Tour Locations | Haunted Chester: A Spooky Stroll around the Roman-Walled City
Chester Boat pier
Continue alongside the river.
It was at this spot, today the embarkation point for the Chester Boat leisure cruises along the River Dee, that the story of John Clare took an unusual turn.
Keeping his promise to make an escape, he threw himself from the cart where you are now walking and waded into the icy water of the River Dee, attempting to make it across to the other side. But Clare was shackled and the irons soon dragged him down under the surface, his lungs filling with water. To the crowd's amazement, the hangman, who had been driving the cart, stopped the horses and waded into the water after Clare. He then proceeded, much to the horror of the assembled throng, to drag the lifeless corpse from the depths, sling it back on the cart and continue to drive it to the gallows in order to hand the dead man from the noose.
The reason? The hangman was paid by the noose, not by the number of dead bodies. But this act turned the people of Chester against hanging, making the 1801 death of John Clare the last public ever execution in Chester.