Christmas trees and decorations are always a good sign that Christmas and the New Year are just around the corner. Another indicator, however, are the Saturnalia and Winter Watch Parades in Chester.
The streets of Chester were quite busy with late night shoppers
I love to go and watch it, especially on a mild evening like yesterday, and combine it with a visit to the Christmas market and maybe through in some Christmas shopping . Unfortunately I was a bit late yesterday so the best places for taking pictures were taken but it is more about the atmosphere anyway.
Saturnalia was a popular Roman midwinter festival celebrating Saturn, the god of agriculture, and worship of him hopefully encouraged prosperity to come. It was a time to eat, drink and be merry and there was a tradition of tomfoolery and role reversal, where masters became servants and vice versa.
Dating from the 1400’s the Winter Watch Parade was originally held at Christmas. The City leaders would hand over the keys to the City to the City Watch (early police force) after processing around the City to ensure it was secure. There followed a banquet and celebration of Christmas, knowing the City was safe. (more info and pics here)
This intricate clock is said to be the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben. Located in Chester, Eastgate Clock is a prominent landmark of the city and stands on the site of the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva Victrix. The official opening of the clock was performed on 27 May 1899, which was Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday.
If you’re British or fortunate enough to have studied at one of the top universities you might even think of Cambridge or Oxford.
Well, if you were unfortunate enough, you could walk on the Bridge of Sighs in Chester in the late 18th and early 19th century. Back then, the bridge led from the Northgate gaol (jail), across the Shropshire Union Canal, to a chapel in the Bluecoat School. Condemned prisoners would cross the bridge to receive the last rites before their execution – some of them sighing, knowing what was to come. Hence the name Bridge of Sighs.
The bridge viewed from the canal.
The bridge used to have an iron railing to prevent prisoners from escaping.
It is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building.
Prior to the crossing the prisoners probably spent their last few days or hours in the ‘Dead Man’s Room’ – the cell for prisoners who were waiting to be executed.
Illustration of what it looked like. Spotted it on a sign. Copyright Cheshire West and Chester Council
The Northgate gaol was on the right and the school chapel on the left.
Last night was the first time I caught Chester’s Winter Watch Parade. Dating from the 1400’s the Winter Watch Parade was originally held at Christmas. The City leaders would hand over the keys to the City to the City Watch (early police force) after processing around the City to ensure it was secure. There followed a banquet and celebration of Christmas, knowing the City was safe. The Winter Watch Parade was re-created in the 1990’s and has been turned into an evening fun parade, including a fire breather, in the lead up to Christmas. (Sorry, these are just iPhone pics, so the quality isn’t brilliant)
Last night my colleague Dave and I attended the Christmas social of the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce which took place at Chester Zoo. Apart from the fact that it was a good opportunity for networking, we also got a glimpse of Chester Zoo’s upcoming Lantern Magic and the zoo’s manor house. Completely unprepared, I could only take some pictures on my iPhone so the quality isn’t brilliant but I just had to share this wonderful idea.
On entering we got these very stylish 3D glasses (I took this selfie in the office the next day – I always look sooo stupid with a pair of these…) and were told to look at all the lights. And out of nowhere, with the glasses on, the lights transformed into illuminated shapes of bats. There are other ‘light’ animals throughout the zoo, we just happened to be in the ‘bat part’. They explain how it works on the glasses.
Next up were these beautiful lanterns (some are a bit out of focus, it was just too dark for the iPhone to cope).
The animals and me – I’m not very tall but this gives you an idea of the lanterns’ size.
They look stunning in the dark.
And finally we got a glimpse of Oakfield Manor, the Victorian mansion and headquarters of the zoo. George Mottershead, the founder of the zoo, bought it for himself and his family in 1930 and made his dream of “a zoo without bars” come true.
We were greeted by some elves with hot drinks that were much needed on this cold and windy evening.
The original boardroom – George Mottershead developed and managed the zoo from here.
The library – you can hire the venue for weddings as well.
Here’s the flyer for the Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo or visit www.chesterzoo.org for more information.
What better way to spend a sunny day than with a leisurely stroll around Chester? And as the Northgate Quarter Festival took place it was the perfect excuse to combine some culture with a bit of retail therapy. However, I’m not going to bore you with any details about what I might or might not have bougth or too much information about Chester (I suppose I’m going to talk about Chester another day). I just wanted to show you some things I discovered today. And it’s not like I’ve never been to Chester before….
Seen on a building in Rufus Court
Bit of Street Art
There are many old and pretty buildings in Chester. Loving the figures on this one
“Fear”? Well, this building houses a dental practice