Love Street (originally "Love Lane") links Foregate Street with the line of Vicars Lane/Union Street (formerly "Barker's Lane"). As recorded by Hanshall, Mayor Dutton's list of Chester streets at the time of Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377) lists:
- "In FOREGATE STREET There is a lane the north side sometime called Cooles lane and called Cow lane and it stretcheth in Henwalde's lowe and near the barrs upon the south side there is a named Love lane and it putteth upon Barker's lane goeth eastward into the fields and without the there is a gate that goeth down to the water of Dee is named Paynes loode and upon the other side of said street more eastward is a lane called Chester and it putteth upon Henwalde's lowe."
Hemingway, writing in the 1830's, claimed that:
- "the environs of Frodsham Street, Love Street, Steam Mill Street, Watergate Street, Northgate Street, Commonhall Street, Cuppin Street, Pepper Street, and Lower Bridge Street were all of inferior grade"
..or worse, Handbridge as a whole was dismissed as "almost exclusively inhabited by the lower orders".
Love Lane may share the origins of its name with "Grope Lane" in Shrewsbury, as in the 15th Cent. it contained at least one brothel. Curiously the Rolling Stones played at one end of it (at the Regal) and the Beatles at the other (at the Riverpark Ballroom on Union Street). Also of potential relevance is that it became a nightclub with a distinctly "interesting" reputation.
In Georgian and Victorian times, the area around Grosvenor Park was a popular location for the wealthy gentry to build homes (as was Lower Bridge Street) and it included the homes of several notable families. Forest House, on the corner of Love Street and Forest Street, was one of the first mansions built and remains as almost the last vestige of this period.
Forest House was built as a town house for the Barnston family of Crewe Hill, south-east of Farndon (see River Dee for more detail on Crewe Hill). The date of its construction in uncertain; one source states 1759, others say in the 1780s. It was at one time "possibly the finest Georgian house in Chester", and a prominent landmark in the city. The large oval courtyard and iron gates at the front were removed in the early 1900s to make way for the Chester Co-operative Society department store designed by John Douglas.
The building was probably designed by Sir Robert Taylor - appointed architect to the Bank of England, in 1764, and later Architect of the King's Works. Only the central block and part of the west wing now remain. To its south, as with the other larger houses on the south side of Foregate Street, there was a garden which ran back to paddocks on the high ground above the river. During the 19th century it was used as auction rooms, then a furniture depository (some of the signage can just be made out on the gable-end), and following which it was used as a night club and bar. It now houses a pub with a microbrewery.
- "Roger Barnston (Born 1739. Died here 1837) High Sheriff of Cheshire 1800 and DL of County. Re-formed Cheshire Militia on Roodeye in 1803. Entertained Duke of Wellington here in 1817."
Hemingway (in 1831) writes (rather defensively):
- "On the 23rd of December the Duke of Wellington by invitation paid a visit to Combermere Abbey the seat of his friend arid companion in arms Lord Combermere. A knowledge of this fact having transpired a numerous meeting of the gentry and principal tradesmen of the city was held at the Exchange when it was unanimously resolved to invite the hero of Waterloo to a grand public dinner. A deputation being appointed to wait upon his grace to obtain his consent the following Wednesday the 27th was fixed upon when his grace accompanied by Lord Combermere and suite arrived within our walls. He took up his quarters at the Albion Hotel from whence he made a short excursion to the castle inspected that building armoury etc and afterwards proceeded to the Exchange where a most sumptuous banquet had been prepared. Colonel Barnston presided at the festive board which was surrounded by about 150 guests amongst whom were Lords Combermere Hill and Kenyon, Sir WW Wynn, Sir James Lyon, Sir HM Mainwaring, Col Thomas Cholmondeley, Major General Beckwith and other individuals of distinction. During the evening and indeed white he remained in Chester his grace received every mark of respect that could be shewn to a character whose eminent services in the field of honour had entitled him to the gratitude of his country .It has been spoken of as a subject of regret that the usual compliment of presenting the duke with the freedom of the city was omitted but I am inclined to think that this omission arose solely from a mistake or misapprehension in some of those individuals whose business it was to attend to the necessary proceedings and not to any intentional disrespect."
It is notable that the then MP for Cheshire, Grosvenor, was considered an "enemy" by Wellington and eventually, a few years later after Wellingdon became Prime-Minister, helped to vote him out of office. However in 1828 Hemingway had moved his newspaper editorship from the Courant to the pro-Grosvenor Chronicle, and so may be being a little disingenuous.
