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|— Duchy of Wildflower Meadows —|
|Country||Principality of Wildflower Meadows|
|Founded||12 May 2016|
|- Duchess||HI&SH Princess Hannah|
|- Total||0.2554 km2 (0.1 sq mi)|
|- Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
The Duchy of Chester Meadows is one of the original two realms of the Principality of Wildflower Meadows, claimed on 12 May 2016. The Meadows were the site of the Principality's foundation, and as such are the highest in ceremonial precedence amongst Wildflowerian realms despite Deva Victrix (the other original claim) being the official capital.
In Roman times the Meadows were a plot of low lying boggy ground on the flood plain of the Dee. The medieval names for the area - King’s, Earl’s, and Newbold’s Eye ("eye" meaning island) - suggest that part of the land spent periods under water. The individual field names also indicate the wet nature of the land with names such as Bog Field, Bottom and Gorsty Bottom Meadow ("bottom" meaning water meadow). Not all the Meadows were boggy. Archaeology conducted in 1993 found evidence of arable farming on the higher land in the north-western corner of the plot, where ridge and furrow formations were observed. These ridges were caused by repeated ploughing which moves the soil to a central strip.
Ownership of the Meadows can be traced back over a millenium. In the tenth century they belonged to the crown, but from 1071 were administered by the Earls of Chester. The first Earl, Hugh Lupus, was given the land by his uncle William I, but when the seventh earl died without any heirs in 1237, the land was reclaimed by the crown. In 1285 Edward I sold almost half of the Meadows - some 29 acres - to a Surrey nobleman, Randle of Merton. The land remained in the hands of the Mertons and their heirs, the Gleggs of Gayton, until the middle of the nineteenth century. Ownership of the other portion is less clear, but it is known that Gilbert Gerrard acquired a section of the Meadows in 1556 from Sir Thomas Venables. This holding was passed on to William Gerrard and subsequently Gilbert Gerrard, who is recorded as having sold 30 acres to George Beverly in 1588 for £400.
Over the last two hundred years the Meadows have become less wet with the flow of the Dee controlled and the building of a substantial embankment and drainage ditches on the field margins. Although many of these ditches have silted up, their outline can be seen on modern aerial photographs. Georgian and Victorian engravings show cattle grazing on the Meadows and that they were also a popular venue for sporting activities with the Chester Regatta based both on the Meadows and on the opposite bank.
The 1845 tithe map shows that most of the Meadows were owned at the time by an heir of Randle of Merton, John Baskervylle Glegg. In about 1850 the Meadows were bought by the Fielden brothers, whose wealth came from a highly successful cotton spinning business based in Todmorden. When Samuel Fielden died in 1890 his estate passed to his only son John Ashton Fielden, who gained ownership of all the family holdings after buying the remaining land from his uncle. On 5 June 1929, Harry and Phyllis Brown bought the Meadows for £5000 from Fielden and donated it later that month to Chester City Council, asking as a condition of such "for the land to be forever maintained and preserved as a recreation ground for the use of citizens."
In September 2015, the now Princess Hannah took up term-time residency in a suburb of Chester upon beginning a four-year course at the University of Chester. She began a romantic relationship with Emperor Jonathan I of Austenasia in November later that year, from which point he frequently visited her at the city. On 12 May 2016, during one of these visits, the Emperor granted his partner sovereignty over Chester Meadows (as well as the walled city to the west), founding the Principality of Wildflower Meadows with the Edict of Chester 2016. Hannah was crowned Princess of Wildflower Meadows as the principality's absolute monarch.
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