Chester Castle was originally built in 1070. The remnants of it can be found at the southwest corner of the city walls overlooking the River Dee. The remaining parts of the castle are a popular tourist attraction with more recent accompanying buildings used as a crown court.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that when the first Earl of Chester built the original castle he did so on the site of a Saxon fortification. During the twelfth century a stone tower was added together with a gateway to the inner bailey becoming known as the Agricola Tower. A century later an outer bailey was build which saw the Agricola Tower being blocked up blocked up to allow for the addition of the Great Hall being built along what was the wall of the inner bailey.
Castle development continued during the reign of Edward I which saw a new gateway to the outer bailey being flanked by two half-drum towers, individual royal chambers for the King and Queen and even a new chapel and stables. Chester castle featured in the English Civil War being held by the Royalists. It was heavily assaulted by Parliamentary forces and, together with the rest of the city of Chester Together with the rest of the city, besieged between September 1645 and February 1646.
Use as a prison saw something of a decline with conditions within being fiercely criticised to such an extent that a new prison was commissioned to be built by Thomas Harrison. After completion in 1792 the new prison was praised and Harrison rebuilt the medieval Shire Hall and added two new wings – one to act as barracks and the other as an armoury.
In 1925 the crypt and chapel in the Agricola Tower were reconsecrated by the Bishop of Chester for the use of the Cheshire Regiment and the chapel was refurnished in 1939.
After the army moved out for the last time the remains of the Castle were cleared, renovated and then opened to the public. Today not that much of the castle remains though is still worth a visit with other places of historical interest on the doorstep such as the Grosvenor Museum. Opening times for the Guard Room and Agricola Tower are: Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm: Sunday 1pm – 4pm: Castle Gates Close at 4pm. Guided tours of the castle are available from the end of April until the end of October. Please check local tourist information web sites for details.
There is so much more of historical interest in Chester in addition to the castle given the city’s Roman heritage so a visit to the castle is just one thing on any traveller’s to do list. Chester makes a great base for exploring the north Wales coast which means that if castles are your thing you will also want to check out Conwy castle and Flint castle or indeed any other of the many castles within easy driving distance of Chester.