My wife and I have recently returned from a week in York –and it’s fair to say we fell in love with that wonderful city.
However, this could really put the cat among the pigeons, because York has an unofficial rivalry with Chester.
That’s Chester, the wonderful medieval city in which I lived and worked as a local newspaper reporter for 15 years. Chester which is the setting for my Detective Constable Dominic Strider novels. Chester which I write about so passionately in my books and blogs, and the subject of the pictures on this very page.
So it was with conflicted loyalties that I walked around York earlier this month, and we couldn’t help comparing and contrasting both cities. As Harry Hill used to say: Which is better? There’s only one way to find out….. FIGHT!!!!!
York is inevitably bigger and has the added benefit of its Viking past. It’s the birthplace of Guy Fawkes (allegedly) and Joseph Roundtree the confectioner (find out more in the chocolate factory tour!). It also has a wonderful ruined abbey from the time of Henry VIII and tonnes of shopping streets, including the famous Shambles medieval lane. Which is full of Harry Potter shops, weirdly…..
Chester is most certainly smaller, but I think it wins out on three fronts:
- Chester’s City Walls are smaller, safer to navigate, take far less time to complete a full circuit and envelop the city centre only, affording you wonderful views wherever you go on them. York’s walls are nice in patches, but go on for miles, wrap around a council estate and industrial park, and crucially – in these health & safety conscious modern times – are quite dangerous, having no railings in many places
- Chester Cathedral is stunning, gothic, modern in places but ancient in others. It’s big enough, but not too big that you can’t get round it in an hour and see everything. It’s full of quiet chapels to light a candle and say a prayer, away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. York Minster is very nice of course, but we felt it was too vast and, well, a little bit dull. It was very ‘same old, same old’. Just my opinion of course, but it wasn’t the highlight of our visit
- And finally, Chester is of course home to DC Strider, star of my crime novels and, indeed, the star of a short film – a locked room mystery I made many years ago. Born and bred in Chester, if you cut Strider in half, he’d have the city’s name running through him. His love for the city, its history and architecture, and his self-appointed role as their knight protectorate is unquestionable. As is my final answer to the poser: which city is ultimately better? Chester!! 🙂