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Chester Shopping

Not just big national chains, but lots and lots of little shops, locally owned and locally run, give shopping and retail therapy a variety that spices Cheshire. Chester is a favourite, with 2 main shopping centres, market, Rufus Court and, of course, The Rows, the city is packed with a huge variety of retail outlets, from fashion to fine antiques. If the choice in Cheshire is not enough, the serious shopper can venture to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet - Europe's largest outlet. Try Knutsford, Warrington, Nantwich or Macclesfield, because you can be certain that, as far as destinations are concerned, Cheshire is top of the shops.

Hotels near the center of Chester
The Coach House Inn4 starfrom £70.00
The Pied Bull from £48.30
The Commercial Hotel from £79.00
Crowne Plaza Chester4 starfrom £92.00
The Bull and Stirrup Hotel from £52.50

Rufus Court

Rufus Court is a newish development of small shop units in a court yard off Northgate Street. The entrance to Rufus Court is located on the upper part of Northgate Street opposite 'Eastern Glory' (the Blue Bell Inn). There is a cobbled alleyway called Abbey Green leading to the court. On the way in is Bollicini which is a bar/restaurant. As you enter the court yard there is a new bar called 'Juice'. Inside the court yard there are benches and a second tier of shops up the stairs.

The Rows

The Rows are probably the most often photographed sight in Chester, a series of half-timbered buildings joined with long galleries, looking for all the world like a Tudor shopping mall. There is not one single "Rows" but several complexes of houses in the same style, with the best examples on Watergate, Eastgate and Bridge Street. The layout of the Rows go back to the 13th century. There were shops or warehouses at street level, with a long gallery above, reached by steps from the street level. Living quarters are on the gallery level. In the Middle Ages this would have been a hall, open to the roof and heated by a central hearth. The private rooms, or solar, were above the gallery.

In the Tudor and Jacobean period the upper floors were built out over the gallery, supported on long poles down to the street level. Shops at ground level used the space between the posts to display their goods to passers-by. The story of Chester's Rows is told in detail in a special exhibit entitled "Our House – The Story of the Rows of Chester". The exhibit is housed at the Chester Visitor Centre on Vicar's Lane.