Chester’s unusual and creepy places include Roman ruins, medieval buildings, unique religious monuments and infamous battlegrounds. Its famous cobbled streets, Tudor-style homes and defensive walls will take you on a journey through history. But the city’s lesser-known landmarks and untold stories will likely put a shiver down your spine.

    Embark on guided walking tours to learn about Chester’s rich and eerie history. Or, visit structures and sites that date back well over 1,000 years to step in the footsteps of Romans, Anglo-Saxons and medieval soldiers. From demons carved into churches to nuclear war museums, Chester has no shortage of out-of-the-ordinary things to see and do.

    1

    Minerva’s Shrine

    The only undisturbed Roman shrine in Western Europe

    • History
    • Unusual
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Minerva’s Shrine is a small but unique Grade I Listed building, carved into the face of a sandstone outcrop. It was constructed as a shrine to the Roman goddess Minerva in the 2nd century. Today, it’s the only shrine of its kind in Western Europe to remain in its original location, having survived the rise of Christianity and extensive quarrying.

    The shrine is located in a quiet public park named Edgar’s Field, which lines the bank of the River Dee. Cycling to the park is popular with the locals, but you can reach Minerva’s Shrine by taking the bus to the Edgar’s Field bus stop.

    Location: Edgar Pl, Handbridge, Chester CH4 7JY, UK

    Map
    2

    Chester Imp

    View a demonic figure with unknown origins inside Chester Cathedral

    • History
    • Unusual
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Chester Cathedral is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. If you fancy an unusual experience, head inside to look at what has been dubbed by historians as the ‘Chester Imp’, a demonic figure bound in chains, carved on the left side of the nave. The age, purpose and origins of the Chester Imp remain unknown, but legend has it that it was carved into the building by the clergy during the Middle Ages to scare away Satan.

    While visiting Chester Cathedral, climb the central tower’s 216 steps to see panoramic views of the city, and North Wales on a clear day. There are 1-hour tours available, and you can buy a Family Saver Ticket to reduce your tour price by up to £10.

    Location: St Werburgh St, Grosvenor Precinct, Chester CH1 2DY, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1244 324756

    Map
    3

    Three Old Arches

    England’s oldest surviving shop front

    • History
    • Food
    • Budget

    The Three Old Arches is believed to be the earliest surviving shop front in England. It was constructed during the 13th century and is located in the Chester Rows, one of the city’s most visited attractions. However, while many Tudor buildings on The Rows were renovated during the 19th century, the facade of the Three Old Arches remains largely unaltered.

    The bottom floor of the Three Old Arches is still used as a shop. Inside, the building has retained its original medieval stone hall, four medieval doorways and a 16th-century open fireplace. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the ‘1247 AD’ inscription between the arches of the building’s exterior.

    Location: 40 Bridge Street the Rows, Grosvenor Precinct, Chester CH1 1NN, UK

    Map

    photo by Harry Mitchell (CC BY 3.0) modified

    4

    Chester Ghost Tours

    Learn about the city’s spooky legends

    • Nightlife
    • Unusual

    Explore the city while learning about its eerie past by embarking on a Chester ghost tour. Your guide will tell you the spookiest stories of Chester’s 2,000-year history, from the Roman invasion of Britain to the Industrial Revolution. As you go in search of the paranormal, you’ll pass attractions such as The Rows, Chester Cathedral and the Eastgate Clock, but you’ll also venture off the beaten path to hear stories about some of the city’s lesser-known landmarks.

    Chester Ghost Tours run throughout the year, though times and days vary depending on the month. You’ll find details of tour dates on the Chester Ghost Tour website. Don’t forget to wear appropriate clothing as most tours operate at night for that added spooky factor.

    Location: Town Hall, Northgate St, Chester CH1 2HJ, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1244 405340

    Map
    5

    Crypt Chambers

    Tour a Grade I listed building with its original undercroft

    • History
    • Unusual
    • Shoppers
    • Photo

    Crypt Chambers, otherwise known as the Crypt Building, was built on the site of a medieval house in 1858, though the original medieval undercroft is still intact. Constructed in the Gothic revival style, this Grade I listed building features an asymmetrical design, with a distinctive red and yellow sandstone facade.

