A team of historians has revealed that Chester – not Paris or Venice – is the original city of love, and a new campaign has been launched to reclaim the city’s crown.
History boffins at Big Heritage and the city’s Grosvenor Museum have uncovered an incredible collection of romantic artefacts dating back hundreds of years and lovebirds across the region can see the tender trinkets and treasures on display for the very first time over Valentine’s weekend.
The enchanting collection, which captures Chester romance throughout the centuries, includes what’s being described as one of the UK’s best collection of wedding rings. The artefacts include a Roman gold finger-ring with clasped hand design from Pierpoint Lane; a 15th Century silver ring decorated with flowers and hearts originally part of the Huntington Hoard; and a 16th Century silver ring love token.
Other romantic relics going on show at the city’s Grosvenor Museum between Thursday 11th and Monday 15th February include wedding dresses dating back as far as 1851, Victorian and Edwardian Valentine’s cards and a courting envelope for sending love letters in, decorated with pictures of courting couples.
Dean Paton, Managing Director of Big Heritage, said: “Our findings from the vaults of the Grosvenor Museum show that, without doubt, Chester, and not Paris or Venice, is the original city of love. The deeper we delved the more historical evidence we have found, and it’s not just in the museum – the city’s unique historic buildings are bursting with stories of love, romance and passion that date back centuries.”
As part of the campaign, the city’s top ten locations for couples to share a romantic moment this Valentine’s Day have also been unveiled, including the medieval Chester Rows – home to lovebirds and beloved browsers for centuries – as well as the city’s Suspension Bridge, Eastgate Clock – the original entrance to the Roman fortress of Deva – Chester’s 18th Century Canal…. and even Chester Zoo!
Also in the top ten of the city’s most popular romantic locations is the Peppergate, which pre-dates Romeo and Juliet with its story of star-crossed lovers dating back to the 1500s. It is claimed that the Mayor’s daughter was whisked away by her secret lover on horseback to elope to Wales against her father’s wishes. The Mayor was so angry he ordered the gate to be closed at night. The same gate is now open again for lovers to walk through, providing one of the UK’s most romantic settings at dusk.
Katrina Michel, Chief Executive of Marketing Cheshire, said: “These historical discoveries are proof that Chester is the romantic heart of England and supports claims that the city is, indeed, the original city of love. Not only does the city offer beautiful and unique romantic backdrops for couples, its rich and varied collection of jewellers, restaurants and boutique hotels mean it really does have the full package for romantic stays, weddings or even for popping the question.
“Cheshire is already an increasingly popular location for weddings, 70% of people who get married here travel from outside of the area to tie the knot, and with this new campaign to reclaim Chester’s historical crown as the original city of love I’m sure the area’s appeal is set to continue to grow!”
Chester’s historic connection to jewellery has survived the test of time and even today the city has a unique collection of jewellery shops, including 300-year-old Lowe & Sons, Boodles and Kayes and a range of independent and high street brands.
“We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to love and romance in Chester,” said Julie Charlton, Marketing Manager at CH1ChesterBID Company. “We’re very fortunate to have a charming city centre full of half-timbered buildings and cobbled walkways and of course we have the medieval Rows with jewellery stores that have been selling wedding and engagement rings since the 1700s.
“When you add all that history to that to the array of independent retailers, stunning restaurants, and mix of high quality and boutique hotels we have today, it’s easy to see why Chester is the perfect location for a romantic getaway.”
A new video showcasing some of Chester city centre’s iconic landmarks, shops and restaurants has been created by CH1ChesterBID and can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCz51hhPu3g
Liz Royles, Collections manager at the Grosvenor Museum, added: “Everyone knows Chester is one of the UK’s most historic cities, but these historic artefacts act as touchstones to the stories of love and romance that have played out over centuries. We even have an 1800 year old depiction of a Roman husband and wife, one of the oldest known married couples in Britain.”