West chester area dating
The storey above this overlaps the walkway, which makes it a covered walkway, and this constitutes what is known as the "Row".On the street side of the walkways are railings and an area which was used as shelves or stalls for the display of goods.
They are continuous on both sides of Upper Bridge Street, along most of Watergate and Eastgate Street, but only for a short stretch along the east side of Northgate Street.
Originally there were also Rows in Lower Bridge Street but these were blocked during the 17th and 18th centuries.
These rows, which you ascend by stairs up narrow passages, were originally built for the security of the wares of the principal merchants against the Welsh.
Should the mountaineers break into the town, as they frequently did, they might rifle some of the common shops, where their booty would be slight, but those which contained the most costly articles would be beyond their reach; for at the first alarm the doors of the passages, up which the stairs led, would be closed, and all access to the upper streets cut off, from the open arches of which missiles of all kinds, kept ready for such occasions, could be discharged upon the intruders, who would soon be glad to beat a retreat." Another theory links the Rows with the debris left from the Roman occupation of Chester.
but it is unlikely that they originated before 1200.
The first record of the Rows appears in 1293, although it is uncertain whether it refers to a Row as it would be recognised today.
At street level the shops and other premises are similar to those found in other towns and cities, although many of the premises are entered by going down a few steps.
On the first floor level are more shops and other premises, set back from the street, in front of which is a continuous walkway.
The buildings were set back from the street, a footpath passed in front of them, and wheeled vehicles passed along the street below.
In time, the properties were improved and, possibly during the 13th century, cellars or undercrofts were excavated in the debris beneath them.
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