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For the images in the gallery sets below, if you click on the image you will get a close-up of the image which is usually the cover page of the book. If you click on the title under the image you will go to the text of the work, which in most cases can be down-loaded as a free e-book in various formats:

History of Chester (Religious or otherwise)

Cheshire Sheaf

Historical Directories

Cheshire/Chester Directories at the University of Leicester ("page flip view" may take a while to load);

Modern Books

These links only give partial views of the contents in most cases (or none at all), but these are some of the more useful resources on Chester. If you are in Chester then most can usually be obtained from the book/giftshop at the Grosvenor Museum, or at the Tourist Information canter at the Town Hall - together with several others.

Journals and Catalogs

Travel Books describing visits to Chester

Edward Parry wrote a number of "Railway Companions" - here is a list at Internet Archive. Most of the other books in this section are trips which pass through Chester but have some comments on the City as it was at the time.

River Dee

The River Dee (Welsh: Afon Dyfrdwy) flows 110 miles from it's source to Hilbre Island. Travelling through Wales and England and also forming part of the international border between them, the river rises in Snowdonia, flows north via Chester and discharges into an estuary between Wales and The Wirral. The lower reaches of the river are unusual in that comparatively little water occupies so large a basin. One theory of a contributory factor to the large basin is that once the River Mersey and/or the River Severn flowed into the Dee. A more recent theory, however, is that the estuary was not formed by water, but by ice being pushed southwards by the pressure of an icecap over the Irish Sea. The total catchment area of the River Dee up to Chester Weir is 1,816.8 square kilometres (701.5 sq mi). The average rainfall over the catchment is estimated to be 640 millimetres (25 in) yielding an average flow of 37 m³/s. Further detail on the River Dee can be found on these pages:

Upper Reaches

From the source of the river at springs on the slopes of "Black Hill" Dduallt above Llanuwchllyn in the mountains of Snowdonia, through Wales, to its emergence from the Vale of Llangollen; here the young river flows swiftly and the majority of erosion takes place, cutting relatively narrow, steep-sided, "V"-shaped valleys, often with interlocking spurs.

Middle Reaches

Through England and the Welsh borders to Chester; the "middle aged" river slows down and the valley becomes broader. Both erosion and deposition of material takes place, leading to the formation of meanders and occasional changes of course which have in cases left pockets of England "stranded" on the Welsh side of the River Dee.

Lower Reaches

Back in Wales, below Chester to Hilbre Islands and the sea; the river is now in "old-age" and while there is little erosion a lot of material is deposited. In the case of the River Dee this deposition has had a significant impact on the economic development of Chester, effectively turning a major port into a relatively quiet backwater. The estuary is important for birdlife and has been designated both as a "Site of Special Scientific Interest" and under the "Ramsar Convention" on "Wetlands of International Importance", especially as waterfowl habitats.

Chronicles and More General Histories

There are other bibliography pages at:


N.B. Richard of Cirencester's De Situ Britanniae was faked by Charles Bertram prior to publication in 1747 although it was revealed to be a fake in 1845, it had by then provided misinformation which turned up in many other works. The first use of the name Pennines to describe the English mountain range is from De Situ Britanniae. Quoting:

  • This province is divided into two equal parts by a chain of mountains called the Pennine Alps, which rising on the confines of the Iceni and Carnabii, near the river Trivona [ Trent ], extend towards the north in a continued series of fifty miles.

In 1853, Arthur Hussey listed several names in De Situ Britanniae that he could not trace to another source, and the "Pennine" Alps was one of them. So the Romans never called the Pennines that and the name was made up by a forger in 1747!

Chronicles of the reigns of Stephen, Henry II., and Richard I:

  • Volume 1: William, of Newburgh, 1136-1201?: Historia rerum anglicarum;
  • Volume 2: Richard of Newburgh (cont); Etienne, de Rouen, moine au Bec, d. 1149: Draco normannicus;
  • Volume 3: Richard, of Hexham, fl. 1141: Historia de gestis Regis Stephani et de Bello Standardii; Aelred, of Rievaulx, Saint, 1110-1167: De bello Standardii; Fantosme, Jordan, fl. 1158-1174: Chronique; Richard, of Devizes, ca. 1150-ca. 1200: Chronicon de rebus gestis Ricardi primi;
  • Volume 4: Robert, de Torigni, d. 1186. Chronique;

Chester Mystery Plays, Poems etc.

