Downtown Chester follows the plan of the Roman camp that it was based on, so the streets are straight and in a rough grid system. However, the main shopping streets have another unique feature that is considerably more recent, dating back only to the 13th or 14th century, and that is the two story retail experience that is know as the Chester Rows. The second floor (or first floor if you are English) of all the buildings is set back from the one below, and has another shop there. The third floor overhangs the second, providing a covered walkway that runs from building to building.
Hardly any of the original row buildings remain, but as new ones have replaced old, on most of the streets they have preserved the row structure giving double the retail space. Nobody is quite sure how this happened, though the main theories are that there was rubble in the streets that prevented access to the lower floor, or that it was the result of rebuilding from a fire. These Norman arches may be part of one of the original buildings, though the upper levels are unrepentantly Georgian.
Chester’s habit of reusing bits of old stone has some interesting side effects. The local museum has an excellent collection of Roman tombstones because they were used as rubble to fill the center of the city walls…
… and the Church of St John has some viking carvings on the outside as they used a viking building as a quarry.
We are conveniently moored up close to a supermarket, so we did a big shopping run today. Greg and Karen arrive tonight, and we are off to Ellesmere Port tomorrow.