Chester's architecture in Grosvenor Museum exhibition

With its castle and fairytale-esque buildings, Chester has charmed millions of people and was even voted as the fifth prettiest city in Europe by USA Today readers last year.

A new exhibition showcases the area's architectural history at the city's Grosvenor Museum from Saturday.

Image copyright Thomas Allom

Originating from the Roman era, the English city's famous walls were converted from defensive uses into a two-mile promenade in the 18th century. Its gateways and towers offer a panorama of the Clwyd Hills in north Wales.

Image copyright Moses Griffith

In 1070, William the Conqueror founded Chester Castle - then a wooden structure but later rebuilt in stone. Peter Boughton, from Grosvenor Museum, says: "The castle was of both strategic and administrative importance, since Chester was the base from which north Wales was conquered in the following two centuries."

Image copyright John Buckler

The evocative Shire Hall is the castle's grandest interior space, Mr Boughton adds. Designed by Thomas Harrison in 1791-2, the courtroom was inspired by the Anatomy Theatre in Paris.

Image copyright Richard Hore

Possibly Chester's most famous landmark, the Eastgate Clock, was designed by John Douglas to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and was formally opened two years later for her 80th birthday. It was built above the east gate in the city's walls and later widened to allow coaches through.

Image copyright Joseph Kronheim

Legend has it Chester Cathedral exists on the site of a Roman temple to Apollo, which supplanted a Druid temple. Unusually, the medieval church and monastery were not ruined during King Henry VIII's Reformation as he allowed them to become the cathedral of the new Diocese of Chester.

Image copyright Stanley Roy Badmin

With its 13th Century buildings and Victorian-era imitations, the city's famous Rows of shops have been described as something out of Grimm's Fairy Tales. The city and wider West Cheshire region attracted 29 million visitors and £1.5bn in tourism revenue last year, prompting Councillor Stuart Parker to say: "Chester's face is her fortune."

Image copyright Thomas Shotter Boys

This 19th Century watercolour shows Watergate Row South, with what may be boots hanging off the ceiling to advertise a boot-maker's shop. Now home to upmarket retailers, it is one of the picturesque two-tiered Rows that open on to the street.

Image copyright Bernard L. Howard

As with many Odeon cinemas, the Chester branch was designed in the art deco style. The Grade II listed building from 1936 is now being turned into a cultural centre.

  • Picturesque Chester: The City in Art runs from 15 November to 22 February at Chester's Grosvenor Museum

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