Chester Castle lies in the south-west part of the walled city; founded by William the Conqueror in 1070 it became the administrative centre of the earldom of Chester.
During the reigns of Henry III and Edward I the castle served as the military headquarters for the conquest of Wales and much building was carried out, especially in the outer bailey. In the later medieval period, the monarch rarely stayed at the castle, but it continued to serve as the centre for the county administration.
During the Civil War (1642–6) it was the headquarters of the Royalist governor, John, Lord Byron. Subsequently, a permanent garrison was stationed there, and between 1788 and 1813 the outer bailey was completely rebuilt in the neoclassical style. The buildings still serve as the county hall, courts and regimental museum, but the military finally withdrew in 1999.
Today, the remaining medieval parts lie in what was formerly the inner bailey, reached through an archway at the far right-hand corner of the parade ground.
The twelfth-century Agricola Tower is the original gateway to the castle and the blocked passage arch is still visible.
Located on the first floor of the tower is the chapel of St Mary de Castro, which contains the remains of some high-quality wall paintings of about 1240. During the early 19th century the chapel was used as a gunpowder store and the heavy, copper-plated door dates from this period.
When you leave the tower and climb the stairs onto the castle walls, you can really appreciate the location of the castle within the city. From here you will be able to see the Old Dee Bridge, the traditional route into north Wales and the Roodee, the silted-up port area of Chester, which is now Chester Racecourse.