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England, Cheshire, Chester Walks - The Chester Millennium Festival Trail

A walk around Chester including 40 of the city's most important buildings.

Chester Walks - The Chester Millennium Festival Trail.

The Chester Millennium Festival Trail a Chester Walk was laid down in the year 2000 and each building has a waymarker. The route followed is around 3 miles / 5.2Km and can take from 3 hours plus depending upon the fitness of the walkers. We suggest that you might like to split the trail into two easily manageable bites #1 to #27 (The Cathedral) and #27 to #40

#1 Chester Town Hall

A beautiful Gothic style building completed in 1869, crowned by a pink and grey sandstone clock tower that rises just under 49m over the surrounding buildings. With your back to the Town Hall, walk from the Town Hall steps diagonally to the left across Town Hall Square and stop outside the vaulted red sandstone arch.

#2 Abbey Gateway

A mid-14th Century that was the main entrance to the Abbey that proceeded the present Cathedral. Walk through the archway to enter Abbey Square.

#3 Abbey Square

The original site of the Abbey bake house and kitchens. Walk cross the Abbey Square and follow the path towards the Chester City Wall, Kale yard Gate. Climb the stairs onto the wall and turn right towards East Gate un till you reach The Bell Tower.

#4 The Addleshaw Tower

The 1975 Bell Tower of Welsh slate and sandstone houses the original Cathedral bells. Continue southwards along the wall to Eastgate.

#5 Eastgate Clock - A walk around Chester including 40 of the city's most important buildings.#5 Eastgate Clock

The second most photographed clock in the UK, after the 'Big Ben' clock tower in London, and Chester's most famous landmark, erected in 1899, commemorating Queen Victoria's 1887 Diamond Jubilee.

Follow the wall over Newgate and descend the stairs on the right to street level, turn left and you arrive at #6

#6 The Nine Houses

Only six of the small sandstone and timbered houses remain. Built as almshouses around 1650. At the last of the houses turn left and cross the road, looking for a small gateway through the wall which will take you into the Roman Gardens. Turn left and ascend to the main road, Little St John Street, where on the right you will see #7

#7 The Roman Amphitheatre

Spend some time reading the information plaques and imagining the site as a whole. Head for the railings outside St John's Church.

#8 St John's Church

St John's was Chester's first cathedral - the ruins to the east are open for exploration. After leaving the ruins, head down the slope and steps towards the River Dee. Turn right at the bottom of the hill through The Groves. On the right you will see #9

#9 Anchorite's Cell

This hermit's building was built in the mid 14th century. Continue through The Groves until you're adjacent to #10

#10 Norman Weir

Built in the 11th century to harness the river's power to drive the old corn mills. Turn right through Bridgegate and head up Lower Bridge Street a few yards where you will see #11 on the left.

#11 "Bear and Billet" Inn

17th century frontage to an older historic house once owned by the Earls of Shrewsbury. Turn left after the inn up St Mary's Hill to #12

#12 St Mary's Church

One of Chester's many medieval churches. An example of the Perpendicular style. Follow the path down the right hand side of the church between two heavy cast iron bollards, through an archway and on to a car park. Here you will find a statue of Queen Victoria outside #13.

#13 Chester Castle

Home of the Cheshire Military Museum. Probably the best example of Greek revival architecture outside of London. Continue across the car park and go through the archway in the corner and enter a courtyard, then turn left.

#14 Agricola Tower

A 12th century gatehouse to the original bailey and the earliest surviving part of Chester Castle. Ext the castle environs through the main gateway adjacent to the large traffic island. Move round the island in a clockwise direction passing #15

#15 Magistrates' Court

The Magistrates' Court is a late 20th century building that blends in nicely with the older architecture of old Chester. Cross over Grosvenor Street, opposite the court is the Free Entry Grosvenor Museum (27 Grosvenor Street, CH1 2DD), pass the museum and turn right down Bunce Street and then left on to Castle Street #16 is on the right at the next junction fronting on to Lower Bridge Street.

#16 Gamul House

You'll note that the elevated main entrance to this brick clad earlier Great Hall was once surrounded by 'Rows' similar to Chester town centre. Cross Lower Bridge Street and head up the hill. On your right you will pass #17 & #18 just three doors apart.

#17 Park House

Once one of Chester's leading hotels, Park House was built in the early 1700 and in 1820 the Duke of Wellington stayed there.

#18 Tudor House

Built in the early 17th century for a wealthy Chester merchant, somehow attributed to an earlier period (See the plaque: 1503). Continue up Lower Bridge Street and you will see #19 opposite

#19 The Falcon Public House

Once the 17th century town house of the Grosvenor family. Moving into Bridge Street, still on the left you will see #20.

#20 The Old Arches

This building gives a good clue as to what the original buildings in old Chester may have looked like. Continue up to the Market Cross (where you may see and hear the Town Crier during the summer months at noon " Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! - Come and enjoy the Chester Town Crier's proclamations at the High Cross, Chester."

