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Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan Part I

prepared for

English Heritage

by

Donald Insall Associates Ltd


in association with

Mason Welland
and

The Architectural History Practice

Donald Insall Associates Ltd Chartered Architects and Historic Building Consultants Old Bank Buildings Foregate Street Chester CH1 1JT Tel: 01244 350063 Fax: 01244 350064 Email: dia@insall-deva.demon.co.uk

Mason Welland Ochr Cottage Porch Lane Hope Mountain Caergwrle Flintshire LL12 9HG Tel: 01978 760834 Email: djpmason@dircon.co.uk

The Architectural History Practice Phillimore Cottage Thorncombe Street Nr Bramley Guildford Surrey GU5 0LU Tel: 01483 208633 Email: jla@architecturalhistory.co.uk

CHESTER AMPHITHEATRE CONSERVATION PLAN

CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PART I (for adoption)


1 BACKGROUND TO PLAN
Introduction The Site Historical Background Purposes of plan Methodology and Structure Parties to the Plan/

2
2.1 2.2 2.3

UNDERSTANDING
Overview Chronology Summary of Core and Secondary Area Previous Research and Studies

2.4
2.5 2.7 2.8 2.9

Geology / Geomorphology
An Outline History of Study Site (Core and Secondary Area) Area Analysis: Method of Study Area Analysis: Plans Area Analysis: Zone Descriptions Zone A The Amphitheatre Zone B Little St John Street/Vicars lane Corridor Zone C Dee House Zone E The New Magistrates Court Zone F The Roman Gardens Zone G The Old Bishops Palace and St Johns Cottage Zone H The Groves Zone I St John The Baptist Church/Anchorite Cell Current Planning Policies (core and secondary area)

2.10

2.11
2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15

Core Area Detailed Study: Archaeology (below ground and excavated)


Core Area Detailed Study: Dee House Core Area Detailed Study: Interpretation and Visitor Facilities Core Area Detailed Study: Recent Planning History of the Core Area Core Area Detailed Study: Amenity Groups Associated with the Core Area Core Area Detailed Study: Use of the Amphitheatre as for Events Core Area Detailed Study: Ecology

2.16
2.17

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3
3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4

SIGNIFICANCE
Methodology Overview of the Study Area (core and secondary) Detailed Significance of the Core Area: Archaeology Detailed Significance of the Core Area: Dee House

4
4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4

ISSUES
Introduction Overview of Key Issues within the Study Site (by zone) The Core Area Detailed Issues Future Options for the Core Area A The demolition of Dee House and the fullest possible excavation of the amphitheatre B The retention of Dee House and environs (no excavations within its current curtilage) C The further excavation of the amphitheatre within the curtilage of Dee House (but not to the extent of requiring demolition of the building or compromising future use) D The full excavation of the amphitheatre Listed Building Consent Issues

4.5

5
5.1 5.2 5.3

POLICIES
Overview Key Policy objectives Policies

APPENDICES
A B C Gazetteer Bibliography Ecology Study

PART II (not for adoption)


A Study of Future Options and a Draft Strategy (separate volume)

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CHESTER AMPHITHEATRE CONSERVATION PLAN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Introduction


This conservation plan for Chester Amphitheatre and the surrounding environment was commissioned by English Heritage with the support of Chester City Council in March 2001. Donald Insall Associates, the lead consultants, have been assisted by the Architectural History Practice and the archaeologists, Mason Welland. The study area is located to the south east of Chester City Centre. It focuses on a core area which includes the Roman amphitheatre, a corner tower of the Roman fortress, the Roman Gardens and the Grade II Listed Dee House. This is set in the context of a secondary zone which extends to the River Dee to the south and includes the Church of St John the Baptist to the east. In common with the generally accepted approach the conservation plan provides an understanding of the site and its history and explains its significance and how this may be venerable. It has been specifically commissioned at this time to help English Heritage and the City Council take a strategic view of the study area. The plan proposes policies, which will assist in making key decisions about the future of Dee House and the further excavation and display of the amphitheatre. The study documents are presented in two parts. Part I, the formal conservation plan, is intended for adoption by the commissioning parties. This comprises the standard sections on Understanding, Significance, Issues, Policies and a Gazetteer. Part II is an informal document, which presents a study of various future options for the core area, and this analysis leads to a recommended management strategy.

Part I (for adoption by the main parties to the Conservation Plan) Understanding and Significance
Chester was one of the thee permanent legionary bases in Roman Britain and the study area contains three monument groups of international significance. These are the legionary amphitheatre, which has been partially excavated, the southeast angle tower of the legionary fortress and the collection of Roman masonry artefacts from excavations in Chester assembled in the Roman Garden. In the Dark Ages Chester continued to be an important regional centre. An early Christian foundation was established during the seventh century, which later became the church of St John The Baptist. The area surrounding the church and the amphitheatre and are considered to be potentially national significant in terms of their sub Roman and Saxon archaeology. The present St John the Baptist, commenced in the 11th century, was initially intended as a cathedral and still retains its magnificent Norman nave from that period. Although it was not long a Bishops seat it continued to be developed as an important collegiate church throughout the medieval period. The existing building and associated monuments are of national significance. Apart from the church complex there appears to have been only limited building within the study area up until the beginning of the 18th century and even after that new development was to a low density. The early 18th century Dee House, which in the 19th century became a
Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001 Donald Insall Associates

convent school, is of regional significance. This and other residences are examples of spacious properties built by the wealthy and influential on the edge of the expanding Georgian town. Set in verdant grounds, these buildings together with the riverside promenade, the narrow medieval lanes, church, and Roman remains all combine to create an area of very considerable townscape value. Collectively they represent 2000 years of history. Such a site in Britain is of considerable rarity.

Issues
The central questions within the core area relate to the future of Dee House and the further excavation of the amphitheatre. The amphitheatre was been partly excavated in the 1960s and there is a considerable public support for the amphitheatre to be fully excavated and displayed as a tourist attraction. Indeed there would be much to be learned and such a project would enable visitors to appreciate the full extent of the site. However, this approach would also involve disadvantages and considerable difficulties. Full excavation would involve the loss of the Grade II Listed Dee House and its contribution to the history and townscape of Chester. Whether important evidence from the sub Roman and Saxon periods exists is not known but appears very possible. The proposal to expose and display the full Roman Amphitheatre would entail the excavation and removal of material within which must lie evidence of the following 1600 years of history. Furthermore, the unexcavated sixty percent of the amphitheatre is located under both Dee House and its grounds and the site of the recently constructed County Court. The costs of the acquisition of the new Courts a together with a full multi period archaeological excavation and display would approach 20m. Irrespective of the arguments as to whether or not to expose the entire amphitheatre, parts of the study area are in need of investment to improve their appearance and help fulfil their potential to contribute to Chesters tourist economy. The currently exposed section of the amphitheatre is poorly displayed but could be considerably improved as a visitor attraction and also for use as an events venue. The level of traffic using Little St John Street discourages pedestrian movement and needs to be downgraded so that the area can be better integrated with the city centre. The Dee House site is vacant and in a derelict state. The buildings have been made weather proof and structurally stable and, although still threatened by dry rot, are not beyond rescue. It is certainly important for Chester that the Dee House site is brought back into use and preferably one which helps support the cultural and tourism role of the area. The Issues section of the conservation plan is concluded with an examination of various future planning and management options for the site.

Policies
The conservation plan policies have been designed to meet the following objectives and are structured under these headings: Heritage Assets: To ensure that future planning and management strategies and proposals for the site are based on a thorough understanding of the sites most important heritage and townscape assets. Understanding, Archaeology and Recording: To learn from the site and gain further knowledge of those periods and cultures about which it contains evidence. Conservation and Development: To protect and conserve those material assets which are of historic significance for this and future generations and ensure that their value is not diminished by unsympathetic alteration or new development. Interpretation and Access: To present the historic assets of the site so that they can be popularly enjoyed, appreciated and understood. Townscape: To preserve and enhance the special townscape and landscape character and ecology of the site so that these features continue to contribute to the quality of the urban
Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001 Donald Insall Associates

scene both in the interests of public amenity and to support Chesters visitor and tourist economy. Use: To ensure that existing and future uses within the study area contribute to the economic and cultural life of the city in ways which do not conflict with but make best use of its historic fabric, historic associations and townscape assets. Statutory Considerations: To be mindful of and support existing legislation, national planning policy guidance and local planning policy. Resources: To support the understanding, interpretation and conservation of the study site though the sustainable and efficient use of the financial resources of the site owners, grant aid and any finance for those purposes that could be generated through planning agreements, disposals or income generating uses. Management and Ownership: To ensure that the site is managed in the most appropriate manner to realise the objectives and policies of the conservation plan. Vehicular Movement and Parking: To manage vehicular traffic circulation, access and parking so that they facilitate adequate servicing for the area but do not unnecessarily detract from its appearance or role in providing a setting for visitor and cultural attractions. Competing values and Priorities: To take account of current expectations for the site and to balance these against the principle that each generation has a general obligation to protect and to pass on to future generations that which is of cultural significance from its own and past ages. Policies for the site are not designed to justify or support one preferred proposal. Rather, they are intended as a guide for future management strategies and provide a benchmark against which future development proposals can be tested.

Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001

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PART I 1 1.1 BACKGROUND TO PLAN Introduction


This conservation plan for Chester Amphitheatre and the surrounding environment was commissioned by English Heritage with the support of Chester City Council in March 2001. Donald Insall Associates, the lead consultants, have been assisted by the Architectural History Practice and the archaeologists, Masson Welland. In common with the generally accepted approach the conservation plan provides an understanding of the site and its history, explains its significance and how this may be venerable. It has been specifically commissioned at this time to help English Heritage and the City council take a strategic view of the study area. The plan proposes policies which will assist in making key decisions about the future of Dee House and the further excavation and display of the amphitheatre. The study documents are presented in two parts. Part I, the formal conservation plan, is intended for adoption by the commissioning parties. This comprises the standard sections on Understanding, Significance, Issues, Policies and a Gazetteer. Part II is an informal document, which presents a study of various future options for the core area and this analysis leads to a recommended management strategy.

1.2

The Site

Location of the Study Site (indicated in Grey)


The study area is located to the south east of Chester City Centre. It focuses on a core area, which includes the Roman amphitheatre, a corner tower of the Roman fortress, the Roman Gardens and the Grade II Listed Dee House. This is set in the context of

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a secondary zone which extends to the River Dee to the south and includes the Church of St John the Baptist to the east.

The Study Area 2001


1 : Amphitheatre 2 : Dee House 3 : Dee House Ancillary Buildings 4 : New County Court 5 : The Old Bishops Palace 6 : St Johns Cottage 7 : The Hermitage 8 : Church of St John the Baptist 9 : The City Walls 10: The Newgate and Wolf gate 11: The Roman south east angle tower 12: Old Orleans public house 13: Shop/Information centre 14: Public Conveniences 15: Roman Gardens 16: The Groves 17: Bowling Green 18: Former Churchyard St John the Baptist 19: Former Churchyard St John the Baptist

1.3

Historical Background
The known history of the study area begins with the establishment of the Roman Legionary fortress at Chester, Deva Victrix, in the first century A.D. The study area lay within the extramural settlement beyond the southeast angle-tower of the legionary defences. Here the legionary amphitheatre was constructed soon after the fortress was built around AD 75. The amphitheatre evolved through a number of phases and remained in use until the middle of the 4th century. The foundations of the South East Angle Tower and just less that half of the amphitheatre have been excavated and are now displayed as monuments. Although, non have yet been identified other Roman remains may be present within the study area. The use and occupation of the study area during the dark Ages is little understood but it is known that an early seventh century Christian foundation was established immediately to the east of the amphitheatre (and may have made use of its remains). The old Roman defences where extended at some point prior to the Norman Conquest. These defences lay the foundations for the City Walls, which form the western boundary of the study site today.

Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001

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In 1075 Bishop Peter of Lichfield moved his See to Chester and began the construction of the Church of St John the Baptist which now stands to the east of the amphitheatre. The present building still contains the impressive Norman nave from that period. The church continued to be developed and used as a collegiate establishment throughout the middle ages until at the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the sixteenth century it was reduced in size but remained as a parish church. A plan of 1610 shows that the area remained dominated by the church and churchyard into the 17th century with only few buildings having been constructed on the periphery of the amphitheatre. Little St John Street and Souters Lane leading to the Dee are clearly shown on the plan and are certainly medieval and may be older in origin. It is obvious that at that time the shape of amphitheatre was and indeed still is reflected in the street network. During the 18th Century a small number of large houses were built within the study area on the edge of the expanding town. Of these the Old Bishops Palace, St Johns cottage and Dee House still exist. Also during that period the Groves were first laid out as a recreational walk for the gentry and their ladies by the River. Dee House and its grounds were constructed over the site of the amphitheatre in the early part of the 18th century. Built by a one-time mayor of the City the house became, in the middle of the 19th century, a catholic convent school. At that time a chapel wing was added to a design by Edmund Kirby a notable Liverpool architect. Further additions were made throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. It ceased to be a school in the early 1970s. The Roman amphitheatre was rediscover in 1929 and then began a long campaign for its protection and investigation. Excavation of the currently exposed portion began in 1965 and the monument opened to the public in 1972. The Roman Gardens, adjacent to the City walls, were created in 1949 to accommodate the large number of Roman masonry artefacts that had been uncovered during previous excavations and building projects within Chester. The gardens have recently been extended to provide a pedestrian walkway to the Groves. The latest development within the study was in 2001 with the construction of the County Court building located at the rear of Dee House. This site covers the southern third of the amphitheatre and the Court building has been designed with special foundation to protect the amphitheatre below. The implementation of the project gave renewed impetus to public calls for the protection and eventual full excavation of the Roman remains.

1.4

Purposes of the plan


In common with other conservation plans the purpose of this study is to provide an understanding of the site and its history, to explain its significance and how this is vulnerable now or may become so in the future. The plan proposes policies to manage the significant aspects of the site as a whole and its principle elements. It provides within a single document a comprehensive background of understanding and policies, which will: Help in the preparation of long-term management plans for the site as a whole. Assist in making short-term action plans and day to day decisions. Provide a clear set of guiding principles against which any new development proposals or new ways of using the site and its building can be tested and evaluated. Inform and contribute to proposals to reveal and assist in the appreciation of the significance of the site.
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Assist in the preparation of initiatives for interpretation and education. Contribute to design and planning briefs for alterations to the existing fabric and possible new development. Inform strategies and plans to improve accessibility to the site and enhance its potential to contribute to the life of the community and the local economy.

Certain particular circumstances and concerns have led to the requirement for the plan at this time. This Conservation Plan has been commissioned in order to enable English Heritage and its partners in Chester to take a strategic view of the amphitheatre and the surrounding environment within the context of the internationally important City of Chester. The Plan will assist in making key decisions about the desirability of further archaeological investigations and excavations and the future of Dee House. In particular, English Heritage require this Conservation Plan to assist in addressing a range of site specific issues: Whether the site in guardianship can be better presented and interpreted for visitors Whether it could be used for other activities complementary to that of heritage interpretation without detrimental affect to its significance, for example as an open-air theatre. Whether the unexcavated section has potential for enhancing understanding of: (i) The Chester amphitheatre as a whole (ii) Roman amphitheatres generally (iii) Post Roman occupation of the site with particular regard to the post Roman urbanisation of Chester. Whether in the light of the above it would be desirable to undertake further excavation of the site in part or in whole.

The Plan is also called upon to consider the relative merits of undertaking further excavations, which might compromise or remove the Grade II Listed Dee House, compared with the merits of securing the future and significance of that building. The consultants have been required to examine various scenarios ranging from the complete excavations of the amphitheatre and the removal of Dee House to its retention with no further excavation.

1.5

Methodology and Structure


The key steps in the Conservation Plan process are: Understanding the site. Determining the significance of the site and its individual components in terms of cultural, historical, ecological or other special interest. Identifying issues and threats that could impact upon the sites significance. Devising policies to protect the site and its important aspects and enable it to be better understood and appreciated.

The first three sections in the formal Plan deal with understanding, significance and vulnerability issues each begin with a general introduction to the broad issues involved and then proceed to discuss the topic in detail. The Policy Section comprises policy statements under the following headings: Heritage Assets Understanding, Archaeology and Recording Conservation and Development Interpretation and Access

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Townscape Use Statutory Considerations Resources Management and Ownership Vehicular Movement and Parking Competing Values and Priorities In the case of the Chester Amphitheatre normal scope and design of the conservation plan process has been modified and extended to provide the basis for key decisions in relation to further excavation and the future of Dee House; at the Issues stage various basic options for the future management were developed and examined As required by the client steering group the policies section do not predetermine any particular option but provided a set of criteria against which future management strategies could be assessed. The study documents are presented in two parts. Part I, the formal conservation plan, is intended for adoption by the commissioning parties. This comprises the standard sections on Understanding, Significance, Issues, Policies and a Gazetteer. Part II is an informal document, which presents a study of various future options for the core area and this analysis leads to a recommended management strategy. The method of study has involved inspections of the study site by the Consultant teams to gain an overall appreciation of its main components, its general condition and use. Four site visits have been made to Dee House before and after the completion of various safety works. Desk based research has been undertaken mainly using secondary sources and examination of limited primary sources where this has been possible. At each of the key stages in the process, (understanding, issues and policies) workshops have been held with the commissioning team to share knowledge and discuss vulnerability and policy development. Discussion papers and drafts have been produced by the consultants for these sessions. Comments and ideas from the commissioning team have been crucial to the process and the final report.

1.6

Parties to the Plan


During the preparation of the plan English Heritage have brought together a commissioning team comprising all those bodies with a direct ownership or management interest in the site. The following organisations are parties to the plan and have been represented on the commissioning team: English Heritage Chester City Council Chester Amphitheatre Trust Chester Archaeological Society Chester In Concert Chester City Guides David McLean Developments Ltd

Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001

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Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001

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2 2.1

UNDERSTANDING Overview
The understanding section of the conservation plan study provides the foundation upon which the consideration of the areas significance, the issues affecting its significance and the policies designed for its protection and enhancement are based. The general approach has been firstly to examine the history and describe both the core and secondary areas, as they exist today in general terms. This provides the context for more detailed studies of particular aspects of the core area relevant to the conservation plan. The understanding section is structured as follows: Standard conservation plan introductory sections include a chronology of the key events, an outline review of previous investigations and research a short description of the areas topography and geology. (2.22.4) An overview of the areas history. (2.52.6) An analysis of the area today. (2.72.10) A detailed examination of the core area. (2.112.17)

2.2

Chronology Summary of Core and Secondary Area


Date AD 48/9 60s Early 70s c.75 c.100 c.230 c.410 603 613 689 973 Key Events First Roman penetration into Cheshire and North-east Wales. Possible auxiliary fort at Chester. Possible larger fort at Chester. Construction of legionary fortress by legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis. Rebuilding of fortress in stone. Fortress reconstructed. Britain no longer part of Roman Empire Synod of Chester. Second meeting of Augustine with British Bishops. Battle of Chester. Aelthelfrith of Northumbria defeats combined forces of Powys and Gwynedd. The traditional date of the foundation of the Church of St John the Baptist, during the reign of Aethelraed I of Mercia (675-704). King Eadger I was reputedly rowed across the River Dee by eleven British and Norse princes, including the kings of Scotland and Strathclyde, who then paid homage to him. The actual ceremony may have been held in the remains of the Amphitheatre and celebrated by mass in the Church of St John the Baptist. The Church of St John the Baptist was re-founded as a collegiate establishment by Leofric, Earl of Mercia. Legend has it that King Harold II was not killed at the Battle of Hastings but fled to Chester and passed his remaining years there as a hermit. Cheshire laid waste by William the Conqueror, and Chester Castle founded. Hugh of Avranches (nicknamed Lupus or The Wolf) created Earl of Chester.

1057 1066 1069-70 1071

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1075 1095

Bishop Peter of Lichfield moved his see to Chester, utilizing the Church of St John the Baptist as his cathedral. The see was translated by Bishop Peters successor, Robert de Limesey, to Coventry in 1095, but the church remained a cathedral by name, together with Lichfield and Coventry. John Spicer was pardoned for having built a hermitage near the River Dee without permission. This may refer to the Anchorites Cell. The tower over the nave crossing of the Church of St John the Baptist collapsed as a result of general neglect of the fabric during and after the plague years. Henry VII granted the City of Chester its Great Charter. Edward VIs commissioners stripped the lead from the quire and aisles of the Church of St John the Baptist, beginning the process of ruination.

1357 1468

1506 1547

1572 and The collapse of the tower of the Church of St John the Baptist, which in 1574 turn demolished part of the nave. The parishioners rebuilt this after the purchase of the church in 1581, together with the building of the east wall. 1644-6 1703 1730 1732 c.1750 1768 Early C19th 1832 1852 1854 1859-64 1867 1867-9 1880s 1881 1887 1908 The Parliamentary forces besieged Chester. A battery was placed near the Church of St John the Baptist in September 1645. Chester City Corporation starts the repair and improvement of the City Walls to include a public wall walk. Dee House built by James Comberbach, mayor of Chester, 1727-8. The Groves was laid out between the Bowling Green House and Andrew Kendricks Garden. Bishops Palace built by Bishop Peploe. The building of the Wolf Gate in the City Walls. St Johns Cottage built on the approximate site of the early Bishops Palace. Completion of the Grosvenor Bridge over the River Dee. Opening of the Suspension Bridge to link The Groves to the new suburb of Queens Park. Dee House acquired for use as a Catholic school by the Faithful Companions of Jesus. Restoration of the Church of St John the Baptist. The 2nd Marquis of Westminster gave 20 acres to be laid out as Grosvenor Park. Chapel and classroom wing for Dee House built to the design of Edmund Kirby. The Groves extended to the west at the expense of Alderman Charles Brown. The collapse of the west tower of the Church of St John the Baptist. Erection of a new clock tower for the Church of St John the Baptist. Roman South-East Angle Tower identified during the building of a new telephone exchange.

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1910 1921 1925 1929 1930 1934 1937 1938 1949 1958 1965-9 Early 1970s 1987 1993-4

The Hermitage acquired by Chester City Corporation and renovated. Bishops Palace ceased to be the official residence of the Bishop of Chester and was converted into a YMCA hostel. The Ursuline Order takes over the school in Dee House. Rediscovery of the Amphitheatre during excavation of foundations for the new southern Assembly Hall wing of Dee House. Excavation of Roman South-East Angle Tower. Chester Archaeological Society acquired St Johns House. Restoration of the thirteenth century chapter house crypt of the Church of St John the Baptist The completion of The Newgate. Creation of the Roman Garden. Demolition of St Johns House. Excavation of the Amphitheatre, which opened to the public in 1972. Dee House acquired by the GPO (British Telecom). Public Enquiry into the possible demolition of Dee House. Dee House acquired by McClean Developments Ltd and the eighteenth century block, chapel wing and early twentieth century neoclassical wing sold to Chester County Council. The southern 1929 wing of Dee House demolished. Erection of new County Court to the south of Dee House.

1995 c.2000-1

2.3

Previous Research and Studies


In the preparation of the conservation plan numerous previous studies have been referred. These are detailed in Appendix B including: Archaeology (studies and reports of investigations of the amphitheatre and other Roman and medieval remains). Planning Studies and Policies (both informal and statutory) Built Heritage Studies (including the study site and Chester generally) Dee House (condition and feasibility reports) The Use of the Amphitheatre for Cultural Events

2.4

Topography/Morphology
The Roman fortress, which now lies below the heart of Chester City Centre, was laid out on the raised ground some 14m to 23m above the banks of the tidal River Dee. Little St John Street and the sites of St Johns Church and Dee House form a generally level area at approximately 20m above Ordnance Datum. From here the land slopes steeply down to the Groves riverside promenade which is at 7m above Ordnance Datum. The Old Bishops Palace, and St Johns Cottage and the Anchorite Cell are located on terraces formed within the escarpment. Souters Lane drops from the higher level to the Dee in an a cut which may possibly be a natural formation. The sandstone bedrock is exposed at locations in the lower areas in areas between St

Chester Amphitheatre Conservation Plan September 2001

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Johns Church and the Anchorite Cell may be the result of quarrying from early periods, river erosion, or both. In terms of solid geology, Chester is situated in the faulted structural basin of the Cheshire lowland, which is floored by a considerable thickness of Permo-Triassic sediments. These sediments are surrounded and underlain by folded, faulted and denuded strata of Carboniferous and Silurian age. Within Chester itself, and underlying the Study area, the Permo-Triassic sediments consist of Kinnerton Sandstones and the Chester Pebble Beds. The Kinnerton Sandstones form the lower part of the Sherwood Sandstone Group, which were formley known as Bunter Sandstone. Succeeding the Kinnerton Sandstones are the Chester Pebble Beds, which a sandstone characterised by the presence of rounded quartzite pebbles of varying diameter ( Harris and Thacker 1987, 11). In the area of Chester these sandstones form part of the Mid-Cheshire ridge, an area ideal for the placing of a settlement. The drift geology of the study site has been determined by the glaciations of the Devensian and more recently by the sedimentation regimes of the River Dee. During the Devensian maximum ice sheets flowing from the mountains of Wales are estimated to have reached a thickness of c. 450m in the Chester area. The movement and thawing of these ice sheets deposited till, or boulder clay, with some glacial sand and gravel. These glacial deposits have been eroded by the changing course of the River Dee, which has scoured channels and deposited alluvial material. Changing sea levels during the Holocene period have resulted in these alluvial deposits containing material of a marine, estuarine and riverine nature (Harris and Thacker, 1987, 25).

2.5
2.5.1

An Outline History of Study Site (Core and Secondary Area)


Brief Overview of the History of Chester The Romans founded Chester in the first century AD as the fortress of Deva, but this soon grew into a sizeable town, the street plan of which greatly influenced the medieval and later developments of the city within its defensive walls. At the end of the Roman era, in the early fifth century, the city shrank in size, and over the ensuing centuries passed under periods of Welsh, Mercian, and Danish control. At the beginning of the tenth century Chester was fortified by Aethelflaeda, daughter of Alfred the Great and wife of the Earl of Mercia, and there followed a period of prosperity as a thriving trading centre and port. Following the invasion of 1066, the Norman armies fought their way north, slowly but brutally stamping out resistance, and in 1071 Chester became the administrative centre of the Earldom of Chester, with a new Castle as a symbol of Norman power. During the middle ages, the City was the principal port of northwest England, conducting an international trade in imports and exports. Because of its strategic position on the Welsh Marches it was also the centre from which the English pacification of North Wales was conducted until its conquest by Edward I. Chesters position as a major port and trading centre continued until the Dee began to silt up in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, but it continued as a prosperous county town. In the eighteenth century, the Chester Canal was excavated, and infrastructure improvements in the nineteenth century such as the new river channel, the New Cut, the Grosvenor Bridge, and the opening of the railway in 1840, helped to consolidate its regional importance.

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Much of the City within the medieval walls was rebuilt or materially altered in the Victorian period, resulting in the characteristic black and white style, of which Penson, Lockwood and John Douglas were leading exponents. During the twentieth century, commercial activities, which had centred on the docks and canal diminished and finally ended in the 1960s with the closure of Connahs Quay. Rail traffic also declined leading to the closure in 1970 of both the Northgate and Liverpool Road stations, but road traffic increased materially leading to the construction of the Inner Ring Road, completed in 1972, which involved the loss of many important Georgian buildings. 2.5.2 Pre Roman No pre-Roman structures or features have been discovered within the Study Site although a small collection of worked cherts and flints of prehistoric date was recovered during the excavations carried out in 2000 (Matthews et al 2001, 68-70). Excavations on the Frodsham Street car-park site several hundred metres to the north in 1966 found evidence of pre-Roman cultivation in the form of plough marks cut into the surface of the natural clay. Paleobotanical analysis indicated a date in the 2nd/3rd century BC for this activity, which points to the existence of some form of minor settlement in the vicinity. Cultivation appears to have ceased been well before the advent of the Roman era with the land reverting to scrub and some degree of reafforestation (Frodsham Street 1966, Excavation Archive, Chester Archaeology). 2.5.3 Roman The earliest occupation of the Study Site occurred in the Roman period when the area lay within the extramural settlement alongside the legionary fortress of Deva Victrix. Beyond the southeast angle-tower of the legionary defences, which lies at the north western tip of the Study Site, lay the legionary amphitheatre constructed soon after the fortress around AD 75. Initially of timber, this was replaced by a much larger amphitheatre constructed of masonry c.AD 100. Like many other military buildings at Chester, this experienced a period of dereliction beginning around the middle of the 2nd century, which may have lasted for over a century. It was subsequently recommissioned and was used until at least the middle of the 4th century. To the north and north-east of the amphitheatre lay the civilian buildings of the extramural settlement or canabae legionis with accompanying backland areas used for semiindustrial activities such as metal-working and glass-making. It was commonplace for bath-buildings to be built adjacent to amphitheatres and there is slight evidence that such a facility was provided at Chester, sited to the south on a terrace beside the Dee. Occupation of the settlement may have declined sharply after c.AD 350.

