Janet Reeder talks to four people proud to live and work in the county town and recommends some of the best things to do on a visit.

Great British Life: Mary Ann Cameron. Mary Ann Cameron. (Image: Paul Morgans)

Mary Ann Cameron

Ghost Tour guide

I’ve lived in Chester since the mid-'70s. I used to work at Chester College, teaching English as a foreign language and became a guide after the French teacher there said she needed foreign language speakers to become Chester guides.

So I did a year-long course, and it was harder than a Master’s degree, but it meant I got to know the history of the city very well and then Gerald Tighe approached me when he left Marketing Chester and set up the ghosts tours and I now do group and private tours.

We also do fabulous evenings at Hotel Indigo, where Wrexham owner (and actor) Ryan Reynolds is a regular at the restaurant. So, once a month I take visitors on an hour-long ghost tour, then we’ll come back, go into the private dining room and after the guests have ordered drinks, I will ask them to name a building and I’ll tell them a ghost story about it. I leave them with a final ghostly story about me and then I disappear...

While Chester is not the most haunted place in the UK, I'd say we are the most actively haunted place in the country. Here we have new ghost stories emerging all the time.

One of the most haunted buildings in Chester is the Town Hall. I thought there was only one ghost there then somebody said I should talk to the town hall keeper as he sees ghosts and he told me about several, including hearing someone who was trapped in one of the rooms and banging on the door. The Bear & Billet on Lower Bridge Street is one of the last all-wood buildings in England, dating back from 1622The landlady gave me three pages detailing ghost activity in the building. Another haunted building is the Ye Olde King’s Head, which has four ghosts. There’s a room that is so haunted, visitors must sign a disclaimer before they step inside.



Great British Life: Joe Southern. Joe Southern. (Image: Paul Morgans)

Joe Southern

Owner, Looks Chester, Woodstock Society

I co-own the Woodstock Society building in Brook Street, with Bryan Green. It was his shop originally but I approached him five years ago and now he has one side and I have the other. We are an independent store specialising in collectors vinyl records and vintage clothing

We were inspired by stores you get in bigger cities such Affleck’s Palace in Manchester and places in Liverpool that sell records and clothing. We decided to give it a go and thankfully we are still here.

Brook Street is great; I love it. It is one of the most multicultural streets in Chester, if not the most multicultural. There are all sorts of different people based here and there’s a real sense of community. We get people passing by that I always said hello to, and I feel that if there were any issues they’d be there to help. We are like a big family. Every business here is independent and that’s great because it gives Brook Street a real bohemian feel. There are barbers and tattoo studios, we have a Filipino business and there’s a Polish supermarket down the road that are all very busy, and Moss Coffee has the best coffee in Chester.

I was born and raised in Chester and in the five years I have been doing this, the independent scene in the city has got better and better. We are not just coffee shops and food places. We now have the revamped market and there are clothes shops and vintage shops here as well, so it’s nice that the people who live here don’t have to go to Manchester or Liverpool to get original stuff.



Great British Life: Catrin Mostyn JonesCatrin Mostyn Jones (Image: Lynsey Hackett)

Catrin Mostyn Jones

The Fusion Florist

I’ve lived in Upton, for around 12 years but I’m originally from North Wales. It was a relationship that brought me here. He’s called Peter Beswick, and he is a drumming teacher. We share a studio where he teaches drums and I do my flowers.

Before I moved here, I studied design at Manchester, specialising in glass and ceramics and was inspired by nature and by what was around me. When I had our little boy, Austin, I began creating things with leaves and pinecones and my work just built from there. I loved how immediate floral design was and how and it’s such a lovely thing to do for your wellbeing. Floral artists are supposedly the healthiest people because they are at one with nature.

Being close to Chester Zoo inspires me. I go and stare at the flamingos and watch the changing seasons.

I was recently awarded the accolade of Cheshire Best Florist in England’s Business Awards and it came as a complete surprise. I didn’t even know it existed until I got a letter in the post saying I'd been nominated by customers for best florist in Cheshire. Then I got a letter saying I’d made it to the final. I went to the ceremony, and I was so nervous. I couldn’t believe it when they called the business name out. It was nice to get the recognition. I’m pushing the boundaries of floristry and floral art. That’s the way approach all my art projects, which actually caused one of my friends to say, 'You’re the Vivienne Westwood of flowers,' which kind of stuck but I’ve always been a big fan of hers, so I’m completely flattered by the comparison.

Chester is brilliant. I like to support independent businesses and it’s so easy to commute to Liverpool and Manchester. The creativity here is brilliant and with the opening of the ōH Chester Design Foundation, and Storyhouse, Chester, is becoming a hub of creativity on a par with bigger cities.



Great British Life: Cellan Harston. Cellan Harston. (Image: Paul Morgans)

Cellan Harston

Manager, Roman Tours Ltd

Most people are aware of Chester’s Roman Tours but not the Medieval Tours, which have been running now for about two years. We started back in 2021 when Covid restrictions were lifting as a way of trying to find more work for the staff and it has just taken off.

We are surrounded by medieval buildings but not many people are as aware of Chester’s history from that period, and they are certainly not aware of the role it played at a pivotal point in parts of England’s history such as the 100 Years War when Cheshire’s archers were the royal bodyguards for the Black Prince of Wales. They were also the bodyguards for the Black Prince’s son Richard II and it’s because of their skill with the longbow that Hotspur comes here to declare rebellion against Henry IV in the hope he can get the people of Chester on his side, and he was successful because 99,000 men joined his cause.

Chester Rows, the distinctive shopping arcades in the city, date back to medieval times and the earliest we have are on Bridge Street, called the three arches, which are dated to 1274 AD. What makes Chester so unique is that alongside the Rows there are different periods of British history – from medieval through to Tudor, Georgian and Victorian all along one street.

My father, Paul Harston, started the tours 28 years ago and in 2020 he handed the business over to me. We had wanted to do the Medieval Tours for a long time and the pandemic gave us the opportunity. People who were not allowed to travel very far were looking for things to do. Our tour illustrates the rebellion of Hotspur, which is a pivotal point in Chester’s history, which started to lose it power as the city sided against the king.



Great British Life: Chester's New MarketChester's New Market (Image: Paul Morgans)


Chester Market

There has been a market in Chester for the past 2,000 years in various incarnations the newest being a shopping, dining and entertainment hub. It’s a place where you can grab a coffee or a pizza and listen to live music. Check out the market’s Soul Social, a monthly event where you can enjoy a playlist of soul, funk and more over food and drinks.



Chester Cathedral

More than just a place of worship this stunning cathedral, parts of which date back to the 10th century, is a hub for all kinds of activity. From art exhibitions to concerts and graduate ceremonies there is much to explore. Why not take a Cathedral Discovery Tour to find out more about his fascinating landmark?


Great British Life: Storyhouse, ChesterStoryhouse, Chester (Image: Paul Morgans)SOAK UP CULTURE AT


Storyhouse is the landmark building that houses a library, theatres, an independent cinema, and a restaurant. Charity-run, it is a vibrant community and creative social space, designed for people of all ages. It also hosts events outside the building such as open-air theatre in Grosvenor Park – the perfect way to spend a summer evening.