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Gordon Wilkinson paints Historic Handbridge (with audio)

PUBLISHED: 17:08 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:13 20 February 2013

Pretty cottages

Pretty cottages

Our watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson takes his easel to Handbridge <br/>Words by Sarah Louise Banner

Click the picture on the right to start playing the audio

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The village of Handbridge rests on the south bank of the River Dee. With its wildlife and beautiful greenery, its hard to believe this peaceful neighbourhood is actually only a mile from the bustling city of Chester.


Handbridge has been on the map since the Iron Age and in 74AD the Romans established the fort of Deva, which is now Chester city centre. The site was also used as a quarry to mine sandstone, used in the construction of Chesters famous city walls and buildings.


The Romans also carved the goddess Minervas shrine into the quarrys cliff, in an area known as Edgars Field, where it is thought the royal palace of Edgar of England once stood.


The shrine, which shows Minerva holding a spear in her right hand and with an owl above her right shoulder, is the only rock cut Roman shine remaining in situ in the UK. In Roman times, an offering would be made in an altar, carved in the bottom left corner of the shrine, to provide protection during the crossing of the River Dee at the ford. Although weathered, the Minerva shrine survives as a Grade I relic, although the river crossing is less treacherous these days.


The current Old Dee Bridge, which leads from Handbridge into the city, was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1353, when it was noted as being damaged. As it was the only water crossing in the area, it was eventually repaired and fitted with large towers and a drawbridge by Richard II of England, in 1374, to deter raids and invasions by the Welsh army.


During the Victorian era Handbridge became a main settlement for the industrial workers who worked in the numerous factories and tobacco works around Chester.


Today, Handbridge is a popular commuter area with good schools, classy shops and stylish bars and restaurants.

Facts

The Welsh for Handbridge is Treboeth, meaning 'burnt town' as the area was frequently set on fire by neighbouring Flintshire.


The quarry in Handbridge was responsible for providing the red sandstone that much of the nearby city of Chester is built from.


The Beatles, pictured, named their song Nowhere Man after the small, riverside cottage in Handbridge called Nowhere. The cottage was believed to have originally been a secret tavern.


Handbridge is home to the Roman Shrine of Minerva, which is situated in Edgars Field.


Legend tells that Edgar of England lived in Handbridge and that in order to pledge an allegiance to him, lesser kings used to row up the river Dee to his palace.


For more information about the area and to find out what's on, visit www.handbridge.com

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