Chester Rows, Chester, Cheshire


The Cross, Chester
1910s
Publisher: Hugo Lang & Co

Google Street View.

Chester Rows are a set of structures in each of the four main streets of Chester, in the United Kingdom, consisting of a series of covered walkways on 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. 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.
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There are shops on the street level with wide steps leading to the first floor where there on more shops on the Rows. Above this are 2+ storeys in black-and-white architecture. 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”. On the street side of the walkways are railings and an area which was used as shelves or stalls for the display of goods. The floors above the level of the Rows are used for commercial or domestic purposes, or for storage.

Wikipedia.

The layout of the Rows goes back to the 13th century. There were shops or warehouses at street level, with a long gallery above, reached by steps from the street level. Living quarters are on the gallery level. In the Middle Ages, this would have been a hall, open to the roof and heated by a central hearth. The private rooms, or solar, were above the gallery. In the Tudor and Jacobean period the upper floors were built out over the gallery, supported on long poles down to the street level. Shops at ground level used the space between the posts to display their goods to passers-by.
Britain Express

To trace the original cause of these rows, with any degree of certainty, is no easy task, concerning which a variety of conjectures have been formed. Some have attributed their origin to the period when Chester was liable to the frequent assaults of the Welsh, which induced the inhabitants to build their houses in this form, so that when the enemy should at any time have forced an entrance, they might avoid the danger of the horsemen, and annoy their assailants as they passed through the streets. This opinion seems to be adopted by Webb, and followed by most other writers on the subject. He says, “And because their conflicts with enemies continued long time, it was needful for them to leave a space before the doors of those their upper buildings, upon which they might stand in safety from the violence of their enemies’ horses, and withall defend their houses from spoyl, and stand with advantage to encounter their enemies, when they made incursions”. I am aware that this has long been, and still is the popular sentiment; but I think there is very good reason to question its correctness.
Chester: a Virtual Stroll Around the Walls

Halton Castle, Cheshire


The Ruins Halton
c.1940
Publisher: F Ball?

Google Street View.

Halton Castle itself was built circa-1070 by either Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester or his tenant, Nigel of Contentin, probably in the form of an earth and timber motte-and-bailey fortification. The castle occupied a high promontory that offered a naturally strong defensive position. The only vulnerable approach, on the north-west side, was protected by a deep ditch cut from the rock. The intent behind the castle was invariably to secure control of the important crossing over the estuary (which from circa-1178 was served by a ferry) and to exploit the valuable riverine resources which included an abundant supply of Salmon. . . . It was rebuilt in stone in the late twelfth/early thirteenth centuries with the bailey being enclosed by a substantial stone curtain wall. Towers, a square one on the west side and a later round one to the north, were added in the subsequent years. A substantial Great Hall was built within the castle’s grounds perhaps enhancing a structure that had stood since the fortification was first erected. Foundations of a circular structure may be indicative of a shell keep.
Castles Forts Battles


The South View of Halton Castle in the County of Chester (from Wikimedia Commons).

The present castle dates from the 13th century but it is clear from excavations that it supercedes a motte and bailey castle which occupied the north western side of the site. This form of castle was introduced by the Normans and consisted of a mound of earth capped by a timber fortification. A ditch was cut into the bedrock on the east side and the attached bailey occupied the rest of the crown of the hill. The ruins of the castle at Halton survive well despite the later insertion of a courthouse on the site of the gatehouse and the creation of a folly garden within the ruins. It has within the western half of the interior the buried remains of an extensive range of late medieval domestic buildings as well as the remains of six lock-ups from the 18th century refurbishment of the site as a courthouse and prison.
Historic England

The importance of Halton was recognised at the opening of the Civil War, when a garrison was placed there for the king by Earl Rivers in June 1643, but a year after the post was reduced and taken possession of for the Parliament by the force under Sir William Brereton. Shortly afterwards the castle was dismantled and turned into a ruin. An ancient print reproduced by the Historic Society of Cheshire¬† shows the old fortress standing on a cliff over the river, with the town below it;the enclosure of high embattled walls is of circular form, holding nine large square mural towers, at intervals,the lower gatehouse being flanked by two of them. On the opposite side of the enceinte is shown a similar gateway, leading probably to an inner ward not seen. Ormerod too gives a sketch of the ruins as they may have been at the beginning of the present century. This view shows half-octagonal flanking towers to the entrance gateway, with the lofty Edwardian windows of John of Gaunt’s period.
The Castles of England: their story and structure, Vol II” James D. Mackenzie, 1897, p.175