Chester’s hidden history revealed as part of world’s first citywide museum trail

Chester’s hidden history revealed as part of world’s first citywide museum trail

CH1ChesterBID and Big Heritage launch stunning new “Chester Unlocked” programme with “Hoot’s Route” – a citywide museum trail revealing historic artefacts from the vaults of the Grosvenor Museum and displayed for the first time in what historians believe to be the world’s only citywide museum.

Thirty businesses in the heart of Chester city centre will become mini-museums and securely display never-before-seen artefacts unlocked from the vaults of the Grosvenor Museum as part of “Hoot’s Route”, a unique citywide museum trail which launches to the public with a day of celebration in the city on Saturday,13th June.

Hoot’s Route is the first phase of “Chester Unlocked”, a groundbreaking collaboration between Chester city centre’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, and archaelogy experts Big Heritage.

The programme celebrates Chester’s rich and hidden history – from Roman fort to Saxon settlement, medieval port and the classical, contemporary city of today.

Rita Waters, CH1ChesterBID, Chief Executive said: “Chester Unlocked offers us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the rich history of Chester, which remains one of the UK’s most popular city destinations for British and international visitors. It’s inspiring that so many CH1ChesterBID Members are engaged in the Hoot’s Route project and we’re delighted to be working with Big Heritage and Chester’s Grosvenor Museum to bring it alive. Hoot’s Route is just the start. There is so much more to come with Chester Unlocked throughout the course of this year!”

Among the treasures on display as part of Hoot’s Route, visitors can discover medieval footwear in a city shoe shop, Viking combs in a hairdressers and elegant Victorian gowns in the windows of clothing stores.

Using a specially designed “Hoot’s Route” museum trail map – available online or in-store at participating businesses in the CH1ChesterBID area – the citywide trail will allow people of all ages to discover and enjoy some of Chester’s historic treasures.

Hoot was inspired by the owl sitting on the shoulder of the Roman goddess Minerva, which is carved into a 2,000-year-old shrine in an old Roman quarry wall by the River Dee near Chester city centre.

“We believe Hoot’s Route will make Chester the world’s very first citywide museum”, said Dean Paton, Managing Director of Big Heritage. “The historic significance of the city centre is there for all to see, however, there are still so many mysteries yet to uncover. Every artefact being showcased through Hoot’s Route has either a historic connection to the business in which it is displayed or mirrors the products on sale within the shops. Many of the buildings and treasures have survived the city’s tumultuous past, so there will be many fascinating things for people to enjoy.”

A furry Hoot can also be spotted standing guard close to each of the artefacts, so young children are encouraged to get involved in finding each of the owls tucked away in the stores taking part.

“We’re proud to work alongside forward-thinking organisations like CH1ChesterBID and Chester’s Grosvenor Museum to deliver Hoot’s Route”, added Dean. “It is a fantastic example of how progressive cities and cultural organisations can help boost not only accessibility, but interest, in our country’s rich and diverse history.”

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Chester Unlocked and Hoot’s Route will launch to the public on Saturday 13th June and a host of special historic visitors and activities are being arranged throughout the city between 11am and 2pm.

A wider programme of activities linked to the unique Chester Unlocked project – including a series of action-packed citywide code-breaking challenges and mysteries, a North West regional schools outreach programme and an eclectic mix of Chester Unlocked fringe events – will be announced shortly.