    Today, Crypt Chambers contains a department store, which has retained its traditional name of Browns of Chester. Discover ‘one of the best medieval crypts of Chester’ by grabbing a bite to eat in the restaurant that now occupies the undercroft.

    Location: 15, 11 Watergate Street and, 15A Watergate Row, Cheshire, Chester, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 5pm, Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)3445 616161

    Map
    6

    Roman Tour of Chester

    Listen to spine-chilling tales of Roman Chester on a city tour

    The Roman Tour of Chester takes you on a journey back in time to nearly 2,000 years ago, when Chester was Britain’s largest Roman fortress. As you explore Roman landmarks such as the Walls, the Amphitheatre and the Roman Gardens, you’ll be told stories of Chester’s long-spanning history by a guide dressed as a centurion, making it an exciting adventure for the kids.

    The tour is based on facts researched by military experts and the most recently unearthed archaeological evidence. Tours run every weekday and last around 90 minutes. Tickets usually cost less than £10 – perfect for the budget traveller looking for an immersive experience that’s both factual and fun.

    Location: 23 Grosvenor St, Chester CH1 2DD, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1978 761264

    Map
    7

    The Boathouse

    Grab a bite and a beverage on an old boat deck

    • Unusual
    • Food

    The Boathouse is one of Chester’s more unusual dining experiences. This family pub occupies the deck of an old boat situated on the River Dee, just a 5-minute walk from the city centre. The locals highly rate this floating beer garden for its peaceful atmosphere and waterfront views. On the menu, you’ll see plenty of award-winning cask ales as well as traditional pub grub.

    Head to The Boathouse on Sunday to feast on a quintessentially British Sunday roast. In addition to being a pub, it also doubles up as a hotel, making it an ideal place to sleep off the fine wines and spirits before heading back to dry land.

    Location: 21 The Groves, Chester CH1 1SD, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 6.30 am to 11pm, Saturdays from 7.30 am to 11 pm, Sundays from 7.30 am to 10.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1244 328709

    Map

    photo by Ian Rob (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Rowton Moor

    Step foot on a decisive battleground of the British Civil War

    • History

    Chester saw a lot of action during the British Civil War, and Rowton Moor was the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles. From the Phoenix Tower on the Chester City Walls, you can stand in the same spot as King Charles I did while watching his Royalist army be defeated in September of 1645, which ultimately led to his execution.

    Keep your eyes peeled for battle reenactments, which usually take place on the 24th of September to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Rowton Heath. When visiting Rowton, look out for the Rowton Moor Memorial and the Civil War Field Hospital, which once tended to 17th-century soldiers despite having a floor area of just 6 square feet.

    Location: Rowton, Chester, CH3 6AD, UK

    Map

    photo by Jeff Buck (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    St John the Baptist’s Church

    Find the hidden coffin base in Chester’s oldest church

    • History
    • Photo

    St John the Baptist’s Church was first founded in the 7th century and was the cathedral of Chester during the Early Middle Ages. This sandstone structure is believed to be the oldest church in Cheshire, though a new church was constructed within the ruins of the larger medieval building in the 19th century. The church is still in active use today.

    Explore the remains of the west wing to see the rare and spooky medieval wooden coffin base set above a Gothic arch. Look closely enough, and you’ll see an inscription that reads ‘Dust to Dust’. The origins of the solid oak coffin are unknown, but some believe it dates back to the 11th century.

    Location: Vicar's Ln, Chester CH1 1SN, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1244 676567

    Map

    photo by Chris McKenna (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker

    Explore a former bunker in one of Cheshire’s historic parishes

    • History

    Learn about the Cold War and the government’s response plans for a nuclear strike by visiting the Hack Green Nuclear Bunker, whose location was kept a secret for over 60 years until 1998. Inside this 35,000-sq-ft underground complex, you can discover one of the world’s largest collections of decommissioned nuclear weapons and plenty of Cold War memorabilia.

    Eerie exhibitions for adults include the undeniably disturbing medical room that contains a mannequin depicted with symptoms of radiation poisoning. If you need to keep things a little lighter for the kids, you can walk through the bunker while playing the Cold War Spy Mice game, avoiding the more graphic displays in the process.

    Location: French Ln, Nantwich CW5 8BL, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1270 629219

    Map

    photo by Espresso Addict (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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