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Roman Chester In terms of the topography of Roman Chester the total Study Site comprises an area approximately 200 metres square stretching from the southeast angle of the legionary fortress down to the River Dee. It thus constitutes a significant proportion of the area immediately outside the defences, which was occupied by the extramural settlement or canabae legionis containing both military and civilian buildings and facilities. The Core Area of the Study Site contains the remains of both the southeast angle of the fortress as well as those of one of the largest extramural facilities the legionary amphitheatre (amphitheatrum or ludus). At least one other substantial Roman building - possibly a bath-building - lay south of the amphitheatre, seemingly sited on the lowest of a series of terraces immediately beside the Dee (Frere 1990, 329), while extensive traces of civilian buildings have been found in the areas to the north and north-east and also to the south-west (Mason 1987, 160-3). In addition, the sandstone bedrock exposed along the river cliff hereabouts was the subject of extensive quarrying in the Roman period, as later, for the purpose of obtaining building stone. Construction of the legionary fortress began c.AD 74 and there is some evidence for believing that the temporary accommodation for the construction party was provided in the form of a defended encampment situated immediately north and northeast of the amphitheatre site (Mason 1987, 145-6). Work on the construction of the first amphitheatre, built of timber, appears to have begun within a few years of the fortress foundation; perhaps an indication of the importance attached to it by the legionary command. This was replaced by a new and much larger amphitheatre constructed largely of masonry by c.AD 100 (Thompson 1976, 163-4). How long the timber amphitheatre remained in use before being demolished is uncertain but the absence of any major structural repairs or replacements within the sectors examined so far suggests it may have had a comparatively brief existence, possibly a decade or even less. In addition, some of the structural features associated with the stone amphitheatre could be interpreted as evidence for an unfinished intermediate stage in which it was planned to rebuild the structure with dimensions little changed from those of the timber ludus. See Three phases of Construction on the following page. The rebuilding of the amphitheatre in stone was part of the same general programme of reconstruction which saw the addition of a masonry revetment to the front of the original turf and timber rampart of the fortress along with the replacement of its
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wooden towers and gates by stone successors (LeQuesne 1999, 138-45). Now, if not before, a road ran from the vicinity of the north entrance of the amphitheatre to connect with the main road (whose line is perpetuated by modern Foregate Street) which entered the fortress via the east gate. The requirement for large quantities of building stone in this period probably gave rise to the first major quarrying operations along the river cliff south of the amphitheatre. The civil settlement beside the fortress expanded rapidly in its first few decades of existence. This appears to have been particularly true in the eastern sector of the canabae legionis with the consequence that by AD 120 side streets lined with buildings were laid out south of what is now Foregate Street reaching almost as far as the north eastern tip of the secondary area of the Study Site. This may have continued to approach even closer to the amphitheatre in later periods but a lack of excavation in the relevant areas means this cannot be confirmed. There was also growth of the suburb south of the fortress in this period including the Duke Street area, which is contiguous with the western border of the Study Site (Mason forthcoming). The absence of much of the garrison during the middle decades of the second century resulted in many intramural legionary buildings falling into disrepair because of lapsed maintenance. This was also true of the amphitheatre where a substantial layer of naturally deposited humic material supplemented by refuse deposits was allowed to accumulate over the area floor. In the fortress, this phase of dereliction was brought to an end by the whole scale reconstruction of its buildings, which took place during the AD 220s and 230s. The amphitheatre by contrast does not appear to have been refurbished until later on in the third century. However, the results of recent reexamination of the stratigraphical sequence on other sites suggests that this may in fact be due to misinterpretation of the evidence with an early third century refurbishment failing to be identified. The arena received a new surfacing of sandstone paving c.AD 300 and the amphitheatre apparently continued in use until at least the middle of the fourth century (Thompson 1976, 183). The date at which it ceased to be used is unknown but as coin evidence points to a reduction in the size of the garrison at Chester around AD 360 (Shotter 2000, 45) and other evidence suggests a shrinkage of the extramural settlement around the same time (Mason 1987, 162) then it probably ceased to be maintained as a functioning amphitheatre well before the end of the fourth century.

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Three Stages of Amphitheatre Construction

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

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2.5.4

Sub Roman/Anglo Saxon/Viking Nothing is known of activity in this area in the early part of this general period. The Church of St. John the Baptist was held by medieval chroniclers to have been established in AD 689 but this is uncorroborated by independent evidence. The church certainly developed into a major institution by the tenth century and controlled much of the land around it. It was the setting for a great ceremony in 973 when British and Norse rulers paid homage to King Eadgar. The greatest phase of building occurred soon after the Norman Conquest when for a brief period St. Johns became the main cathedral church of the Bishop of Lichfield. The decaying structure of the amphitheatre was probably denuded of its masonry for successive enlargements of the prospering St. Johns and for the construction of a monastery of St. Mary which existed somewhere in the immediate vicinity. The riverfront to the south may well have become the scene of one or branches of the leather-working industry in the late pre-Conquest period as this part of the city was rapidly colonised by Hiberno-Norse settlers and traders. The precise date of the extension of the defences down to the river is unknown. The original sections of the city wall running parallel with Souters Lane are probably of twelfth century origin but this defensive line may have been established at the beginning of the tenth century when Chester was refortified as a burh by Queen Aethelflaed of Mercia. As with the rest of the city nothing is known about occupation or activity in this part of Chester in the immediate post-Roman period. The holding of a synod of British bishops in Civitas Legionum c.AD 603, suggests Chester was still a place of some importance but the nature and extent of the settlement of this period have yet to be elucidated (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica II.2). The church of St. John the Baptist, lying just east of the amphitheatre, was considered by medieval chroniclers to have been founded in AD 689 by King Ethelred of Mercia and Bishop Wilfrid (Harris 1980, 2; Thacker 1987, 269). It became one of Chesters two Minster churches (the other being St. Werburgh's later the cathedral), enjoyed a monopoly on burial rights outside the defences, and benefited from both royal and aristocratic patronage. In the late Saxon period this part of the city was designated the manor of Redcliff, a name derived from the extensive outcrops of sandstone along the neighbouring river cliff. This ready supply of stone was used not only for successive phases of rebuilding at St. Johns but also by a school of sculptors producing crosses and burial slabs in the 9th and 10th centuries (Bu`Lock 1972, 81-4). The crumbling masonry of the amphitheatre was very likely another source of stone for the successive phases of the enlargement of St. Johns and other ecclesiastical buildings in the neighbourhood. It, or its site, continued as a major feature of the townscape into the early medieval period and the street-system in the area remained much as it had in the Roman period being based on the road around the perimeter of the amphitheatre - St. Johns Lane/Little St Johns Lane - with another running northwards parallel with and just outside the defences up to Foregate Street known as Ironmongers Street, now St John Street (Dodgson 1968, 47). In 973 the church was the setting for a great ceremony in which eleven British and Norse kings and sub-kings pledged allegiance to Eadgar I, having first acting as rowers of the barge which brought him from the royal residence at Aldford (AngloSaxon Chronicle sub anno 973; Florence of Worcester, Chronicon ex Chronicis, ed B. Thorpe, 142-3). Shortly before the Norman Conquest Leofric Earl of Mercia paid for repairs to the church buildings and also conferred new privileges upon it which probably included the establishment of the College of Canons attested a few years later (Pevsner & Hubbard 1971, 148). Domesday records the existence of a monastery of St. Mary in Redcliff but its exact position remains unknown (Morgan 1978 B11). By 1377 the dedication had been absorbed by an altar-chapel in St. Johns (Dodgson 1981, 83).

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The City wall defines the western boundary of the Study Site. The precise date when the line of the Roman fortress defences was extended to follow the course taken by the present city wall is unknown although both place- and street-name evidence (Dodgson 1968, 52-4) and information about the defences contained in the Domesday account of Chester (Mason 1985, 36-9) suggest this had already occurred by the time of the Norman Conquest. Indeed, this line may well have been established when Chester was refortified by Aethelflaede, Queen of Mercia, in AD 907 and added to the chain of strongholds known as burhs designed to contain Viking expansion. The first documentary reference to a gate near the southeast angle of the fortress occurs c.1258 when it was called the Wolfeld Gate, a term possibly derived from the Old English womans name Wulfhild (Dodgson 1981, 26). Replaced by the first Newgate in 1552/3, this may have stood on the site of an even earlier gate provided originally to allow easy access between the City and St. Johns. The medieval leather-working industries, which occupied much of the waterfront from the Souters Lane area westwards to the land below the castle, may have had there its origins in the pre-Conquest period. Souter is Middle English for Shoemaker. Large-scale tanning operations were established by the late tenth century in the Lower Bridge Street area and other major commercial and industrial activities are likely to have been established early on in this part of the city as it was the preferred or designated location for settlers and traders of Hiberno-Scandinavian origin engaged in commerce across the Irish Sea (BuLock 1972, 58-70; Mason 1980, 8-39). The north-south Souters Lane/St John Street route became the dominant thoroughfare in this area and remained so until the 19th Century. 2.5.5 Medieval The medieval history of the Study Site is closely linked to St Johns, a Saxon foundation that may date back to 689. St Johns was re-founded as a collegiate establishment in 1057 by Leofric, Earl of Mercia. In 1075 it became a cathedral when Bishop Peter of Lichfield moved his see to Chester, and started on the creation of his cathedral church, a task that was interrupted by the transfer of the see to Coventry by Bishop Robert de Limesey in c.1102 (Richards 1973, 103-4). The work completed during this phase of construction comprised the lower nave walls, the arch over the crossing, the two transepts, and the arches from the present sanctuary to the now ruined chancel. Work resumed in the late twelfth century with the building of the Triforium, and then, in the thirteenth century, the Clerestory was finished, resulting in one of the last examples of Romanesque architecture in the region. Included in the enhanced facilities was a palace for a Bishop, which is thought to have stood on the south of the Church (Richards 1973, 104). A wall painting of St John the Baptist dating to the fourteenth century can be seen on the north eastern pillar of the nave. Little St John Street and Souters Lane are both first recorded in 1274, and it is likely that they followed Roman streets, which took account of the location of the amphitheatre. Vicars Lane, referring to the vicarage of St Johns, also appears to have been in existence by the early fourteenth century. The earliest plan of St Johns is entitled The Ground Plot of St Johns College, Chester, before it was ruinated by the fall of the Steeple, which stood in the middle of the Church cathedral-like, [Cooper Scott, 1892, 20], and shows St Johns and its curtilage in c.1468.

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The ground plot of St Johns College, 1470 At that date St Johns extended to the full extent of the present ruins, to the east and west, and also had various additional chapels, no longer extant, as well as the separate chapels of St Ann, to the east, and St James, to the immediate south. Also shown to the west are the Deans House and the Bishops House, the latter standing on the approximate site of St Johns Cottage. In 1468 the central spire collapsed, causing extensive damage to the church; the spire was not rebuilt. The present stepped footpaths down to the River Dee are shown on the c.1468 plan to the southeast and south west of the church. 2.5.6 Tudor, Stuart and Commonwealth The collegiate use of St Johns ended with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, at which time it comprised a dean and seven prebends. In 1547 Edward VIs commissioners removed the lead roofing, precipitating the decay of the fabric. In 1572 and in 1574 the church tower collapsed, demolishing part of the nave. In 1581, St Johns became the parish church, occasioning the repair of the nave and the creation of the east wall. A plan of St Johns and its surroundings taken from two plans in the British Museum, 1589 (Cooper Scott, 1892, 56) shows the extent to which it had shrunk over the ensuing 120 years, assuming the present proportions.

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Plan of the church and its surroundings, 1589 The key to the plan provides information on how St Johns may have looked in the late sixteenth century. The tower, which collapsed in 1572-4 (K), is described as undergoing reconstruction, and at the eastern end of the now truncated church was a very fair window lately built. At some time a small house, (H), had been built by the porch (I), and its garden extended east inside the ruined north aisle. The ruins of the early church (M) to the east of the newly built wall was ruinated, and is a garden or yard to keep timber therein, but the chapels to the east (O, P, Q) appear to have been in better condition, since they had fair roofs, vaulted or arched over with stone, richly carved and gilt. The present Croquet Green to the south of the church is described as a yard or garden belonging to the Churchyard in the occupation of some cloth workers; Cooper Scott notes that this was part of the quarry from which the church was built (Cooper Scott, 1892, 58). The Anchorites Cell was still being used as a meeting hall by the Weavers Company in the eighteenth century (Chester Official Guide Book, 22) suggesting a long association with the textile industry. The earliest surviving printed plan of Chester is by Braun and Hogenberg of 1581. This clearly shows St Johns, together with what may be the Anchorites Cell to the southeast, and a building to the northeast, which is probably Cholmondeley Hall, built by Hugh Cholmondeley, one of Henry VIIIs commissioners responsible for the dissolution of St Johns College. Cholmondeley Hall, which was built on the site of St Anns Chapel, was destroyed during the Civil War siege of Chester (Cooper Scott, 1892, 58). This 1581 plan is, however, difficult to equate with later plans, such as Speeds of 1610, in that it does not show Dee Lane (now Souter's Lane), but instead shows St Johns as being surrounded on three sides by houses. There are other topographical inconsistencies, which suggest that the plan cannot be taken as an entirely reliable document.

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City of Chester, 1581 Speeds plan of 1610 appears to be a more accurate representation.

Church of John the Baptist, 1610 The present street plan of the Study Site is clearly identifiable with Dee Lane (now Souters Lane) and St Johns Lane (now St Johns Street) being specifically named. There are houses in the immediate vicinity of the Newgate, and a building fronting Dee Lane to the south of the Dee House site; this may account for the substantial early-looking retaining wall on the east of Dee Lane. To the east of the Study Area are various buildings, presumably Cholmondeley Hall. The remainder of the site is almost undeveloped. During the Civil War the Royalist defenders of Chester built protective outworks from King Charless Tower east to the River Dee at Boughton. On 20th September 1645 a Parliamentary assault party took the Small Mount at Boughton, opened the turnpike gates and, with reinforcements, drove the defenders back to within the City Walls. St Johns, with its tower as an observation post, was turned into a Parliamentary stronghold with a battery being built in the churchyard to the north. It was from this battery that a breach was made in the City Walls near the Newgate, and the gun was subsequently moved to the Bowling Green, where it inflicted damage to Barnabys Tower.
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2.5.7

The late 17th and 18th centuries De Laveauxs plan of Chester (1745) shows the Study Site in some detail.

De Laveaux, 1745 The area between Dee Lane and the City wall (from the River Dee to the Newgate) is shown with trees, not apparently formally planted as with The Groves. Dee House, and the building, which preceded the Bishops Palace, is clearly identified, and the area appears to have been popular for leisure and entertainment, with the Lower Bowling Green and Dee Side Walks being shown. An unidentified house is shown to the south east of the Bishops Palace. Dee House is shown with a narrow service wing to the west and it has been suggested that there may have been a further wing to the east, on the site of the present chapel wing. No archaeological evidence has been found to support this and Edmund Kirbys detailed building specification for the chapel makes no mention of site clearance. The outbuildings along Souters Lane are clearly shown, suggesting that the present, probably late nineteenth century range, replaced this earlier range. The plan does not show any buildings along Church Lane, but this may not be conclusive and the shading to the north may possibly indicate housing. However, the present site of the exposed Amphitheatre was used as a bear pit in the eighteenth century (Chester Official Guide Book, 21), and was thus presumably an undeveloped space. Hunters plan of Chester (1789) shows Dee House, the 1750 Bishops Palace, St Johns Cottage, the unidentified house, and St Johns House, all with extensive gardens. There is also limited development on the northern end of the present Roman
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Garden, an unidentified building on The Groves, adjacent to the Anchorites Cell, and a house and garden to the immediate east of St Johns.

Hunter, 1789 Dee House is shown surrounded by formal gardens, but for some reason no service range is shown along Souters Lane. At some date in the eighteenth century, a house known as The Priory was erected in the eastern ruins of St Johns. It was built by Sir Robert Cotton and occupied by Earl Grosvenor during his mayoralty in 1807-8. Prior to that it had been the residence of Thomas de Quinceys mother, the former being the author of Confessions of an English Opium Eater, 1821 (Fenwick, 1896, 303). 2.5.8 The nineteenth century Coles plan (1836) shows little change had occurred during the fifty years following Hunters plan, but by 1853 the house on The Groves appears to have been demolished and two small buildings have been erected on the site of the present Old Orleans Public House.

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Thomas, 1853 Geestys plan (1870) shows Grosvenor Park, and the house to the east of St Johns appears to have been demolished during the laying out of the park. The Ordnance Survey, first edition 1874, does not record the unidentified house to the south east of the Bishops Palace, but shows that development had taken place in the Newgate, St Johns Street and Little St Johns Street area, and various buildings are shown on the northern sector of the present Roman Garden. The range of service buildings is also reinstated to the west of Dee House on the east of Souters Lane.

Ordnance survey, 1874

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Grosvenor Park, on land donated by 2nd Marquis of Westminster, was designed by Paxtons pupil, Edward Kemp in 1865-7. John Douglas was responsible for the entrance lodge, and a structure known as Billy Hobbys Well (listed Grade II), and there are various other listed medieval structures relocated in the Park. Although not included in the Study Site, Grosvenor Park is an important element because of its open leafy character. St Johns was restored in 1859-66 by R C Hussey. The east window, 1863, by T M Penson, depicts the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and commemorates the marriage of the Prince of Wales; the west window, 1887-90, by E Frampton, covers incidents in the churchs history and its association with Chester. In 1881, the upper part of the northwest tower collapsed, destroying the north porch. John Douglas rebuilt this in 1882, who was also the architect for the bell tower (1886-7) and for the rebuilding of the north aisle (1887). St Johns churchyard ceased to be used for burials in 1875, and the faculty for its levelling to the north and south of the church, including the removal of tombstones and headstones and their subsequent replacement, was granted in 1908. In 1953 the churchyard was demised to Chester Corporation, and in 1955 the Corporation became guardians of the ruined parts of St Johns under the Ancient Monuments Act, 1913. By the turn of the century, the Ordnance Survey, second edition, 1899, shows that the present Old Orleans Public House site has been further developed, and the area immediately to the north has been laid out as a bowling green, although not specifically identified as such until the Ordnance Survey, third edition, 1911.

Ordnance survey 1899 The Groves had long been a popular recreational space, and in 1883 a floating public bath was moored in the River Dee. The Bath, filled with river water, was open in the summer only, from 6 am to 9 pm. It closed when the new City Baths opened in 1910.
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Boating was also popular at the turn of the century, and the annual Chester Regatta was a high point in the Citys social diary.

2.5.9

The twentieth century During the late 1920s plans were drawn up to improve traffic flow by re-routing a widened Little St Johns Street through a new Newgate, to be built immediately to the south of the 1760 Newgate (now known as Wolfs Gate). In 1929, during the course of building the foundations for an extension to Dee House, the existence of the Roman Amphitheatre was established. A small-scale excavation in 1930-1 of areas in the northern half of the site enabled the general plan and dimensions of the structure to be calculated, and this showed that the proposed extension of Vicars Lane would cut through the archaeological site. There was considerable local opposition to the new road scheme, and in 1932 the Chester Archaeological Society launched a national appeal for funds, which rose sufficient to purchase the large eighteenth century St Johns House in 1934.

Front elevation of St Johns House

Rear elevation

The demolition of St Johns House was completed in 1958 (Thompson, 1976, 131), to be followed by limited excavation work, and culminating in the detailed archaeological excavation of the northern half of the amphitheatre in 1965-9. The exposed structures were then laid out as an ancient monument, being opened to the public in 1972. The present wall, which terminates the exposed amphitheatre, was erected after the completion of the excavations. Although the 1920s road scheme did not proceed, the Newgate was built, being completed in 1938. This scheme retained the old Newgate (Wolfs Gate), which became the entrance to the small park in which the remains of the Roman South-East Angle Tower are displayed.
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The Wolfgate In 1949 the area to the south of the New Gate was laid out as the Roman Gardens, incorporating a selection of Roman columns and bases from other sites in Chester, together with reconstructed hypocaust pillars from the Bath building in Bridge Street. In 1999 this was redesigned by Rob Roger Associates, and the work in executed 2000-01. The official opening is scheduled for the summer of 2001. Donations towards the cost of the gardens were received from the estate of Sally, late Duchess of Westminster, and from the Bank of Scotland. The design retained the existing reconstructed hypocaust and line of the path in the upper part, however everything else is newly laid out and incorporates areas where new art works such as mosaics and sculpture can be placed (circular areas of gravel). The planting is designed to recall an Italian theme, with the use of cypresses and plants chosen because they were used for medicinal purposes by the Romans. This theme is continued in the lower part of the garden where the juxtaposition of the straight route and the curving path recalls in plan the medical symbol of the snake and staff. One of the guiding principles here was the provision of access to the riverside for disabled people, and the whole route from the entrance at the top was laid out with this in mind. A clay pipe kiln (extant 1781 through to the nineteenth century) in the upper part of the garden was to have been excavated, but there are no plans to proceed with this so it will now be landscaped. This area is situated alongside the City Wall immediately beside the archway at the top of the garden. The lower part of the garden has been formed from a steeply sloping area and the site of a Bowling Green and former boatyard. It is also thought to be the site of a Roman quarry. The Old Orleans Public House (formerly known as Barnabys) was built in c.1982, with extensions and alterations in 1993. The buildings previously on this site,

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described as sheds, are believed to have been connected with the boat business mentioned above. The Youth Information Centre on the southeastern corner of Souters Lane was built in c.1994, on a site previously occupied by Bethells Boats Limited and the Halt a While Cafe. Following the closure of the Ursuline Convent School, Dee House was acquired by British Telecom and used as offices. In 1993, Dee House was purchased by David McLean Developments, PLC/Limited, the eighteenth century block, with its chapel wing and early twentieth century neo-Georgian wing being sold to Chester City Council. In 1995 the southern 1929 wing was demolished, to be replaced by a new County Court on which construction work began in January 2000, with an anticipated opening date of May 2001.

2.6
2.6.1

The Discovery of Roman Chester


The 18th and Early 19th Centuries Interest in and the reporting of discoveries of Roman remains was first stimulated by finds made during the wave of building activity in the city during the closing decades of the eighteenth century. The major recorded discovery at this time was the extensive ruins of a large bath building, replete with hypocausts and mosaic floors, on the north side of Lower Watergate Street in 1778/9. Part of another bath building, lying beneath properties on the east side of Bridge Street, had been unearthed some years earlier and was preserved for people to visit. Consisting of part of a hypocaust, public access to this monument was much improved when the premises were altered in 1853 and indeed it can still be visited today (beneath 39 Bridge Street). A much larger portion of the same hypocaust was revealed by more building works in 1863. Its stone pillars or pilae were rescued by members of the Chester Archaeological Society (founded 1849), as were examples of columns from the enormous exercisehall belonging to the same building. These form the core of the collection of architectural pieces now displayed in the Roman garden beside the Newgate.

2.6.2

The Later 19th and 20th Century The Society rapidly built up collections of Roman and later artefacts while accounts of discoveries were regularly reported in its Journal. The Roman material was greatly enhanced in the early 1890s by the large number of inscribed and sculptured stones retrieved during investigation of the North Wall of the City. These were installed in the recently constructed Grosvenor Museum, founded by the Archaeological and Natural Science Societies with the aid of the Duke of Westminster. Although the Museum passed into the control of the City Corporation in 1915 all archaeological excavation and research continued to be undertaken by the Archaeological Society, most notably by the Honorary Curator of its collections, Professor Robert Newstead, who directed most of the excavations undertaken in the first half of the twentieth century. These included the exposure of the southeast angle-tower of the fortress in 1930 and the definition of the outline of the northern half of the amphitheatre - 1930-31 and 1934 - following its discovery in 1929 by another prominent Society member W J Williams. The Society purchased much of the northern half of the amphitheatre site with the proceeds of a public appeal thus securing its protection and donated it to the state in 1959 opening the way for its excavation and display by the Ministry of Public Buildings & Works.

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After the Second World War, and Newstead`s death in 1947, the City Council appointed the first full-time Curator and for the next twenty-five years the holders of this post directed excavations in the City, often staffed with volunteers from the Society. Perfectly adequate for small-scale research excavations, this arrangement was totally incapable of dealing with the enormous scale of redevelopment that affected the City in the 1960s. In the early part of that decade losses included about 50% of the remaining part of the fortress baths with its intact hypocausts and mosaic floors, circumstances allowing only the bare minimum of recording, along with the north-west corner of the fortress defences which still stood to a height of c.3.5 metres. An increase in the importance accorded to archaeological remains meant that greater resources were made available when major redevelopment took place in the city centre in the later 1960s (involving the erection of the Gateway Theatre, New Market Hall and the Forum offices, although this did not prevent the complete destruction of another well-preserved bath-house and the Elliptical Building, a structure unique in the Roman World. The creation by the City Council of a permanent Excavations Unit in 1972 (now Chester Archaeology) improved the situation further enabling the incorporation of archaeological considerations into development planning at an early stage. Numerous excavations carried out since then have added greatly to knowledge of both the legionary fortress and the town-sized settlement, which grew up around it.

2.7
2.7.1

Area Analysis: Method of Study


This part of the understanding section provides a broad analysis of the study site (core and secondary areas) as it exists today. The site is examined on the basis of eight zones, named A- H. These are defined in section 2.8. Each zone is considered systematically with notes covering the following topics: a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) i) Location/Extent of the Zone Plan and Photographs Principal buildings/structures* Uses Ownership and management Townscape/landscape Condition* Archaeology* Interpretation/visitor facilities*

This analysis examines both core and secondary areas to the same level of detail to give a general overview of the area as whole. Those topics above marked * within core area are dealt with in greater depth in paragraphs 2.11 to 2.17.

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2.8
2.8.1

Area Analysis: Plans


Location of Study zones

KEY

The Secondary area zones: A: Amphitheatre F: The Old Bishops Palace and St Johns B: Little St Johns Street/Vicars Lane Cottage
The Core area zones: C: Dee House D: The new County Courts E: The Roman Gardens G: The Groves H: St John the Baptist Church and the Hermitage (Anchorite cell)

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2.8.2

Principal Buildings, Structures and Spaces

KEY
1 : Amphitheatre 2 : Dee House 3 : Dee House Ancillary Buildings 4 : New County Court 5 : The Old Bishops Palace 6 : St Johns Cottage 7 : The Hermitage 8 : Church of St John the Baptist 9 : The City Walls 10: The Newgate and Wolf gate 11: The Roman south east angle tower 12: Old Orleans public house 13: Shop/ Information centre 14: Public Conveniences 15: Roman Gardens 16: The Groves 17: Bowling Green 18: Former Churchyard St John the Baptist 19: Former Churchyard St John the Baptist

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2.8.3

Vehicular and Pedestrian Movement

KEY

>> Pedestrian (traffic free) route Vehicular routes


Site access

Visitor destinations Car parking


Pedestrian crossing

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2.9

Area Analysis: Zone Descriptions

Zone A: The Amphitheatre


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The excavated area of the amphitheatre bounded by Dee House and Little St John Street. b) Photograph

The Amphitheatre c) Principal buildings/structures (for further detail see 2.11.1) Excavated remains of the stone built military amphitheatre; built in the very late first century, and remaining in use until c.350. The structure was oval in shape, measuring some 90m by 105m, of which just under half of the northern section has been excavated and presented for public display as a monument. The remainder lies under the site of the new County Courts and Dee House, its forecourt and former garden. d) Uses (for further detail see 2.13.16) The site is a permanently displayed archaeological excavation open to the public. It is also used for occasional public entertainment events. e) Ownership and management The land is in the guardianship of English Heritage and an agreement is in operation with the Chester City Council, which is responsible for day to day management and maintenance. No charges are made for public admission. Occasional free public entertainment events are organised by the City Council. In 1999 a major open-air concert event was arranged by the Chester in Concert group. The logistics of this event have been well documented in a report by the group. f) Townscape/landscape The site is in the form of a segment of an ellipse with the site of the former perimeter seating laid out in grass surrounding the sunken amphitheatre space, which is surfaced in gravel. The site is enclosed by a 1m high railing separating it from the surrounding roadway and a high retaining wall, which defines the extent of the excavation to the south and the boundary to Dee House. The lower part of the wall is in exposed aggregate concrete panels and the upper section in brickwork. This wall is a most dominating feature in the urban landscape and bears no relationship to the
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form or history of the amphitheatre or the surrounding urban grain. The space is best appreciated from the lower level of the amphitheatre or from the higher level view provided by the City Walls. Viewed from the adjacent roadway and pavements the amphitheatre excavations have little impact. g) Condition (for further detail see 2.11.1(e)) The condition of the monument is generally good. h) Archaeology (for further detail see 2.11.1) This zone consists of the excavated portion of the amphitheatre, which approximates to 41% of the entire monument. Discovered during building works at the rear of Dee House in 1929 (Williams 1929, 218-9; Lawson 1932, 66-8) its outline was established by trial excavations in 1930-31 and 1934 (Newstead & Droop 1932, 5-40; Newstead 1936, 125; 1948, 99-107) with the full excavation of its northern half carried out in the years 1960-69 by the Ministry of Public Building & Works (Thompson 1976). The following three years were taken up with consolidation of the exposed masonry and presentation works. The sunken arena and its perimeter wall constitute the main focus for the visitor along with the north entrance (porta Pompei) and the east entrance (porta postica). The approximate positions of the outer wall and the minor entrances are delineated in the surface of the grassed area of the seating-bank (cavea) by concrete markers. Investigations were conducted in 2000 to determine if the 1960s excavation had left any archaeological deposits intact within the compass of the displayed portion of the monument (Matthews et al. 2000). These demonstrated that whereas only a few truncated features survive beneath the gravel surfacing in the arena there are substantial archaeological deposits of Roman and all later periods still remaining within the area of the seating-bank. St Johns House, a mid-eighteenth century mansion with gardens adjoining those of Dee House, was demolished in 1958 to allow the excavation of the Amphitheatre. i) Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities (for further detail see 2.13) Access: Physical access is gained through gateways in the boundary railings at the west and east extremities of the site. From those points movement through the site is over the grassed perimeter and down timber staircases to the lower gravel area. No special provisions are made for those with disabilities. Interpretation for visitors: Information is limited to one descriptive panel and nameplates on individual features.

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Zone B: Little St John Street/Vicars Lane Corridor


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The public highways of Little St John Street and Vicars Lane and the garden containing the remains of the Roman Wall Corner Tower on the north side of the Newgate b) Photograph

Little St Johns Street viewed from the City Walls towards the telephone exchange building. c) Principal buildings/structures Chester Visitor Centre (listed Grade II), formerly St Johns School, built in the 1880s to the design of the London School Board architect E R Robson for the first Duke of Westminster. It is a three-storey brick building with stone dressings, and has been the Visitor Centre since the mid-1970s. Lumley Place Almshouses, Nos. 1 to 7, built in 1878, probably to the design of John Douglas. Listed Grade II. A row of seven almshouse for retired clergy, and one of the few surviving examples in Chester. The gables incorporate patterned terra cotta panels. They are now private houses Post Office Telephone Exchange. Off the Wall Public House. The Wolf Gate, formerly the Newgate, built in 1760 on the site of a 1608 gate, with battlements being added in 1890. The Newgate, built in 1937-8 to the design of Sir William Tapper and Michael Tapper. Listed Grade II together with the Wolf Gate. d) Uses A public highway corridor. This is a two way street which is an integral part of the city centre network providing local access. The buildings are all in uses as indicated above.

