Before visiting, the only things I associated with Chester were the Romans and Hollyoaks, shameful I know, but Wow what a city….
I was lucky enough to be staying with family who live about half an hour outside of Chester and they were more than happy to show me around. We found out about a quest that you can follow called the Deva Codex Boar Quest which takes you on a hunt around the city by following clues and riddles to uncover the history of Chester (or Deva as the Romans called it). We stopped by a charity shop where we collected our quest pack which included a map to follow, a booklet full of clues and riddles and a pair of 3D glasses.
If you are planning to do the codex quest for yourself, I would advise you DO NOT read on any further as I will be giving away answers (unless you want to cheat, in which case, read on) lol
We didn’t have to do the quest clues in any order so we picked one at random which took us towards the Cathedral as a place to start. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the grounds of the cathedral were stunning. Unfortunately we had got in a bit of a muddle with the clues and were searching for something that wasn’t even at the cathedral for about 20 minutes but we got a real good look around the grounds lol
The next set of clues took us through the city centre and up through the rows. The rows are shops and walkways that are above the shops on ground level. You can access them by going up narrow sets of steps that fall between the ground level shops.
The city centre was busy as to be expected on a Saturday but I really got a sense that the people of Chester really love this city, as do it’s visitors. Although you can find all your local high street shops here, it still has a magic, unspoilt feel to it. As we walked over to the other side of the city, we could see signs for the Amphitheatre and St Johns church which was where the next clues on the quest were.
The Amphitheatre in Chester is the largest that has been uncovered in Britain and is a grade 1 listed building. There were lots of people having picnics on the green and in the actual Amphitheatre itself were arts and crafts for children to get involved with, however we didn’t get involved…..we had riddles to solve. It was quite a spectacular sight to see though.
The backdrop for the Amphitheatre is the Parish Church of St John and this happens to be the oldest church in Chester dating as far back as 689 AD. It is also a grade 1 listed building and includes the some of the ruins from the dissolution which saw most of the east side of the church be demolished. Upon closer inspection of the ruins we found what seemed to be a coffin set into the walls which solved one of our clues. It was rather haunting to see it but very interesting all the same..
The next clue had us looking in completely the wrong place but it gave us the chance to have a snoop around the town hall. We saw grand old meeting rooms with huge portraits on the walls, fancy swirly patterned carpets and the best part by far……the toilets!!!
After finally finding the answer to the clue in a building near to the town hall, we moved back towards to cathedral where more riddles needed to be solved.
It was getting later in the day by this point and we were all starting to tire. We went inside the cathedral but didn’t stay long as it was pretty busy. There were some beautiful works of art on the walls and out in the courtyard area was a sculpture/water feature that was absolutely stunning. It was called Water of life by Stephen Broadbent and represents the life changing encounter between Jesus and the woman of Samaria. The bottom of the dish reads “Jesus said, ‘the water that i shall give will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life’ John 4:14
And so the last clue to solve…..What lies just past the Northern gate? A final walk to seal one’s fate. But just before you meet your doom, You’d spend some time in what man’s room?
“But what were the 3D glasses for?”, I hear you ask. Well these helped us to solve a few clues along the way. The first clue that needed the glasses was This quest goes next to Watergate. The street that brought the sailors home. And sent off merchants to their fate. From Dee to sea, the worlds to roam. To solve this quest, to play your part. Find the canvas that’s not quite right. Seek out the place that shows the art. And view it in a different light. The answer lies in red concealed. Which animal will be revealed?
The pictures aren’t great as we could only see it in the shop window so there is a bit of a shadow. The canvas at first was a blurred print but once you put the 3D glasses on an Owl was revealed 🙂
The other clue was as follows To the forum you must tread. And seek the sign of the wild boar’s head. A stone ellipse once stood here, Whose purpose still remains unclear! A Roman riddle from the start! But what was flowing at its heart?
So once the glasses were on you could read the text clearly and the answer was revealed.
I really enjoyed Chester and the quest was a fantastic way to explore the Roman city. I will definitely be revisiting
look out for my next post on St Albans coming soon…..