Through out my travels I have developed an appreciation for the unique architecture of each country and sometimes even of a specific city. I associate English architecture with castles and very narrow terrace houses so I was quite surprised with what greeted me in Chester. Chester, is a city in Cheshire, England, lying on the River Dee.
It is the perfect place to spend the day exploring and learn more about the rich English history. As we arrived in Chester early morning the first thing we searched for was a little place to warm up and have a cup of coffee. The very crooked Tudor House caught our fancy and even offered up some comedy. I know that I am quite short and that most of my friends are taller than me but I don’t like that fact rubbed into my face. Before we reached our small coffee table Yvonne nearly be-headed herself on the low ceiling while I hardly had to look down.
In the centre of the city we found Chester Rows which consist of covered walkways at the first floor behind which are entrances to shops and other premises. At street level is another set of shops and other premises, many of which are entered by going down a few steps. The Rows, found in each of the four main streets of the city of Chester, are unique; nothing precisely similar exists anywhere else in the world.
At street level the shops and other premises are similar to those found in other towns and cities, although many of the premises are entered by going down a few steps. On the first floor level are more shops and other premises, set back from the street, in front of which is a continuous walkway. The storey above this overlaps the walkway, which makes it a covered walkway, and this constitutes what is known as the “Row”.
Dating from the medieval era, the Rows may have been built on top of rubble remaining from the ruins of Roman buildings, but their origin is still subject to speculation. In some places the continuity of the Rows has been blocked by enclosure or by new buildings, but in others modern buildings have retained the Rows in their designs. Undercrofts or “crypts” were constructed beneath the buildings in the Rows. The undercrofts were in stone while most of the buildings in the Rows were in timber.Today about 20 of the stone undercrofts still exist, but at the level of the Rows very little medieval fabric remains.
The premises on the street and Row levels are used for a variety of purposes; most are shops, but there are also offices, restaurants, cafés, and meeting rooms. Chester Rows are one of the city’s main tourist attractions and we had a lovely time walking through it.