England travel guide




Chester Travel Guide

The Rows

One of the most distinguishing features of Chester are “The rows”, galleried walkways with shops, running the length of the stone and half timbered buildings, usually at first floor level.

Originally dating from 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. Many of them have been restored or rebuilt on several occasions. They are believed to have evolved from houses and shops which, being erected on the site of Roman ruins, were built partly in front of the piles of rubble and partly on top, linked together by some form of pergola.

The Rows are located in the four town’s main streets which, following the Roman town plan, meet at right angles at the market cross. In Eastgate Street, Bridge Street and Watergate Street the galleries run along at first floor level, in Northgate Street mostly at ground level. Visits can be made to the shops, cafes, houses and offices, or a stroll taken in town, without having to worry too much about the weather. The many unexpected little nooks and crannies, especially in Eastgate Street, add further to their charm.

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