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e) Ownership and management Highways and public realm are the responsibility of Chester County Council. The Wolf Gate and Newgate and adjacent gardens and the Chester Visitor Centre are in the ownership of Chester City Council. All other buildings are in private ownership. f) Townscape/landscape Approached from the west the Little St. John Street passes through the narrow Newgate archways beneath the town walls and then loops around the north of the amphitheatre site to continue eastwards as Vicars Lane. Immediately to the north of the Newgate is a small landscaped garden in which are displayed the excavated remains of a corner of the original Roman fortress wall. Beyond, the streetscape is enclosed to the north by a series of building elevations of varying quality and interest. Progressing east from Newgate, the Off the Wall public house makes a positive contribution to the corner with St. John Street. On the opposite corner is the telephone exchange a four storey brick building in a plain and uninspired neo Georgian style. Its ground floor windows have crude internal security screens. The building makes no contribution to the life of the street and lacks animation. Unfortunately, it is almost centrally located on the axis of the amphitheatre and dominates the principal space of the core study area to the south. Beyond, on the same building line is a terrace of attractive 19th century alms houses. Projecting forward of these is the Chester Visitor Centre, a converted two-storey school, late 19th century, in red pressed brick. Between Vicars Lane and St Johns Church is an area of unenclosed public realm landscaping (formerly churchyard) laid out and maintained to a high quality and characterised by close mown lawns and mature trees. g) Condition The public realm and buildings are generally in good outward condition and well maintained. h) Archaeology These two thoroughfares perpetuate the line of the Roman road, which ran around the northern perimeter of, and constituted the principal approach to, the amphitheatre. Other roads linking with it gave access to that part of the civilian settlement bordering what is now Foregate Street, the latter following the line of the main road approaching the fortress east gate, while another almost certainly ran westwards immediately outside the south defences of the fortress on the line of modern Pepper Street. Deposits in this area could well contain debris from the collapsed/demolished superstructure of the amphitheatre providing evidence as to its external architectural form and decoration. Such an important structure would have had commemorative inscriptions on the exterior most likely set above the principal entrances and those from the north and entrances could well survive, albeit probably in fragmentary form, somewhere within this corridor. The deposits in this area might also contain evidence as to developments at the amphitheatre in the sub-Roman period as well as the remains of buildings and associated features lining the street frontages in the late Saxon, medieval and post-medieval periods. At the northwestern extremity of this Zone lie the displayed remains of the southeast angle-tower of the legionary fortress defences probably constructed c.AD 100 along with adjacent short sections of the curtain wall. The site also contains a length of the fortress ditch and traces of the original turf and timber rampart of c.AD 75. The adjacent section of the city wall incorporates the Wolf Gate of 1768, which was a rebuilding of an earlier gate constructed in 1608-13. In front of this, to the east, lie the foundations of an even earlier gate of medieval date.

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Southeast Angle Tower viewed from City Walls Later buildings now demolished include: the demolished houses in Little St John Lane, both adjacent to St Johns House and on the Telephone Exchange site. i) Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities (for further detail see 2.13) The zone contains the Chester Visitor Centre

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Zone C: Dee House


a) Location/Extent of the Zone Dee House and its present grounds (i.e. excluding the site of the new County Court.) b) Photographs

Dee House, front elevation

Dee House, c.1900 wing c) Principal buildings/structures (for further detail see 2.12.1/2) Detached house dating to c.1730 with a three storey chapel wing of 1867-9 by Edmund Kirby, and a four bay neo-Georgian style wing to the west dating to c.1900. Listed Grade II. Ancillary service buildings, mainly nineteenth century running along the east side of Souters Lane. d) Uses Vacant building and landscaped grounds
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e) Ownership and management Chester City Council. The site is closed to the public. f) Townscape/landscape The three storey main house comprises three elements. The original 18th century Georgian house is immediately adjoined by a c.1900 extension to the west in the same style and the 19th century chapel to the east in a restrained Victorian Gothic with lancet windows. Along the western boundary of the site to Souters Lane is a range of lower two storey pitched roofed ancillary buildings dating from the 19th century and 20th centuries. The House and ancillary buildings enclose and front onto a circular driveway with central landscape feature. To the east the grounds taper to a point between the high boundary wall with the amphitheatre and the timber palisade fencing to the site of the County Courts. All the grounds are overgrown and have been untended for many years with a self seeded under storey emerging below mature trees (see ecology report). Viewed externally the Dee House group contributes to the surrounding townscape as follows: Dee House provides a termination to the view down St John Street. The Ancillary buildings abut Souters Lane. They enclose and add to the character of this interesting sunken curving linear space leading down to the river. The mature trees provide a soft linking feature between the Dee House and the Church of St John.

g) Condition (for further detail see 2.12.3) The original house and the 19th century wing are in very poor condition and steps are currently being taken to prevent internal collapse. The Chapel wing and ancillary buildings appear in fair condition. h) Archaeology (for further detail see 2.12.1/2) Dee House and its grounds overlie almost the whole of the remainder (approximately 59%) of the amphitheatre arena along with c.25% of the seating-bank, the latter including the western porta postica and one of the minor entrances (vomitoria). No formal excavations have occurred in this Zone although small-scale evaluation trenches were dug within and outside Dee House in 1993. The overall depth of deposits in the area of the arena can be estimated as c.3.5 metres in the light of the 1960s excavations north of the modern retaining wall. The bulk of the infilling appears to have occurred in the 18th century. As part of landscaping works associated with the laying out of Dee House and its grounds but using material imported from other building sites in the city. There is a strong possibility of sub-Roman and/or mid/late Saxon deposits and features in the arena area associated with St. Johns. Cartographic sources indicate buildings along the western periphery of the Zone bordering Souters Lane in the 17th century and possibly earlier. Traces of these-for example the sandstone wall in the basement of the buildings at the entrance to Dee House- may remain below the present structures. The area behind them might contain contemporary archaeological deposits such as refuse pits. The sandstone retaining wall along the east side of Souters Lane follows the line of the western precinct wall of St Johns and might contain elements of medieval masonry. Later demolished structures formerly on the site include: The Extension to Dee House dating to 1929, the extensive greenhouses to the east (OS first through third editions) i) Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities* Access: Vehicular and pedestrian access to the grounds and buildings of Dee House are approached through a gated entrance immediately to the west of the amphitheatre.

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Zone D: The New County Court


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The curtilage of the new building and associated car parking. b) Photograph

New County Court c) Principal buildings/structures* New County Court built 1999-2001. d) Uses Currently building under completion. Proposed use as County Courts e) Ownership and management David McLean Developments have the freehold of the site but a 150 year leasehold interest has now been disposed to a property investment company. The Department for the Environment on behalf of the Lord Chancellors office have a 25 year tenancy agreement to occupy the new building. As part of the leasehold and tenancy agreements David McLean Developments are able to secure at any time a right to access through the new developments car park to provide a service entrance to the rear of the Dee House site. No other party could invoke this right of access and it is not part of any planning or legal agreement with the City Council (see also 2.14 for recent planning history/developer interest in the Core Area). f) Townscape/landscape The new 5 storey building is set back on its site with the frontage area being laid out for parking. The new structure has a limited impact on the wider area. To the north it is screened by Dee House and to the south by the Old Bishops Palace. Souters Lane is set down well below the level of the site and its retaining wall adds to the Lanes character.

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g) Condition The building and landscaping is new and constructed of high quality materials. h) Archaeology (for further detail see 2.11) This building stands on the site of the extension to Dee House constructed in 1930. It was the preparatory groundworks for the latter that led to the discovery of the amphitheatre the previous year. More specifically, it was a short section of the outer wall that was exposed and re-examination of the spot in connection with the construction of the new building had shown that its remains were almost entirely removed. The car park to accompany the new County Court overlies a large section of the seating-bank (cavea) of the amphitheatre and includes the principal entrance into the arena (porta pompaei) at the south end of the long axis as well as one of the minor entrances (vomitoria) giving access to the cavea alone. It also includes a tiny section of the arena at the inner end of the main entrance. Explorations in recent years have demonstrated the presence of an average of 3 metres of archaeological deposits in this area. These explorations have been of a small-scale and evaluatory nature designed to detect the presence and general character of archaeological deposits rather than investigating them. A similar depth of deposits is known to exist to the south beyond the curtilage of the amphitheatre although this increases to more than 4.6 metres towards the southern boundary of the Zone possibly as a consequence of artificial terracing of the slope down to the river initiated in the Roman period. The continuation of the north-south axial drain crossing the arena was located in 2000 and the area is known to contain a general spread of Roman stratigraphy with an average depth of 1 metre rich in faunal remains. Traces of structures were found on the lower terrace in 1993. The whole of this Zone has a high potential in terms of mid/late Saxon activity associated with St. Johns potentially including the stonemasons workshop producing crosses and grave slabs in the 9th and 10th centurys. Evaluation excavations in 1994 encountered deposits containing examples of stone blocks with medieval carving, possibly originating from the bell tower at the west end of St. Johns which collapsed in 1881 (Cleary et al. 1994, 15), while excavations in 2000 in advance of the construction of the new County Court encountered a number of medieval burials demonstrating that St. Johns graveyard extended as far west as Souters Lane (pers. comm. Tim Strickland). A possible gatehouse fronting on to Souters Lane giving access to a walled approach to St Johns appears on several 17th century maps of the area, traces of which might survive along the west side of this Zone. i) Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities* Access: Vehicular and pedestrian entrance is from the access road off Little St John Street. Interpretation: There are no interpretation facilities at present, however, as a condition of the planning approval the outline of the main walls of the unexcavated amphitheatre below are reflected in the car park design.

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Zone E: The Roman Gardens


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The site of the Roman Garden including the adjacent town wall and Souters Lane. b) Photographs

Roman gardens

Roman Gardens and new County Court c) Principal buildings/structures Gardens laid out in 1949 incorporating a collection of Roman stonework from other excavation sites in Chester. The Roman Gardens were redesigned and relaid in 2000-01. The boundary and building retaining walls and rock cutting which form the eastern boundary to Souters lane. d) Uses Public gardens and public highway.

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e) Ownership and management Chester City Council own and maintain the gardens and Chester County Council is responsible for Souters Lane as Highway Authority. f) Townscape/landscape The principal feature and point of interest of Roman gardens are its lines of columns and other building elements relocated to the site from archaeological excavations in Chester. The gardens have recently been extended and redesigned. A central pathway, colonnade, cypress trees, terraces and Roman foundation reconstructions invoke the theme of partly restored Roman gardens and villas. Some details of the new enhancements, e.g. the polished granite seats and the concrete steps, tend to appear out of character. The gardens are enclosed to the west by the City Walls and to the east by dense landscaping and trees. At the lower level the gardens terminate at the rear of the car park of the Old Orleans public house with no boundary structures. The gardens make an important contribution to the wider townscape. They provide: Lineal green space between the city centre and the river. Add to the variety and sequence of scenes viewed from the town walls. Visible evidence of Roman Chester. An enclosure to Souters Lane.

g) Condition The recently formed gardens are well maintained. h) Archaeology The Roman Gardens, recently the subject of a scheme of re-display, contain a collection of architectural stonework derived from various buildings inside the Roman legionary fortress, most notably the main baths and the headquarters building but also including items retrieved from the interior of the North Wall. The Chester Archaeological Society assembled the bulk of the collection during the period c.1850 c. 1900. A reconstructed hypocaust in the Garden uses materials recovered from the fortress baths in 1863 and most of the better preserved examples of columns were salvaged on the same occasion. The southern end of the site appears to have been used for quarrying in the Roman period and Roman deposits of an indeterminate nature occur generally in the area (Connelly 1999). This was the location of the citys cockpit in the 18th century. The north end of the Garden occupies the former site of a clay tobacco pipe factory active in the 19th century. The area also contains the site of demolished houses, including a tavern, to the south of the Newgate. i) Access/interpretation/visitor facilities Access: The gardens are accessed from Little St John Street and The Groves. There are also steps, which descend from the City Walls. They provide a pedestrian route from the city centre down to the riverside esplanade. Pathways descend through by terraced walks and steps. Interpretation: Interpretative material has yet to be installed as part of the enhancement scheme. It is certainly required because visitors could be confused as to whether the parts of the site are actual in situ Roman remains.

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Zone F: The Old Bishops Palace and St Johns Cottage


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The sites and boundary structures of the old Bishops Palace and St Johns Cottage b) Photographs

Souters Lane viewed towards city Centre

Former Bishops Palace from the City Walls c) Principal buildings/structures The Bishops Palace was built in c1750 for Bishop Peploe on the site of the medieval house of the Archdeacons of Chester. The canted entrance bay and the portion to the west are later eighteenth century (Pevsner & Hubbard, 1971, 166). Behind is a room with exuberant eighteenth century stucco. Listed Grade II*. St Johns Cottage; Map evidence and appearance suggest this building dates from the eighteenth century. Listed Grade II.

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d) Uses Old Bishops Palace is now private offices and associated parking and St Johns Cottage is a private house. e) Ownership and management Private f) Townscape/landscape This fine Georgian house and later extension in similar style is enclosed by high boundary walls The house itself is largely hidden from close view but is prominent in vistas from the south of the river Dee. It is also a feature of the skyline looking north from The Groves. The sites boundaries are important in defining surrounding spaces. The walls, railings and cliff/embankment are a feature of the sunken Souters Lane where it emerges onto The Groves. The brick boundary walls to the south and east provide a backdrop to the riverside esplanade and enclose the narrow pedestrian lane leading up to St Johns. g) Condition The house and its boundaries all appear in good condition. A detracting feature of note is the crude barbed wire security feature above parts of the enclosing brick walls. h) Archaeology This encompasses much of the area lying south of the amphitheatre which slopes down to The Groves beside the Dee and which is known to have been artificially terraced from the Roman period. Slight evidence of Roman structures was found immediately to the north in Zone D and these may have extended into this area along with the continuation of the amphitheatre drainage system. This Zone is known to have been the site of various ecclesiastical buildings associated with St. Johns including (beneath the present Old Bishops Palace) the Archdeacons House, the Deans House, and the Bishops Residence, the last thought to have stood on the spot now occupied by St Johns Cottage. The graveyard of St Johns is known to have extended as far as this property as several medieval burials were found beneath it some years ago. i) Access/interpretation/visitor facilities Access: Vehicular and pedestrian entrance is from the access road off Little St John Street. A pedestrian gateway from the Old Bishops Palace exists onto The Groves but this is permanently locked. There are no visitor interpretation facilities in this zone.

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Zone G: The Groves


a) Location/Extent of the Zone The roads, frontage buildings and public spaces adjoining the River Dee. b) Photographs

The Groves

Bandstand on the groves c) Principal buildings/structures The Old Orleans Public House, 1982 with extension in 1993 Youth Information Centre/ Shop, c.1994. The Public Conveniences built in 1925 by Chester City Council The Bandstand, late nineteenth century. Listed Grade II. d) Uses Riverside walkway esplanade, public parking and seating areas, buildings and structures supporting leisure and tourism uses: The Old Orleans public House, Youth Information Centre/ Shop, public toilets, bandstand and landing stages for pleasure boats.

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e) Ownership and management Adopted public highways: Chester City Council. Areas of pedestrian pavings (block, stone and gravel): uncertain Chester City/County Old Orleans public house: Private Youth Information Centre: Chester City Council Shop: Private Toilets: Chester City Council Bandstand: Chester City Council f) Townscape/landscape The tree lined riverside esplanade is Chesters principle frontage and linkage with the River Dee. It provides a generally high quality landscape of diverse interest and variety of scene. The 1980s public house and 1990s Information Centre lack architectural sophistication, but are soundly constructed are important visitor facilities. The Victorian bandstand and 1920s public conveniences are typical of their period and add to the quality and character of the area. g) Condition All buildings and structures are generally in good condition. The public realm is generally in good condition but the gravelled pedestrian surfaces are worn and require maintenance. i) Archaeology The sloping ground south of the amphitheatre seems likely to have been terraced in the Roman period. Mechanical sounding at a spot in the south-east corner of the carpark below the Old Bishops Palace in 1989 located a very substantial concrete structure of Roman date at a depth of c.3 metres. This suggests the possibility of major building - most probably a bathhouse, often found in association with amphitheatres - positioned on the lowest terrace beside and overlooking the river. There is also a strong possibility of Roman quays and jetties along the riverbank here as well as similar structures of late Saxon date belonging to St. Johns. The river journey to St. Johns by King Eadgar and his retinue in 973 should be borne in mind on this point. The growth of a sizeable Norse-Irish mercantile trading community at the south end the city in the 10th century also suggests intense activity along the riverbank. Similarly, Souters lane derives its name from a Middle English term for a shoemaker and it may be that, like other stretches of the river frontage further west, leather working was concentrated here in the late Saxon/early medieval period. Later buildings and spaces now removed include: the buildings formerly on the site of the Old Orleans Public House, including the Causeway Tavern, the building to the south of the Anchorites Cell (see Hunter 1789 plan), the Bowling Green (now the Old Orleans car park) j) Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities Access: The vehicular access and servicing to the area is by way of Souters Lane. This leads to a short section of roadway and public parking spaces opposite the Old Orleans public House. Pedestrian access from the city centre is from the City Walls, the Roman Garden, Souters Lane and the pedestrian lanes leading from St Johns. The suspension bridge provides a pedestrian route from the south side of the river. Visitor facilities: The Groves esplanade is a major visitor destination with pleasure boat hire and cruises up the river, summer band concerts, riverside walkways and a public house.

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Zone H: The Church of St John The Baptist/ The Hermitage (Anchorite Cell)
a) Location/Extent of the Zone The church of St John the Baptist and the grounds to the south including the site of the bowling green. The Hermitage and the pedestrian lanes to the west and east. b) Photographs

The Hermitage

St Johns Church, ruined chancel c) Principal buildings/structures The Church of St John the Baptist, founded in 689, and the see of Bishop Peter from 1075 to 1095. The present church is considerably smaller than the Norman and medieval church. St Johns was restored in 1859-64, and the bell tower dates from 1887. Listed Grade I, with the ruined east and west ends being Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
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The Hermitage dates from the fourteenth century, with restorations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Listed Grade II*.

d) Uses Church and amenity landscaping. The Hermitage is used as a private house. e) Ownership and management St Johns Church - in the ownership of the Parish. The ruined tower and remains to the west and east of the Church and the lawns, walkways, retaining walls and bowling green to the south of the Church - are the responsibility of Chester City Council The Hermitage and surrounding garden is in private ownership. f) Townscape/landscape The Church is a major feature in the townscape of this part of Chester. The grassed lawns and mature trees, walkways and retaining walls to the south all provide a setting of considerable quality and an area of calm, which contrasts, with the bustle of the riverside esplanade. The Hermitage has a secluded wooded setting. g) Condition The principal buildings appear outwardly in reasonable condition. The Church and adjacent monuments are of soft sandstone, which is prone to delimination. h) Archaeology St Johns, reputed to have been founded in 689 by King Ethelred of Mercia, developed into one of Chesters two principal churches. It was already a sizeable establishment by the mid 10th century and was the scene for a special ceremony in 973 when King Eadgar received a pledge of allegiance by a number of British and Norse rulers. The pedestrian lane leading down to the river may perpetuate the line of an ancient route leading down to a landing stage on the riverbank. The church underwent successive phases of expansion from the 11th to the 13th centuries. Elements at the east and west ends eventually collapsed but most still survive in a ruined state. Some elements, such as the Chapel of St James and the southwest tower, have completely disappeared although a resistivity survey carried out south of the church in 1993 suggests their foundations remain intact. There was also a monastery of St. Mary in the vicinity but this has long since disappeared and its precise site is unknown. The present church represents merely the core of what was once a much larger complex and the foundations of the `lost` portions lie beneath the surrounding grounds. Extensive graveyards surround the church. There was an accomplished school of stonemasons here from at least the mid-9th century. And examples of crosses and grave-slabs of the pre-Viking and Viking periods can be seen in the church. Much stone for the successive phases of church buildings was probably obtained from the ruined amphitheatre. The rest was extracted from a new quarry located immediately to the south, cut into the river cliff. Now landscaped and used as a bowling green, the quarry fill could contain unfinished/abandoned examples of carving from the early phases of the churchs history along with other artefacts. In summary the areas archaeology will include: The Chapels of St Ann and St James The ruined east and west ends of St Johns Cholmondeley Hall The graveyard The quarry to the south of St Johns, adjacent to the Hermitage The Priory (home of Thomas de Quinceys mother, demolished late 19th century

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i)

Access/Interpretation/visitor facilities* Access: Vehicular servicing to the church is from the roadway off Little St John Street. A pedestrian route runs to the east of the area from Vicars Street to The Groves and the suspension bridge leading to the south of the river. To the east of the area is a narrow pedestrian lane. Both have areas of interesting York stone and cobble surfacing. The lawns immediately to the south of the Church are open to the public. Walkways run above the retaining walls overlooking The Hermitage and Bowling Green but terminate in dead ends. Both the Bowling Green and The Hermitage are closed to the public. Interpretation: Information panels are located at the remains at the east end of St Johns Church and in the public gardens to the south overlooking The Hermitage. St Johns Church is open to visitors and has information leaflets. It contains items of considerable interest including stone crosses dating from the Viking/Anglo Saxon periods. These could all be better displayed and interpreted.

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2.10 Current Planning Policies (core and secondary area) 2.11 Core Area: Archaeology (below ground and excavated)
2.11.1 Roman Amphitheatre: a) History and purpose The primary amphitheatre constructed of timber was erected soon after the foundation of the legionary fortress c.AD 75 and was replaced by a much larger structure built mostly of masonry by c.AD 100 (Thompson 1976, 134 & 163-4). Precisely how long the primary amphitheatre was used before being replaced is unknown but the fact that the extensive 1960s excavations did not produce any evidence for major repairs suggests it may have had a life of 10-15 years. The building of its stone successor has been associated with the replacement of the original garrison - Legio II Adiutrix Pia Fidelis - by Legio XX Valeria Victrix c.AD 90. Construction of the stone amphitheatre, which may have seen a number of changes to the design as work progressed (see below), appears to have been completed by the opening years of the 2nd century. Its greater size compared with its predecessor was due to the provision of a much larger seating-bank (cavea). Around AD 122 much of the Twentieth was transferred to the North to undertake the construction of Hadrians Wall and was subsequently also involved in the building of its successor the Antonine Wall. The absence of much of the legion during the middle decades of the 2nd century is reflected in the fortress at Chester where the maintenance of many buildings was abandoned leading to dereliction and decay in many cases. This state of affairs is reflected at the amphitheatre where a mixture of debris, refuse and naturally deposited material was allowed to accumulate over the arena floor (Thompson 1976, 182). The structure was refurbished in the 3rd century when a new floor was laid in the arena and rebuilding of elements of the superstructure effected. This episode has been dated to c.AD 270 but it would be more in keeping with what we know of the fortress and its facilities in general if this reconstruction took place several decades earlier. Pottery in layers associated with the collapse or destruction of the east entrance implies that the amphitheatre, or at least parts of it, were no longer in use by c.AD 350. A resurgence of interest in amphitheatres in recent years has given rise to a debate as to whether military amphitheatres served the same purpose as their civic counterparts. One school of thought sees them used as training-grounds for weapons practice and drilling in addition to their function as centres of entertainment (Collingwood & Richmond 1969, 117-18; Bomgardner 1993, 381), a theory based essentially on the comparatively larger size of the arena in military examples, whereas another doubts if they had any training function (Webster 1969, 201-2; Golvin 1988). The term amphitheatrum was used to describe a conventional amphitheatre while the amphitheatre-like structure used as a gladiatorial training school was known as a ludus, like the examples such as the ludus Matutinus in Rome. The close proximity of the amphitheatre to the legionary fortress and its provision soon after the fortress was established, a situation repeated at other sites, both highlight the importance, which the military attached to such structures. The amphitheatre was obviously regarded as an essential component of a legionary fortress in the same way as other extramural facilities such as the parade-ground (campus), the market, and the large bath building, which regularly occur at an early date beside legionary fortresses of the Imperial era. The small size of the cavea in the primary structure may have been due to having the structure up and running as soon as possible while the fact that its much larger counterpart in the later structure, estimated to have a capacity of 7-8,000 (Sunter 1976, 234), which could accommodate more than the entire legion suggests it
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was intended to be used by both military and civilian sectors of Devas population. The probability is therefore that the amphitheatre was use for a variety of purposes encompassing military training, the observance of religious festivals, and pure entertainment. Activities would thus have included weapons and combat practice, the observance of special ceremonies and festivals such as the celebration of the emperors birthday, gladiatorial contests and unarmed combat, beast-hunts, grudge matches or duals, and shows (munera) which included performances by troupes of jugglers and acrobats. Amphitheatres could also be used as places of public execution. b) Original form and function The primary amphitheatre consisted of an arena measuring approximately 59.8 by 50.7 metres in size surrounded by a seating structure 6.7 metres deep giving overall dimensions of 73.2 by 64.1 metres. The 1960s excavations revealed the unusually well preserved remains of the base of the seating structure which consisted of an inner and outer line of beams laid in the ground connected by other beams laid radially at intervals of about 1.8 metres. The positions of many of the uprights which supported the superstructure and which were mortised into the ground beams were also located and found to be spaced at intervals also averaging 1.8 metres. The design might thus have been based on units of 6 Roman feet (using the pes Monetalis of 295mm). A reconstruction of the superstructure suggests a seating capacity of 2,500-3,000 (Sunter 1976, 222-230). When the primary structure was replaced by a stone successor the floor of the arena, which was slightly reduced in size, was lowered by c.1.5 metres, which provided material, which could be used to support the new seating arrangements. The wall around the arena varied from 0.6 to 1.1 metres in thickness and stood originally to a height of c.2.6 metres. The arena was apparently surfaced with paving and was provided with a covered drain following the long axis, which was linked, to a gutter at the foot of the arena wall. The 1960s excavations located the emplacements for a timber structure at the centre of the arena (Thompson 1976, 152-4). Considered Roman at the time more recent work has raised the possibility that this is sub-Roman or Saxon in date (Matthews et al. 2001, 52-3). In the stone building the overall depth of the encircling cavea was increased to 19 metres, including the outer wall, resulting in overall dimensions for the new structure of c. 97.0 by 86.2 metres. The outer wall was 2.7 metres thick with a basal course of massive blocks of sandstone set on a foundation of smaller blocks laid in courses and clay bonded. The wall featured buttresses on its outer face measuring 1.22 by 0.90 metres and spaced 3 metres apart centre to centre. Main entrances were provided on the long and short axes (porta pompae and porta posticae respectively) and two minor entrances (vomitoria) between these. The porta pompae were the main means of access to the arena and were closed at their inner ends, on the evidence of the excavated example, by iron gates. Steps also ran up at right angles to give access to a gangway immediately behind the arena wall parapet. The eastern porta postica provided entry to the arena by means of a small doorway in the arena wall while a staircase on each side of the entrance passage enabled access to the cavea and also to a special platform or tribunal over the entrance, which was reserved for the use of senior officers or dignitaries. Stone columns from this structure were retrieved from the entrance fill. The masonry of the staircases may be secondary (Matthews et al. 2001, 103). The eight minor entrances gave access to the cavea alone. Immediately west of the inner end of the north entrance was a small, almost square, chamber set within the body of the cavea. Measuring 3.6 by 4.2 metres internally this functioned as a Shrine of Nemesis, the Goddess of Fate and Revenge, as evidenced by an altar found within it bearing the dedication To the goddess Nemesis, Sextius Marcianus,
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the centurion (set this up) as a result of a vision. Running concentrically with the outer wall and 2.1 metres in from it was another wall, the so-called concentric wall, about 2 metres wide. It was suggested this arrangement was devised in order to provide a vaulted support structure for the upper tiers of seating in the cavea (the lower resting on an earth bank or timber framework), the gap between the walls at ground level perhaps serving as a corridor connecting the twelve entrances. However, this would be a most unusual arrangement. The discovery of an earlier and unfinished side-wall immediately north of the east entrance indicates that changes were made to the design for the stone amphitheatre as its construction was proceeding and so, alternatively, it may be that the concentric wall began life as the intended outer wall of a smaller amphitheatre. It may be mere coincidence but a design on these lines would result in an amphitheatre with dimensions very similar to those of the legionary amphitheatre at Caerleon. c) Likely extent of existing remains The only portion of the remainder of the amphitheatre to have been fully excavated is the section of the outer wall found in 1929 on the site of the extension to Dee House (Williams 1929, 218-9; Lawson 1932, 66-8; Thompson 1976, 156-8). The top of the wall was encountered at a depth of about 1.5 metres and still retained the basal course of massive blocks. To quote Hugh Thompson this section of the outer wall ..was in fact better preserved than in any other subsequent exposures and suggests that the southern half of the amphitheatre may possibly stand to quite a height, where it has not been disturbed by the present Convent building (1976, 157). Re-examination of this spot prior to building works in 2000 showed that this particular stretch of the outer wall had been almost totally removed by the construction of the Dee House extension in 1930. Apart from the recording work carried out in 2000 in advance of the construction of the County Court, all other investigations on this part of the amphitheatre have been of an evaluatory nature concerned with identifying the existence of archaeological deposits and not their excavation. Nonetheless, these have produced some useful information with regard to the probable degree of preservation of the rest of the amphitheatre. The evaluation exercise conducted in 1993 included the excavation of trial-trenches in the cellarage beneath the central and western portions of Dee House (Buxton et al. 1993, Trenches 19 & 20, 99-106, figs. 31-34 & 55). These lay in the area of the cavea and although there had been severe truncation of archaeological deposits the basal elements of Roman features cut into the natural clay still survived. Neighbouring trenches (Nos. 24 & 25), situated against the exterior of the front wall of Dee House demonstrated the presence of in situ stratigraphy relating to the base of the seating-bank of a quality similar to that found across large areas of the northern half of the structure (Buxton et al 1993, 119-126, figs. 40-42 & 55). Similarly, in Trench 18, positioned immediately outside the central section of the south wall of Dee House, intact seating-bank material was again encountered along with part of the so-called concentric wall found by Thompson thus confirming the continuation of this feature into the southern half of the amphitheatre (Buxton et al. 1993, 95-8, figs. 29, 30 & 55). Trenches 21-23 were located in and beside the Chapel at the east end of Dee House. The foundations of the Chapel walls were set at 2 metres below ground level and artefacts from the surrounding fill demonstrated that, as on the northern part of the site, much of the arena fill was imported to the site in the 18th century. The depth of the Chapel foundations implies that the arena wall could be preserved to the same degree as in the northern part of the site (Buxton et al. 1993, 107-118, figs. 35-39 &
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55). Trenches 27 and 28 were positioned immediately east of the projected position of the southern axial entrance and immediately south of the eastern axial entrance respectively. In both cases in situ Roman deposits were found at a depth of approximately 1 metre indicating a high level of preservation (Buxton et al. 1993, 129-36, figs. 44-5 & 55). Further evaluatory work was conducted in 1994 in the area of the car-park east of Dee House. The trenches were not excavated to a depth much beyond 1.20 metres but even so a definite rise in the stratigraphy was noted towards the north end of the area corresponding with the area of the seating-bank. In combination with the results of the 1993 evaluation trenches in neighbouring areas this suggests a good level of preservation of Roman deposits if not structures. It will be evident from the foregoing that it would be desirable to have further information about the extent and quality of the remains of the southern half of the amphitheatre. One possibility that might be considered is the undertaking of a ground penetrating radar survey of the land around Dee House, which should reveal the extent, and height of any surviving fabric of the monument. d) Display and Conservation works As the arena floor lies 4.2 metres below modern ground level an essential first step of the 1960s investigations was the construction of a retaining wall across the southern boundary of the area available in order both to secure the grounds of Dee House against collapse and also to permit the excavation of the maximum possible proportion of the remainder of the amphitheatre. This retaining wall is of massive dimensions being 82 metres long, 4.5 metres high, and 1.8 metres thick at the base. Finally, it was clad with aggregate panels and topped with a 2.7 metre high brick wall to replace one that was demolished to make way for the concrete retainer. The subsequent programme of excavation exposed the north and east entrances of the amphitheatre, the Shrine of Nemesis west of the former, along with approximately 40% of the arena wall amounting to c.150 linear metres of masonry. Apart from two short sections where it had been robbed down to its footings the latter survived to an average height of 2 metres with its facing intact and in a few places still stood close to its estimated original full height of 3.6 metres (Thompson 1976, Pls. XXVII a & b, XXXIX a & c). The sidewalls of the north entrance had been more severely affected by robbing but those of the east entrance still stood to a height of c. 3 metres (Thompson 1976, Pl. XLIXa and LIIa - d). Some sections of the arena wall were found to have subsided inwards towards the arena requiring stabilisation and returning to a vertical position. The remedial method chosen is described in an Appendix to the excavation report by O J Weaver (Thompson 1976, 236-9). Before general excavation of the lowest part of the arena fill a trench was cut in front of the wall and the masonry secured by propping. Another trench was then cut behind the wall and one course of masonry at the base removed temporarily to allow freedom of movement. The wall was then scaffolded front and back and a system of screw jacks deployed which, worked slowly and simultaneously, returned the tilting masonry to a vertical position. The course of masonry at the base was restored and perished mortar renewed. No attempt was made to recreate missing sections of the arena wall nor was any part reinstated. Fragments of plaster render were found adhering to the face of the wall, which indicated that the masonry was not intended to be seen. The primary render had been covered with a reddish-brown wash. To protect the ancient masonry from pressure in the future, a concrete retaining wall
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was inserted behind the arena wall, which was secured to it by means of noncorroding metal ties. This retaining wall was continued around the Nemeseum, along the flank walls of the entrances into the arena, and behind the outer ends of these entrances where excavation was taken to the limits of the site. The outer wall of the amphitheatre and the flank walls of the minor entrances had been so severely reduced by robbing that their display was considered impracticable. e) Current Condition of the Monument The exposed original stonework: is generally in sound condition with no obvious signs of delamination. Certain sections are attractive for children to climb upon and these are showing some ware and erosion. Blocks, which are prone to disturbance, are bonded together with recent sand cement render. The concrete retaining structure installed to support the excavated original walls are in good condition. The Grassed Areas: there are extensive worn patches on the main pedestrian desire lines leading from the entrances to the timber staircases to the lower level. Timber Stairs: these are in oak and fair condition but showing signs of ware and ageing. Hard pavings: the stone pavings at the west entrance and surrounding the interpretive panel are in good condition. 2.11.2 Roman Walls and Other Roman Features Within the Core Area a) The South-East Angle-Tower In addition to the extant portion of the amphitheatre the Core Area also contains the displayed remains of the south-east angle of the fortress defences. The length of curtain wall immediately adjacent to the north was investigated in 1908 by Robert Newstead and the beginning of a curve at the south end of the exposed length enabled the identification of the south-east angle of the fortress (Newstead 1909). The demolition of cottages beside the Wolf Gate in 1930 opened the way for the excavation of the angle-tower itself (Newstead 1929, 41-9). As usual with such structures, the side walls are splayed giving interior dimensions of 7 metres at the front and 6.1 metres at the rear with an internal depth of 4.9 metres. In addition to the masonry of the tower and curtain wall, which are most probably of early 2nd century date, the site also contains the lower part of the turf and timber rampart belonging to the primary defences of c.AD 75. This was examined in greater detail by Graham Websters excavation of 1951, which also explored the foundations of the adjacent medieval Wolf Gate (Webster 1952). The base of the tower was then conserved for public display. Although sectioned, most of the fills in the ditch lying in advance of the fortress wall remain undisturbed. b) The Roman Garden The collection of Roman architectural stonework displayed here derives from various buildings, chiefly those in the legionary fortress, and is an extremely important source of information about the architecture and structural techniques of the period, especially as many of the buildings from which they derive have been largely or even completely destroyed. Most of the re-erected columns, along with the pilae used to reconstruct a hypocaust, were discovered in the ruins of the exercise-hall (basilica exercitatoria) of the fortress baths during redevelopment of the Feathers Hotel in 1863 and were rescued by the Chester Archaeological Society. An excellent account of the discoveries, including some of the earliest examples of archaeological
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photographic recording (photos...), was made by Dr Thomas Brushfield and published in the Societys Journal some years later (Brushfield 1885). Other pieces collected in the 19th century. include columns from the headquarters building (principia) and major buildings west of Bridge Street while more recent additions include column capitals and bases from the principia, similar items from barrack blocks, and a statue base from the Elliptical Building. Many of the other pieces were retrieved by the Archaeological Society from the North Wall of the city during the extensive repair and rebuilding programme of the 1880s and 1890s. The numerous inscriptions and sculptures recovered were displayed in the Grosvenor Museum but the majority of the more mundane, but equally important, pieces lay in store or were deposited in the original Archaeological Garden near the Water Tower and transferred here when the new Roman Garden was laid out in 1949-50. These `lesser` pieces include many examples from the entablature of Roman buildings, especially sections of cornice and plain frieze, along with coping-stones from either the fortress wall or tomb surrounds. 2.11.3 Sub Roman/Anglo Saxon/Viking/Medieval a) Sub Roman urbanisation The most likely focus for early post-Roman activity in the area as presently perceived is St. Johns Church, reputedly founded in AD 689 and lying just outside the eastern boundary of the Core Area. This had developed into an important ecclesiastical centre by the mid-10th century and some of the peripheral structures belonging to the church may well have begun to encroach upon the site of the amphitheatre as stone-robbing cleared the remains of its superstructure. Perhaps dating to this period or possibly even earlier are a number of lean-to structures set against the arena wall whose existence has only recently been recognised as a result of a re-examination of the records of the 1960s excavations as preparation for the evaluation work carried out in 2000. This also located features - a surface and a midden - of potentially early post-Roman date (Matthews et al. 2001, 52-4). It is possible that the amphitheatre, because of its easily defensible form, was put to residential use in the sub-Roman period with dwellings constructed around the periphery of the former arena as may have happened at Cirencesters amphitheatre (Wacher 1995, 322). In this case, the establishment of St. Johns nearby may have been influenced by the important status of the converted amphitheatre. The timber platform found by Thompson at the centre of the arena might also belong to this period. Traces of a surfacing post-dating the partial collapse of the arena wall were also noted by him at a level c.1.5 metres above the arena floor and this might belong to the mid/late Saxon period (Matthews et al. 2001, 107). Because of their association with Christian martyrdoms in the late Roman period a number of amphitheatres on the Continent became the focus of worship and pilgrimage in later centuries and at some, including those at Metz (Wightman 1985, 232 & 297) and Tarragona (Keay 1988, 212), small churches were built within the arena in the 6th century. The SS Aaron and Julian, commemorated as early Christian martyrs at Caerleon, may have been executed in the amphitheatre there. It is possible that the choice of location for St Johns may have been influenced by a particular or more general memory of early Christian martyrdoms in the Chester amphitheatre although this is pure speculation. Buildings, structures and other occupation features of this period were generally slight constructions and the traces they leave in the ground can be, and usually are, very ephemeral. They can easily pass unrecognised in excavations of limited extent and even when they are detected they are impossible to interpret in any meaningful sense. It is vital therefore that these particular characteristics of early post-Roman archaeological remains are taken into account in the planning of any future investigations of the unexposed portion of the amphitheatre and that such works are
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undertaken on an appropriate scale and to a carefully formulated project design. The importance of this point is emphasised, if emphasis were needed, by the removal of the post-Roman deposits across the northern half of the site in an inappropriate manner in the 1960s. Lying largely within the precinct of St. Johns and thus taken up with graveyards and residences for senior clergy this area was never subjected to intensive urbanisation in the same way as, for example, Foregate Street. Street frontage development did eventually affect Little St John Street and, on the evidence recovered during excavation of the northern half of the amphitheatre, this had begun by c.1200 (Thompson 1976, 164-6; Matthews et al. 2001, 50-2). Development along the west side of Souters Lane was probably discouraged as this area lay immediately in front of the city wall (and burh defences?) which the authorities would have wanted to keep clear of development for a clear field of fire. b) Use (robbing) of Roman materials Evidence recovered during the evaluation investigations of 2000 indicated that, across its northern half at least, robbing of the superstructure of the seating-bank took place in a series of phases separated by potentially quite long intervals (Matthews et al. 2001, 51-3). This is precisely what might be expected if most of the reusable stone had been employed in successive phases of the expansion of St. Johns and its facilities. Evidence retrieved both in 2000 and during Thompsons excavations of the 1960s indicated that much if not the entire superstructure of the northern half of the amphitheatre had been cleared away by c.1200 (Thompson 1976, 164-6).

