Chester Races

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CHESTER RACES. English, Reel. England, North-West. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABBCC. The name Chester (Cheshire) is an Anglo-Saxon form (ceaster) of the roman word castra, or camp. A fortress was founded by the Romans at Chester, which they called Deva, home to the XXth Legion. It later was a Saxon stronghold and the last major town to fall to the Normans, in 1071. Charles I sought refuge in the city during the English Civil War, and from the city wall saw his troops defeated at the battle of Rowton. This from William Andrews' Historic Byways and Highways of Old England (pp. 223-224):

Chester races are regarded as the oldest in England, and an order relating to them, dated January 10th, 1571, provides for the Saddlers' ball, which was of silk, being changed for a silver bell of the value of 3s. 4d. as the prize of the winning horse. In 1610 three cups were substituted for the bell, and in 1623, "one faire silver cuppe," valued at £8, in place of three smaller cups.

Printed source: Knowles (Northern Frisk), 1988; No. 10.


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