Others with some link to Chester

From William Camden (2 May 1551 – 9 November 1623)

But to testifie the Romanes magnificence, there are remaining indeede at this day very few tokens, besides pavements of foure square checker worke: howbeit in the former ages it presented many, which Ranulph a Monke of this Citie shall tell you out of his Polychronicon in these his owne words: There be waies heere under the ground vaulted marvelously with stone worke, chambers having arched roofes over had, huge stones engraven with the names of ancient men. Heere also are sometimes digged up peeces of money coined by Julius Caesar and other famous persons, and stamped with their inscriptions.

Likewise Roger of Chester in his Policraticon, When I behold (saith he) the groundworke of buildings in the streets laid with monstrous big stones, it seemeth that it hath beene founded by the painfull labour of Romans or giants, rather than by the sweat of Britans.

This Citie, built in forme of a quadrant foure square, is enclosed with a wall that taketh up more than two miles in compasse, and hath eleven parishes. But that of Saint Johns without the Northgate was the fairest, being a stately and solemne building, as appeareth by the remaines, wherein were anciently Prebendaries and, as some write, the Bishops See.

Neere unto the river standeth the Castle upon a rockie hill, built by the Earles, where the Courts Palatine and the Assises, as they call them, are kept twice a yeere.

The houses are very faire built, and along the chiefe streets are galleries or walking places, they call them rowes, having shops on both sides, through which a man may walke dry from one end to the other.

But it hath not continued evermore in one tenor of prosperity. First it was rased by Egfrid King of Northumberland, then by the Danes, yet reedified againe by Aedelfled Lady of the Mercians, and soone after it saw King Eadgar in magnificent maner triumphing over the British Princes. For sitting himselfe in a barge at the fore-decke, Kennadie King of the Scots, Malcoline King of Cumberland, Macon King of Mann and of the Ilands, with all the Princes of Wales brought to do homage, and like watermen working at the Ore, rowed him along the river Dee in a triumphant shew, to his great glory and joy of the beholders.

Certaine yeeres after, and namely about the yeere of our redemption 1094, whenas in a devout and religious emulation, as one saith, Princes strove avie that Cathedrall Churches and Minsters should bee erected in a more decent and seemelie forme, and whenas Christendome rouzed as it were her selfe, and, casting away her old habilimentes, did put on everiewhere the bright and white robe of the Churches, Hugh the first of the Norman bloud that was Earle of Chester repaired the Church, which Earle Leofrick had formerlie founded in honour of the Virgin Saint Werburga, and by the advise of Anselm, whom hee had procured to come out of Normandie, granted the same unto monkes. And now it is notorious for the tombe of Henrie the Fourth, Emperour of Almaine [Germany], who, as they say, gave over his empire and lived heere an Eremites life, and for the Bishops See therein established. Which See immediately after the Normans conquest Peter Bishop of Lichfield translated from Lichfield hither, but when it was brought to Coventrie, and from thence into the ancient seat againe, West-chester lay a long time bereft of this Episcopall dignity, untill in our fathers daies King Henrie the Eighth, having thrust out the monkes, ordeined Prebendaries and restored a Bishop againe, under whom for his Dioecise hee appointed this Country, Lancashire, Richmond &c., and appointed the same to bee within the Province of the Archbishop of Yorke.