2.12 Core Area: Dee House


2.12.1 History (to 1990) When built in c.1730 for James Comberbach, a wealthy Cestrian merchant and former mayor, Dee House comprised the present five bay central block, a service block, one room deep, attached to the south west of the central block, and possibly an east wing or eastern extension of the central block. The evidence for the latter is De Lavauxs 1745 plan, but, by 1789, Hunters plan shows a more compact footprint, suggesting either that the eastern wing had been demolished, or that De Lavaux had incorrectly represented Dee House. [It is possible that Edmund Kirbys drawings for the Chapel Wing extension may shed light on this matter.] The house remained under Comberbach family ownership until c.1850 when it was sold to the Anglican Church who disposed of it in 1854 to the Faithful Companions of Jesus, a Catholic order, which proceeded to establish a convent school. A new Gothic Revival east wing, comprising a chapel on the ground floor, schoolroom on the first and a dormitory on the second, was built in 1867-9 to the designs of the Liverpool architect, Edmund Kirby. Kirby (1838-1920), a pupil of E W Pugin, was a proficient church architect responsible for a number of churches in the north west; in Chester he designed St Werburgh (1873-5), and other examples include Our Lady, Parbold, (1884), St John, High Legh, (1893), and St Hideburgh, Hoylake (1897-9). For Dee House, he chose a simple lancet design in brick, and incorporated a staircase in the block. In c.1900, the northwestern void was filled by a neo-Georgian extension of three large rooms, possibly schoolrooms. The architect is not known, but the style is entirely sympathetic to the adjoining eighteenth century block.
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In 1925 the convent school was taken over by the Ursulines of Crewe, and in 1929 a large extension was built to the south of the main building to accommodate the assembly hall, cloakrooms and further classrooms. This block was demolished in association with the 1995 planning approval for the construction on the site of the new County Court. The Ursuline Convent and Dee House were acquired by British Telecom for operational use in the early 1970s. In 1993 Dee House was acquired by David McClean Development Ltd and shortly afterwards transferred to the ownership of Chester City Council, since which date it has been empty. In 1987 a public enquiry was held in connection with the proposed demolition of Dee House in order to fully excavate the amphitheatre, to re-create a facsimile of a part, and to build a new visitor centre. The Inspector, Mr J D Waldron, recommended that listed building consent for the demolition of Dee House should not be granted, but this was reversed by the Secretary of State in May 1988. 2.12.2 Architectural and chronological development From the front, the main part of Dee House appears to be a fairly simple accretive building of three main phases. These comprise: An early Georgian five window wide three storey block; An eastern projecting chapel extension of three windows plus a narrow linking block made for the use of convent in a contrasting simple gothic style; A western projecting extension four windows wide made in neo-Georgian style.

These date from c.1730, 1867-69 (when the architect was Edmund Kirby of Liverpool) and c1900 respectively. A large school extension built at the rear in 1929 has been demolished and most of its site used for a new court building. The early Georgian house: Inspection shows a somewhat more complex picture, certainly for the early especially when related to what evidence is known from limited pictorial information. There is evidence of surviving fabric that does not easily relate to any of the three building periods identified above, especially a refitting of early 19th century date. What appears from the front to be the earliest part of the building, the central the early five window wide block, has no staircase from first to second floor. The long section drawing of 1976, prepared for Post Office Telephones, shows the central section of the house roofed in three parallel but unequal bays, the central bay narrower and with lower ridge. This does not relate to what is on site, where the two western parts are roofed with a single span of lower pitch. Changes in the roof line are also evident on the inside of the wall where an area of plaster does not tally with the present roof line and the termination in the roof space of a substantial cross wall. There is little evidence in the roof structure or the external walls (though the rear wall has been made more uniform by recent works, perhaps after the demolition of the link to the 1929 block) that such a major reconstruction occurred after 1976. A ridged roof of this form does not sit happily behind front and back walls with parapets. One explanation may be that a house with gabled front was changed, perhaps relatively early in its life, to a more fashionable house with parapets. The plans of 1976 also show how part of the internal alignment is slightly irregular. A map of 1745 suggests that Dee House was in proportion, when compared to the present plan, rather shallower from north to south and rather wider from east to west. There is also a clear straight joint in the brickwork in the staircase compartment
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though the present staircase fits into the present compartment. It may be possible therefore that the polite 5 bay front (with new staircase) attributed to the 1730s was added to an earlier building, perhaps not much earlier. This may tie in with the suggested alteration of an earlier building noted above. Internal features of interest include a number of modest early 18th century stone chimneypieces and some 18th century joinery, including door architraves, cornices, shutters, window aprons and the main staircase. This last feature is strengthened in a curious way with the middle baluster of three to each tread secured with an iron strap to the tread below, probably affected when the house became a school to strengthen the stairs. There is a good arch between the entrance lobby and the staircase compartment. Some of this joinery is likely to have been re-used, for there are shutter panels with raised and fielded panelling in splayed window openings. There are substantial areas of walls and ceilings where the plaster is worked on straw or reeds; this seems to be the 18th century construction and contrasts with the lath and plaster work characteristic of the 19th century refittings. An early 19th century refitting has window and door architraves with characteristic reeded mouldings and paterae in a number of rooms. There must also have been some work when the 1867-69 chapel and schoolroom block was added but the fabric suggests that this was not substantial. Some rooms appear to have been refitted at the time of the c.1900 remodelling with bolection moulded chimneypieces, probably the date also of the external door-case and replacement of most of the window sills where early Georgian house and c.1900 extension now match. The Edmund Kirby chapel wing of 1867-79: appears to have been of a single build and is more or less intact. It has very plain interiors though the door surrounds have chunky mouldings characteristic of their date. A screen and false ceiling have been inserted in the second floor, which retains a plain chimneypiece. The outbuildings along Souters Lane are also very complex. The elevation to the lane shows evidence of at least five periods of work. Some of the fabric appears to have been built as retaining walls, which have subsequently been used as the foundations for the buildings above. In two places in the basement there are suggestions that there was an earlier inner wall, not immediately next to the lane. This appears as stone in the northern half and as a plastered but battered wall to the south. The buildings above are also multi-period: the southern part apparently earlier in its lower storey, the northern part then added as a two-storey building and the southern part then raised to align with it. There is a length of stonewall at low level running from Souters Lane to the main house near its south-west corner. Dee House is built on a fairly level platform and a significant part is probably built on a made up terrace. Perhaps the same is true for the Roman amphitheatre also. There is then a significant drop to the level of the former bishop's palace, which is also on a terrace.

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Illustrations:

Dee House rear elevation in 1890. This shows the seven bay eighteenth century block and a good view of the south and east facades of the chapel wing.

Photograph (undated) of the interior of the chapel. 2.12.3 Dee House: Current Condition The principal building group comprises the original Georgian House with the c.1900 extension to the west and the chapel extension to the east. The buildings are externally in fair condition but internally, within the main 18th century House, there has been considerable decay and at the time of writing emergency works are about to commence to stabilise the structure. The c.1900 house wing has also suffered considerable internal fire damage. Access to the building interior was gained by the study team following the completion of internal safety works. Because of the dangerous state of the building it was not possible to inspect the cellars of the main house. The progressive collapse of the main internal load bearing wall of the 18th century house was evident as was the removal/collapse of sections of floor and ceilings due to rot and water penetration. Temporary stabilisation works have been completed. The roof is now water tight and internal scaffolding is preventing further collapse. From the initial inspection and advise from officers of the City Councils Property Services, the buildings condition is provisionally summarised as follows:

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a) The Main House and Chapel External Roofs: The roofs have recently been repaired to the extent that they are now water tight. Their structural condition is likely to be compromised by the spread of dry rot (see below). The roof of the 18th century House, which is concealed behind a parapet, is in the form of a double pitch with falls to an internal valley gutter. It is supported by a central internal load-bearing wall, which is collapsing (see below). Walls: 18th century House and 19th century Wing: The front is in good condition with no obvious signs of structural movement. The rear is in fair condition but with some evidence of slight bulging. Parapets: Some sections of the parapets appear to have been rebuilt in 20th century. Brickwork and pointing: The bricks are generally in good condition. The pointing appears in good to fair condition throughout, although much 20th century repointing is evident and is likely to be cement based and not finished as originally intended. Stone string courses, sills and window/door surrounds: From visual inspection these are superficially sound but have been painted.

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19th century chapel wing: The main external elements of this wing appear generally sound, apart from the single storey projection, which contained the sanctuary. At the point where this structure joins the main building considerable movement is apparent. Some structured cracking is also evident on the wall adjoining the main house. Windows: 18th century House: The front windows boarded and could not be properly inspected. They appeared unlikely to be 18th century. 19th century house Wing: The front windows are boarded and could not be properly inspected. The rear windows may be original. 19th century chapel wing: The original windows remain in fair condition apart from at the upper floor. Internal 18th century House: Principle internal load bearing wall: This extends from front to rear and supports the roof structure. Much of which is of relatively recent construction). The wall is in brickwork but with timber studs and wall plates/ties, which are seriously affected by dry/wet rot. The wall is collapsing as a result of the decay of these built in timbers and the failure is particularly evident below the roof valley. Floors: Areas of floorboards have been removed/collapsed. It appears that the east wall of the house is supported by the Chapel wing. Main Staircase: The timber balustrade is still standing but the some of the stair treads have been removed. Joinery may remain. No windows could be viewed internally. Ceilings: Partial collapse of ceilings (some with reed lath) is evident as a result of water penetration and rot. 19th century House Wing: This could not be viewed. City Council officers report that this wing has suffered serious fire damage to the floors, staircase and some roof timbers. 19th century Chapel Wing: Internal, walls, floors, and joinery: These elements all appear generally to be in their original state and superficially in sound condition. Damage to windows is allowing water ingress and pigeon infestation. The beginnings of dry rot are also reported to be in existence, which is only to be expected given the proximity of rot in the adjoining house. Recent and Current Emergency Works Roof works: Works have recently been undertaken to prevent water penetration. This has involved felt repairs to the fire damaged 19th century house wing and some felt and led repairs to the 18th century house. Structural: The emergency works undertaken by the City Council entail temporary support for the roof of the 18th century house. The scaffolding support has been erected on either side of the collapsing central load bearing wall and extends from the ground floor through to the underside of the roof timbers. It also provides some support for abutting floor structures. The support threads through the existing fabric and has required no significant demolition works. Possible Future Problems Dry Rot: A survey undertaken for the City Council has revealed extensive dry rot. Wet rot is also likely to be present from the period when the roof was leaking before the recent repairs. Although the building is now drying out, the dry rot may well continue to spread.

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Lateral Restraint: The floor timbers and the collapsing main internal wall may be providing restraint to the external walls and further timber decay could lead to lateral movement. This may be the cause of the minor bulging in the rear external wall. b) The Ancillary Buildings Adjoining Souters Lane External: The range of two storey brick buildings with slate roofs appear in good condition. Internal These buildings appear generally sound, but there is evidence of water penetration through the roof and the possibility of fungal decay.

2.13 Core Area: Interpretation and Visitor Facilities


2.13.1 The Amphitheatre There is one main interpretation panel, which illustrates the amphitheatre in its original form. The panel showing signs of its age and is faded. Bronze name plaques are mounted on various individual parts of the monument and these are in good condition and but limited in the information they convey. A main interpretive panel is situated at the west corner of the site with panels explaining individual features at specific locations. Positions of the external and internal faces of the principle external walls are located by kerbs set into and level with the grass. Because of the narrowness of the kerbs, these features lack prominence. The site is on guided tours of Roman Chester organised by the City Council for schools. No printed information is specifically produced for the amphitheatre but a leaflet explaining Roman Chester is published privately and sold at the Chester Visitor Centre. 2.13.2 The Corner Tower An interpretive sign is located within the garden explaining the exposed excavations. 2.13.3 The Roman Garden As part of the recent landscaping improvements, locations have been provided in for interpretive signs, which have recently been installed. 2.13.4 The Chester Visitor Centre Chesters main Visitor Centre is located on the periphery of the study site at the eastern end of Little St John Street. It provides an in formation point, exhibitions, book sales. There guide books about the city and a leaflet is for sale explaining Roman Chester in general but no publication specific to the amphitheatre is available.

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2.14 Core Area Detailed Study: Recent Planning History and Developer Interest (Post 1990)
2.14.1 The County Court Development In 1993/4 David McLean Developments Ltd, working jointly with Chester City Council, acquired from British Telecom, the site of Dee House and the former building immediately to the west, now the site of the new County Court development. As part of the joint working arrangement the freehold of Dee House was shortly afterwards transferred to Chester City Council. The company applied for and received planning approval and Listed Building Consent for the refurbishment of the building at the rear of Dee House for offices. In 1995 David McLean Developments received approval to a planning application to demolish the former British Telecom property at the rear of Dee House and to erect a new building. The footprint of this new building was almost identical to the footprint of the structure, which it replaced. (A corner of both the former structure had been built over part of the buried amphitheatre and the plan of the new building followed the same line as the old.) The former Telecom building was demolished in 1995. There then followed a period of negotiation with various possible future tenants. Following this process terms were eventually agreed with the Lord Chancellors Office. During the process of marketing the building to prospective office tenants and some minor amendments to the planning permission were negotiated with and agreed by the Local Planning Authority to improve its internal and external planning for offices. These changes also included particular minor requirements of the chosen tenant, the County Court. These amendments included a slight change in the orientation of the building to align with the adjacent old Bishops Palace rather than Dee House. Construction of the new building commenced in January 2000. Completion was achieved in April 2001. 2.14.2 The Dee House Concept Proposals By David McLean Developments David McLean Developments have continued to express their interest in the area. They have developed a concept proposal for the retention of Dee House for a mix of commercial a caf bar and restaurant plus a small amount of office accommodation. Their ideas would provide a frontage public space from which the amphitheatre could be viewed and accessed. Their concept also supports the use of the amphitheatre for events and performances. They have recently made these proposals public and presented them to the City Council and English Heritage, although neither organisation has made any formal or public response. The scheme is at discussion stage and no planning application has been made been made. The David McLean Developments concept is that the scheme would be implemented through a partnership with the other two land owning parties, the City Council and English Heritage and they suggest that the scheme could potentially realise funding which could be made available to assist with capital and maintenance costs associated with the amphitheatre and public spaces. It is important to note, however, that this scheme is only at a preliminary concept stage. Much further development work is required including consultations, survey, design and financial viability examination.

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2.14.3 City Council Resolution Regarding The Amphitheatre and Dee House (05.07.2000) In sympathy with the objective of undertaking further excavation of the amphitheatre the City Council resolved as follows: This Council resolves to determine a comprehensive conservation and development strategy for the whole site in association with relevant local and national organisations and in consultation with the people of Chester. (1) The objective of the strategy will be for the excavation for the whole or part of the unexcavated amphitheatre in the short to medium term; the Council understands and accepts that this strategy will entail the demolition of Dee House. (2) Council therefore resolves to reassert its long-term aim of achieving the fullest possible excavation and public display of the amphitheatre site. (3) Council notes its inability to prevent completion of the County Court building on part of the site. (4) Officers prepare, in partnership with other interested bodies, detailed and costed proposals that will: (a) Produce a viable scheme for the phased excavation and display of the site, commencing with those areas of the site in Council ownership, that may form the basis of an application for consent to demolish the listed building and excavate the scheduled ancient monument; (b) Allow complete excavation of the site in the longer term; (c) Ensure public ownership and control of as much of the site as is possible. (5) The Council will ensure that all proposals for the site are considered in accordance with the best value principles of challenge, consultation, comparison and competition. 2.14.4 Statutory protection The study area contains three individual sites with Scheduled Ancient Monument status: the Amphitheatre, the ruined portions of St Johns Church and the City Walls, Towers and Gates. The area also contains nine Listed Buildings as follows: Dee House II Old Bishops Palace II* St Johns Cottage II The Hermitage (Anchorite Cell) II* Church of St John the Baptist I City Walls (including Barnabys and Thimbleby Tower I) The Newgate and Old Newgate II Roman Garden (Roman masonry/stonework) I The Groves Bandstand II

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2.14.5 Local Planning Policy The Chester Draft Local Plan 1997, which is awaiting formal Approval, is currently being used by Chester City Council for development control purposes. The parts of the Plan relevant to the study area are those sections, which deal with: the Environment, Transport, the Economy, and Culture and Leisure. The policies relevant to the study area contained within these sections are too numerous to detail here; however, the following topics are particularly worthy note. Conservation The entire study area is included within the City Centre Conservation Area. Additional planning powers are available to the Local Authority to control development within Conservation Areas and in respect of Listed Buildings. These powers are further supported by Local Plan policies DENV 38-60. Urban Green Space/Strategic Open Space Policies DENV 17-28 protect the green character of the study area, which is designated as Strategic Open Space. Employment Policies DTE 3-5 identify the area as being appropriate for a range of employment purposes provided that these support and are compatible with the historic character of the area and existing cultural activities. Culture and Leisure The study area is designated as Cultural/ Heritage Area under policy DCU4. This policy requires that any development should be compatible with and reinforce its cultural character. Supplementary Planning Guidance The City Council is currently preparing a detailed study of a zone of the city centre, which includes the study area. In particular this will examine pedestrian, vehicular and urban design linkages between the various sub areas. The Planning study is intended to result in a formal supplementary/planning guidance document, which will have status for development control purposes.

2.15 Core Area: Amenity Groups Associated with the Core Area
2.15.1 Chester Amphitheatre Trust Since the commencement of the County Court project on site the fact that the development builds over part of the amphitheatre has stimulated considerable public debate within Chester. A group, the Chester Amphitheatre Trust, was formed in the summer of 2000. It has campaigned to promote the full excavation of the Roman remains. The City Council have agreed to work with the Trust in undertaking a study to establish the potential that further excavations may have as a visitor attraction. No formal proposals for excavation have been submitted. 2.15.2 Chester Heritage Trust The Chester Heritage Trust was formed in the early 1990s in collaboration with the City Council with the objective of securing the future of Dee House. A bid for a Heritage Lottery Grant to fund a feasibility study for a Visitor Centre was unsuccessful and the initiative has not proceeded further.

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2.15.3 Chester in Concert Chester in Concert is a group, which has the objective of achieving a major performing arts centre for the city and the surrounding area. Its aspiration is to secure for the city a substantial building which would provide large a scale event space that could be used for music, conferences and civic events. To demonstrate the potential for such a building and to promote the performing arts in the city the group has organises an annual programme of events. In June 1999 it arranged a major outdoor concert at the amphitheatre. The group is now promoting the potential of the use of the amphitheatre for such events. 2.15.4 Chester Archaeological Society The Chester Amphitheatre Society is a long established learned society and has had long and continuous concerns with the Roman archaeology of Chester and later periods. 2.15.5 Chester Civic Trust Chester Civic Trust is a long established and very active group concerned with Chesters historic townscape and the quality of new urban design.

2.16 Core Area: Use of Amphitheatre For Events and Concerts


2.16.1 The major concert of 1999 Chester in Concert have prepared a report on their concert arrangements at the amphitheatre in 1999. They argue that it has been demonstrated that it is practical to stage major events. At the 1999 concert seating was provided for approximately 1500. The experience has shown that to use the amphitheatre for this purpose on a regular basis would require certain infrastructure changes and adaptations. Their report highlights the following key requirements: Traffic should be diverted from Little St John Street Stepped seating Temporary cover over the seating Permanent electricity supply Staging set on the Dee House site to avoid the need to crane components down to the gravel base of the amphitheatre The need for privacy screens Hospitality/bars (marquees) Toilet provision Changing facilities (tents)

The event organisation was a major logistical exercise involving the Chester in Concert group and resources of the local authorities (heritage and tourism, licensing, highways) 2.16.2 Events Organised by Chester City Council The amphitheatre is sometimes used in the summer months for outdoor entertainments events organised by the City Council. These are non-seating events open to the public free of charge.
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2.17 Core Area: Ecology


The ecology of the site has been the subject of a separate study undertaken as part of the Conservation Plan. This is included in full within Appendix C. In summary, The Dee House site contains a number of mature trees (limes). The gardens are overgrown but do not appear to contain flora of any particular note or demanding protection. Dee House itself may contain bat roosts but no direct evidence has been found. The stone walls and banks enclosing Souters Lane contain some mosses and lichens of interest.

