On our way from Caernarfon to York we stopped for the morning in Chester, just over the English border. Founded as a Roman fort in 79 AD the city is considered one of the best-preserved walled cities in England. We walked the ornate Chester Rows central shopping area and climbed the city wall. Described as possibly the second most photographed clock in Britain, we learned of the Queen Victoria clock built to honor her visit to the city. From the city wall we viewed the Roman amphitheatre, and watched excursions of school children carrying soldiers’ shields to learn about Chester’s Roman history.
After the guided walking tour Connie and I visited the Chester Cathedral, formerly a Benedictine monastery dating from the 11th century. We lunched at an outdoor cafe looking up at the three-sided clock of the Town Hall. The fourth side faces Wales, and “Chester won’t give Wales the time of day.”
We arrived in York to find the River Ouse flooded and still rising with the rain that continued on and off during our walking tour of the city. York’s narrow, winding alley known as The Shambles dates from William the Conqueror’s time and is now home to many boutique stores related to Harry Potter and the like. We learned that York was once the center of the chocolate industry in England, and Kit-Kat bars are still made nearby. We also learned that Constantine became emperor of the Roman Empire while in York when his father died while they were there. [Constantine would go on to unite a fractured Roman empire and declare Christianity to be its official religion, ending three centuries of Christian martyrdom by the Romans.]
By far the most impressive sights in were in the magnificent York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals of its kind in northern Europe. We were treated to a wonderful guided tour during the morning and returned in late afternoon for an Evensong service featuring the amazing York Minster choir.
We had a delicious lunch at another York institution, Betty’s Tea Rooms, before spending much of the afternoon at the National Rail Museum with its 6,000 or so items on display including around 100 locomotives and rolling stock.