The Barnstons had previously been involved in the slave trade. A list of the owners of the "St. George" (built at Chester 1750) when she was entered at Barbados from Africa on 19 February 1753 with 208 slaves, includes the name of a Robert Barnston of Chester, who also was part owner of the "Duke", a Liverpool slave-ship. As "St. George" was so new, she may well have been purpose-built for the slave trade. St George was put up for sale at Chester in 1756 "with all her Guinea materials" (a euphemism for the shackles used to chain slaves down during the voyage). The Somersett Case in 1772, in which a fugitive slave was freed in England with the judgement that slavery did not exist under English common law and was thus prohibited in England, helped launch the British movement to abolish slavery. Great Britain and Ireland and the United States outlawed the international slave trade in 1807, after which Britain led efforts to block slave ships. Britain abolished slavery throughout the British Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
A pair of grandsons, William and Major Roger Barnston served in the Crimean War. The Barnston brothers, William (1832-72) and Roger (1826-57), served in different regiments during the war: William in the 55th Regiment that landed in Evpatoriia Bay on 14 September 1854; Roger in the 90th Regiment, arriving at Balaklava on 6 December 1854.
William’s letters describing the Crimea run from 17 September 1854 until 14 November 1854. Wounded at Inkerman, he was then invalided to Scutari. He was back in the Crimea from 1 March until his departure for Malta on 5 May 1856.
Roger’s more extensive letters run from 6 December 1854 until his departure on 30 June 1856. Subsequent to his promotion to deputy assistant quartermaster general on 16 January 1855, his letters describe his surveying duties. Later letters reflect his passion for photography. From May 1856 onwards he was involved in organising the embarkation of the British army from the Crimea. Roger. after being diverted at sea from an expedition to China (second opium war) and surviving a shipwreck abord the troopship Transit (in the Strait of Banca), later served in India, where he died, at the age of 31, on 23 December 1857 from wounds sustained while storming a garden on the present site of the Bara Imambara at the Siege of Lucknow during the "Indian Mutiny". He has a memorial near Farndon.
Love Street School
This school opened in June 1909 after the closure of the Chester Wesleyan Schools in St John Street, most of whose pupils were transferred to Love Street School. It was designed by Harry Beswick. After the 1944 Education Act, Love Street became a secondary modern school. In 1948 most of the older boys of George Street Council School transferred to Love Street after George Street Council School was closed. Love Street became overcrowded, and certain classes of the girls' school were held in annexes which included George Street, the county stands at the racecourse on the Roodee, and Grosvenor St. John's School. In 1953 Love Street became a girls' school when the boys transferred to Overleigh Secondary School, and Love Street closed in 1967 when the girls were transferred to the new Charles Kingsley Secondary School at Blacon. The Love Street premises was then occupied by St. Werburgh's R.C. Junior School. Boys' entrance pavilion, left, and girls', right, each of one storey plus attic; round-arched terracotta entrances with banding, pediments and dressings; pedimented gable to attic window. The 3-storey block to Forest Street rises behind, with nicely-placed furnace-chimney expressed as a campanile (bell-tower), with timber-framed cantilevered bell-cote. Gable towards Love Street has terracotta apex inscribed "CITY OF CHESTER COUNCIL SCHOOL: AD 1909". It now houses the University Church Free School (UCFS)
The cottages at Priory Place date from 1898 and were built by the philanthropic Chester Cottage Improvement Company (CCIC) which sought to provide model dwellings for working people, a task which the City Council was not equipped to tackle until after 1918. Priory Place (qv) and Nos 30, 32 and 34 Love Street are among the best examples of their work. The cottages are built from stone-dressed brown brick and are very well detailed with blue diapering, hipped grey slate roofs and stone mullion windows.
Chester Cottage Improvement Co., in which the duke of Westminster took a leading role, was formed in 1892.
- Barnston obituary;
- "Letters from the Crimea and India" by William and Robert Barnston, privately reprinted by Michael Trevor-Barnston in 1998. Paperback, A5, xvii + 269 pp. Letters of Captains William and Roger Barnston, 55th and 90th Regiments, first published c. 1860 (covers the Indian Mutiny as well as the Crimean War).
- Chester and the slave trade;
- 1-5 Priory Place on British Listed Buildings;
- Love Street from Steve Howe;
- The Stones played at Love Street in a hectic schedule;