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Dee House Rear

Dee House, Kirby Chapel Wing

Dee House, c1900 Wing

Dee House Exteriors May 2001


Dee House, Front Elevation

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Dee House Interior Details May 2001


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Dee House Interior Details May 2001

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3 3.1

SIGNIFICANCE Methodology
The assessment of significance is based on the understanding of the history and development of the study site. It is also based on the planning policies guidance for determining heritage merit as provided by the government in the Planning Policy Guidelines PPG 15 and PPG 16 and associated legislation. In particular the: Character of conservation areas Special architectural and historical interest of listed buildings National importance of Scheduled Ancient Monuments Register of Parks and Gardens

Account has been taken of the detailed criteria for Scheduling Ancient Monuments as provided by PPG 16. This indicates that in assessing the importance of an ancient monument weight should be given to period, rarity, documentation, group value, survival/condition, fragility/vulnerability, diversity and potential. Consideration has been given to all the above criteria in applying the following classifications to the various building components of the study site: Internationally significant Nationally significant Regionally significant

3.2
3.2.1

Overview of the Study Area (Core and Secondary)


Summary of Significance of the Study Area Chester was one of the thee permanent legionary bases in Roman Britain and the study area contains three monument groups of international significance. These are the legionary amphitheatre, which has been partially excavated, the southeast angle tower of the legionary fortress and the collection of Roman masonry artefacts from excavations in Chester assembled in the Roman Garden. In the Dark Ages Chester continued to be an important regional centre. An early Christian foundation was established during the seventh century, which later became the church of St John The Baptist. The area surrounding the church and the amphitheatre and are considered to be potentially national significant in terms of their sub Roman and Saxon archaeology. The present St John the Baptist, commenced in the 11th century, was initially intended as a cathedral and still retains its magnificent Norman nave from that period. Although it was not long a Bishops seat it continued to be developed as an important collegiate church throughout the medieval period. The existing building and associated monuments are of national significance. Apart from the church complex there appears to have been only limited building within the study area up until the beginning of the 18th century and even after that new development was to a low density. The early 18th century Dee House, which in the 19th century became a convent school, is of regional significance. This and other residences are examples of spacious properties built by the wealthy and influential on the edge of the expanding Georgian town. Set in verdant grounds, these buildings together with the riverside promenade, the narrow medieval lanes, church, and

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Roman remains all combine to create an area of very considerable townscape value. Collectively they represent 2000 years of history. Such a site in Britain is of considerable rarity. As a whole, the study area, both the core and secondary areas, have a wide range of significances, which can be summarised under the following themes: Visible fabric representing 2000 years of history Examples of urban sites, which exhibit substantial remains from such an extensive time span, are rare in Britain The Roman Occupation of Britain Being the site of one of three permanent legionary fortresses, Chester was crucial to Romes 400 year presence in Britain. The study area contains the internationally important excavated and displayed remains of: The Legionary amphitheatre It is one of three constructed in Britain. (The one at Caerleon has been excavated and displayed; the one at York has not been located). Chester was one of C26 permanent legionary fortresses pre150 AD constructed within the northern provinces of the Roman Empire, an area stretching from Britain to the Rhine and across to the Black Sea. At only 5 of these sites has the amphitheatre been excavated and displayed. The Legionary fortress The fortress wall tower excavation and display is a very rare example of part of a Roman fortress. Over two thirds of the legionary fortresses within the northern provinces of the Roman Empire now lie buried beneath modern towns and of the remainder very few have Roman fabric on display. The collection of architectural stonework The extensive collection of Roman building artefacts displayed in the Roman Gardens is rare within northern Europe. An early Christian foundation, Norman and later medieval architecture St Johns Church with its most impressive Norman nave, wall painting and memorial sculpture was originally built in the 11th century as a cathedral on the site of a 7th century Christian foundation. The anchorite cell may be the location of a medieval hermitage. Sub-Roman history and the emergence of the English kingdom The site, because it has remained relatively undeveloped and undisturbed provides an important potential archaeological resource for the study of the sub Roman period. The early Christian foundation of 689, the extension of the burh fortification and the homage to King Edgar at Chester in 973 testify to the likely continued importance of the site. Early medieval trade and infrastructure The lanes leading to the river are likely to date from the medieval period or earlier. Shoe and leather trades may have operated from the southern end of Souters Lane and the riverside area could contain the archaeological remains of early river jetties. Georgian Chester The Groves is an early example of a C18 public leisure promenade where the growing urban gentry and their ladies could take the air. Dee House and the other residences are examples of spacious properties developed by the wealthy and influential on the edge of the town. Tourism and antiquity The continued restoration and development of features within the area throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries including the town walls, the Groves, the bowling green, the churchyard gardens, the links with the Grosvenor park and the Roman gardens and amphitheatre are all in part interrelated and a response to the continued expansion of leisure, tourism and the growing appreciation of the picturesque and antiquity. Chester was important from
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the end of the 18th century as a visitor destination in its own right and as the gateway to North Wales. Today tourism, and the study site, play a key role in Chesters economy. A rich and varied townscape The leafy Victorian riverside promenade, the public gardens and lawns, the narrow lanes, the sandstone medieval church, town walls, Dee House and the Old Bishops Palace, all add very considerably to the character and attractiveness of Chester, one of Europes best preserved historic towns. 3.2.2 Overview of the Core and Secondary Areas: Principal Archaeology Zone A: This zone contains the exposed northern portion of the amphitheatre amounting to approximately 41% of the entire monument. Although all archaeological deposits within the arena were removed by the excavations of the 1960s the site of the surrounding seating-bank still contains extensive archaeological deposits of both Roman and later periods as the exploratory work of 2000 has demonstrated. Zone B: Archaeological deposits up to 2.5 metres in depth survive throughout this zone although significantly disturbed by services connected with the modern streets. The latter are known to overlie medieval and Roman predecessors and it is clear that the street system in this area has remained more or less the same for nearly two millennia. The deposits here also relate to the medieval and later structures which once lined these streets and, at lower levels, may well contain elements from the external elevation of the outer wall of the amphitheatre. The land on the south side of Vicars Lane, in addition perhaps to graves associated with St Johns, seems likely to contain the remains of Cholmondeley Hall. Built by Hugh Cholmondeley, one of Henry VIIIs commissioners, on the site of St Anns Chapel, this was destroyed in the Civil War. At the northwestern tip of this zone lie the displayed remains of the southeast angle-tower of the Roman legionary fortress defences along with traces of a succession of medieval gateways. The narrow strip of ground in front of the tower contains a largely unexcavated length of the ditch belonging to the fortress defences. Zone C: Within this zone lie the whole of the remainder of the amphitheatre arena along with about 25% of the entire area of the cavea, which includes the main west entrance and the sites of two of the minor entrances. Previous discoveries suggest that the fabric of the structure survives as well as if not better than the northern half of the monument. Evaluation trenching within Dee House in 1993 demonstrated that although the cellarage beneath the central and oldest part of Dee House had removed a substantial portion of archaeological deposits in the area of the seating-bank significant archaeology was still present. In those parts of the building without cellarage archaeology appeared to have been little disturbed. The foundations of the Chapel for example terminate 2 metres below ground and thus have not caused damage to the arena wall. The arena in particular may well contain deposits relating to early subRoman and Saxon activity in this part of the city. It may also contain outlying burials associated with St. John's. At least two-thirds of the arena infill appears to result from landscaping carried out at the time of the building of Dee House in the early 18th century and to consist of material imported from other building sites throughout Chester. The foundation of the boundary wall which once separated the grounds of Dee House from those of St. Johns House might also survive, running across the area on a roughly north-west/south-east alignment.
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Zone D: This zone contains the remainder of the amphitheatre seating-bank along with the main southern entrance and the remaining two minor entrances. It also encompasses a sizeable plot of ground lying immediately outside the outer wall of the amphitheatre. Evaluation excavations in 1993 and the recording work undertaken in 2000 in advance of the construction of the new County Courts showed that the portion of the outer wall exposed in 1929 had been destroyed by the building of the extension to Dee House. The same work also demonstrated the presence of more than 3 metres of intact archaeological deposits elsewhere across this zone with features including medieval burials, the exterior continuation of the main north-south axial drain of the amphitheatre arena, and extensive Roman refuse deposits containing large amounts of animal bone. Running across this zone is the line of a lane which once connected St. Johns with Souters Lane, its junction with the latter apparently marked by a gatehouse structure, while the area designated as the car-park for the new courts overlies the foundations of a group of three large late 19th century greenhouses partially examined by evaluation excavations in 1994. Zone E: This houses a collection of pieces of architectural stonework derived from various Roman buildings throughout Chester. The largest, both in size and number, come from the main fortress baths, which stood in the area now occupied by the Grosvenor Precinct. This zone also has probable in situ Roman archaeological deposits derived from quarrying operations. It also contains the remains of a 19th cent clay tobacco pipe factory situated against the city walls along with the foundations of a few demolished houses and a tavern, which stood south of the Newgate. Zone F: Within this zone lay the Deans House, the Archdeacons House and the earlier Bishops Palace, all of medieval origin and demolished prior to the 18th cent. Landscaping works associated with the construction of the post-1700 buildings may, on the evidence of the 1993 and 1994 evaluation excavations to the north, have caused significant damage to medieval deposits on this part of the study site. The area also contains some outlying burials of St. Johns Church. Substantial Roman stratigraphy is known to exist at the north end of this zone and there are hints of a major Roman building - possibly a bath-house - standing on a terrace beside the former shoreline of the Dee at the south-eastern extremity of this zone. Zone G: Given the close proximity of both the amphitheatre and St Johns to the river, the circumstances of the ceremony held in 973 when King Eadgar visited Chester, and the possibility of shoe-making and other leather-working activities at the south end of Souters Lane in the late Saxon/early medieval period, the most significant aspect of this zone is its potential for containing the remains of jetties, landing-stages, access roads and riverside industrial structures. There are also potentially the remains of the buildings, which once stood south of the Anchorites Cell and on the spot now occupied by the Old Orleans pub. Zone H The Church of St. Johns and associated structures and features dominate the archaeology of this zone. There are the structural ruins at both the east and west ends of the Church along with hints of further structural remains to the south which may
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belong to any or all of the following; the demolished collegiate buildings, the lost Chapel of St. James, the Priory and a second Anchorite cell. There are also the extensive but landscaped graveyards possibly dating back to the legendary foundation of the Church in 689. South of the Church lies the former quarry of St Johns, which potentially contains examples of discarded/spoiled/unfinished sculptured stonework along with a range of other archaeological material, with the extant 14th cent. Anchorite Cell on its west side.

3.2.3

Overview of the Core and Secondary Areas: Principal Buildings by Zone


Zone A (No buildings within this zone) Zone B Newgate (Grade II), a segmental arch flanked by squat towers with pitched roofs, was built in 1937-8 to the designs of Sir William Tipper and Michael Tipper. It was built as an element in an uncompleted traffic improvement scheme, which involved widening Pepper Street. The old Newgate (Wolf Gate) (Grade II) was built in 1768 on the site of an earlier gate of 1608-13. The crenellated top was added in 1890. Newgate combines good twentieth-century architectural design with a sympathetic integration into the medieval City Walls, whilst old Newgate is a modest late eighteenth-century arch contemporary with the rebuilding of Eastgate. Both are of Regional Significance. Zone C (No significant historic buildings within this Zone) Zone D (No significant historic buildings within this Zone) Zone E The City Walls, including Barnabys Tower and Thimblebys Tower (Grade I). This stretch of the City Walls from the riverside to Thimblebys Tower is particularly impressive when viewed The Groves and the Roman Gardens. The City Walls and the two towers are of International Significance. Zone F The Old Bishops Palace (Grade II*) is a substantial Georgian mansion dating to c1750, built for Bishop Peploe. Facing the River Dee, its gardens extend down to The Groves. It is a particularly fine example of a mid-eighteenth-century mansion, built like Dee House, for a prominent Chester citizen, and is of National Significance. St Johns Cottage (grade II) is an early nineteenth-century house built on the site of an earlier building, which is shown on the 1470 plan of St Johns College. It is of Regional Significance. Zone G The Groves, originating in the first decade of the eighteenth century, is a relatively early example of a promenade laid out to allow polite society to walk and socialise. An early and influential example is Pall Mall, London (1660). Chester is contemporary with the Well Walk, Hampstead (1701) and New Parade, Epsom (1711), and predates the New Walk, York (1733-40). It has a Victorian bandstand

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(Grade II), and a well designed public convenience (1925). The Groves is a particularly attractive part of Chester and its history and continued use for some two hundred years as a social and recreational centre for Chester make it of Regional Significance. Zone H The Church of St John the Baptist (Grade I), with its ruined east and west ends (Scheduled Ancient Monuments), is an important building, which, although externally seeming to be largely a Victorian creation, contains a fine Norman and early-medieval interior dating from the eleventh century through the thirteenth century. The extant church and the ruined elements are of National Significance. The Hermitage (Anchorites Cell) (Grade II*) dates from the fourteenth century, but has been heavily restored in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. With the loss of the chapels of St Ann and St James, the Hermitage is the only extant building with close historical links to St Johns collegiate period and is, therefore of National Significance. 3.2.4 The Areas Contribution to the Heritage Significance of Chester The study site adds very considerably to the overall significance of Chester as one of Europes most interesting and well conserved historic towns. The Roman monuments in this part of the city, along with the extant sections of the fortress wall and the collections displayed in the Grosvenor Museum, place Chester in the first rank of European sites able to make an internationally important contribution to knowledge and understanding of the Roman Army, especially the legions and their bases The early Christian Foundation and St Johns, the potential Dark Ages and Anglo Saxon archaeology. The 18th Century residences and The Groves add to the historic interest of Chester and its overall townscape value.

3.3 3.3.1

Detailed Significance of the Core Area Roman Archaeology Methodology The following assessment of the rarity of the site and its components and their degree of significance is based on the results of a survey of parallel sites seeking comparable structures and noting the details of their form, size, construction and condition. In the case of the amphitheatre its significance in national terms has been assessed by examining the totality of known amphitheatres in Britain. For the determination of its international significance, however, the survey was restricted to directly comparable sites, that is only legionary fortresses, as their amphitheatres constitute a distinct subgroup within this class of monument. Recent surveys by Bomgardner (1994; 1995; 2000) and especially Golvin (1988) have elucidated the various forms of construction which include amphitheatres built completely of timber, those built with earth seating-banks both with and without an outer revetment wall, those built with an earth seating-bank retained in caissons, and the monumental form with a hollow seatingbank raised on a vaulted substructure.

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This part of the survey encompassed all legionary fortresses in the northern frontier provinces of the Roman Empire, in other words the area stretching from the mouth of the Rhine to the Black Sea. In assessing the degree of regional, national and international significance the following further qualification has been employed based on an ascending order of importance i.e.: general; considerable; very considerable; great; and outstanding. The Southeast Angle-Tower The southeast angle-tower is the only part of the fortress defences that is extant and clearly visible unencumbered by later structures. It is also the only one of the original 26 towers along the Roman circuit, which can be seen and inspected. As Chester is the only legionary fortress in the Northwest and with few other Roman military defensive structures surviving and on display the angle-tower is obviously of great regional significance. There were only 3 permanent legionary fortresses in Britain and although elements survive of the defences at both York and Caerleon the southeast angle-tower obviously has considerable national significance. Of the approximate total of 30 permanent (i.e. fully occupied for than two decades) legionary fortresses distributed throughout the northern frontier provinces of the Roman Empire over two-thirds now lie buried beneath modern towns and cities and even of the remainder few have any remains on display. Thus the southeast angletower must also be classified as having general international significance. The Roman Gardens The collection of Roman architectural stonework in the Roman gardens has been gathered from various buildings within the legionary fortress. The larger pieces - the re-erected columns - as well as the reconstructed hypocaust were rescued from the ruins of the main bath-building in the 1860s while many of the others belong to the collection of both inscribed and sculptured material retrieved from the interior of the North City Wall during repairs in the 1880s and 1890s. Pieces from other buildings have been added over the years. The collection is the major and primary source of evidence for the superstructure and architectural style of many of the buildings of Roman Chester. In more than a few cases they are the only elements of the fabric of such buildings still in existence and are thus of unique importance. No other site in the region has a collection of such material, which approaches even a fraction of that at Chester and so it must be accorded outstanding regional significance. No other site in the north of Britain has a collection of architectural material to rival that in the Chester Roman Gardens. Most of the major Roman urban centres in the South employed limestone for building purposes. In many cases this was robbed for re-cycling into lime in the medieval period with the consequence that very little architectural stonework survives. At only Bath and London do the collections begin to approach the scale and variety of Chesters. The Roman Gardens material should therefore be classified as having very considerable national significance. Although there are a number of major Roman sites in the northwestern provinces with an architectural collection as extensive, and in a few cases even more extensive than, Chesters- such as Mainz, Trier and Cologne - these are still relatively few and far between and so the Roman Gardens assemblage should be accorded the additional status of considerable international significance.

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The Amphitheatre The displayed portion of the amphitheatre, approximately 41% of the monument, encompasses a significant portion of the arena together with a long and wellpreserved stretch of the wall enclosing it, the main northern and eastern entrances and, next to the first of these, a shrine to the goddess Nemesis. The outer wall and the minor entrances are not displayed because of their poorer state of preservation. Most of the remainder of the amphitheatre lies buried beneath Dee House and its grounds and the car park of the new county courts building. There are approximately 17 known amphitheatres in Britain (estimates vary slightly because of a lack of exploration concerning some of those in the earthwork category), 11 associated with civil sites - mostly, as one would expect, large towns - and 6 with military establishments (see Table 1). In general the amphitheatres at military sites are distinguishable from their civil counterparts by the proportionally far greater size of the arena, a difference perhaps explained by the weapons-training and ceremonial functions of military amphitheatres. However, the difference could be more illusory than real. It may simply be the case that the seating capacity of amphitheatres in the military frontier areas was less than that of amphitheatres in major urban centres because the size of the audiences was smaller. Chesters amphitheatre is one of only three permanent legionary examples in Britain. That at Caerleon was fully excavated in the 1920s, conserved and partially restored, and placed on display. That at York has still to be discovered. Chesters amphitheatre, in its fully developed form, is significantly larger than its counterpart at Caerleon measuring 97 x 86 vs 73 x 64 metres. The overwhelming majority of British amphitheatres are of the simplest known form of construction. That is they consist of an oval, or in a few cases an almost circular, arena defined by either a vertical timber revetment or a slight masonry wall, which also serves to retain the front of an encircling seating-bank formed of earth. The material to form the bank was often obtained by excavating the arena to a depth of around 1 metre below external ground level. In some cases, as at Silchester, tiers of wooden seats were constructed atop the banks surface. The timber or stone revetting (in many cases the former was succeeded by the latter) is usually continued along the sides of the main entrances. What these amphitheatres lack however, and the characteristic which most obviously distinguishes them from both legionary amphitheatres and the more impressive civic examples in other provinces, is an outer retaining wall of monumental character. The amphitheatre at Caerwent and possibly that at Caistor St Edmund did possess an outer masonry revetment but in both cases this was a slight construction of modest height. So far, of all the amphitheatres discovered in Britain only those at Chester and Caerleon possessed the massive perimeter wall so typical of Continental examples. However, whereas the 1.4 - 1.8 metre thick wall of Caerleons amphitheatre did not continue to the full height of the cavea but instead supported a timber-framed superstructure its 2.7 metre thick equivalent at Chester continued right up to the full height (c. 12 metres) of the structure. Possibly elaborated with blind arcading, it external appearance would have been far more impressive. Chesters amphitheatre is thus the only example in the whole of Britain of the more elaborate form of amphitheatre with a monumental exterior facade commonly found elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Of the military amphitheatres in Britain the two legionary examples at Caerleon and Chester are displayed in whole and in part respectively while that beside the
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auxiliary fort at Tomen y Mur survives as a low earthwork. In addition, modest elements of that beside the fort at London will soon be viewable in a purposebuilt basement display. The urban examples at Aldborough, Cirencester, Dorchester and Silchester can also be viewed but although impressive earthworks they have not been excavated and displayed to the same extent as those at Chester and Caerleon and thus do not give the visitor a clear impression of their original appearance. The amphitheatre, along with other early extramural structures, makes an important contribution to the understanding of Roman Chester, and also other legionary fortresses, by demonstrating that even a few years after its foundation much of the land around the fortress was occupied by buildings and facilities. As one of the major extramural facilities built and controlled by the garrison its history and development is of significance in contributing to our overall understanding of the history of the fortress, especially in terms of the intensity of military occupation (which can have implications beyond Chester), and the regulation of the extramural settlement in general. The buried portion of the amphitheatre has the potential to solve many of the problems about the chronology and the structural form and development of the monument raised by the 1960s work; in particular the nature of the superstructure of the cavea in both timber and stone amphitheatres, the function of the so-called concentric wall, and the date and purpose of the timber structure at the centre of the arena. Because of its proximity to St Johns Church it also has great potential for illuminating the history of the amphitheatre and its environs in the late Roman, sub-Roman and Saxon periods.

In view of the above it is clear that the amphitheatre is of outstanding regional significance and great national significance. In addition to its significance based on archaeological criteria it also possesses national significance in the context of the history and development of the `Conservation Movement` in Britain owing to the circumstances of its `rescue` from development in the 1930s. The case of the Chester amphitheatre is one of the earliest examples of local democracy and public pressure having an impact in the heritage field as the actions of ordinary people forced a local authority to abandon its development plans so that an ancient monument of national and international importance could not only be preserved but also excavated and displayed for the publics education and enjoyment. The data presented above and in the accompanying tables also makes it clear that the Chester Amphitheatre has significance on an international scale. The degree of this significance is further elucidated by the following information. Of the 26 permanent legionary fortresses (excluding those established post AD 150) known in the northern frontier provinces (that is the area stretching from Britain all the way to the Black Sea) at only 8 has the site of the amphitheatre been discovered and of these only 5 are on display either whole or in part. These are the examples at Caerleon, Budapest, Petronell in Austria, Chester and the early timber and earth amphitheatre at the earlier of the two successive legionary fortresses near Xanten. The last should not be confused with the much larger, stone- built and partially restored amphitheatre belonging to the adjacent colonial city of colonia Ulpia Traiana. Chester is thus one of the very few legionary amphitheatres to have been examined in detail and as such has obviously already made a significant contribution to the study of such structures. With more than half still to be excavated it has the potential, through the employment of the more advanced techniques of excavation and scientific analysis now available, to make
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still further contributions to the understanding of these structures. While some of the other legionary amphitheatres, such as those at Petronell and Windisch, have also produced evidence of a timber predecessor that at Chester is so far unique in that its superstructure was raised on a grid of interlinked beams rather than individual deep-set posts. Perhaps this reflects the superior carpentry skills of the men in legio II Adiutrix acquired a few years before Chester was founded when they were still serving as marines in the section of the Mediterranean fleet based at Ravenna.

Clearly, therefore, the Chester amphitheatre has very considerable international significance.

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Table 1 Type Civilian - Urban Aldborough Caerwent Caistor St Edmund Carmarthen Chichester Cirencester Dorchester Richborough Silchester Civilian - Rural Frilford Charterhouse Military - Legionary Caerleon Chester 83 x 68 (56 x 41) i) 73 x 64 (60 x 50) ii) 97 x 86 (60 x 50) 3 2 3 Yes Yes (part) 69 x 69 (45 x 45) 70 x 61 (32 x 24) 1a 1a No No 97 x 85 (?) 65 x 54 (45 x 36) 46 x 44 (30 x 28) 91 x 67 (45 x 27) 105 x 97 (56 x 47) 106 x 98 (49 x 41) 100 x 100 (58 x 47) 103 x 92 (61 x 50) 68 x 68 (44 x 38) 1a 1b 1b 1a 1a 1a/b 1a 1a 1a Yes No No No No Yes Yes No Yes Size (metres) Form Displayed

Military - Auxiliary Inveresk London ? i) 93 x 80 (58 x 45) ii) 100 x 87 (58 x 45) 51 x 37 (37 x 23) 37 x 30 (25 x 18) No 1a 1b 2 1a Yes (part) No Yes

Newstead Tomen y Mur

Classification 1a = amphitheatre with earth cavea and simple timber revetment/s 1b = amphitheatre with earth cavea and slight masonry revetment/s 2 = amphitheatre with timber-framed cavea 3 = amphitheatre with massive exterior wall

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Table 2 Legionary fortresses in the Northern Provinces (pre-AD 150): Amphitheatres


Fortress Known Excavated Size Displayed Timber Predecessor

Alba Julia Archar Belgrade Budapest Bonn Caerleon Chester Gigen Haltern Iglita Kostolac Mainz Mirebeau Neuss Nijmegen Petronell Regensburg Silistra Strasbourg Stuklen Szony Vienna Windisch

no no no yes no yes yes no no no no no yes no yes yes no no no no no no yes

yes yes part no part yes yes yes -

c.100 x 80 83 x 68 97 x 86 c.106 x c.80 c.90 x c.75 102 x 80 112 x 98 98 x 84 -

yes yes yes (part) no no yes no yes -

? no yes (73 x 64) ? ? yes (102 x 80) yes (84 x 71) -

Xanten I (timber) yes Xanten II York no no

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3.3.2

Dark Age-Late Saxon Archaeology Although very little is known of activity in this part of Chester in the immediate postRoman period it is clear that it has a high potential for providing information about this poorly understood period in the citys development. The synod held at Chester c AD 601, the second meeting of Augustine with the bishops of the Celtic Church, indicates the settlement still had considerable significance and there seems a high probability that the legendary foundation of St Johns in 689 is correct. Archaeological evidence for activity of this period is hard to come by anywhere in the city owing to the generally ephemeral nature of deposits and structures and the damage wrought to them by subsequent occupation. A rare exception was an excavation carried out to the west of Lower Bridge Street in the 1970s located traces of timber structures belonging to the 9th century overlying land which had earlier been cultivated for many decades (Mason 1985). The ceremony held at St Johns in 973 in connection with pledges of allegiance to King Eadgar suggest the church had grown to a sizeable and important institution by this time and it certainly developed even more extensively over the following century. The ruined amphitheatre, still a significant feature of the landscape, may well have been the focus for some elements of the ceremonial. Although successive phases of the church itself probably did not impinge on the amphitheatre site some of the associated buildings may well have done. The recent discovery of a mid-10th century grave overlying the extrapolated position of the amphitheatres outer wall shows that its cemetery certainly did while the same discovery would seem to indicate that major portions of the amphitheatres fabric had already been robbed for re-use elsewhere - either in church buildings or an extension of the old fortress defences - by this period. Traces of structures and features belonging to this general period have been noted in the stratigraphical sequence in the arena although their purpose and precise date are unknown. There is a possibility that, as happened at some sites on the Continent, shrines or chapels were erected in the arena to commemorate Christian martyrs executed there in the later Roman period. Areas of Chester potentially containing well-preserved archaeological deposits of this period unaffected by later occupation are very rare and the equivalent areas around Chesters other minster church - St. Werburghs - have probably been subjected to a greater degree of disturbance. It has great potential for yielding information about the transformation of Roman Deva into English Legacaestir and, assuming the presence of further burials, of providing extremely valuable information about the nutrition and general health of the inhabitants. The site is thus of outstanding local and regional significance. Similarly, early urban monastery churches with surroundings relatively unaffected by later development and in such close juxtaposition with major Roman buildings are rare and so the site should be regarded as having very considerable national significance. Any site such as this, which has the potential to assist in understanding the emergence of urban settlements in Western Europe in the early post-Roman centuries, is of great value and so the site should be classed as possessing considerable international significance.

3.3.3

Dee House and Grounds

3.3.3.1 Architectural Significance Dee House is a Grade II listed building, and for the reasons, which follow, is considered to be of Regional Significance.
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The c1730 core of the present building is a good early example of a mansion house in the classical style built in its own grounds immediately outside the medieval City Walls, one of the few to survive in Chester. Other examples are the former Bishops Palace (mid-C18, Grade II*), St Johns Rectory (early to mid-C18, 3 Vicars Lane, Grade II*) and Forest House, Foregate Street, (1759, of which the much altered main block survives in Love Lane, Grade II), (Carrington, 1994, 100). Another example, no longer extant, is St Johns House, which was demolished in 1958 to allow the excavation of the Amphitheatre. Dee House was clearly designed as a town house, in that the principal faade and main entrance faced towards St Johns Street. The five bay, three storey block is symmetrical in design, save for the single-room deep service wing on the Souters Lane front which gave the original house an L shape. The external decoration is restrained, comprising a bolection moulded door surround, coved window sills, and chamfered quoins to the eastern angle, all in sandstone. The identity of the architect is not known. There are a number of original internal features, which, whilst not individually of outstanding quality, certainly add to the overall importance of the building. In addition, despite its long period as a school, the C18 central block remains relatively unaltered. The chapel wing, incorporating a first floor classroom and second floor dormitory, was designed by Edmund Kirby in 1867-9; it is in a spare Early English Gothic style, deliberately in contrast with the core block, with decorative features such as the chevron toothing of the string course and the limited use of vitrified brick. The staircase, placed between the chapel and the core block, is articulated externally, and is typically mid-C19. Internally, the ground floor chapel appears unaltered, but a detailed comparison with Kirbys drawings (Liverpool Record Office, 720 KIR 891) has not been made. The sanctuary is demarcated by a segmental arch, and two columns with polygonal, broached bases and well executed capitals incorporating angels. Apart from an unsightly inserted ceiling on the second floor, the other two floors also appear to be essentially unaltered. Kirby was a respected Liverpool architect, responsible for a number of ecclesiastical buildings in the North West, including the nearby Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh (1873-5) in Grosvenor Park Road. The northwest neo-Georgian brick wing of c1900 was cleverly designed to blend in with the core block, and is a good example of early C20 Georgian revival. The identity of the architect is not known. Far from detracting from the architectural interest, the surviving additions (the 1929 southern wing was demolished in 1995) are important elements in the history of Dee House. Kirbys chapel wing uncompromisingly announces itself as a new ecclesiastical structure, quite distinct from the C18 private residence, and, through the use of modernist Gothic, he celebrates the foundation of a Roman Catholic Convent and school, architecturally contrasting this with the adjacent Church of England St Johns, at that time with its still extant west tower. In contrast, the early C20 west wing, which contained additional classrooms, faithfully follows the original core block design, and does not vie with Kirbys chapel, thus reiterating the latters fundamental importance to the religious life of both the order and the pupils.

