About 39 Bridge Street
39 Bridge Street is the address of a building in Chester which contains the remains of a Roman hypocaust in its cellar.
History of 39 Bridge Street
The remains of the hypocaust – a system of central heating that circulates warm air underneath the floor, and occasionally through the wall – were discovered during the reconstruction of the property in 1864.
They are made up of 27 square columns in a square chamber that originally contained 32 columns in eight rows of four. The system would have been a part of the legionary baths, which was in turn part of one of the largest buildings in Chester as a kind of clubhouse for the men of the Twentieth legion to relax, enjoy a Turkish bath exercise, or converse.
The hypocaust dates to the 2nd century, when Chester was under Roman occupation. In the late 13th or 14th century a medieval undercroft – a cellar or storage room – was built adjacent to the hypocaust, with a house above.
In 1864 a new floor was built on street level, with a shop front being added later during the 20th century.
39 Bridge Street Today
Today, the building is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. The ground floor is used as a cafe. To the left hand side is a small staircase which takes you down to an additional seating area in the cellar, where you can view parts of the hypocaust.
Part of the hypocaust has been moved to the Roman Gardens in Chester.
Getting to 39 Bridge Street
From the centre of Chester, 39 Bridge Street is a 5 minute walk via Northgate St. It’s also a 7 minute drive via the A5268.