by James Pigot (1818)
Chester is a large, ancient and wealthy city, about 189 miles from London, with a population of 18.000. It has a narrow, inconvenient bridge of seven arches over the Dee and was once a place of great strength and importance, as a military station.
Its foundation is attributed to the Romans, who, tradition says, turned the course of the river, so as to bring at its waters close to the walls but there is great reason to suppose that it was a place of considerable importance long before the arrival of Julius Caesar. The city is of a square form, the figure of the Roman camps, with four elegant gates, facing the cardinal points, four principal streets and a variety of smaller ones crossing others at right angles, dividing the whole into squares. The carriages are driven far below the level of the kitchens, on a line with ranges of shops, over which passengers walk, in galleries, called the Rows; in the Rows are likewise ranges of shops with steps into the streets. The walls are considered the only entire specimen of ancient fortification in the kingdom and form a fashionable promanade, which for salubrity of air and diversity of scenery, is no where surpassed. The gates are of modern erection; Bridge-gate and Water-gate were built by the citizens; Castle-gate by Richard, late Earl Grosvenor and North-gate, in 1811, by Robert, the present Earl. The cathedral, once a monastery, is an antique building of the 10th and 16th centuries; the chapter-house is a beautiful room of florid gothic architecture. In the whole, there are nine parish churches, of which St. John's particularly invites the notice of the stranger, as exhibiting perhaps the only perfect specimen of the Saxon style existing in this part of the kingdom. In its church-yard is an anchorite's cell, in which it is said Harold ended his days after the battle of Hastings.
There are two methodist chapels, a chapel of the independents, of Lady Huntington's followers, an unitarian meeting-house and a roman catholic chapel. At the castle is a tower, ascribed to Julius Cæsar; a new-built stately hall, where the palatine courts and assizes are held, offices for the records, a prison for the county, an armory for 30.000 men and barracks. There are likewise, an infirmary, blue-coat hospital, exchange, subscription news room and theatre. Horse races are held annually, in the first week of May, on the Roodee, a beautiful meadow of about 80 acres, of which the city wall commands a full view. On the banks of the Nantwich canal a shot tower and lead manufacturer, pyrolignous acid works and a cotton mill, are established. Ship building is carried on extensively. There are also a number of roperies and manufactures of fringe, whips, thread, gloves, &c. Fairs July 5, Oct. 10 and the last Thursday in February. Upon the Ellesmere canal a packet-boat is established, which affords a cheap and pleasant conveyance to Liverpool.
Chester was made a corporation and county by Henry 7th. It is governed by a mayor, 24 aldermen and 40 common-council men and sends two members to parliament; the present representatives are Gen. the Hon. Thomas Grosvenor and Sir John Grey Egerton, Bart.
Chester is memorable for a seige of twenty weeks, which it, sustained against the parliamentarian army, commanded by Sir Wm. Brereton and it did not then surrender until every hope of relief was lost and the garrison literally starved out: The governor was Lery Byron, the ancestor of the present Lord Byron. The leading objects of curiosity are the city walls, the castle, the cathedral, St. John's church, the Roman Hypocaust under the Feathers Inn, &c.
Evans Joseph needle and fish-hook manufacturer Handbridge