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The ancillary buildings, located to the west of Dee House along Souters Lane, have a complex but improperly researched history. De Laveauxs 1745 plan shows a range on part of this site, suggesting the presence of stables or other service buildings. The present structures, with the exception of the block immediately adjacent to the entrance gate, appear to be C19, and the similarity of roof beam usage suggests Kirby may have designed them. There are references in the Kirby papers at Liverpool Record Office to new cloakrooms etc, and also a good drawing for an enlargement of the gate lodge. The entrance gate block could well date from the immediate post World War Two period, but an inspection of the triangular cellar revealed the presence of masonry which could be medieval in date, as well as remnants of a quarry tile floor. This clearly needs further consideration. The former gardens of Dee House have now been largely destroyed by the new County Court and its car park, and there is no reason to assume that the present garden area contains remains of any unusual garden structures of C18 or C19. 3.3.3.2 Associational Significance Dee House has links with the Comberbach family, a prominent Cestrian family in C18, in whose ownership it remained until 1854, after which for some 120 years it was closely associated with Roman Catholic education in Chester. For former pupils, their families, and the teaching staff, Dee House has associational and spiritual significance. 3.3.3.3 Group Significance The list description notes that Dee House has group value with the Church of St John the Baptist and St Johns Cottage. In addition, however, it forms an important element in the C19 development of the immediate neighborhood, a development heavily influenced by themes of religion, education and philanthropy. The religious revival of the second half of C19, which followed on the reforms of the Church of England in the late 1830s, and reflected the resurgence of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1850s, is clearly reflected in the religious buildings of the study site and its immediate vicinity: 1859-64 1867-9 1873-5 The restoration of St Johns by R C Hussey, followed in 1870 by the clearance of the ruined choir Dee House Chapel by E Kirby Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh by E Kirby

Furthermore, in 1865, the Bishops Palace became the official residence of the Bishop of Chester, which it remained until 1921, when it became a YMCA hostel, thus still retaining a Christian and moral association. Equally associated with the ferment of ideas of this period was the matter of education. The establishment of a Convent school at Dee House was a landmark in Catholic education in Chester, and in the aftermath of the 1870 Education Act, the Duke of Westminster was responsible for St Johns School, 1882-3. The philanthropy of the Grosvenors is also much in evidence. In 1867 the land for Grosvenor Park was made available by the Duke, who took responsibility for laying it out as a public park. He was also closely involved in the repair and maintenance of St Johns, including the building of a new bell tower and the restoration of the north porch in the 1880. In addition, he built the Almshouses in Lumley Place, by John Douglas, 1878.
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The creation of Grosvenor Park was in the tradition of providing pleasantly landscaped spaces, which could be used and appreciated by all classes; similar examples can be found in all Britains great industrial cities. The Dukes philanthropy was augmented by that of Alderman Charles Brown who, in the 1880s, paid for the extension of The Groves, providing additional leisure space for the citizens of Chester. Dee House can thus be seen as an important component in the religious, intellectual, and social history of Chester in the latter half of the C19, so well represented and encapsulate in the buildings and spaces of the study area. 3.2.3 Townscape The Dee House group is important in the general townscape of the area in that: 3.3.3 It closes the view down St John Street The grounds contain a number of mature Lime trees, which add to the verdant character of the area. The ancillary buildings enclose the space.

Summary of Significance In summary Dee House is an important and significant building for the following reasons: It is an interesting building in its own right with a significant amount of early fabric surviving. The accretions and outbuildings have added interest, both in their own right and as contributions to the ensemble. Dee House represents a building type, the detached extra-mural house in its own gardens, of which few 18th century examples survive in Chester. The 19th century extensions are evidence of the religious revival and the reestablishment of Catholicism during that period. Dee House and its type are part of an important but perhaps undervalued part of Chester's Heritage, seen largely as Roman, medieval and 19th century. The 18th century was, however, a significant stage in Chester's history, culminating in Thomas Harrison's buildings at Chester castle.

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4 4.1

ISSUES Introduction
This section of the conservation plan examines the various threats and related issues to the heritage significance of the various components of the study area. A threat is a state of affairs that could lead to an erosion of the historic importance of the element, or in extreme cases to its complete destruction. The threat can be to the historic fabric or to its accessibility in terms of physical or intellectual access or its general appreciation. The general overview of threats applicable to each zone within the study area is followed by a closer examination of the core area. Here the plan is called upon to confront and assist in resolving an issue and dilemma, which is crucial to the study area and to Chester as a whole. That is whether the amphitheatre should be further excavated and displayed. This part of the analysis examines the wide ranging issues as presented by a number of scenarios ranging from no further excavation to a full multi-period archaeological dig and display.

4.2

Overview of Key Issues within the Study Site (by zone)


Zone A The Amphitheatre (excavated and displayed portion) (i) The monument is poorly presented

(ii) Less than half has been excavated and this inhibits appreciation of the whole (iii) Physical access and intellectual access is limited (iv) The high retaining and boundary wall to Dee House is visually detrimental to the setting and confuses visitor understanding of the monument. Zone B Little St John Street/Vicars lane Corridor

(i) Traffic using Little St John Street/Vicars Lane and the associated noise and
fumes and highway design tends to make the area: Uninviting for pedestrians, especially movement from the city centre to destinations within the study area and beyond. Not the ideal location for Chesters main visitor centre Detrimental to the use of the amphitheatre site for events. (ii) The Telecom building has a particularly bland appearance and no ground floor activities or used entrances that contribute to the life of the street and the spaces beyond. (iii) The high retaining wall at the rear of the amphitheatre is over dominant and unsympathetic.

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Zone C Dee House


(i) The Zone contains the Dee House group of extant buildings and a significant proportion of the unexcavated amphitheatre below.

(ii) Some parts of the internal structure of Dee House are in very poor condition and are now supported by a temporary propping system. Dry Rot threatens the surviving (extensive) 18th and 19th century structural timbers, doors and windows joinery. (iii) The chronology of the existing fabric within the central 18th century portions of Dee House is complex and not fully understood. (iv) All the buildings are vacant and without a beneficial use that can support the repair and maintenance of the fabric they will remain at risk. (v) The buildings and grounds are largely hidden from close view by the high wall boundary adjacent to the excavated amphitheatre and their dilapidated condition detracts from and inhibits the appreciation of their significance. (vi) The vacancy and dilapidated appearance of this importantly located site do not contribute to the local economy. Particularly, it presents a poor image and does nothing to draw visitors from the city centre to the areas other attractions to the south and west. (vii) Dee House and its grounds lie above the unexcavated portion of the amphitheatre. Currently arguments are being advanced that this and the post Roman archaeology of the site should be fully excavated and revealed for display. Should these proposals be pursued the significance of Dee House and its component parts would be lost. (vii) There is only limited knowledge about the site during the sub Roman to early medieval period and its archaeology. (viii) The archaeology of the site could be threatened by unsympathetic development at some future date. (ix) Dee Lane is an interesting route leading down to the river. Its sunken space and historic boundary walls and embankments would be vulnerable to highway improvements and other unsympathetic modern interventions Zone D The New County Court (i) The zone contains the Court building which has no historic significance. Any further unsympathetic development of the site could threaten the archaeology of the southern portion of the amphitheatre and sub Roman remains below ground.

Zone E The Roman Gardens (i) The collection of Roman architectural artefacts are exposed to erosion by the elements (note softness of local sandstone) and also to damage by vandals (witness recent press reports about abuse by visitors to gardens and inappropriate use by skateboarders etc).

(ii) The gardens terminate at the rear of the Old Orleans public house and the view of car parking and refuse bins detracts from the river approaches and views to
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and from the site. (iii) Accessibility and linkages for tourists could be improved. There is neither direct access to the Gardens from the City Walls nor a link to the nearby amphitheatre site. Zone F The Old Bishops Palace and St Johns Cottage (i) These buildings are private properties and not open to public access and have not been surveyed as part of this study. Close views of their principal frontages are concealed behind high boundary walls, which are themselves of townscape and some historic value. Although there are no evident signs of mistreatment, the significance of the buildings could in future be threatened by unsympathetic uses, repairs and maintenance.

Zone G The Groves

(ii) The existing character, use and appearance of The Groves could in the future be
compromised by: Introduction of new uses not compatible with traditional riverside esplanade Poor quality design of new buildings and structures Poor maintenance and confusion over maintenance responsibilities Inappropriate care, maintenance and long term replacement of the trees Pressures for further parking areas and vehicular access Inappropriate street furniture (ii) The rear of the Old Orleans public house presents an unsightly view from the Roman Gardens and the City Walls Zone H Church of St John The Baptist/The Hermitage (i) This area appears only moderately used and appreciated by tourists and visitors to the city issues which tend to inhibit physical access and appreciation of the historic significance of the site include the following: Pedestrian movement from the city centre is discouraged by the traffic on Little St John Street and also by the long loop around the amphitheatre To the south of the Church two paths terminate at dead ends. A circular walk here would afford better views towards the river and across to the Old Bishops Palace. The Medieval Wall paintings require better explanations and interpretation. The magnificent Norman interior of the Church and its artefacts especially the early Anglo/ Viking crosses are not well interpreted or displayed. Some recent planting displays inhibit views of the church

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The Bowling Green is closed and although valuable as a visual amenity appears to have no function. The Hermitage has not been researched and as possibly containing the only surviving remains of the medieval collegiate establishment at St Johns Church. It requires a much fuller understanding than is currently available. The narrow lanes leading down to the river are ancient routes and their character could be vulnerable to widening or the use of unsympathetic surfacing materials.

4.3
4.3.1

The Core Area Detailed Issues


Dee House Vacancy: All the buildings are vacant and without a beneficial use that can support the repair and maintenance of the fabric they will remain at risk. The future use and repair of the buildings are prejudiced by the uncertainty of their future in relation to the excavation of the amphitheatre. Until that position is clarified the necessary investment will not be forthcoming Possible demolition to make way for archaeological excavation: Dee House and its grounds lie above the unexcavated portion of the amphitheatre. Currently arguments are being advanced and considered by this conservation plan that this and the post-Roman archaeology of the site should be excavated and revealed for display. Should these proposals be accepted and pursued the significance of Dee House and its component parts would be lost. Condition and Appearance (i) The interior of Dee House is in poor condition. It has recently been made weather tight, on a temporary basis but dry rot threatens the surviving timber.

(ii) The Chapel wing to the east and the ancillary buildings to the west are in fair condition but at risk from spreading dry rot. (iii) The gardens are overgrown. (iv) The buildings and grounds are largely hidden from general view by the high wall boundary adjacent to the excavated amphitheatre. (v) The windows to the main frontages are boarded and the principle elevation has been marred by the addition of unsympathetically designed security grills over the upper windows Potential Repair Costs and Funding: The repair of Dee House suitable for occupation could cost in excess of 1 million. Understanding and further research: The detailed history of the 18th century core of Dee House is not fully researched or understood. 4.3.2 Excavated Amphitheatre Interpretation and appreciation: The monument lacks a coherent, integrated and high quality presentation scheme linking the various historic features of the Site

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together in a co-ordinated fashion. (i) The existing poor quality and unimaginative interpretative material is faded and will continue to deteriorate with time. The absence of a staffed facility on or near amphitheatre restricts, because of risk of vandalism, investment in quality interpretative materials.

(ii)

(iii) Poor explanatory and interpretative material greatly inhibits public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the monument and restricts its educational potential. There is generally poor intellectual access to information about the area in general, its relation to rest of historic Chester, possible appearance at various stages in historic development, individual monuments, history of exploration and bodies involved, and collections of artefacts recovered from excavations. (iv) Marking out of outer wall and minor entrances in grasses areas is difficult for visitors to understand. For those visiting the area to see the amphitheatre, detractions from the site are that it is poorly displayed, interpreted and that less than half has been excavated. These are major impairments to the publics understanding of the form, appearance and function of the monument. The very high retaining wall erected in the early 1960s to retain the grounds of Dee House detracts visually and hinders appreciation of the unexcavated form of the amphitheatre as an entity.

(v)

(vi)

(vii) The physical access is limited and the existing timber steps to the lower levels are showing signs of decay. There is no access to the arena floor for those with disabilities. (viii) Traffic along Little St John Street/Vicars Lane and Souters Lane hinders and makes unattractive the access from the city centre (ix) The extent of the buildings along the east side of Souters Lane and the current inaccessibility to the area in front of Dee House constitute a visual and psychological impediment to the integration of the City Walls and Roman Gardens with the amphitheatre and St Johns. The current monument gives little impression of neither the monumentality of the amphitheatres outer wall nor the prominence of the seating-bank.

(x)

4.3.3

Unexcavated Amphitheatre Vulnerability to future development pressure: Without proper controls the trend towards use of inner city sites could provide greater pressure for development over the unexcavated amphitheatre and either damage existing remains or prevent investigation and future public display.

4.3.4 Research and Understanding Despite the extensive nature of the 1960s excavations there are, as the report on that work makes clear, many aspects of the amphitheatre, which have still to be elucidated or explained (Thompson 1976, 163, 181-84, 230 and 236). An initial list of potential areas of enquiry was prepared by Chester Archaeology in its recently prepared
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Research Agenda for the amphitheatre (Matthews 2000). While some questions are potentially capable of resolution through desk-based research others can only be solved through further excavation. Some of those in the latter category are quite fundamental such as the precise dimensions of both the timber and stone amphitheatres, the structural form of the seating accommodation in the latter, and the dating of the various phases of repairs and modifications over several centuries. Others, however, are rather more specialised such as the date and purpose of the timber platform at the centre of the arena. While answers to some of these questions might be forthcoming from the current programme of re-examination of remaining deposits within the exposed portion of the cavea the solution to others obviously can only be obtained from further excavations of the unexposed portion of the amphitheatre. This is likely to be especially true with regard to the history of the amphitheatre in the period c. AD 400 to c. AD 1000 and any attempt to determine if and how it continued to be used in this period, particularly the relationship between the decaying Roman monument and the emergent and progressively expanding St. Johns Church. Not only does the unexcavated part of the amphitheatre lie closest to St Johns but it also includes the only surviving area of deposits in the arena which are known from recent scrutiny of the 1960s site archive to contain remains of early post-Roman structures and features. There is also a strong possibility, as the 2000 excavations in advance of the County Court have demonstrated, that the site of the southern half of the amphitheatre contains human burials associated with St Johns belonging to the mid-late Saxon period which could provide extremely rare and valuable information about the health and diet of Chesters inhabitants in this period. The area also has potential for improving knowledge of the various ancillary buildings known to have surrounded St Johns in the medieval period. 4.3.5 Interpretation and Presentation: The fact that less than half of the amphitheatre is on display obviously impedes the publics ability to fully comprehend the true size, shape and form of the complete monument and the manner in which it functioned as a structure and facility. The situation is exacerbated by the overwhelming presence of the concrete retaining wall cutting across the centre of the arena, which makes it impossible to gain an accurate visual perception of the amphitheatre. The excavation and display of additional and substantial portions of the monument would clearly reduce these problems as well as presenting opportunities for additional presentation features which could also afford the opportunity for experimental archaeology. However, any such additions to the displayed portion of the monument should, if possible, be discreet and coherent components of the amphitheatre i.e. the remainder of the arena, the west entrance and so forth and not confusable with the original construction. 4.3.6 Tourism The excavation of the buried portion of the amphitheatre, or a major part thereof, coupled with the imaginative display of the monument could be a major tourist attraction. As described in ii) above, the removal of the concrete wall which divides the arena and the exposure of the hidden part of the amphitheatre would vastly improve not only the visual appearance of the site but would also enable the public to fully appreciate and understand the true size and form of the amphitheatre. The opening up of the site, improved visibility and access from the City Walls, and the provision of high quality interpretation and other visitor facilities beside the monument could undoubtedly draw a much greater proportion of the citys tourists to the amphitheatre and also to the other historic buildings and ancient monuments in its vicinity. It is possible that properly promoted it could also result in an overall increase in the number of visitors to the city and, by adding to the number of available attractions, encourage a higher proportion staying one or more nights in Chester thus
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making a significant contribution to the general revenue from tourism. This is being tested by the City Council through a separate study. Similarly, the actual process of excavation and associated cleaning and identification of recovered artefacts would itself be a tourism attraction as well as an important educational opportunity if managed and promoted appropriately. The renewed investigation of such a major Roman monument together with the remains of later periods would attract attention on an international scale particularly in view of the potentialities of modern electronic communication and information dissemination. 4.3.7 Possible conflicts created by competing values The obvious conflict is between the arguments for complete excavation of amphitheatre and thus demolition of Dee House and the case for preserving that building. A point at issue is whether it is appropriate to remove the cultural heritage from one era in order to find out more about and display that of another. It must be pertinent to note that, with adequate policies for their protection, the below ground remains of Roman and later periods will not be threatened by the continued retention of Dee House. Whereas the full excavation of the amphitheatre will inevitably result in the loss of those buildings and their significance. There is also the conflict between the urge to add to present knowledge and the likelihood that in future investigative technology will undoubtedly be able to reveal more comprehensive and valuable information. Indeed excavation now may destroy evidence that could only be brought to light in the future. 4.3.8 Community expectations It is clear that a considerable body of local opinion wishes to see the rest of the amphitheatre excavated as evidenced by: The formation of the Chester Amphitheatre Trust A public petition The City Council resolution of July 2000

The objective of preserving Dee House has also been publicly argued by prospective developers notably the David McLean Developments concept plan.

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4.4

Future Options for the Core Area for the near to medium term
This section examines the possible future options for the site and the physical forms these may take

4.1.1

Options Overview The following section explains various options for the Dee House/Amphitheatre site. It considers their possible physical form, their viability/ deliverability and the impact they have on the areas heritage. The options examined are highlighted below, and then examined in more detail. A. The demolition of Dee House and the fullest possible excavation of the amphitheatre. This includes two sub options: A (i) The complete excavation of the arena floor through the acquisition of a part of the County Courts car park. A (ii) The partial excavation of the area floor limited to the grounds of Dee House. B. The retention of Dee House and environs (no excavations within its current curtilage) C. The further excavation of the amphitheatre within the curtilage of Dee House (but not to the extent of requiring demolition of the building or compromising future beneficial use). C (i) Illustrating access directly from the Service Road C (ii) Illustrating access via the County Court car park D. The full excavation of the entire amphitheatre which would involve the demolition of the Dee House complex and the new Courts Development. Option A: The demolition of Dee House and the fullest possible excavation of the amphitheatre. This includes two sub options: (i) The complete excavation of the arena floor through the acquisition of a part of the new Courts car park (ii) The partial excavation of the arena floor limited to the grounds of Dee House Demolition of Dee House would enable excavation and display of a considerable additional portion of the amphitheatre comprising approximately another 25% of the seating-bank and nearly all of the remainder of the arena. However, the remainder of the seating-bank, including the principal southern entrance (porta pompaei), would still be inaccessible because it is overlain by the County Court building and its car park. Furthermore, the latter overlies the southernmost part of the arena and unless the relevant portion of the car-park could be included within the scheme (reducing it to roughly two-thirds its present size) the difference in levels between the modern ground surface and the floor of the arena (3- 3.5 metres) would necessitate the construction of another retaining wall like that which currently runs across the arena further north but about half the latters length. Such a wall would not be required if the boundary of the scheme could be pushed further south because the change in levels is much smaller once one gets into the area of the seating-bank.

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SCHEMATIC OPTION A(i)


KEY

SCHEMATIC OPTION A(ii)

A The multi period archaeological excavation of and display of the remaining unexposed arena floor and its enclosing wall together with the unexposed western portion of the amphitheatre and the and the areas occupied by the northern sections of the ancillary buildings to be demolished. B The demolition of Dee House and Chapel C The demolition of the two northern components of the ancillary buildings. D The possible retention and adaptation of the southern section of the ancillary building in whole or in part for interpretive/support purposes or a new building. E The acquisition of part of the County Court car park involving approximately 10 spaces. F The removal of the retaining wall between Dee House and the existing excavation G The removal of 6 mature lime trees and other mainly smaller trees within the grounds of Dee House. H Service access from Little St John Street and pedestrian/vehicular pavings to the west of the amphitheatre perimeter. I Steps/ramps to the arena floor J Retaining wall adjacent to County Court car park K Footpath link around the southern section of the site to St Johns Church and grounds. L The retention of the enclosing walls and the area of landscaping (including 4 mature limes) occupying a part of the south east of the site opposite the ruined St Johns west tower and adjacent to the County Court car park and service road. M Possible ramp down to west entrance. N Possible bridge link to the Roman Garden.

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Project Viability Project champions/developers: Unless combined with a very major visitor attraction this option would have to be driven by the public and voluntary sectors. In this case there is likely to be the expectation of no or very low entrance fee. Charges could be made for events but such income would be unlikely to produce commercial profit or even sustain revenue costs. Ownership: The majority of the land is currently in public ownership. Chester City Council owns the Dee House complex of buildings and grounds. The area of currently excavated and displayed amphitheatre is in the guardianship of English Heritage. However, the option (i), which exposes the full arena floor, would require the acquisition of part of the newly laid out car park within the demise of the new County Court. The purchase price would involve the loss of and compensation for approximately 20 of the developments 60 parking spaces. Budget costs for key elements: Archaeological excavations and retaining structures Acquisitions Demolitions TOTAL Option A(i) TOTAL Option A(ii) 5,000,000 400,000 100,000 5,600,000 4,900,000

Capital funding possibilities: Heritage Lottery, Chester City Council, Private/ Foundation sponsorship. There may be private sector interest if a major tourist visitor attraction could be developed. This is the subject of a separate study. Capital funding: Whether English Heritage or the City Council have the capital recourses even spread over 10 years must be in doubt (to be confirmed). Heritage Lottery funding may be possible. If HLF grant were available at 50% (2.8m) this would still need a commitment from the scheme sponsors of 240,000 per year with 640,000 in the first year to include acquisition of part of the car park. These figures do not take account of any visitor charges or sales or other income but neither has the cost of a visitor centre been included. Given the long timescale of the project it is unlikely that all funding guarantees would be in place at the outset. Securing the acquisition of an area of the County Court car park: Whether the owners/leases would sell by agreement must be in considerable doubt. A CPO may be required. Timescales and phasing: The complete multi period excavation could take from 10 to 15 years. Areas of the dig could be programmed for a phased opening for public view. Access, servicing and parking: Pedestrian and vehicular access would be from Little St John Street. Planning and statutory consents: The project would require planning permission, Listed Building Consent for the Demolition of Dee House and Consent involving an Ancient Monument legislation. It must be highly likely that such applications would result in public inquiry.

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Potential actions by adjoining owners: The owners/users of the County Court development may object to the statutory applications and to the acquisition of part of the car park. Sustainability of future management and revenue funding: This is likely to be dependent on the pubic/voluntary sectors. Income from sales at a possible visitor centre (either on site, within Dee House, or at the existing Chester Visitor Centre) could assist in defraying costs. As the existing exposed amphitheatre is in guardianship of English Heritage may be the most appropriate long-term management arrangement for this option. Impact on the Study Area Heritage: The beneficial aspects of this option are that it would enable the potential significance of the site to reveal a greater understanding of the Roman and post Roman development of the site to be realised and would allow its buried archaeological remains to be displayed for public view. The proposal would allow the extent and space of the arena floor to be better appreciated as an entity. A serious negative aspect would be the loss of the Listed Dee House complex and its historic significance. Townscape: The townscape of this part of Chester would be considerably altered by the removal of the Dee House complex of buildings. Dee House provides an interesting stop end to the view down Little St John Street. This would be lost and replaced by the blank end wall of the Court building, which was not designed for view. The enclosed character of Souter's Lane will be diminished by the loss of the adjoining buildings at its northern end. The beneficial aspects of the option are that the concrete retaining wall would be removed and the arena floor extended to create an impressive space. Use: The use of the site would be limited to its role as a heritage visitor attraction and for events. The option would not intensify vehicular traffic within the Study Area apart from that resulting from events. Events: The option would increase the space available for holding events by 100%. Servicing would be improved from the present situation by the availability of hard standings to the west and any power, toilets and other services provided as part of the visitor interpretation facilities. Vehicular/pedestrian movement: Links could be provided across the site to St John' Church and a pedestrian bridge across Souter's lane to the Roman Gardens. Both would help accessibility within the study area and encourage further movement from the city centre to the study area and the parkland to the east. Visitor/Tourism/Economy: The potential of this option as a tourist/visitor attraction is being addressed through a complimentary study commissioned by Chester City Council.

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Option B: The retention of Dee House and environs (no excavations within its current curtilage)
Even without the excavation and placing on display of additional sections of the amphitheatre much could be done to improve the presentation of the monument. Such improvements could include removal of the upper, brickwork, section of the retaining wall, which runs across the arena. This would remove the barrier between the two portions of the site and, with other works, greatly improve viewing and understanding of the monument as well as visitor circulation both around the amphitheatre and on to St. Johns. The definition of the outer wall and minor entrances in the grassed areas could be much improved, as could the quantity and quality of the explanatory panels on the site. The possibility might be investigated of giving the seating-bank greater definition and emphasis by constructing some form of low, solid vertical barrier around the perimeter of the site. This would also help to isolate the site from the noise, fumes and distractions of traffic using Little St John Street/Vicars Lane as well as helping to give the monument its own separate atmosphere and sense of place. Part of a refurbished Dee House being given over to the interpretation of the site would afford an opportunity to present and explain not only the amphitheatre and its relationship with the rest of Roman Chester but also the history, development and importance of this part of the city generally to Chesters evolution. Consideration might also be given to demolishing the latest (northernmost) portion of the outbuildings bordering Souters Lane so as to improve visitor circulation between the Newgate/Roman Gardens and Dee House/the amphitheatre, to provide a more attractive approach to the amphitheatre site, and to enable a more direct route to St Johns Church and ruins. Key features of the full scheme are as follows (key on following page) :

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KEY (to plan of Option B on preceding page) A The retention, repair and reuse of the Dee House complex for a mix of possible uses including interpretation of the amphitheatre and visitor facilities. The demolition of the modern (block c) ancillary building would be desirable. B The retention, adaptation or rebuilding of the southern section of the ancillary buildings (a and b) for new uses. C Service access from Little St John Street and pedestrian/vehicular pavings. D New forecourt to Dee House and pedestrian entrance from Little St John Street E Removal of upper brick section of boundary wall to the amphitheatre and replacement with railing. F Steps/ramps to the arena floor. G Footpath link around the southern section of the site to St Johns Church and grounds. Project Viability Project champions/developers: This option could be driven and substantially funded by a private / public sector partnership. Ownership: All the land is currently in public ownership. Chester City Council. Possible budget for key elements: Basic repair of Dee House (excluding ancillary buildings) Fit out costs Enhancement of grounds/boundary wall TOTAL Option B 1,200,000 300,000 200,000 1,700,000

Capital funding possibilities: Private Sector, Chester City Council, English Heritage. Delivery and risk: The principle concerns relate to securing a private sector partner. Timescales and phasing: There are no particular constraints. Planning and statutory consents: The project would require planning permission, Listed Building Consent and Consent involving an Ancient Monument. It should not prove contentious. Sustainability of future management and revenue funding: This would be dependent on any private/public sector arrangements negotiated. Impact on the Study Area Heritage: The future of Dee House and its significance would be secured for the foreseeable future. The excavated amphitheatre could receive enhanced interpretation and access. The unexcavated section would remain undisturbed for future generations. Townscape: The townscape of this part of Chester would be retained and enhanced by the improvement of Dee House and its grounds and by opening it up to view by the removal high boundary wall.
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Use: A mix of visitor attractions entertainment, restaurant and commercial/office uses would all be appropriate Events: Servicing would be improved from the present situation by the availability of hard standings and any power, toilets and other services could be provided as part of the visitor interpretation facilities. Vehicular/pedestrian movement: Links could be provided across the site to St John' Church. Visitor/Tourism/Economy: The potential of this option as a tourist/visitor attraction is being addressed through a complimentary study commissioned by Chester City Council. Option C: The further excavation of the amphitheatre within the curtilage of Dee House (but not to the extent of requiring demolition of the building or compromising future beneficial use). There are two sub options: C(i) Illustrating access directly from the service road C(ii) Illustrating access via the County Court car park Retaining Dee House with sufficient land around it to enable its continued use restricts the scope for the investigation and display of additional parts of the amphitheatre. As far as exhibiting more of the amphitheatre is concerned the only option that appears worthwhile in terms of new information and displayable remains gained as well as being practicable would be the excavation of the western axial entrance along with the section of the seating-bank immediately north of it. However, this would make little sense without the excavation of an accompanying additional, and quite substantial, portion of the arena as shown on the Option `C` plan. This would entail the demolition of the existing retaining wall, which crosses the arena and its replacement by a new one. As the east and west entrances were, for reasons unknown, positioned somewhat to the south of the true alignment of the short axis this would result in the exposure of around 70%, rather than 60%, of the arena. Option C(ii) shows the greater extent of excavation of the arena that could be possible if service access to Dee House was to be accommodated via the County Court car park. This would require a special agreement with the owners of the County Court building. Following the completion of excavation and consolidation works, along with the removal of the central and northernmost components of the outbuildings lining Souters Lane, the west entrance could become the new principal point of entry into the amphitheatre, leading visitors down directly into the `enlarged` arena. Pedestrian access to visitor facilities in or beside a refurbished Dee House would run parallel with that leading to the west entrance while a new access for service vehicles would be provided off Little St. John Street on the eastern site perimeter. The latter would also enable a new and more direct pedestrian route to St Johns Church. Cost of Excavation - Within range 750,000-1 million Timescale - 5-7 years depending on finance, civil engineering works, desirability of having excavation as attraction/training facility in its own right, etc.

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Key features of the full scheme are as follows:

SCHEMATIC OPTION C(i)

SCHEMATIC OPTION C(ii)

A The multi period archaeological excavation of and display of part of the


unexposed arena floor and its enclosing wall together with the unexposed western portion of the amphitheatre and the areas occupied by the northern sections of the ancillary buildings to be demolished. The repair and reuse of Dee House and Chapel The demolition of the two northern components of the ancillary buildings. The possible retention and adaptation of the southern section of the ancillary building in whole or in part for interpretive/support purposes or a new building. The removal of the existing retaining wall Service access from the road leading to the Court and the Old Bishops Palace. Steps/ramps to the arena floor New (lower) retaining wall Footpath link around the southern section of the site to St Johns Church and grounds The retention of the enclosing walls and the area of landscaping (including 4 mature limes) occupying a part of the south east of the site opposite the ruined St Johns west tower and adjacent to the County Court car park and service road. Possible ramped access to western entrance Possible service access through county court car park by agreement with the site owners County Court car park

B C D E F G H I J

K L M

Project Viability Project champions/developers: This option would most likely have to be driven by a joint public/private initiative.

