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St John's Church, Chester f.80

St John's Church, Chester f.80

Artist: Buckler, John Chessell

Medium: Pencil on paper

Date: 1810

Shelfmark: Additional MS 36360

Item number: f.80

Length: 35.8

Width: 25.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

In 1075, the Bishop of Litchfield, having moved his see from Litchfield to Chester, began to build his cathedral on the site of a 10th-century wooden church. In 1082 the Bishop died and his successor, Robert de Limesey, considered Chester an inappropriate place to establish a cathedral, possibly due to its proximity to the Welsh border and the inherent dangers associated with that. He moved the see to Coventry and building ceased.

In 1190, work on the abandoned church was resumed and St John's was finally completed in the late 13th century. Over the following centuries, the church was to suffer many calamities; the central tower collapsed in 1468 and again in 1572; then, in 1574, the west tower took its turn to fall down, destroying four bays of the Norman nave as it crashed to the ground. Even after Buckler drew his sketch here, the curse of the faulty towers still lurked within its walls and the rebuilt west tower dramatically collapsed on Good Friday morning, 1881!

The church also suffered damage in the Civil War during the siege of Chester. The Parliamentarians stormed the church and used the tower as their gun emplacement, blasting the buildings and people below. It is said that Charles I narrowly missed being hit by a bullet fired from this point as he stood on the Cathedral tower opposite.

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