Each year, millions of visitors travel from across the country and overseas to visit the heritage city of Chester. While the city has many impressive attractions from its stunning cathedral to its world-famous Zoo, many guests add Chester to their busy itinerary to take in its historic walls. In this blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at Chester’s city walls and study some of their most interesting features and ongoing renovations that keep them preserved for posterity.
History of Chester City Walls
Back through the ages, important cities, towns, and other communities were defended by constructing walls, however in our age only the northwest city of Chester possesses a complete circuit surrounding it.
The City Walls are approximately two miles in length and were first constructed by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. The walls were later developed and extended during the Saxon period era in the 10th Century. However, over the course of 12th Century, under Norman rule, the walls were rebuilt and then extended even further. As a result, for the first time since the city was Roman, the Walls made a full circuit of Chester. Consequently, the Middle Ages saw it recognised as being among the most protected and therefore strategically important of all cities across England.
Since then, the Walls have been continuously maintained and when necessary repaired following attacks, wear, and natural deterioration. One of the key reasons why they still survive is because in the 18th Century they no longer became a feature for defence and were instead adapted to create a fashionable walkway, public amenity and city attraction.
Maintenance of Chester’s City Walls
Cheshire West and Chester Council is responsible for the City Walls. For many years, it has ensured that the ancient monument is preserved and cared for through the coordination of regular maintenance and major restoration work. Its ongoing aim is to ensure the Walls are preserved for generations to come to appreciate, and all work must first be approved by the government department, Historic England.
In 2020, a part of the City Walls collapsed near the UK’s most photographed timepiece after Big Ben, the renowned Eastgate clock. To make certain that visitors, residents, and Chester enterprises could still benefit from and appreciate this area, teams of engineers and external specialists designed a non-permanent walkway, incorporated into scaffolding required to support the wall section.
In 2022, parts of the City Walls known as Watergate Bridge were modernised with assistance rails added to its approaches for people with reduced mobility. The success of the addition will see more rails added to areas of the Walls that are hard to access. Wooden steps that lead onto the walls were also landscaped and plans were made to restore and replace parts of the City Wall at the north-eastern corner. In location receiving little light, even over the summer, the section has suffered from damp and rot and will now be reconstructed from recycled materials that appear identical to wood yet far more durable.
Features on a City Walls walks
The walk around Chester is roughly rectangular in shape, on a walkway that is continuously elevated save for a short section at the city’s south side. It boasts many medieval structures, which include Bonewaldesthorne’s Tower at the northwest corner, Morgan’s Mount and Pemberton’s Parlour at the north, Phoenix Tower, Barnaby’s Tower, and Thimbleby’s Tower at the east and to the south, the base of a drum-style tower. The walk crosses roads at the city’s four main medieval gates known as Northgate, Bridgegate, Eastgate, and Watergate.
For breath-taking views of the city and to learn about their ancient history, walk the Chester City walls on your next visit.