Did you know that there was a time when plans were
afoot for Chester to be the capital of the whole
of Britain; many hundreds of
years before Britain
became a single nation? It's amazing and fascinating - and true.
Not long after
the Roman invasion of England,
historians believe, the Roman military commanders decided that they were going
to colonise Scotland and Ireland as well as England
and major parts of Wales.
They decided that as Scotland
and Ireland were easily
reached by sea from Chester,
it ought to be the administrative capital of this outpost of empire. That's why
Chester - or Deva (pronounced Dewa) as they knew it - was laid out on such a
large scale, why the docks were so extensive, and why the amphitheatre was the
largest in this country - and indeed one of the biggest outside Rome.
Chester is endlessly
fascinating for anyone interested in history, and one delightful feature has
recently been re-opened after a programme of restoration. This is the Roman
garden, which stands just outside the city walls, and just a few yards from the
amphitheatre. It stretches from one of the ancient gates into the city down to
the banks of the River Dee, and now includes many plants which would have been
found in provincial Roman gardens, topiary typical of the period, and many
Roman artefacts - some of them recently discovered. The renovation was
completed at the end of May, on schedule, and in time for citizens and visitors
alike to enjoy the tranquillity of the gardens through the summer.
Chester is a short and
pleasant drive from Combermere Abbey, and nothing could be finer than
combining the history of the Abbey with the history of the city. What better,
after a day exploring this ancient city, to return to your luxurious and
peaceful self-catering cottage at the Abbey and wander in the woodland and
along the lakeside before settling in down in a wonderfully comfy bed - and dreaming
of centurions, gladiators and firing trebuchets?
For more information, prices
and availability of the cottages at Combermere Abbey click here.
For the official
Chester visitors' site click here. To see some
fascinating old maps of Chester click here. For
what's on in Chester
click here. And for a very informative site guiding you round the walls of the
city click here. Oh yes, and no one knows for certain why the Romans abandoned their plans to colonise Scotland and Ireland, but as a result Londinium ended up being the capital instead. It's probably a good thing; otherwise Chester would now stretch from the Pennines to the Welsh hills.