Founded at the beginning of the 11th century, Chester castle still stands tall in its glory in Cheshire, Chester. Once an administrative center of the earldom of Chester, today it is one of the significant historical tourist attractions in the city.
Chester Castle Location
Chester Castle is located southwest of the Walled City, near the Racecourse and River, on the border with Wales.
The castle’s address is Grosvenor Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2DN.
Unlike castles and historical sites, Chester castle is usually open for visits only from July to September. During this period, the castle is open three days a week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), and opening timings are 10:30 am – 4 pm.
The timings may vary according to the season. For the latest timings, check the English heritage website or contact the town hall information center before planning a visit.
When opened for public visits, parts of the castle are The Guardroom, Agricola’s Tower, The Chapel of St. Mary De Castro, and the Battlements.
It is recommended to visit it by guided tour only. Usually, tours run twice a month from the beginning of April to the end of October. When the castle is opened, visiting time and ticket prices are available online on different websites i.e. https://production.english-heritage.org.uk/
Free of cost car parking is also available for visitors.
The entrance is completely free for everyone.
If you want to enjoy rooftop views from the Agricola Tower, £2 is charged (per person).
Chester Castle History
One of the oldest castles in the city, Chester castle was built in the 11th century in 1070. Its architectural aspects are such state of the art that this structure is still in excellent condition even after 1000 years. Whereas most similar structures built several years later either don’t exist anymore or are in ruins now.
The Chester castle was built on the orders of William the Conqueror, and as soon as it was completed, it became the administrative center of Chester city. William and many upcoming earls administered the city from this castle.
Today’s Chester castle has many additional structures compared to what it looked like when it was first built. The first structure was a motte-and-bailey castle made of wood and earth.
As per historians, that castle only occupied the area of the inner bailey. In the 12th century, Motte and Bailey’s castle was rebuilt with stone, and the outer bailey was added. This castle was remodeled until the 19th century, and several other structures were added.
After the 19th century, there were no further additions, and all the work done in Chester castle was just maintenance.
In 1237, when the earl of Chester died, King Henry III took a personal interest in this castle and took over it and turned it into military headquarters. The walls of an outer bailey, blockage to the gateway in the Agricola Tower, residential accommodation, including a Great Hall, south wall of the inner bailey were all built.
After Henry III, Edward I also used it as military headquarters. After the reign of Edward I, this castle went back to serve as the main administrative center of Chester.
In the 17th-century civil wars (1642–1651), Chester castle was the main headquarters. Royalist army and governor Lord Bayron stayed and released all orders from here.
Soon after the Civil war, Chester castle was used as a prison, a court, and a tax office. One of the significant additions afterward was a new prison in 1792, which stayed one of the best-constructed prisons in the British Empire for several decades.
Between 1788 and 1813, the outer bailey was rebuilt entirely in the later modern period style. The Chester castle remains the county hall, courts, and regimental museum, but the military finally withdrew in 1999.
Chester Castle Today
Today’s Chester castle houses five structures: St. Mary’s Church, Museum, Crown Courts, Agricola Towers, and Officers Mess. Only the church, museum (guard room), and towers are open for visitors. The castle is under the direct supervision of the University of Chester and has a strict no-go policy in prohibited areas.
Castle is just a short walk from the central city, making it one of the popular tourist attractions whenever it is open. Visiting the castle with a tour guide is highly recommended so you can get to know the 900 years of its history and enjoy your trip a lot more.
Medieval history is dominant all over Chester castle. Besides the structures themselves, you will also see a lot of paintings and other items from that era.
You can get all the guidance and information and book guided tours from Town Hall Visitors Information Center in Chester.
These towers (also called Caesar’s Tower) are the gateway to Chester castle. A lot of essential prisoners of British history were kept here.
These towers are open to visitors. Made of stone, it is still pretty much in its original form.
The main front of the castle is an excellent arch of Agricola towers. It was once used as the main entrance to the castle.
From the top of the Agricola towers, you can enjoy the incredible view of the city. Just beside the chapel, there are stairs to the wall walk. This is the only part of Chester Castle where you must buy a token. The steps of towers lead up to castle walls and down to sally’s port.
Chapel of St Mary de Castro
There are some structures inside towers as well. The chapel of St Mary de Castro is on the first floor. All the walls of the Chapel are adorned with murals. Several antique paintings from the 13th century are hanging in that chapel. The giant copper-plated door ameliorates the aesthetics of the chapel.
In the 19th century, this chapel was used as an arsenal. Later in the 20th century, it was opened to the public.
This structure was added much later. Chester Crown Court occupies the outer bailey. It is not open for visits.
This is one of the original structures from when Chester castle was built. As the tower was mainly used for military purposes, there were weapons storage rooms and barracks with fully fortified enclosures.
The little guard room of Chester castle is a treat for history lovers. The history of the castle is displayed on hanging panels everywhere.
It is just beside the Agricola towers. Guardrooms house just one room and a few cells, where guards of the medieval period and some prisoners were kept. A dummy of a guard stands in the room, looking in one of the cells, dressed like a guard of the period era.
The museum was built in the 19th century to accommodate soldiers and officers.
Major attractions nearby Chester Castle
Chester Castle is near the central city. Several other historical and tourist attractions such as Chester Cathedral, Grosvenor Museum, Cheshire Military Museum, Eastgate, and hundreds of restaurants/shopping spots are mere minutes away from Castle.
Photography in Chester Castle
For photographers, there are opportunities everywhere to capture this ancient royal fortress.
There are fantastic historical demonstrations all across Chester Castle. The structure itself is worth capturing for its history.
Step up and go to the castle’s walls for a fantastic city view. From the top, you can capture rivers nearby, the sky, and the city all in one frame.
If you are into wide-angle photography, we highly recommend visiting Chester castle and photographing from the wall of castles and the top of Agricola towers for a unique viewpoint.
The historic structures inside the castle, especially the chapel itself, are worth visiting the castle for photography. It houses some very antique and unique antiquated artworks.
The Chester Castle has no strict policy about photography, but it is better to ask your tour guide or town hall information center.
See some of our tips for travel photography.
If you are in Chester city, a quick trip to Chester castle is worth a visit.
The fantastic architecture of the castle tells tales about British history throughout the medieval periods. Once the most critical building in Chester, where important war prisoners and all the arsenal were kept, it still has much to offer its visitors.
If you visit to view the city from the top of the castle walls and tower, you can enjoy the trip without any guide. If you want to learn about history, it is worth taking a tour with a tour guide.
As aforementioned, the castle is not open 24/7. Before you visit there, ensure it is available for public visits and visiting hours.
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