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#21 No.1 Bridge Street

On the corner of Bridge Street are the most photographed 'black and white' revival buildings of Victorian Chester. Turn right on to Eastgate Street, you can see the Eastgate Clock (#5) in the distance but on the right #22

#22 Browns of Chester

Browns of Chester's building is obviously built in two different styles: High Victorian Gothic and the more modern Classical. On the opposite side of the road and at the junction of St Werburgh Street is #23.

#23 No.33 Eastgate Street (NatWest Bank)

Originally Dixon and Wardell's Chester Bank. Take St Werburgh Street up to the left and across the road you will see #24.

#24 St Werburgh Street East

Built in the late 1800s the buildings on the eastern side of the street are ranked among some of the best of Chester's black and white. Follow the road up and as the road curves back to the right you will see #25 and #26.

#25 St Nicholas's Chapel

Opposite Chester Cathedral is St Nicholas's Chapel. Now a shop but having been used as the city's Common Hall and Wool Hall, even as a Georgian Theatre and Victorian Music Hall ~ Later as a cinema!

#26 St Werburgh Row

A rare example of 1930's architecture, these arcaded shops were built by the designer of the original Wembly Stadium!

England, Cheshire, Chester Walks - The Chester Millennium Festival Trail#27 Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral now charges an entrance fee! Move on to Northgate Street passing #1 on your right walk down Northgate Street on the right you will see #28.

#28 Commercial Newsroom and Inn

A fine Classical building of the early 1800s, originally housing a newsroom, library and coffee house. Move round the right hand side of the building, up the steps into St Peter's Churchyard, behind #28 you will see The Inn, known as The Commercial Hotel. Pass between the two buildings and leave the churchyard via an archway in the far left hand corner. This will take you to #29.

#29 No.38 to No.42 Watergate Street

The Rows you have just entered date from the early 14th century. At the end of the Rows go down to street level, opposite you will see #30.

#30 Bishop Lloyd's Palace

This is Chester's most ornately carved timber framed building. Bishop Lloyd's Palace is an early 17th Century timber framed building in the historic heart of Chester It is listed Grade 1 and has fine carvings on the gable elevations and at Row level. The interior includes a magnificent period piece fireplace and high decorated plaster ceilings. Open to the public 12.00 to 14.00 Mon to Thur and 10.30am to 12.30pm on the first Sat of every month. This is subject to the meetings rooms not being occupied by hirers. Continue down Watergate Street and cross the Ring Road to the opposite street corner of Watergate Street. Here you will find #31 (Next to the original Market Cross)

#31 Stanley Palace

The original owners were the Stanley family, custodians of Watergate, when the city of Chester was a thriving port! Stanley Palace is a listed grade II building, formerly known as Derby House, standing on or near the site previously occupied by the Dominican Friars (the 'Black Friars') in medieval times. The original location of the 'Chester High Cross' It was built for Sir Peter Warburton (Yes - a relation to the bread bakers), a Chester lawyer and MP for the City, the passed as his daughter's dowry to the Stanleys of Alderley. Open to the public ~ To arrange a visit please contact the administrator during office hours 10.00 - 16.00 Tue to Fri - except bank holidays: Tel: 01244 325 586.

Continue down towards Watergate to the corner of City Walls Road where you will find #32.

#32 Watergate House

The private residence of the Cheshire County Clerk of the Peace (1820). Cross Watergate Street and follow City Walls Road past #33.

#33 Queen's School

Built on the site of the City Gaol and founded in 1878 as the Chester School for Girls; renamed in 1882. Ascend the city walls at the next opportunity and follow to #34.

#34 Water Tower

The Water Tower was at one time on the banks of the River Dee, protecting the harbour! Completed in 1326. Descend the steps on your left, turn right and walk beside the Shropshire Union Canal, originally The Chester Canal, under the Railway until you reach the Top Lock.

#35 Northgate Locks

Cut out of the solid sandstone bedrock, this staircase of three locks date from the 18th century, when the canal brought and took goods and materials inland. After the locks look for a small gateway through the City Walls, down the path to Pemberton Road and turn left, back to Northgate Street. Turn left towards Northgate. On the left you will find #36.

#36 The Blue Bell Inn

Originally two 15th century houses, now all that remains is this 'cabin'. Continue through Northgate to #37.

#37 Bluecoat School

Built on the site of a medieval hospital. Poor boys were taught here the 'three R's': reading, roting (copying writing), and reckoning (accounts). Cross Northgate Street and Ascend the steps on your left back on to the City Wall. Move away from Northgate and after a few metres follow the steps down on the right to Rufus Court #38.

#38 Rufus Court

A 1980s development. Go down the spiral staircase, through the court archway and out again on to Northgate Street. Turn left, cross over and admire #39.

#39 Odeon Cinema

The Odeon is a typical Art Deco style building of the 1930s. Continue down Northgate Street to #40.

#40 Westminster Coach and Motor Car Works

A superb brick and terracotta faced building. Originally a motor works, now housing the City Library.


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