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TIMELINE: Chester

by Darcy Lewis

Eastgate Clock Tower Chester 79 AD: Romans build the fortress of Deva at what is now Chester to house the 20th Legion.

120-165 AD: Deva was neglected as much of the legion was reassigned to the north.

Ca. 380: The Romans abandon the city.

Ca. 400-500: Chester was part of the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

603: St. Augustine met with British bishops at Urbs Legion (Chester). The city was absorbed into the English kingdom of Mercia around this time.

616: King Aethelfrith of Northumbria defeats the Mercians in what is now known as the Battle of Chester. The Anglo-Saxons call the city Ceaster or Legeceaster.

Ca. 850: The Chester mint begins striking silver pennies.

893-94: The Danish army winters in Chester.

924: Chester joins the Welsh in revolt against English rule. Edward the Elder subdues the rebellion.

980: Vikings attack Chester, inflicting severe damage.

1059: Edwin becomes the last Saxon Earl of Chester.

1070: William the Conqueror visits Chester while squelching rebellion in the north.

1071: William grants the earldom of Chester to loyal follower Hugh d'Avranches. His family retains the earldom for more than 150 years.

1086: The Domesday Book includes a detailed description of Chester, its port and its laws.

1120s: The Southern portion of the city walls is built.

1150-1200: The Western portion of the city walls is built.

1180: A major fire destroys much of Chester.

Ca. 1120: The position of Sheriff of Chester is first mentioned in a charter by Earl Ranulph I.

Ca. 1300: St. Michael's Church built.

1237: The Crown annexes the Earldom of Chester, marking the traditional start of the post of Mayor of Chester, although it may actually have begun as early as 1227.

1245-46: Henry III visits Chester while campaigning against David of Wales.

1246-53: Major remodeling and expansion occurs at Chester Castle.

1277: Edward I uses Chester as his base for the conquest of North Wales.

1278: Fire destroys nearly every building within the city walls.

1279: The Dee Bridge is swept away.

1300: King Edward I makes his eldest son Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester. These titles have remained combined ever since. This charter also defined the Mayor of Chester's duties and privileges.

1353: Edward the Black Prince grants admiralty powers to collect tolls from maritime traffic in the Dee River. He also visits the city that year.

1375: First known performance of the Chester Mystery Plays is held.

1403: The Glyndwr Rebellion leads Henry, Prince of Wales (future Henry V) to impose a nighttime curfew on Welshmen.

1499: The Dee Bridge is rebuilt in stone.

1506: Henry VII grants Chester its "Great Charter."

1528: The Mayor of Chester is confirmed to be the ex-Officio Admiral of the Dee, meaning that lands and harbors of the liberties of Chester were exempt from control by the Admiralty of England.

1540: Mayor Henry Gee "beats the bounds" of Chester for the first time ะ marches around town's boundaries.

1541: St. Werburgh's Abbey becomes Chester Cathedral.

1582: Parishioners practically rebuild St. Michael's Church.

1603: Plague breaks out in Chester.

1642: When the Civil War begins, Chester declares for King Charles.

1643: Townsmen build ramparts to protect the city's outskirts. In August, Parliamentary forces attack unsuccessfully.

1644: Parliamentary soldiers begin the blockade and siege of Chester.

1645: Battle of Rowton Moor -- Charles I watches Parliamentary forces crush his army from Phoenix Tower. The victors capture the suburbs and intensify their siege of the city.

1646: Siege of Chester ends in February as the city surrenders to Parliamentary forces.

1695-98: The Exchange is built in the Market Square.

1704: The city walls are partially rebuilt and converted to promenades.

1745: During the Jacobite rebellion, gun batteries are built at Chester Castle.

1766: Medieval East Gate is demolished, revealing the remains of the Roman gateway. The present East Gate was built three years later.

1779: The Chester-Nantwich Canal opens.

1785: Chester's first hotel, the Royal Hotel, is built where the Grosvenor Hotel now stands.

1788-1818: Thomas Harrison oversees the rebuilding of Chester Castle.

1821: The most complete Roman military diploma ever discovered in Britain is excavated at Chester. This diploma conferred Roman citizenship on soldiers after 25 years of service.

1832: Princess Victoria opens Grosvenor Bridge.

1835: The national Municipal Corporation Act abolishes the admiralty rights of seaport towns. From this time, the Mayor of Chester's title Admiral of the Dee is strictly honorary.

1839: Chester College opens.

1840: The first railway lines open from Chester to Birkenhead and Crewe.

1848: The Chester General railway station is built.

1849: St. Michael's Church is rebuilt a second time.

1862: The Guild Hall burns.

1866: Chester hosts Wales National Eisteddfod

1866: The Eastgate Clock is built.

1868-76: Sir George Gilbert Scott oversees the restoration of Chester Cathedral.

1886: The Grosvenor Museum opens.

1896: Electric lighting is introduced in Chester.

1913: Mayor Ribbeck beats the bounds for the first time since the mid-19th century.

1917: The Royal Flying Corps takes over the Chester Aerodrome, formerly a private flying school.

1923: The current bridge across the Dee is built.

1929: The Roman amphitheater is discovered and excavated.

1931: The Chester Zoo opens.

1938-39: Phyllis Brown becomes Chester's first female mayor.

1951-57: Americans assume control over the RAF Sealand base.

1969: The City Conservation Area is designated to preserve historic structures.

1972: Mayor Dutton beats the bounds of Chester for the last timeัmodern growth makes the ritual difficult. Besides, maps work pretty well now!

1972: St. Michael's closes its doors as a church, reopening in 1975 as Britain's first Heritage Centre.

1979: Chester celebrates its 1900th anniversary.

1992: Queen Elizabeth II confers the title of Lord Mayor upon the Mayor of Chester.

1993: Women were made Freemen in Chester's Guilds for the first time.

1998: The Midsummer Watch Parades celebrate their 500th anniversary.

Related Articles:

Chester, by Sue Wilkes
http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/towns/chester.shtml

The Hidden Treasures of Chester Cathedral, by Julia Hickey
http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/churches/cathedral.shtml

Hidden Churches of Cheshire, by Louise Simmons
http://www.timetravel-britain.com/articles/churches/cheshire.shtml

Related Reading:

Chester, by Peter Carrington (Batsford, 1994)
Chester, by Brian Harris (Bartholomew City Guide, Batsford 1979)
Chronicle of Chester, by Herbert Hughes, (Macdonald, 1975)


Darcy Lewis is an award-winning freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Writer's Digest, HGTV Ideas, Home, and the Chicago Tribune, among many other publications. Much of Darcy's knowledge of British history can be traced to her work as a history major specializing in pre-modern England at Brown University in Providence, RI. But her passion has deeper roots: Darcy's English mother, who is an endless treasure trove of stories about "how we do things at Home."
Article © 2005 Darcy Lewis
Photo © 2005 Nigel Wilkes

 

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