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Ownership: All the land is currently in public ownership. Chester City Council owns the Dee House complex of buildings and grounds and the area of currently excavated and displayed amphitheatre is in the guardianship of English Heritage. Possible budget costs for key elements: Basic Repair of Dee House (excluding ancillary buildings) Fit out costs Enhancement of grounds Excavations and retaining structures TOTAL Option C 1,200,000 300,000 100,000 1,000,000 2,600,000

Capital funding possibilities: Private sector, Chester City Council, English Heritage, Heritage Lottery, Foundation sponsorship. Delivery and risk: The principle concerns relate to: Capital funding, especially the excavation component Securing long term revenue commitment to the additional excavated portion Timescales and phasing: The complete multi period excavation could take up to 5 years. Areas of the dig could be programmed for a phased opening for public view. Planning and statutory consents: The project would require planning permission, Listed Building Consent and Consent involving Ancient Monument legislation. Sustainability of future management and revenue funding: This is likely to be dependent on the pubic/voluntary sectors. As the existing exposed amphitheatre is in guardianship of English Heritage, it may be the most appropriate long-term management arrangement for this option. Impact on the Study Area Heritage: The options allow for the maximum investigations and display of the amphitheatre while still retaining Dee House and its significance. Townscape: The positive features of Dee House would be retained. Use: Dee House could be used for interpretive and other leisure/ commercial uses. Events: The retention of Dee House could assist in the use of the amphitheatre for events through the provision of services, toilets and accommodation. Vehicular/pedestrian movement: Links could be provided across the site to St Johns Church. Visitor/Tourism/Economy: The potential of this option as a tourist/ visitor attraction is being addressed through a complimentary study commissioned by Chester City Council.

Option D: The full excavation of the Amphitheatre would involve the demolition of the Dee House group and the new Law Courts
Key features of the full scheme are as follows:
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SCHEMATIC OPTION D KEY A Excavation of the entire amphitheatre and display of arena Floor B The demolition of Dee House and Chapel C The demolition of the Law Courts D New visitor centre E Vehicular service access to site F Ramps providing public access to the site G Un-excavatable area due to presence of service road
The acquisition of the new Courts and the compensation payable to the occupier, owners and leaseholders would be very considerable possibly in the order of 12m plus an archaeological excavation cost in the order of 6-7m. As the conservation plan brief refers only to examining the issues involved in excavating the amphitheatre made possible by the demolition of Dee House, this option is not being considered in detail, as a short to medium term possibility. That is not to say, however, that it could not be an objective in the very long term.

4.5

Listed Building Consent Issues


The Full excavation of the amphitheatre would require the demolition of Dee House and this would require Listed Building Consent. Such a proposal has previously been examined at a public planning inquiry in the mid 1980s. The planning inspector, applying government policy, came to the clear view that consent for the demolition of Dee House should not be granted. This was overturned by the then Secretary of State for the Environment who justified demolition on the basis that a scheme to excavate and display the amphitheatre would be in the public good. Consent was given provided that a fully viable scheme could be developed within a limited time period. This proved impossible to realise.

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The archaeological excavation and display project was not implemented and local attention became focused on saving the decaying Dee House. Recently, attention has again turned to the amphitheatre. Is it likely that Listed Building Consent for the demolition of Dee House would be granted as part of a proposal for further excavation of the amphitheatre? (i.e. Any of options A(i), A(ii) and D outlined above. Government guidance on the interpretation and implementation of the relevant legislation (PPG15) indicates a presumption in favour of the retention of Listed Buildings. Any application for the demolition of Dee House would have to be determined in relation to the following tests as required by PPG15: Is Dee House worthy of its Listed Status? The study indicates that the response must be yes. Has it been demonstrated that all possible efforts have been made to secure its future and that it is incapable of beneficial use? The study indicates that the response must be no. Are the public benefits of the proposal such that they outweigh the loss of the Listed Building? see below Are the costs of repair reasonable in relation to its significance? The costs have yet to be determined in detail but it appears likely that repair would be recoverable over a 30 year lifespan.

PPG16 indicates a presumption in favour of leaving archaeological remains protected in situ and undisturbed. The proposal to excavate and display would be contrary to that general policy. All indications are that consent for demolition would not be approved unless overriding public benefits could be demonstrated. This would have to be tested in relation to a particular proposition. Three alternative propositions have been examined (i.e. A(i), A(ii), and D). Each would all produce varying degrees of public good. Public good benefits appraisal of option A(ii): a) Academic knowledge of the Roman, Sub Roman and later periods: Academic knowledge of the Roman and post-Roman periods would be enhanced. Although the nature and significance of finds are to some extent always unpredictable a more accurate assessment may be possible if a ground penetrating radar survey was commissioned. b) Enhanced Public Appreciation: Visitor understanding and appreciation would be enhanced by i) being able to see a greater extent than existing of the amphitheatre ground plan, arena floor and internal arena wall.

ii) being able to enter the arena by the west entrance (subject to a detailed investigation of levels). iii) improved interpretation
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c) Improved public access: As indicated above it may be possible to provide ramped access for visitors including those with disabilities (subject to a detailed investigation of levels). d) Economic: Possible increase visitors/tourist numbers and spending generated by a further excavation of the amphitheatre. This is currently being examined as a separate study. Against these benefits would have to be set the loss of Dee House and its cultural significance and the loss of its beneficial use and economic potential. Before attempting to address the difficult question as to whether the benefits are of sufficient weight to justify demolition on the grounds of public good, it must be asked: are these benefits exclusive to this scheme or are they in part also shared by options B or C involving the retention of Dee House. This is dealt with in some detail in Part 2, the informal section of the plan, in which the examination of the various Options reveals that, in terms of the amphitheatre excavation and display, there would be little to be gained from the early removal of Dee House over and above that which could be achieved while still retaining the building (compare Option A(ii) with C(ii). Public good benefits appraisal of option D Chesters amphitheatre is highly significant archeologically and as a tourist attraction has much unrealised potential. Further investigation of the site may indicate that full excavation would not be damaging to the sites Roman and later archaeology and that full excavation could reveal significant new knowledge and a dramatically enhanced display. In the very long term it may also be possible to acquire the County Court and fund a major heritage attraction. If these conditions were met, then the public good arguments for the demolition of Dee House would become much more persuasive.

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POLICIES
Overview The challenge for the conservation plan is to firstly to provide policies to guide the process of enhancing the understanding of the site and then to ensure that the site is managed so that the heritage assets can be enjoyed, appreciated and contribute to Chesters visitor economy both in this and future generations. The policy section is structured as follows: Policy Objectives: General objectives are identified which provide the main framework and context for the policy section, Key and supporting policies: For each policy area a short statement of the principal issues provides the context following which the policy objective is restated. This is followed by the Key Policies together with supporting policies as appropriate.

Key Policy Objectives The core area of the study site together with St Johns Church has immense historic significance and townscape value. Yet the area is only partially understood in terms of its historic fabric and archaeology. It is not presented to best effect and its contribution to the citys tourist and visitor economy and cultural life could be considerably enhanced. There are also a number of conflicting aspirations for the site. The following framework sets out the primary objectives and headings under which the detailed policies are structured. Objectives: Future planning and management strategies and proposals for the site should: A be based on a thorough understanding of the sites most important heritage and townscape assets (Heritage Assets). B learn from the site and gain further knowledge of those periods and cultures about which it contains evidence (Understanding, Archaeology and Recording). C protect and conserve those material assets which are of historic significance for this and future generations and ensure that their value is not diminished by unsympathetic alteration or new development (Conservation and Development). D present the historic assets of the site so that they can be popularly enjoyed, appreciated and understood (Interpretation and Access). E preserve and enhance the special townscape and landscape character and ecology of the site so that these features continue to contribute to the quality of the urban scene both in the interests of public amenity and to support Chesters visitor and tourist economy (Townscape). F ensure that existing and future uses within the study area contribute to the economic and cultural life of the city in ways which do not conflict with but make best use of its historic fabric, historic associations and townscape assets (Use).

G be mindful of and support existing legislation, national planning policy guidance and local planning policy (Statutory Considerations).
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H support the understanding, interpretation and conservation of the study site though the sustainable and efficient use of the financial resources of the site owners, grant aid and any finance for those purposes that could be generated through planning agreements, disposals or income generating uses (Resources). I ensure that the site is managed in the most appropriate manner to realise the objectives and policies of the conservation plan (Management and Ownership). manage vehicular traffic circulation, access and parking so that they facilitate adequate servicing for the area but do not unnecessarily detract from its appearance or role in providing a setting for visitor and cultural attractions (Vehicular Movement and Parking).

K K take account of current expectations for the site and to balance these against the principle that each generation has a general obligation to protect and to pass on to future generations that which is of cultural significance from its own and past ages (Competing Values and Priorities).

Heritage Assets Key Objective: To ensure that all strategies and proposals for the site are based on and driven by a comprehensive understanding of its heritage assets.
The most important attributes of the site are its heritage and townscape assets. These are historically valuable in their own right, as features for public enjoyment and amenity and in the contribution they make to Chesters tourist and visitor economy. Some aspects of the sites history are well understood but there is also much which as yet to be revealed. There is a danger that proposals involving physical change could proceed within and cause damage to areas, which are less well understood.

A1

All future strategies and proposals for the site should be based on or seek to achieve an enhanced understanding of its heritage assets.

A1.1

The principal strategic objective for the core area of the site should be to gain a fuller understanding of its known and potential heritage assets. Future proposals for the core area, including those concerned with conservation, development, interpretation, events must be informed by an appropriate level of understanding of the sites heritage.
Understanding, Archaeology and Recording Key Objective: To learn from the site and gain further knowledge of those periods and cultures about which it contains evidence. The core area of the site contains standing structures and below ground archaeology of national and international importance which collectively represent 2000 years of history. It is crucially important that future development proposals, initiatives to conserve and repair the heritage assets within the study area and to enhance public appreciation

A1.2

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thereof are based on a sound understanding of all aspects of this rare and internationally significant site. In addition to the need for such proposals to be informed by the best available knowledge, it is clear that study has much still to reveal in terms of academic understanding and that this should be pursued. While much is known about the amphitheatre, both the core area and the study area as a whole has the potential to enhance understanding of the Roman, Sub Roman and Anglo Saxon periods and the early Christian foundation of St Johns. In the interests of furthering academic understanding and to inform and influence future management and development proposals it is important that further research and archaeological investigation is pursued. Although further excavations and investigations within the context of a research agenda are desirable, policies must guard against the potential of poorly considered excavation which could destroy as well as uncover material which may illuminate the past.

B1

Understanding Future research agendas must recognise the multi period significance of the site and enhance the understanding the history of the site as a whole.

B1.1

The research agenda should recognise and be devised within the context of local and national priorities. Resources should be directed to research initiatives which focus upon those aspects and periods of the study area which are least understood or which address a range of objectives. The research agenda should include the following areas of study as identified within the conservation plan and in particular seek to shed more light upon the following themes of: a) The amphitheatre: Investigations should focus on both this structure in its own right and its contribution to the development of the building type: Although the subject is already moderately well understood further research would be likely to add incrementally to present knowledge. b) Roman Chester and its role in the occupation of Britain: Although the subject is already moderately well understood further research would be likely to add incrementally to present knowledge. c) The sub Roman period, the status of Chester its condition, organisation and culture: present understanding of this period and topics is very limited. d) The spread of Christianity, the early Christian foundation of the Church of St John the Baptist and the relationship between this and the amphitheatre: present understanding of this period and topics is very limited. e) The Anglo Saxon and Viking periods and the emergence and consolidation of the English kingdoms: present understanding of this period and topics is very limited. f) The early medieval period and the growth of St Johns as a collegiate church: present understanding of this period and topics is very limited. g) The detailed chronology and development of the Grade II Listed Dee House group: this is little understood and requires considerable further investigation.

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B2

Archaeology Archaeological excavations of any heritage asset must be carefully considered and planned to accord with the wider objectives of the conservation plan and the following principles in particular.

B2.1

Any future archaeological investigation or excavation proposal must be based on a research agenda which is designed to reveal a full multi period understanding of the site or if more limited in scope must not result in the destruction of material that could compromise that aim. The pursuit of further understanding of one period should not be at the expense of or prejudice the understanding of other periods. Invasive archaeology and excavations should be clearly related to and undertaken as part of a comprehensive research agenda for the site. If, for financial or any other reasons, an excavation cannot address the heritage assets in its entirety, then it should be carefully phased. Any total or phased excavation should have sufficient funding to allow for the cost of the: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) excavation and any temporary and permanent site works such as retaining structures appropriate assessment of finds. appropriate storage/ display of finds which cannot be maintained in situ. display of the material left in situ. long term maintenance of materials displayed in situ. proper recording of the excavation, finds and the final location of the materials which are left in situ, displayed or stored off site. interpretation and publication of the excavation and its results

B2.2

B2.3

B2.4

B2.5

B2.6 B2.7

Any excavation should be planned on the basis of the best information about the below ground remains that can be gained through no evasive techniques. Any phasing should be planned so that: (i) it is as self contained as possible in physical terms in terms of the elements it is designed to uncover and in terms of the research agenda it is designed to address. (ii) it does the least possible damage in relation to the material which is not part of that phase. In particular the vertical section cut should follow a line of minimum disturbance and should avoid slicing through major components. (iii) account is taken of any temporary or permanent retaining structures that may be necessary and of the workspace required for their construction. (iv) the line of minimum disturbance should be capable of being varied in case the excavation reveals elements that not been anticipated.

B2.8

In the planning of excavation strategies and phasing account should be taken of the likely advances in technologies, which will inevitably enable future generations to better understand the site. In particular this applies to:

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(i) non invasive and non-destructive techniques, which may allow materials to remain in situ. (ii) improved technologies for assessing and interpreting excavated material. B2.9 Excavation strategies and phasing plans should take account of the possibility that future generations may wish to develop different objectives or seek to gain an understanding of the site which is not currently recognised or held to be of major interest . The significance of the amphitheatre and the South East Angle Tower as Scheduled Ancient Monuments must be respected and given due weight in future management, maintenance and development proposals. There is a presumption in favour of retaining archaeological deposits and artefacts, especially those of national importance, in situ rather than being removed from the site. The approach set out in PPG16 should be followed for all proposals affecting archaeological features Any proposals for development must be informed by careful assessment and evaluation. Mitigation through design modification to avoid damage or removal of archaeology is to be preferred. Where a development proposal affecting below ground archaeology or landscape features is accepted as of benefit to a building or structure of key significance or to the conservation of the site as a whole, then the works should be subject to an appropriate programme of recording, investigation and publication. Recording All individual buildings, structures and below ground archaeology, identified as having a degree of significance, which become subject to development proposals should be surveyed and recorded in accordance with best practice as advised by English Heritage.

B3

B3.1

B3.2

B3.3

B3.4

B4

B4.1

The level of recording should be in proportion to the impact of the works and the significance of the building, feature, artefact or archaeological deposit. Historic buildings should be recorded following the guidance of the former Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (now part of English Heritage) Recording Buildings - A descriptive Specification (RCHME 1996) Archaeological evidence should be recorded in accordance with the Institute of Field Archaeologists Standard Guidance for Archaeological Excavations (1994) Information provided by such recording should be deposited with the Local Planning Authority, the Chester City Councils Urban Archeology Data base and the County Sites and Monuments Record. Recorded information should be held by each building owner in order to guide maintenance and repair programmes and as background information for future reviews of the Conservation Plan.

B4.2

B4.3

B4.4

B4.5

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B5

Those responsible for heritage assets should ensure that a detailed inventory of the status, location, source and condition of the assets is maintained.

Conservation and Development Key Objective: Protect and conserve the areas heritage for this and future generations and ensure that their value is not diminished by unsympathetic alteration or new development. Urgent action is essential to save the future well being of significant heritage assets. Repair regimes must follow best practice guidelines as inappropriate maintenance techniques or poor workmanship can damage sensitive historic buildings and accelerate rather than prevent decay. Of special concern is the long term vulnerability of the Roman monuments to damage and decay. The scope for new building within the study area without compromising its townscape and archaeology is limited and would need to be very carefully controlled. Some change to historic buildings and spaces may be necessary to facilitate their beneficial use and the interpretation of the site. This too would require special consideration.

C1

Maintenance, Repair and Enhancement


Historic buildings and spaces within the study area must be regularly and appropriately maintained in accordance with current best practice.

C1.1

All historic buildings and structures on the site should be subject to periodic inspection, repair, maintenance and audit regimes which will ensure that defects are not ignored for so long that the fabric suffers avoidable damage and decay. Owners of historic buildings, especially of those which are vacant, should ensure that they are not allowed to deteriorate through neglect and that security of the building, structural stability, weather proofing and protection from fungal decay are given the highest priority. Special consideration should be given to the conservation of the sandstone monuments displayed within the study area in relation to their vulnerability to weathering, pollution, damage and vandalism. The repair of historic structures on the site should follow the best practice guidance contained within:

C1.2

C1.3

C1.4

Repair of Historic Buildings, Principles and Methods by C Brereton published by English Heritage. The Technical Pamphlets and Guidance Sheets published by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, SPAB)

C1.5

Individual occupiers should review their maintenance strategies in the light of the conservation plan policies and detailed guidelines. Preservation, alteration and removal Buildings and other heritage assets identified as having a level of significance are all important individually and to the site as a whole. They should be afforded a level of protection from alteration or removal which is commensurate with their level of significance as identified within the conservation plan.

C2

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C2.1

Heritage assets identified as being of international and national significance should be afforded the very highest level of protection from any adverse change. Heritage assets identified as being of regional significance should be protected against any change which could adversely affect their essential character or important features. Some alteration to adapt to new uses may be acceptable provided these supported the objectives of the conservation plan. Radical alteration or removal of buildings of this status could only be justified in very exceptional circumstances, consistent with the tests of C2.4. Heritage assets which are identified as being of local significance could be the subject of substantial alteration or even replacement provided the proposals were of sufficient townscape and design quality and supported the objectives of the conservation plan. Buildings in this category, for example, include those listed by association with a principle building but not of sufficient merit to be listed in their own right. Any proposed demolition or part demolition of buildings of significance must be justifiable within the terms of this conservation plan and much satisfy the tests of PPG 15 namely that demolition should not be allowed unless: (i) the building can be shown to be unworthy of is listed status (ii) the building is incapable of beneficial use by the building owner and only then provided it can be shown that exhaustive efforts have been made to dispose of the property to a third party and that these have failed. (iii) the costs of repair are out of reasonable proportion to the structures significance. PPG 15 also allows a case to be put forward for demolition on the basis that it is required to implement a proposal demonstrating clear and overwhelming public good benefits that outweigh the loss in terms of heritage. Public good benefits are not defined within the PPG and could be very wide ranging. They could, in very exceptional circumstances for example, possibly include benefits in relation to the understanding and public appreciation and enjoyment of other heritage assets. Each case would have to be evaluated on its particular merits.

C2.2

C2.3

C2.4

C2.5

Proposals, which seek to justify the removal of heritage assets on the basis of overwhelming public benefit, must be thoroughly tested on their individual merits. Schemes must be viable financially and in all other respects. Benefits claimed for the cities wider economy such as jobs created or increased visitor numbers must be quantified and clearly deliverable. New Development and Design The design and construction of any new structures, alterations to historic buildings or landscaping will involve reconciling the new to the old so that the significance of the old is preserved and enhanced, not diminished.

C3

C3.1

The principles, promoted by English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, of minimum necessary intervention, reversibility, and respect for authenticity should be applied. These principles should be balanced against the importance and sensitivity of the buildings and the benefits of the proposal to the conservation of the whole site. Any new building or extensions should be limited to development which would
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support the re-use of existing structures or benefit the conservation and appreciation of the site as a whole or otherwise support the policies and objectives of the conservation plan. C3.3 New buildings should not be erected to accommodate uses which could be housed to optimum effect within vacant historic buildings important to the character of the area. Any alteration or adaptation of existing buildings and structures must be necessary for their re-use, represent good stewardship and support the conservation of the site as a whole. All alterations, extensions and new structures should be well designed, of a quality at least commensurate with the historic buildings and the character of the area. Physical proposals for existing buildings should be informed by the inherent character, form and special qualities of the building. New work to existing buildings should not imitate original work so closely that new and old become confused. Substantial alterations and insertions might have a strong character of their own while minor works should not draw attention to themselves. New buildings, additions or alterations should be of their time and should not be capable of confusion with the original. They should complement rather than parody existing buildings. New utilities, mechanical and electrical services should be planned to minimise their impact and to avoid damage to any building fabric, features, artefacts, historic services or below ground archaeology of significance. Assessment, Evaluation and Recording All buildings, artefacts, features and areas, if these are to be subject to change, must be assessed and evaluated and recorded before design decisions for future proposals are made. C5.1 Detailed record must be made of any part of the site which will be irreversibly altered, lost or demolished prior to the work taking place. (See understanding) As built records must be made following any works of alteration and held in safe keeping by the owner for future reference.

C3.4

C4

C4.1

C4.2

C4.3

C4.4

C5

C5.2

Interpretation and Access Key Objective: Present the historic assets of the site so that they can be popularly enjoyed, appreciated and understood within the context of the City of Chester. The study area contains visitor sites and facilities that are of key importance to Chesters tourist economy. These include the City Wall walkway, The Groves, the Chester visitor centre and the cultural sites of the amphitheatre the Roman Gardens and St Johns Church. There is much about the area which is successful and an asset to the city. Not all of these facilities, however, realise their full potential in attracting visitors or in providing physical access or opportunities for enjoyment, understanding and appreciation. In particular the presentation of and accessibility to the amphitheatre is poor and St Johns church is little visited and warrants significantly

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greater attention. The linkages, in terms of pedestrian movement, signage and interpretation between the Roman Gardens, the amphitheatre, St Johns Church and Grovsenor park could be much enhanced. Vehicular traffic along Little St John Street is also inhibiting the tourist development and appreciation of the area (see also Policy J.1) D1 Intellectual Access The general public must be enabled and encouraged to appreciate the various significances of the study area. D1.1 Intellectual access should be facilitated by the production of general guide books and research publications taking account of the latest research. The historical importance of the site should be used as a resource for educational projects and suitable information should be prepared. The knowledge and enthusiasm of people with special knowledge or interest in the site and associated topics should be utilised as a resource. Advantage should be taken of the potential linkages between various heritage and tourist assets within the study area and Chester as a whole. Advantage should be taken of opportunities to allow controlled and guided public access to archaeological investigations.

D1.2

D1.3

D1.4

D1.5

D2

Physical Access
Access to the heritage assets within the study area particularly the displayed amphitheatre should be considerably improved within the context of a strategy for enhanced interpretation.

D2.1

East-West pedestrian movement both within the study area and beyond to the City Walls, city centre and Grosvenor Park should be improved and linked with signage and interpretation. Provisions for disabled people (including blind, partly sighted and those with ambulant difficulties) must be considered in the planning of access and pedestrian facilities in accordance with developing statutory requirements

D2.2

D3

Site Interpretation and Display


The core area together with St. John the Baptist Church should be the subject of a comprehensive display and interpretation strategy, linked with and periodically reviewed in relation to archaeological investigation and research.

D3.1

On site interpretive material should: (i) enable visitors to understand the form and purpose of each heritage asset and their component parts, how they were used and what they reveal about their period. (ii) place each heritage asset within the chronological development of the site as a whole so that sequential changes can be understood. (iii) indicate that learning about the site is an ongoing process. (iv) be periodically updated to take into account the latest research findings.

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(v) enable extant features to be understood in relation to other features that have now been lost or are not visible. (vi) make reference to off-site displays and other complimentary sites and collections. D3.2 Archaeological features exposed through excavation should be displayed for public view provided: (i) their long term conservation would not be prejudiced. (ii) that this was in the context of a strategic approach. (iii) that it was appropriate in terms of public safety and security. (iv) sufficient and sustainable resources were available for their interpretation and long term management and maintenance. (v) the on-site displays of heritage assets should be supplemented by indoor facilities to interpret the site and finds through a range of the media. D3.3 Conjectural reconstructions of the remains of the heritage assets which may be confused with the original should be avoided. Townscape Objective: Preserve and enhance the townscape, landscape and ecology of the site so that these features add to the quality and richness of the urban scene both in the interests of public amenity and to support Chesters visitor and tourist economy. The study area provides a rich and varied townscape and landscape within Chesters city centre conservation area. Of particular importance are the settings of the principal historic structures within the study area, the narrow lanes leading down to the river, old boundary walls and embankments, the green landscape of the Roman Gardens, the surrounding of St Johns Church and the Groves riverside walk. These features and its generally verdant and low density character compared with the nearby city centre and the distant views over the river Dee require protection. The area also contains negative features such as the traffic in Little St John Street and the obtrusive boundary wall between the amphitheatre and Dee House. The poor condition of the Dee House buildings and its unkempt grounds detracts from their historic and townscape value. E1 Those buildings and qualities of the area which are of special townscape value including the settings of significant historic buildings and monuments should be protected and enhanced. The areas low density and verdant character should be maintained and not be eroded by substantial new development. Detailed planning policies and briefs for the study area should support the aim of retaining its historic character The streets, lanes and walkways leading to the river Dee are important to the historic character of the area and proposals for any alteration and enhancement require special consideration. Historic ground surface materials should be retained and new enhancement should follow the traditional pattern of construction. Generally the guidance set out in the

E1.1

E1.2

E2

E2.1

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publication by English Heritage, Street Improvements in Historic Areas should be followed. E2.2 Historic boundary walls and embankments should be retained in their historic form and any repairs and maintenance should involve similar materials, construction and soft landscape. The existing soft landscape and any new features should be designed and managed to enhance the character of the area and appreciation of its significance. Account should be taken of the need for tree management to exploit near views and distant vistas of important townscape features of the site. Consideration should be given to managing appropriate areas in a manner which encourages a greater diversity of local flora and fauna. Particularly the ranges of plants and mosses on the retaining walls and embankments of the lanes leading to the Dee should be valued and protected. The soft landscape features should be managed so as to mitigate damage to the sites archaeology. New landscape features or landscape management regimes should be carefully designed to be sympathetic to their particular context and reinforce the character of the whole area. Close views and long vistas that are important to the character and appreciation of the area should be protected

E3

E3.1

E3.2

E3.3

E3.4

E4

Use Objective: To ensure that existing and future uses within the study area contribute to the economic and cultural life of the city in ways which do not conflict with but make best use of its historic fabric, historic associations and townscape assets. In terms of the uses of land and buildings the principle strengths of the area are its contributions to the cultural, and leisure life of the City and the economic benefits derived from tourists and visitors. The potential of the historic sites of the amphitheatre and St Johns Church as tourist and visitor destinations could be considerably enhanced. The Dee House group, being vacant, presents a substantial dead space within an area which should support the Councils objective of spreading tourist activity to areas other than the core of the City Centre. Bringing the Dee House site into use would reinforce the sequence of activity and interest leading towards the areas to the west and south of the City Centre. It is important that historic sites and buildings are occupied by uses which are sympathetic to their special character and promote rather hinder their understanding and appreciation.

F1

New and existing uses within the area which contribute to the Citys visitor and tourist economy and its cultural and leisure activities should be supported and strengthened.

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F1.1

The preferred new uses for buildings and sites which are or may become vacant should principally be those which support the areas strengths in terms of its cultural, tourism and leisure facilities. The potential to further enhance the value of the amphitheatre as space within which to hold cultural events should be encouraged provided that the means of achieving this would not prejudicial to strategies to enhance the care, display and interpretation of the monument Support future uses and adaptations to the frontage buildings to Little St John Street, which encourage tourists and visitors and assist in animating the space.

F1.2

F1.3

Statutory and Planning Considerations Objective: To comply with and support existing legislation, national planning policy guidance and local planning policy This site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and contains Listed Buildings (grade II). Such a valuable and sensitive sites requires the full application of the protection provided by the Planning Acts, other relevant legislation and Local Plan Policies. English Heritage has Guardianship responsibility for the exposed amphitheatre and this involves a duty to preserve and promote public understanding and enjoyment of the buildings within its control. New development must comply with national legislation and planning policy guidance and development plans. Local planning policies must continue to support the protection and enhancement of the special historic character of the area.

G1.1

All development must take account of the guidance set out in PPG 15, PPG 16, and other current best practice, the Chester City Local Plan. Consideration should be given to the development of management guidelines, in conjunction with English Heritage and the Local Authority, for all structures identified as being significant to the site. This will help to define those minor works which will not require consent and what types of more major work is likely to receive consent. In the interpretation and implementation of regulations which prescribe requirements for the design, construction, health and safety and operation of buildings, due account should be taken of the heritage status and significance of the site. For example: As with all modern codes and standards the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act must be carefully balanced with the conservation objectives. (Helpful guidance is set out in the English Heritage note Easy Access to Historic Properties).

G1.2

G1.3

Resources and Sustainability Objective: Support the understanding, interpretation and conservation of the study site though the efficient use of the financial resources of the site owners, grant aid and any finance for those purposes that could be generated through planning agreements, disposals or income generating uses.

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Major repairs, maintenance and interpretation all require financial recourses. Identifying funding opportunities is a continual challenge and once secured its efficient management is essential. All decisions related to resources should conform to the general requirements and objectives of sustainability. H1 The Local Authority should, when making planning decisions or when making decisions about its own development initiatives within the study area, consider how best it could use its powers to secure resources to support the understanding, interpretation and conservation of the sites heritage assets. All potential sources of grant funding should be investigated to support major schemes of archaeological investigation, repair and public realm enhancement (EH, HLF, EC) The public quasi/public bodies with responsibility for historic monuments and Listed Building open to the public should maintain and present those buildings to the best of their ability within available resources. English Heritage should take full and active regard to their responsibilities in respect of its Guardianship role for the amphitheatre which involves a duty to preserve and promote public understanding and enjoyment thereof. The City Council should maintain the amphitheatre and those parts of the study area within its control to the full standards required by any relevant maintenance agreements and to accord with the policies of the Conservation Plan. Due regard should be given to the sustainable use of resources.

H1.1

H2

H2.1

H2.2

H2.3

Ownership Objective: to ensure that historic buildings and sites especially those open to the public are owned and managed in the most appropriate manner to realise the objectives and policies of the conservation plan. Owners and occupiers must recognise the sensitivities and vulnerabilities of the historic buildings and sites for which they are responsible. English Heritage and the City Council have special responsibilities in relation to historic sites within their care which are open to the public.

I1

Those Parties with direct ownership/leasehold interests in key heritage assets in the core area should collaborate in the preparation of strategies for their future management. Existing and future owners, developers and occupiers of the site should be encouraged to work within the framework of the Conservation Plan. Individual occupiers should review their operational and future development strategies in the light of the conservation plan policies. In cases where the responsibilities for heritage assets are split between various parties, information about principle ownerships, leaseholds, licenses and maintenance responsibilities should be shared.

I1.1

I1.2

I1.3

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Vehicular Movement and Parking Objective: To manage vehicular traffic circulation, access and parking so that they facilitate adequate servicing for the area but do not unnecessarily detract from its appearance or role in providing a setting for visitor and cultural attractions. The status and intensity of use of Little St John Street as part of the city centres inner ring road detracts from the areas appearance and especially its tourist function. It inhibits pedestrian movement from the city centre towards the amphitheatre, Dee House, St Johns Church and the riverside attractions. Traffic noise is also detrimental to the use of the amphitheatre for cultural events. Vehicular access to the Dee House site is problematic. Access to the Groves is managed by a one way system which appears to operate satisfactorily but any increase in car parking in that area would be detrimental visual amenity.

