Boutique shopping in ChesterView map
Independent shopping in a Medieval setting
here’s no need to keep an eye on the clock when you’re shopping in Chester. Just listen out for the piercing calls of David and Julie Mitchell, the town criers.
This is the only English town to still have a crier appearing at a fixed place and time (midday in the town centre, from May to August, on Tuesdays and Saturdays) and the only husband and wife town crier team in the world (fact).
With their cries echoing off the old timber-frame buildings, a stroll around the Chester Rows – the ancient shopping streets dating back to the late 13th century – is part history lesson, part retail therapy.
These days the ‘rows’ are home to fashionable boutiques and independent cafes, but back in the bad old days it would have been armourers, dubious physicians and farriers who were plying their trade in this Medieval mall that runs along Watergate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge Street.
Even if you’re going easy on the credit card this month, it’s still worth a look. The shops are set over two tiers – one just below street level, the other, a covered first-floor walkway. And while no one’s sure quite how they came about, the general theory is that in Medieval times the upper levels were used as living spaces and shops, and the stone ‘crypts’, below, were used for storage.
Once you’ve shopped, dropped or dosed up on history, why not head to Ye Olde Boot Inn for lunch. This place has a fascinating history, too, having been here since 1643. It was a Royalist meeting place during the English Civil War, a brothel back in Victorian times and a gambling club during the Twenties.
In case you’re wondering, though, the pies and pints are fresh as you like…