But returne wee now to matters of greater antiquity. Whenas now the said Cathedrall church was built, the Earles that were of the Normans line fortified the citie both with walles and castle. For as the Bishop held of the King that which belongeth to his Bishopricke (these are the words of Domesday-booke made by King William the Conquerour), so the Earles with their men held of the King wholy all the rest of the City. It paide geld or tribute for fifty hides, and foure hundred thirty and one houses were thus geldable, and seaven Mint-maisters. When the King himselfe in person came thither every Carrucata yeelded unto him two hundred Hesthas, and one tun full of Ale, and one Rusca of butyr. And in the same place, for the reedification of the City wall and the bridge, the Provost gave warning by an edict that out of every Hide in the County one man should come , and looke whose man came not, his Lord or Maister was fined in fortie shillings to the King and the Earle. If I should particulate the scufflings and skirmishes hereabout betweene the Welsh and English in the beginning of the Normans time, their inrodes and outrodes, the often scarfyres [fires] in the Suburbs of Hanbrid beyond the bridge, whereupon the Welshmen call it Treboeth, that is, The burnt towne, as also the wall made there of Welshmens sculls that went a great length, I should seeme to forget my selfe and thrust my sicle into the Historians harvest.

But ever since the said time hath Chester notablie flourished, and King Henry the Seventh made it a County by it selfe incorporate. Neither wanteth any thing there that may be required in a most flourishing City, but that the Ocean, being offended and angrie (as it were) at certaine Mills in the very chanell of the river Dee, hath by little withdrawne himselfe backe, and affordeth not unto the citie the commoditie of an haven, as heretofore. The Longitude of this place is twentie degrees and three and twentie scruples, the Latitude three and fiftie degrees and eleven scruples. If you desire to know more touching this citie, have here these reports out of Lucian that monke above said, who lived almost five hundred yeeres agoe. First, it is to be considered that Chester is built as a Citie, the site whereof inviteth and allureth the eye, which beeing situate in the West parts of Britaine, was in times past a place of receipt to the Legions comming afarre off to repose themselves, and served sufficientlie to keepe the keies, as I may say, of Ireland, for the Romans to preserve the limite of their Empire. For beeing opposite to the North-east part of Ireland, it openeth waie for passage of ships, and mariners with spred saile passing not often but continuallie to and fro, as also for the commodities of sundrie sorts of merchandise. And whiles it casteth an eye forward into the East, it looketh toward not onely the See of Rome and the Empire thereof, but the whole world also, so that it standeth forth as a kenning place to the view of eyes, that there may bee knowne valiant exploites, and the long traine and consequence of things; as also whatsoever throughout the world hath beene done by all persons, in all places, and at all times, and what ever hath beene yll done may also bee avoided and taken heed of. Which Citie having foure gates from the foure cardinall winds, on the East side hath a prospect toward India, on the West toward Ireland, North-Eastward the greater Norway, and Southward that streit and narrow Angle which divine severity, by reason of civill and home-discords, hath left unto the Britans. Which long since by their bitter variance have caused the name of Britaine to be changed into the name of England. Over and beside, Chester hath by Gods gift a river to enrich and adorne it; the same, faire and fishfull, hard by the Citie walls. And on the Southside a rode and harbour for shippes coming from Gascoine, Spaine, and Germanie, which with the helpe and direction of Christ, by the labour and wisdome of merchantes, repaire and refresh the heart of the City with many good things, that wee, being comforted every waie by our Gods grace, may also drinke wine often, more frankelie and plentuouslie because those Countries enjoy the frute of the Vineyards aboundantlie. Moreover the open sea ceaseth not to visite it every daie with a tide, which according as the broad shelves and barres of sands are opened or hidden by tides and ebbes incessantlie, is wont more or less either to send or exchange one thing or other, and by his reciprocall flow and returnes, either to bring in or to carrie out somewhat.

General Reference

  • British History Online - exhaustive history;
  • GENUKI - list of "INFORMATION RELATING TO CHESHIRE" useful for genealogy;
  • Cheshire Books - A wide selection of books relating to Cheshire and Chester are available to browse at Cheshire Archives;

More or less directly relating to Chester (Online)

The following guides and other books connected to Chester are available online:

Travel Books mentioning Chester


These are books referenced on this wiki, but not listed above:

  • Town Geology by Charles Kingsley (as well as writing "The Water Babies", he also was a founder of the Grosvenor Museum)
  • George Bolam Wildlife in Wales;
  • Anna Seward Llangollen vale, with other poems: (1796);
  • George Clarke "Hawarden Castle";