Thursday, 10 July 2008
The Rows – Chester
I visited Chester last week and as part of trip I visited ‘The Rows’, a Tudor period shopping centre. The building itself is magnificent, it is a four-storey black and white timber building the really dominates the area and it is easy to see why people are drawn to it and it makes a fantastic location for the most fashionable shops. Instead of the ground floor shops opening out onto the street they are raised up and back, you reach them by going up a short flight of steps. There is then a covered walkway between the shops provided by the upper floors which sit on ‘stilts’ - I don’t know if the original Tudor architect designed the building to look like this or if it was a case of the upper floors being added at a later date and expanded over the lower ones to create more space. Another really nice feature are the original stone cellars which have also been converted into shops which you step down to from the street – some of these appear to be older than the above building with original stone floors, low ceilings and gothic features making me suspect that they could belong to an original building and the upper floors where added to them. It is a uniquely British building and walking in and out of the shops you really get a sense of walking back in time, a glimpse of what the shopping experience would have been like for our richer ancestors hundreds of years ago and that some things (people still like shopping somewhere they can escape from the British rain) haven’t changed at all.
I was also a nice change to see lots of little unique shops, as many city centres in the UK now look strangely similar with the same height street stores everywhere.