We like to think we rival the rest of the world on many things here in Manchester, but now a Roman settlement city just an hour outside Manchester has been officially named the prettiest in the UK. Now, this may be slightly underwhelming, but hear us out: it’s Chester.
Online Mortgage Advisor analysed hundreds of streets and more than 2,400 buildings to reveal which UK city boasts the most beautiful buildings, on average. The site used some very scientific measurements, including proportions and ratios – apparently the ‘golden ratio‘ of beautiful buildings is 1:1.618 – as well as the facades of historical buildings on Google Street View.
Based on the city’s beauty score (average percentage match to the golden ratio) of 83.7%, Chester is the city with the prettiest buildings in the UK. The Roman settlement is one of the most famous in the UK, and was originally established as the legionary fortress of Deva in AD 76 in an advantageous position close to the Welsh mountains on a raised outcrop at the lowest bridging point on the River Dee.
Deva was of great importance to the governance of Roman Britain and in establishing military rule in the north west. Over time Chester’s military importance declined, making way for trading and residential development outside the Roman walls (mainly around Foregate Street). At the same time the city was developing as a river port, servicing industry such as the lead mines in Flintshire.
Now, the modern day look of Chester that has gained it the title of prettiest city, combines its Roman roots with plenty of other significant eras in its history, with the unique and intriguing legacy of The Rows, which are likely to have been built over the original Roman ruins, being a product of the Mediaeval period, after being the last town in England to fall to William the Conqueror. It is thought that over time the street level of The Rows was rebuilt, possibly as a result of fires, leading to the building of the stone vaulted cellars that are an important part of Chester’s characteristic architecture.
In the Victorian and Edwardian times, four competent local architects embarked on the great ‘Black and White’ revival, which led to many of the city centre facades that Chester is now famous for, such as the Crypt House of Brown’s of Eastgate Street, the east side of St Werburgh Street and west side of Northgate Street – and Chester wouldn’t be so striking without its black and white features.
In addition to placing above every other UK city, Chester also finished the study with a score of 83.7% – with the prettiest city in the world, Venice, coming in at 83.3%. Make of that what you will!
Getting to Chester is pretty easy from Manchester, taking around an hour on the train and on the roads, and is full of quaint shops, cafes and a lovely market town feel – perfect for a day out.