In The Area: The Chester Rows

Oct 27, 2017

Chester‘s charming timbered houses and covered walkways are one of the city’s most iconic sights. 

A Cheshire institution, the pretty Rows line up along Chester’s main streets. Nowadays, the premises are a mishmash of high street shops, restaurants and offices, though still attracting history buffs and photo-hunters alike.

The Rows were first built along the four main streets leading out from Chester’s city centre, though there is much speculation as to the exact origin and purpose of the iconic raised walkways that make up their recognisable appearance.

Some speculate that the two-floored design of the shopping streets was a precaution against fire. Others have suggested that more expensive wares would be kept on the upper floors, supposedly out of reach of the Welsh.

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Due to the city’s tumultuous past, many of the buildings here today are Victorian-era recreations. However, some buildings remain well-preserved and have stood since the 13th century.

As much as they are medieval, The Rows ow much of their heritage to Chester’s Roman past. The elevated nature of the shopfronts and walkways stems from them being built upon Roman ruins that once flanked the main streets.

The Rows have changed much over the years. The original wattle and thatch have been replaced by brickwork and masonry. Old stores and sellers have been replaced by high street brands and popular eateries.

Yet, despite the ever-changing face of The Rows, they remain unique, a one-of-their-kind that attracts visitors from far and wide.

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