by side along the streets and avenues are unforgettable buildings that define the era they arrived in. Here, we delve into some these structures and explore some shining examples of Chester’s architecture over four different periods in time – Roman, Medieval, Tudor and Georgian.

A Roman auditorium unearthed

A scheduled monument and a Grade I listed building, the Roman Amphitheatre in Chester is all but ruins today. Only partially exposed, the amphitheatre is carved from stone and is the largest of its kind to date discovered in England. The ancient structure that lies beneath the ground has been dated back to the 1st century, when Chester was the site of a Roman fort known as Deva Victrix.

The structure was discovered during gardening work for Dee House in 1929. Evidence uncovered by archaeological experts during excavations suggests that the amphitheatre was used for a wide range of entertainment. These contests included gladiatorial battles, wrestling and boxing, along with bull baiting and cockfighting.

Medieval homes transformed into taverns

Built on an undercroft from Medieval times and now employed as cellar space, the Falcon Inn was once a private home. It still boasts an external stairway and can be dated back to the year 1200. The Falcon Inn isn’t the only Chester public house with Medieval origins – the Blue Bell Inn, based on Northgate Street, was formerly two medieval homes, and is recognised as the longest surviving medieval home that is still intact within the city.

A haunted house from Tudor times

Constructed in 1591, Stanley Palace was once known as Derby House. Today, it stands on Watergate Street and is in the possession of Cheshire West and Chester Council. Built in the easily recognisable Tudor style, it features a timber frame and mullioned windows. In its time, it has been a town house belonging to a titled landowner, a school for boys, a museum and a meeting and office space for city councillors. Over the years, it has earned itself the reputation of being among the most haunted buildings in Chester, with regular ghost hunts taking place to this day.

The Georgian home that became a school

Built with slate rooves and stone dressings in the Georgian fashion, Dee House was designed as a town residence for Chester’s former mayor John Comberbach around 1730. While it remained a private home until around 1850, it was then purchased by the Church of England. By 1854, it was awarded to a religious institute of the Roman Catholic faith, which extended the property with a chapel, transforming it into a convent school. After the convent closed in the 1970s, the building provided offices for British Telecom staff; however, since the 90s, it has been unoccupied.

From hidden combat arenas to medieval beer cellars, there are many fascinating secrets lying in wait in Chester. Unlock these unforgettable attractions with a visit when next you find yourself in this remarkable city in northwest England.

Posted by Mark
December 3, 2020
Features

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