Chester City Walls

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Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

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Travelled with

On your own

Reasons for trip

Chester is the only city in Britain to retain a complete circuit of walls. They may not be as dramatic as parts of the walls at York, but you can walk all round the two mile circuit. They can be accessed at many different points and it makes a pleasant walk with views of many of Chester’s tourist attractions. The views they offer across the “racecourse”: are popular on race days when you can enjoy all the thrill of watching the races and hearing the commentary without paying. There are also good views down onto the “Chester Cathedral Falconry and Nature Garden”: Plan you walk to coincide with the flying displays.

The original walls date from the Roman city of Deva and part of these walls can be seen from the towpath along the Shropshire Union Canal. The remains of an angle tower can be seen by Newgate.

The walls were refortified in the early C10th as a defence against Viking raids. They were again repaired by the Normans and later again after the Civil War which left the walls and towers battered and breached. By the C18th the walls were no longer required as defences and became a fashionable promenade with low parapet. Gateways through the walls were widened to allow for increased traffic with walkways over the top.

The walls are as popular today and are accessible at all the main gateways as well as many other places in between. It doesn’t really matter which way you walk. Possibly the most photographed is the Eastgate which stands on one of the main entrances into the Roman city. The elegant clock on its wrought iron stand was added in 1897 to celebrate the diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

At the north east corner is the Phoenix or King Charles Tower. In the C17th the tower was in poor condition and was leased to two of the city guilds who became responsible for its maintenance. They placed a plaque above e the door with the date 1613 and a carving of a phoenix, the symbol of the Painters Guild. During the Siege of Chester during the Civil War, guns were placed in the tower. King Charles stood on the tower on 24th September 1645 as he watched his soldiers being defeated at the Battle of Rowton Heath. The Guilds repaired the tower after the Civil War but had given up possession by the end of the C18th when its upkeep became the responsibility of the city council. The council promoted it as a tourist attraction because of its connection with Charles I.

Morgans Mount is a defensive structure on the north side of the walls which was constructed as a lookout and gun emplacement during the Civil War.

The Water Tower at the north west corner of the walls is built on a short spur from the Bonewaldesthorne Tower. When it was built it stood on the River dee and it was used to defend the port, collect tolls and and control movement of shipping on the river. The two towers now contain a small museum on the history of medicine, “Sick to Death.”:

The “Castle”: is at the south west corner of walls and was built outside Roman city. The walls had to be extended south and west to include the the. A motte was built with a stone curtain wall. Entry to inner bailey was controlled by the keep like Agricola tower.

The river has changed its course since the walls were built and now flows further to the south. It is worth dropping down off walls to walk along the side of river with views of the Old Dee bridge. There is a pleasant walkway along the river with trees, seats, ice cream stalls and a cafe. There is even a miniature railway in gardens. River cruises start from here and you can hire rowing boats or paddle boats.

This is a very easy walk and apart from steps over gateways is wheelchair friendly. There is plenty to keep your interest during the walk.


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