Chester City Walls King Charles’ Tower open to the public
King Charles’ Tower on Chester City walls was open to the general public over two weekends in September , a rare treat.
The opening of King Charles’ Tower was part of Heritage Open Days 2022 – 9th-18th September – England’s largest festival of history and culture where each September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate history and culture.
Visitors were able to tour the two-storey tower free of charge, courtesy of volunteers from Cheshire Historic Buildings Preservation Trust (CHBPT) and learn more about its fascinating history and restoration in 2013. Mike Graham, English Civil War Re-enactor entertained visitors and enriched the experience.
Tony Barton, Chair of Trustees for CHBPT said: “We had over 800 visitors go round the two floors of the Tower and leave generous donations for the work of CHBPT. This is probably the first time the Tower has been open to the public for over four years. Mike Graham was a fantastic addition for visitors and the children loved him, he really brought some of the history of the Tower to life.”
Jane Harrad-Roberts, a Volunteer at CHBPT added; “Many visitors thought we’d opened the Tower to honour the new King Charles III but it was coincidental. However, if he or Prince William the new Earl of Chester choose to visit soon, I’m sure we can open the Tower again for them.”
Visitors were asked for a voluntary donation to the work of Cheshire Historic Buildings Preservation Trust.
LtoR: 1. Mike Graham instructing and 2. outside the upper floor of King Charles’ Tower, 3. Jane Harrad-Roberts, Mike Graham and Tony Barton.
Chester City Walls King Charles’ Tower open to the public this weekend
This and next weekend 10th and 11th, 17th and 18th September 2022, between 10am and 4pm, walkers around Chester City Walls will be able to venture into King Charles’ Tower, a rare treat.
This Grade I listed tower stands on the North-East corner of the city walls over-looking the canal. Parts of the tower date back to the 13th Century. It is called King Charles’ Tower because on the 24th of September 1645, King Charles stood on the tower and watched his army that was defeated in the battle of Rowton Moor earlier in the day, return towards the City.
The Inscription above the door reads: ‘King Charles Stood on this Tower Sept. 24 1645. And saw his army defeated on Rowton Moor’ however you can’t see Rowton Moor from the tower.
Visitors will be able to tour the two-storey tower free of charge, courtesy of volunteers from Chester Historic Buildings Preservation Trust (CHBPT) and learn more about its fascinating history and restoration in 2013.
Tony Barton, Chair of Trustees for CHBPT said: “We are delighted to be able to show members of the public round the tower these weekends and look forward to them especially enjoying the motion activated talking history of the tower that we have installed.”
He added; “Back in 2013 Donald Insall Associates completed the tower’s restoration in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council, who did well to secure funding from the European PORTICO project, so that there was no cost to the tax payer in carrying out this work.”
Visitors will be asked for a voluntary donation to the work of Chester Historic Buildings Preservation Trust.
More information: https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/king-charles-tower
The opening of King Charles’ Tower is part of Heritage Open Days 2022 (HODs) – 9th-18th September – England’s largest festival of history and culture where each September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate history and culture. Visitors can see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore.
Launch of Heritage Festival 2022
Cheshire Historic Buildings Preservation Trust was represented at the launch of Chester’s Heritage Festival for 2022 last month. The launch took place at Chester Racecourse on Roman Day 28th May and gave details of over 80 events as the Festival returned in ‘full force’ for 2022.
CHBPT Steps up for Dee House
When we heard that the local council’s partners had withdrawn from the development agreement for Dee House CHBPT decided to step in to see if we could help.
This Grade II Listed building was built in four phases commencing with an important 18th century townhouse which forms the core of the current building. It was extended for a religious order by Edmund Kirby in the neo-Gothic style with a later wing to the west in a ‘Georgian’ style. The low range of buildings above Souter’s Lane is 20th century but the key thing to note about Dee House is that it was built over Chester’s Roman Amphitheatre, only rediscovered in the early 20th century and partially excavated after the road to Newgate was diverted around it.
Dee House is in a sorry state having been abandoned by British Telecom and acquired by the then local council for “public benefit” but the recent withdrawal of the partner developer was the last straw and we saw CHBPT as a possible vehicle for its rescue. The Architectural Heritage Fund agreed and grant aided a Project Viability Report but we were surprised at the outcome of the study by Conservation Architects Donald Insall Associates. In parallel, Cheshire West and Chester Council had set up a working group to explore the best way forward and we worked in partnership with everyone to come to the same conclusion.
We had thought that ownership by a community group might be CHBPT’s obvious route, but we soon discovered that the poor building is in a dangerous condition, damaged by fire, dry rot and internal collapse. For a conservation group to recommend partial demolition of an 18th century Listed building might appear contradictory but in fact it is the only way to remove a large conservation deficit and make the building safe, economically viable and ready to take on a new life.
Cheshire West and Chester Council accepted our recommendation, through the working party and has heroically risen to the challenge and submitted a September 2021 Listed Building Consent for a strip-out, salvage and stabilisation project ahead of trying to find a new partner developer. Our advice is that in return for this public investment a significant element of public access and interpretation was to be included in any future redevelopment proposal.
Our full report is available. if you would like an electronic copy please contact us.