CHESTER was the most important place in the North West during the late medieval period.
This is just one of the insights given by a new book about the city.
The book, entitled Life in a Late Medieval City, Chester 1275-1520, provides a detailed account of life in the city during this period.
Readers will learn how it was not until the 1490s that Liverpool began to emerge as a rival to Chester. The walled city dominated medieval Cheshire and beyond, with its closest rivals being Preston, Derby and Shrewsbury.
The book focuses on the lives of ordinary townspeople as the author makes use of records of Chester’s local court proceedings to portray social relationships in Chester’s neighbourhoods.
These include anecdotes about people such as John Man, a ‘neighbour from hell’ in the area of Cow Lane, whose anti-social behaviour included stealing, arguing, and allowing his pigs to roam the neighbourhood and led to his eventual hanging in 1490.
In addition to accounts of local people, the book also includes many surprising facts about trade and lifestyle within the city, including Chester being renowned for its fur trade, and the fact that a curfew was imposed on Chester residents to be inside the Walls by 9pm every night.
The author, Jane Laughton, comes from Macclesfield and has been researching medieval Chester since the 1980s.
Having previously worked in the School of History at the University of Birmingham, Jane is currently working on a book about Cheshire’s small towns.
Life in a Late Medieval City by Jane Laughton is priced £20 and is available direct from Oxbow Books on 01865 2412459 or via www.oxbowbooks.com.