Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester. Chester was granted city status in 1541.
Grosvenor is the Duke's family name, which explains such features in the City such as the Grosvenor Bridge, the Grosvenor Hotel, and Grosvenor Park. Much of Chester's architecture dates from the Victorian era, many of the buildings being modelled on the Jacobean half-timbered style and designed by John Douglas, who was employed by the Duke as his principal architect. He had a trademark of twisted chimney stacks, many of which can be seen on the buildings in the city centre.
Towards the end of World War II, a lack of affordable housing meant many problems for Chester. Large areas of farmland on the outskirts of the city were developed as residential areas in the 1950s and early 1960s producing, for instance, the suburb of Blacon. In 1964, a bypass was built through and around the town centre to combat traffic congestion.
These new developments caused local concern as the physicality and therefore the feel of the city was being dramatically altered. In 1968, a report by Donald Insall in collaboration with authorities and government recommended that historic buildings be preserved in Chester. Consequently, the buildings were used in new and different ways instead of being flattened.
In 1969 the City Conservation Area was designated. Over the next 20 years the emphasis was placed on saving historic buildings, such as The Falcon Inn, Dutch Houses and Kings Buildings.
On 13 January 2002, Chester was granted Fairtrade City status. This status was renewed by the Fairtrade Foundation on 20 August 2003.
- Chester Cathedral is the mother church of the Church of England Diocese of Chester. The cathedral, formerly St Werburgh's abbey church of a Benedictine monastery, is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since 1541 it has been the seat of the Bishop of Chester and centre of worship, administration, ceremony and music for the city and diocese. The cathedral is a Grade I listed building, and part of a heritage site that also includes the former monastic buildings to the north, also listed Grade I. The cathedral, typical of English cathedrals in having been modified many times, dates from between 1093 and the early 16th century, although the site itself may have been used for Christian worship since Roman times. All the major styles of English medieval architecture, from Norman to Perpendicular, are represented in the present building.
- The Eastgate Clock stands on the site of the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix. It is a prominent landmark in the city of Chester and is said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben. The original gate was guarded by a timber tower which was replaced by a stone tower in the 2nd century, and this in turn was replaced probably in the 14th century. The present gateway dates from 1768 and is a three-arched sandstone structure which carries the walkway forming part of Chester city walls. In 1899 a clock was added to the top of the gateway to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria two years earlier. It is carried on openwork iron pylons, has a clock face on all four sides, and a copper ogee cupola. The clock was designed by the Chester architect John Douglas. The whole structure, gateway and clock, was listed by English Heritage on 28 July 1955 as a Grade I listed building.
- Chester Rows 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, are unique; nothing precisely similar exists anywhere else in the world. 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.
- Chester Town Hall is in Northgate Street in the centre of the city. In 1698 an Exchange was built to accommodate the city's administrators. This building burnt down in 1862. A competition was held to build a new town hall and this was won by William Henry Lynn of Belfast. The building cost £40,000 (£2,850,000 as of 2012). It was officially opened on 15 October 1869 by the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) who was accompanied by W. E. Gladstone, the Prime Minister. On 27 March 1897 the council chamber on the second floor was gutted by fire. It was restored by T. M. Lockwood the following year. In 1979 a clock was installed in the tower with three faces; there is no face on the west side of the tower.
- Chester city walls consist of a defensive structure built to protect the city. Their construction was started by the Romans when they established the fortress of Deva Victrix between 70 and 80 AD. It originated with a rampart of earth and turf surmounted by a wooden palisade. From about 100 AD they were reconstructed using sandstone, but were not completed until over 100 years later. Following the Roman occupation nothing is known about the condition of the walls until Æthelflæd refounded Chester as a burgh in 907. The defences were improved, although the precise nature of the improvement is not known. After the Norman conquest, the walls were extended to the west and the south to form a complete circuit of the medieval city. The circuit was probably complete by the middle of the 12th century.