J1

Traffic management and parking strategies for the area should be devised which better supports the cultural and visitor attractions with the study area. The role of Little St John Street should be downgraded and the volume of traffic reduced to create an improved pedestrian environment and make the area better suited to facilitate tourism and cultural events. Careful consideration should be given to alternative vehicular access and serving arrangements for the Dee House site which would not conflict with pedestrian uses or its historic features. (Either directly off the service road leading to the Old Bishops palace or through the Courts car park) Car parking in the area should be controlled so as not to be over dominant in relation to the setting of historic buildings, spaces or important views.

J1.1

J1.2

J1.3

Competing Values and Priorities Key Objective: To take account of current expectations for the site and balance these against the general principle that each generation should strive to protect and pass on to future generations the inherited physical remains of its cultural heritage. Conservation plan policies are developed on the general presumption that all heritage assets of a site should be protected. However, where the site is a particularly complex one containing a number of heritage assets of differing period and type conflict can arise both when proposals to realise fully the cultural potential of one or more assets would have a negative impact on one or more others and also when maintaining the status quo is considered as preventing a sites true heritage significance and importance from being fully understood and appreciated. To assist in the resolution of such conflicts, proposals for development or change of this nature should be rigorously scrutinised and evaluated against the Conservation Plan policies.

K1

In those cases where proposals come forward to develop the potential of one or more heritage assets which would have a negative impact on one or more other heritage assets such proposals should be tested and assessed with reference to the information and policies set out in the Conservation Plan, especially but not exclusively the following.

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K1.2

The comparative significance of the heritage asset(s) which it is proposed to develop and of the heritage asset(s) which would be removed as established in the Significance Section of the Conservation Plan. The acquisition of additional knowledge about one or more periods would not by itself normally be considered adequate justification for the removal of an important heritage asset belonging to another period. The loss of a heritage asset could only be seriously entertained where there would also be (i) a very substantial and permanent compensatory enhancement of the site`s other heritage assets of benefit to the local community and the general public. (ii) gains in knowledge about the nature and historical development of the site, and of the periods and cultures of which it contains evidence in regional, national and international terms.

K1.3

K1.4

The degree to which the proposal would improve public access (both physical and intellectual) to the site as a whole and increase popular understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of its remaining heritage assets. The contribution of the proposed scheme to the cultural and economic life of the community compared with that of the heritage asset(s) to be lost. Supposed benefits to the local economy must be quantified by supporting evidence. The impact of the proposal on the special townscape and landscape character of the area. Compliance with national legislation, planning policy guidance, and local planning policies. Any such proposal must be financially viable and demonstrably deliverable. As the cultural heritage belongs to all, and taking account of the great weight of public interest in and expectations for this site, there should be the fullest possible scheme of public consultation and debate regarding any such proposal prior to determination. A fully detailed appraisal of the scheme should be available so that discussion is well informed.

K1.5

K1.6

K1.7

K1.8 K1.9

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APPENDIX A GAZETTEER

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Chester Roman Amphitheatre Gazetteer

GAZETTEER NUMBER: 1 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone A Feature Name: Amphitheatre Phase/Construction Date(s): Description: The site of the Roman Amphitheatre is in two parts, i.e. the exposed section and the remainder, which is under the Dee House and County Court Suite. Exposed section, excavated remains of the stone built military amphitheatre; built in the very late first century, and remaining in use until c.350. The structure was oval in shape, measuring some 90m by 105m, of which just under half of the northern section has been excavated and presented for public display as a monument. The remainder lies under the site of the new County Courts and Dee House, its forecourt and former garden. Dee House and its grounds overlie almost the whole of the remainder (approximately 59%) of the amphitheatre arena along with c.25% of the seating-bank, the latter including the western porta postica and one of the minor entrances (vomitoria). Section below Dee House, no formal excavations have occurred in this Zone although small-scale evaluation trenches were dug within and outside Dee House in 1993. The overall depth of deposits in the area of the arena can be estimated as c.3.5 metres in the light of the 1960s excavations north of the modern retaining wall. The bulk of the infilling appears to have occurred in the 18th century. As part of landscaping works associated with the laying out of Dee House and its grounds but using material imported from other building sites in the city. There is a strong possibility of sub-Roman and/or mid/late Saxon deposits and features in the arena area associated with St. Johns. Cartographic sources indicate buildings along the western periphery of the Zone bordering Souters Lane in the 17th century and possibly earlier. Traces of these-for example the sandstone wall in the basement of the buildings at the entrance to Dee House- may remain below the present structures. The area behind them might contain contemporary archaeological deposits such as Listed Grade I. Statutory Scheduled Ancient Monument. protection: Conservation area protection. Generally good (timber steps and visitor interpretation poor.) Condition: International Significance: Vulnerability: References: Illustrations: List Description:

The part exposed is semi-circular, the rest being buried under the walls of the Convent. Masonry wall about 5 or 6 feet high. The amphitheatre measures 314 by 286 feet.

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Chester Roman Amphitheatre Gazetteer


GAZETTEER NUMBER: 2 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone C. Feature Name: Dee House Phase/Construction Date(s): 1730 with additions as detailed. Description: The earliest phase dates to c1730, and comprises the central 5 bay range, together with a service wing set back from the line of the facade to the west (RCHME Report, 1987). The eastern chapel wing (with study and dormitory on first and second floors) dates to 1867-9, and was built to the design of Edmund Kirby. The western wing dates to c1900 and has been built in a neoGeorgian design, added on to the original service block (RCHME Report, 1987). A wing to the south, built in 1929, containing the Assembly Hall with cloakrooms and classrooms over has been demolished in.

y-coord:

Scheduled Building Grade II. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Very poor internally. Condition: Regional, Listed Grade II Significance: Vulnerability: Vacant, partly derelict, dry rot, constant monitoring of structural condition required. References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 pp. 6-7.

Illustrations: List Description:

A fine early C18 house, now buried by later additions on each side. This centre part is 3 storeys red brick having a slated roof with brick parapet and 2 brick stringcourses. 5 sashes with glazing bars intact, brick arches and stone cills. The central entrance is in a moulded surround having a rectangular fanlight with glazing bars and 4 panelled door. Good C18 staircase. The right side extension is later C19. 3 storeys red brick with sandstone quoins. Hipped slate roof. Stringcourse. 4 sashes. Dee House has group value with Church of St John the Baptist in Vicars Lane and St Johns Cottage in Little St John Street. Revised List Description: [date to be inserted] Detached house, later Ursuline convent school, now offices. Mid C18 altered mid C19. Stone-dressed brick and blue-brick-dressed brick; slate roofs. 3 storeys. 5-window central block; projecting 4-window wing right; left wing replaced by Gothic Revival chapel wing. Door of 4 fielded panels in bolection case of painted stone; overlight and ground floor windows boarded over. Windows have moulded sills and gauged-brick flat arches with conical keystones; rusticated quoins; first floor band; flush 12-pane sashes; second floor band; 12-pane sashes; moulded cornice below panelled brick parapet with corner stones and moulded stone coping. A rainwater pipe and moulded lead head; 3 brick chimneys. Grey slate roof. The chapel wing c1860 has hipped right bay and main chapel bay with front gable. Grouped lancets with blue brick relieving arches. The chapel forms the middle storey of the wing. The roof is banded grey and purple slates; cross-finial on apex of hip to right bay. Dee House has group value with Church of St John the Baptist in Vicars Lane and St Johns Cottage in Little St John Street.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 3 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone C. Feature Name: Dee House ancillary buildings Phase/Construction Date(s): Mainly nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Description: A range of buildings following the curved alignment of Souters Lane. The buildings are mainly single or two storeys with pitched and gabled roofs, and are supported on the road frontage by a high retaining wall. The 1874 Ordnance Survey map shows a range of service buildings on this site, but some of the extant buildings may date from somewhat later. Outbuildings are also shown on the De Lavaux map of 1745 [but these may have been rebuilt by Edmund Kirby in c1867].

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

[Buildings within the curtilage of Dee House, listed Grade II]. Conservation area protection. Fair Listed by association with Dee House Vacant, monitoring of weather tightness required

Illustrations: List Description:

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 4 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone D. Feature Name: New County Courts Phase/Construction Date(s): Completed in 2001. Description: New County Court building of four storeys. Two storeys in brickwork supported by stone clad column above a recessed ground floor. Fourth floor glazed and recessed below an oversailing facia. Full height-projecting section clad in sandstone to left hand of front elevation.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

None. New Building No historic Significance None

Illustrations: List Description:

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 5 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone F. Feature Name: Old Bishops Palace Phase/Construction Date(s): Mid-eighteenth century. Description: Substantial Georgian house built c1750 for Bishop Peploe. The canted bay and portion to the west are late-eighteenth century. Behind is a room described as having the most exuberant stucco decoration in Chester (Pevsner & Hubbard, 1971, 166). It was converted into a YMCA hostel in 1921 and now functioning as offices.

y-coord:

Listed Building Grade II*. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Good externally, not surveyed internally Condition: National Significance: Vulnerability: None specific References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 pp. 18-19. Pevsner & Hubbard 1971 pp. 165-6.

Illustrations: List Description:

Until the earlier part of the present century, this was the Palace of the Bishops of Chester. Probably built in the time of Bishop Peploe, who died in 1752. A large Mid C18 detached house overlooking the River Dee. 3 storeys brick with stone base and end quoins. Hipped slate roof. Brick parapet with stone coping. Stone cornice with consoles. 2 stringcourses. Plain sashes with some glazing bars intact. Sashes have stone heads with scroll keystones and moulded stone cills, 3 storey semioctagonal projection on garden front, also a semi-octagonal bay and other additions and alterations including a main entrance in single storey block. The interior has a large 1st floor Reception Room with a good enriched ceiling. Chinese Chippendale staircase.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 6 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone F. Feature Name: St Johns Cottage Phase/Construction Date(s): Early nineteenth century. Description: Five bay, three storey brick building with pebbledash on the front elevation. List description stats early C19th but map evidence and appearance of rear elevation suggests C18th.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

Listed Building Grade II. Conservation area protection. Superficially good externally, but not surveyed as part of this Study. Regional. None specific.

Illustrations: List Description:

Early C19. 3 storeys red brick with pebbledash on front elevation. 4 hipped dormers. Some original sashes and some casements. Garden elevation has pedimented doorcase with fluted columns. St Johns Cottage has group value with Church of St John the Baptist in Vicars Lane and Dee House in Little St John Street.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 7 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone H. Feature Name: The Hermitage (also known as the Anchorites Cell). Phase/Construction Date(s): Fourteenth century, with substantial restoration in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Description: Situated to the south of St Johns Church, adjacent to a former quarry. Dating from the fourteenth century, it was extensively restored in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries after being acquired by Chester City Corporation in 1910; it was used for a period as a Tea House and as offices. [The early twentieth century restoration included moving it from its sandstone base and creating a private house at ground floor level].

Listed Building Grade II*. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Superficially good externally, not surveyed as part of this Study. Condition: National. Significance: Vulnerability: Little understood in terms of its history and development. References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 p. 16.

Illustrations: List Description:

This building was formerly an Anchorites cell, reputed to have been inhabited by a friar as early as the C14. Restored in C19. 2 storeys sandstone on a large rock base. Slate roof. Gable front with Medieval traceried window. Right side has a Medieval porch. Side elevation has two 3 light lancets.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 8 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone H Feature Name: Church of St John the Baptist Phase/Construction Date(s): Late eleventh century with subsequent changes. Description: Although founded in 689, the Norman nave dates to the period when Bishop Peter moved his see from Lichfield; the triforium stage was built later, c1200. The present building is considerably smaller than the medieval church, which was damaged by the collapse of the central spire in 1468, and by the collapse of the tower in 1572 and 1574, which demolished part of the nave. St Johns was restored in 1859-66 by R C Hussey, who also restored the north side and designed the northeast bell tower in 1886-7. [Hussey, 1991, 184-5, attributes the bell tower and north porch to John Douglas together with the rebuilding of the north aisle in 1887 at the expense of the Duke of Westminster]. The thirteenth century chapter house crypt was restored in 1934. Inside are some good monuments, including three fourteenth century effigies, several seventeenth century painted monuments by the Randle Holme family and the Warburton family monuments of 1693 and 1729. During the Middle Ages St Johns was a pilgrimage centre because of its possession of a relic of the Holy Rood.

Statutory protection:

Listed Building Grade I. The ruined east and west ends are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Conservation area protection.

Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References: Matthews & Willshaw Pevsner & Hubbard Hubbard Omerod Cooper Scott Illustrations: List Description:

1995 1971 1991 1882 1892

pp. 12-16. See also Fig. 11, and Fig. 14, plan of c1486. pp. 148-150. pp. 184-5. p. 318.

This was originally the Cathedral Church of Peter, 1st Norman Bishop of Mercia, who moved here from Lichfield in 1075. Previously a church is believed to have stood here since C7. The present church is only a fragment of the Norman Cathedral. Almost all the choir was dismantled in 1545 and the nave lacks 3 western bays. The ruins still stand. Sandstone nave, the lowest storey being Norman, the Triforium Transitional and the Clerestory Early English. The church was restored in 1859-64 and the present small tower is dated 1887. The interior has a 4 bay nave. Interesting features include a Commonwealth font, some fine Medieval effigies (not in situ), wall monuments of the C17 and C18 especially to the Warburton family, and wooden ones, some being the work of Randle Holme the noted C17 Chester antiquary. Interesting Victorian West window, depicting scenes from the history of Chester. The Church of St John the Baptist has group value with Dee House and St Johns Cottage in Little St John Street.
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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 9 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Core and Secondary Areas, Zones B, E, G. Feature Name: The City Walls, including Barnabys Tower and Thimblebys Tower Phase/Construction Date(s): Originally late tenth century with Norman extensions and subsequent works. Description: The stretch of the City Wall extending south from the Newgate to Barnabys Tower. The earliest walls were strengthened and extended when Aethelflaed, Queen of Mercia, established a burh in 907, and these were further extended by the Norman earls of Chester. This section of the wall was badly damaged during the Civil War; a breach was made to the south of the Newgate, and Barnabys Tower was damaged. In 1703 the Corporation undertook repairs and created a public wall walk. Barnabys Tower is a large square tower at the south-eastern corner of the medieval city, named after a public house (now the Old Orleans) built in 1984. A watchtower structure dating from the Civil War was removed in 1843. Behind Barnabys Tower on the wall walk are the Wishing Steps, erected in 1785. Thimblebys Tower is a semi-octagonal watchtower possibly dating from the thirteenth century. The upper storey was destroyed during the Civil War. The tower was repaired in 1878, and a timber framed and tiled roof structure was added in 1994. Listed Grade I. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 pp. 21-25 and pp. 30-2. Simpson 1910 pp. 66-7. Pevsner & Hubbard 1971 pp. 154-6.

Illustrations: List Description:

Roughly forming a rectangle enclosing the centre of the City, the Walls have a circuit of just over a mile and three quarters. They are of red sandstone, with a plain parapet externally and a rail internally for most of their length. They are paved with the original paving stones. The Walls enclose 3 times the area enclosed by the Roman Walls, and if they are on Roman foundations it can only be at 1 or 2 points. They were enlarged in the C10 and today are mainly on Medieval or Saxon foundations; they have been repaired and made good from time to time. At various points are a number of towers or remains of such, presumably built for defensive purposes.

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10

GAZETTEER NUMBER: 10 NGR Number: x-coord: y-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone B. Feature Name: The Newgate and Old Newgate (Wolf Gate) Phase/Construction Date(s): 1768 (Wolf Gate) and 1938 (Newgate). Description: Newgate is a segmental sandstone arch flanked by squat towers with pitched roofs. It was built in 1937-8 to the design of Sir William Tapper and Michael Tapper. Newgate carries the footpath, which runs along the top of the medieval City Walls. The old Newgate (Wolf Gate) was built in 1768, replacing an earlier gate of 1608-13. The crenellated top was added in 1890. Parts of the foundations of the medieval Wolf Gate were located during excavations of the Roman South-East Angle Tower in 1951. Listed Grade II. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Superficially good, but not surveyed as part of this Study. Condition: National/International Significance: Vulnerability: Sandstone prone to delamination and requires monitoring. References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 pp. 26-8.

Illustrations: List Description:

The Newgate has been rebuilt on the South side of Old Newgate to the designs of the later [sic] Sir Walter Tapper. Sandstone segmental arch with pointed parapet over, and small flanking towers with hipped flag roofs. The Newgate and Old Newgate have group value with the adjacent City Walls.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 11 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone B. Feature Name: The Roman South-East Angle Tower Phase/Construction Date(s): Description: First identified in 1908 during the construction of a telephone exchange, and excavated after the demolition of the houses in St John Street in 1930.

y-coord:

Statutory protection:

Listed Grade I. [Scheduled Ancient Monument] Conservation area protection. Good International Sandstone prone to weathering and delamination, requires further detailed strategy for its conservation. 1995 pp. 28-30.

Condition: Significance: Vulnerability:

References: Matthews & Willshaw

Illustrations: List Description:

AD. 74-96. Sandstone foundation to depth of about 4 feet with remains of defensive ditch. The archaeological display is of the southeast angle tower of the Roman Regionary fortress defences probably constructed c.100AD along with adjacent short sections of Curtain wall. The site also contains a length of the fortress, ditch and traces of the original turf and timber ramport of c.ADTS.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 12 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone G. Feature Name: Old Orleans Public House Phase/Construction Date(s): Description: Built in 1984, this riverside public house is of no particular architectural merit or value.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

Conservation area protection. Good. None. None.

Illustrations: List Description:

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 13 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone G. Feature Name: Shop information point Phase/Construction Date(s): Description: This contemporary structure is of no particular architectural merit or value.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

Conservation area protection. Good. None. None.

Illustrations: List Description:

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 14 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area, Zone G. Feature Name: Public conveniences Phase/Construction Date(s): 1925 Description: Single storey with central gabled bay, and entrances at each end. Built in 1925. The structure contributes to the character of the conservation area and is of some local historic value.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability: References:

Conservation area protection. Good. Local. None provided it is maintained.

Illustrations: List Description:

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 15 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Core Area, Zone E. Feature Name: Roman Garden Phase/Construction Date(s): 1949 Description: Created in 1949, using unprovenanced Roman masonry, which had previously been displayed, in the Water Tower Gardens, together with rearranged hypocaust pillars. The garden has recently been extended down to the Groves. The Roman masonry remains which it contains are of considerable rarity and international value as a collection.

y-coord:

Statutory protection: Condition: Significance: Vulnerability:

The Roman columns, bases and hypocaust pillars are listed Grade I. Conservation are protection. Good but the Roman stone artifacts are vulnerable International (as a collection of Roman artifacts) Sandstone, prone to weathering and being in a public open space may be prone to accidental or deliberate damage. A detailed conservation strategy is required. 1995 pp. 19-21.

References: Matthews & Willshaw

Illustrations: List Description:

A selection of Roman columns and column bases, brought from other sites in Chester and arbitrarily arranged in a cruciform pattern. Also many hypocaust pillars arranged to show how the system worked, brought from the Bath building in Bridge Street.

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GAZETTEER NUMBER: 16 NGR Number: x-coord: Zone: Secondary Area Feature Name: The Groves Phase/Construction Date(s): 1732, extended in 1880. Description: Tree lined promenade, laid out in 1732, the area was extended west in the 1880s at the expense of Alderman Charles Brown. The area was refurbished in 1980.

y-coord:

Late nineteenth century bandstand listed Grade II. Statutory Conservation area protection. protection: Generally good. Condition: Regional Significance: Vulnerability: Gravel surfaces, require enhanced maintenance. References: Matthews & Willshaw 1995 p. 19.

Illustrations: List Description:

Late C19. 8-sided with a tiled roof and sandstone base. Cast iron columns and wrought iron work at bottom.

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APPENDIX B BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Bibliography
CHESTER AMPITHEATRE: KEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL REFERANCES FOR CONSERVATION PLAN Buxton, K 1993 Dee House, Chester, Cheshire: archaeological evaluation. Lancaster University Archaeological Unit Cleary, R, Edwards, J E C and Matthews K J 1994 Dee House, Chester: evaluation, March 1994. Chester City Council (Archeaol Serv Eval Rep 30) Crosby, A G 1999 The Chester Archaeological Society: the first one hundred and fifty years, 1849-1999. Chester: Chester Archaeological Society. Matthews, K J 2000, Chester Amphitheatre: Research Framework. Chester City Council) Chester Archeaol Serv internal report) Matthews, K J and others 2001 Chester Amphitheatre: investigations summer 2000. Chester City Council (Archeaol Serv Eval Rep) Matthews, K J & Wilshaw, E M 1995 Heritage assessment of Dee House and environs, Chester. Chester City Council (Archeaol Serv Eval Rep 40) Newstead R & Droop, J P 1932 The Roman Amphitheatre at Chester. J Chester Archaeol Soc 29, 5-40 Thompson, F H 1976 Excavation of the Roman Amphitheatre at Chester. Archaeologia 105, 127-239 Harrison Ince & David McLean Development Ltd Structural Appraisal (unpublished) May 2000, (incorporates work by Veryards, Harrison Ince and Gifford) Draft Development Framework for Dee House and Environs, Chester City Council Report 1997. A Concept Proposal for the Interpretation and Development of the Amphitheatre Site, Chester Heritage Trust, 1995. Business and Architectural Feasibility Study Briefs on Dee House and the Amphitheatre Site, Chester Amphitheatre Trust, 1997. Chester Amphitheatre and Dee House, Final Report to Chester Heritage Trust, L & R Consulting, 1996.

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APPENDIX C ECOLOGY REPORT


Prepared by Ecology First

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CHESTER AMPHITHEATRE AREA


An Ecological Study of the exposed Roman remains and the surrounding land overlying its un-excavated portions (The Inner Study Area) - April 2001

1.0

Schedule of site visits and methodology 23rd April (pm) Guided tour of Dee House buildings with safe access; familiarisation and partial survey of surrounding public access areas. Botanical survey of Dee House grounds and completion of surrounding areas.

26th April (pm)

All accessible parts of the study area were visited, paying particular attention to the semi-natural vegetation communities which have developed. Consideration was also given to any possible use of the site by bats, the only legally-protected species likely to be present at this town centre location. Species lists were recorded for diverse communities and photographs were taken of notable features.

2.0

Summary findings Much of the area forms part of the modern urban environment with its areas of formal landscaping and planting, including those around the exposed Roman remains. Dee House holds some potential as a bat roost, and its grounds have been neglected and developed a certain wilderness appeal. The new County Court area scarcely contains a blade of grass.

3.0 Field notes The following paragraphs give more detail about specific areas of the site. For convenience, the study area has been split into six zones as defined on the first map: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. The exposed amphitheatre area The legionary fortress remains Roman Gardens Souters Lane Dee House and grounds The new County Court

The second map shows the distribution of habitats and features. The final map indicates the approximate location and direction of the photographs. Lists of species found, with notes on their distribution, are tabulated as an appendix

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3.1

The exposed amphitheatre area The outer zone of the semi-circle is grassed, species-poor and managed as a closely mown lawn. The floor of the exposed stonework area has been gravelled and is maintained weed-free. This intensively managed majority of the zone, has negligible wildlife value. Contrastingly, the stone work itself supports a varied selection of mosses and lichens. No rare species were identified, but distinct communities have colonised the acidic sandstones and the lime-rich mortar. A variation can also be observed between those parts of the wall exposed to the sun (subject to regular drought conditions) and those in the southeast corner, which are damp and remain in the shade for the hottest part of the day. The small island in the pavement to the east is planted with ornamental shrubs.

3.2

The legionary fortress remains In much the same way as in the main amphitheatre area, the majority of this area is also grassed and mown. The exposed masonry has developed similar lower plant communities as those on the amphitheatre walls. Two clumps of an unidentified rockery plant (see photo LF 05) were found in April, but both had died-back by the end of May, confounding confirmation of identification.

3.3

Roman Gardens The only features of interest within these landscaped gardens are the stone artefacts, most of which have been artificially positioned. The remainder comprises mown lawns (western half) and shrub planting with the soil dressed with bark chips (eastern half). Maturing, largely non-native, trees back the shrubbery. The stonework, particularly some of the column bases and the Town Walls support a variety of saxicolous (typically attached to rocks) lichens.

3.4 Souters Lane The shady walls flanking the west side support a green cover of common mosses (see species lists). Otherwise there is little vegetation. 3.5 Dee House and grounds i. The buildings, their roofs in particular, are in a poor state of repair and are certainly accessible to bats. Possibly the most likely roost site would be the ridge roof space of the East wing (see also section 4 - Additional Survey). Other parts of the buildings contained nesting feral pigeons. ii. As stated earlier, the grounds have been neglected and become a tangle of opportunist colonisers and the overgrown remains of layed-out exotic shrubs and trees. The trees visually dominate, particularly the line of tall hybrid limes along the southern boundary.

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3.6 The new County Court This recently completed building and its associated car parking space is virtually devoid of vegetation. The road verge outside its gates has lines of mature trees to either side.

4.0

Additional survey work advised Two plants, the large tree the entrance to the gardens of Dee House and the rockery plant on the legionary fortress walls should be confirmed to species later in the season when further advanced (see notes on photos DH 03 and LF 05 respectively). Should disturbing repairs be deemed necessary to the buildings roofs, they should proceed cautiously in the expectation that bats would be present. Contingency plans (for temporary water-proofing) should be in place to permit the cessation of works immediately if bats are encountered, pending the attendance of a licensed bat worker and the completion of such deterrence/rescue/exclusion of any resident bats as is professionally advised.

5.0

Summary appraisal of the sites wildlife significance The study area contains few areas of wildlife significance, although the communities of mosses and lichens on old stonework are of some interest and visual amenity. Any value of the buildings as a roost for bat remains to be revealed in the course of further investigation and repair work.

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Notes to accompany photographs Amp 01 Crowded capsules of Tortula muralis, a common sight on the dry wall tops. Amp 02 The moss Bryum capillare with ripe capsules. Amp 03 Hypnum cupressiforme var. tectorum and..... Amp 04 Brachythecium albicans on stonework in the damper shady corner. Amp 05/cover A general view across the exposed amphitheatre area, showing the mown lawns, weed-free gravel and moss-topped walls. This late afternoon shot shows the far corner is still in shade. LF 01 A cushion of Grimmia pulvinata, typical of many wall tops. LF 02 A carpet of Barbula sp. mosses with their capsules, which dominate the flat fill behind the walls. LF 03 Grimmia pulvinata and Barbula recurvirostra on a gravelly mortar area of the wall. LF 04 A thin cover of crowded Barbula sp. mosses on damp sandstone. LF 05 As yet unidentified rockery plant growing in two rock crevices (possibly a bedstraw, Galium sp.). Probably an annual, because all growth dead and dried by end of May RG 01 - 03 The varied colours of crustose lichens around the base of the columns; one of the souther-most, numbered 99/40, has a good selection. RG 04 A damp, shady section of Town Walls. RG 05 Further variation in the saxicolous lichen flora RG 06 Black spleenwort and...

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RG 07 Common wall-rue, growing on the shaded side of the rectangular sandstone structure. DH 01 One of the glorious magnolia blooms on a large bush opposite the front of the House. The species is thought to be Campbells Magnolia, Magnolia campbellii. DH 02 A general view of Dee House gardens, now a tangle of bramble and nettle, mixed with the overgrown planted shrubs. In the background, the line of lime trees marks the boundary with the new County Court car park. DH 03 A towering tree, the largest of several specimens with suckering growth, growing close to the north-east corner of Dee House. Not identified during the April survey (without leaf or flower), but in Late May, virtually fully in leaf, these trees are probably from the Wing-nut family, possibly the Caucasian Wing-nut, Pterocarya fraxinifolia.

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THE AMPHITHEATRE & DEE HOUSE, CHESTER, CHESHIRE Botanical Survey (23/26.04.2001) - Lists of Species (recently planted species omitted)

Species

Distribution

Amphitheatre Roman Gardens legionary fortress Souter's Lane Dee House grounds

Plant type Scientific English

notes

Asplenium adiantum-nigrum* Asplenium ruta-muraria* Cardamine hirsuta Cerastium glomeratum Erophila verna Flowering Galium sp.?* Plants Hyacinthoides hispanica
Lamiastrum galeobdolon ssp argentatum

Pentaglottis sempervirens Rubus fruticosus Rubus idaeus Sagina procumbens Urtica dioica Buddleja davidii Cornus sanguinea Cotoneaster sp. Cytisus scoparius Fraxinus excelsior Trees and Hedera helix Shrubs Magnolia ?campbelli* Prunus avium Pterocarya ?fraxinifolia* Rosa canina Sambucus nigra Syringa vulgaris Tilia x vulgaris* Barbula convoluta Barbula recurvirostra* Barbula unguiculata Brachythecium albicans* Brachythecium rutabulum moss Bryum bicolor Bryum capillare* Grimmia pulvinata* Hypnum cupressiforme* Tortula muralis* liverwort Pellia epiphyla Cladonia coniocraea lichen

Black Spleenwort Wallrue Hairy Bittercress Sticky Mouse-ear Common Whitlowgrass a bedstraw? Spanish Bluebell Garden Yellow Archangel Evergreen Alkanet Bramble Raspberry Procumbent Pearlwort Nettle Butterfly Bush Dogwood Cotoneaster Broom Ash Ivy Campbell's Magnolia? Wild Cherry Caucasian? Wing-nut Dog Rose Elder Lilac Common Lime

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

a single plant on sandstone wall several plants on sandstone wall * frequent on walls * occasional on walls frequent on walls 2 clumps in April, died-back end May locally abundant locally abundant a few patches around the forecourt increasing a patch in the garden area * frequent on walls widespread through the garden a few bushes around the forecourt occasional around the garden * a single plant on the long straight wall a cultivated variety? occasional, with many saplings widespread through the garden a few small trees around the forecourt a few young trees around the garden several suckering trees on the forecourt occasional frequent a few bushes around the forecourt mature trees along the S boundary * much more common than other 2 sp. * in damper shade locations *

* * * * * var. tectorum; in damp shade * * * * only found on wall bases here * small amounts * * time did not permit ID of species *

several crustose species* * photo available

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Amp 05/cover

DH 01

DH 03 DH 02

Amp 02

Amp 03

LF02

LF 03

Amp 01

Amp 04

LF 04

LF 01

RG 04 RG 05

RG 06

RG 07