|Evidence - there's not a lot of contemporary stuff left, but here the repair to the main|
breach in the wall is clearly visible
On Sunday, I went down to Chester for a few days looking at the ECW sites. I went with an old friend, whose name – as it happens – is Chester. Merely a happy coincidence, but I shall take care to make it clear to which Chester I am referring, as necessary.
Our preparation for the trip was mostly in reading John Barratt’s fine The Great Siege of Chester, and booking ourselves on to a couple of guided tours.
Monday we walked around the walls – there is a very good set of visitor information boards for the ECW period, featuring excellent artists’ impressions of how the various locations looked in the 17th Century. As far as we can tell, these painted views are not available in any publication or online – I am still checking, but they probably should be.
In the afternoon we went for a guided walk around the battlefield at Rowton Moor (about 4 miles outside Chester’s walls) with Ed Abrams, who offers a fine blend of enthusiasm and expertise – his Civil War Tours enterprise is heartily recommended.
In the evening, we had arranged to have dinner at The Brewery Tap, in Bridge Street, which was the home of Francis Gamul during the siege, and is where Charles I spent the nights before and after Rowton Moor. I was very pleased with this little bit of historical tie-in (and the food was great). I guess our meal was rather more cheerful than Charles Stuart’s must have been the night after the battle. In passing, I was also delighted to learn that Gamul’s daughter was christened Lettuce, a name which appears to have drifted out of fashion lately.
|Original, with new bits - the Water Tower, near the old port|
|A tax called murage was collected to pay for maintenance of the walls. The|
officials in charge of this were called Murringers - here's a list of some of them
|Captain Morgan's cannon - OK, it's a monument - certainly, an iron gun|
carriage would take a bit of shifting
|Gone but not forgotten|
|Chester (the person) at the Phoenix Tower. Legend has it that King|
Charles watched the battle of Rowton Moor from the top. He
must have had remarkable eyesight - you can't see Rowton from here.
|Looking down Foregate Street from the Eastgate - much of this part of the city|
was destroyed in the siege, and most of what you can see in this picture is Victorian
|Near the South-East corner of the old city - this area saw some of the most fierce bombardment|
|The rear portion of this pub was the house of Francis Gamul, who was Charles' host|
at the time of Rowton Moor
|The scene of the first stages of Rowton Moor - there are three modern villages|
built on the old battlefield
|Ed Abrams, the expert guide (left), discusses the role of dragoons at Rowton with Chester|
|There are very few contemporary buildings still visible at Rowton - this one, by|
local tradition, may have been a dressing station for the Royalist wounded.
The farmer has refused permission to survey the field.
|This is almost the only official recognition of the fact that an important|
battle was fought here. The monument is close to what is thought to be a mass
burial in an old lime pit.
Tuesday morning we joined Ed’s colleague Viv (who was in costume) for a tour of the Civil War sites within the city, so we were back on the walls again. Informative and very entertaining – again, recommended.
|Behind many of the shops in The Rows, in the old city of Chester, are these vaulted|
medieval cellars, which were used as storehouses and also as bomb shelters during the bombardment
|The Bear and Billet - this pub was originally the house of the keeper of the old|
bridge over the Dee, and the copious windows were originally access to a warehouse,
to store goods coming over from Wales
On the Wednesday, we set out on the trail of King Charles. We had intended to move on to the battlefield at Montgomery, south of Welshpool, but the weather warnings for the following day were a bit alarming, and we decided, since Montgomery is not far from the same latitude as Birmingham, that we should not stray so far south. In the event, we went to have a quick look at Denbigh Castle, which is where Charles stayed after his visit to Chester. We stayed overnight at Maeshafn, near Mold, and the next day we had a rather stressful drive home through howling gales and very serious rain. No real problems for us, but we saw a number of large trucks which had blown over, or blown off the road.