Despite its modern appearance, Leicester has a long and extensive heritage that can be identified in its many historic buildings and museums, located around the city centre. The town was known in Roman times as Ratae Coritanorum (capital of Coritani) and is mentioned under the name of Ledecestre in the Domesday Book. The Jewry Wall, to the west of the city centre, is now all that remains (above ground) of the original Roman town. Next to the wall is the Church of St Nicholas, one of the oldest Saxon churches in England. The church was built around the 7th-c. using stones from the nearby Roman buildings.

Leicester Jewry Wall
Roman Jewry Wall © Travel About Britain

Leicestershire has a long history of farming and agricultural. The city centre once held a livestock market, which traded there for many centuries. The general market, in market place, is equally as old and one of the largest outdoor covered markets in England. Today a large modern shopping centre has grown-up around the market, which still holds its daily market of textiles, fruit and vegetables, and also a popular fish market. One of the pleasures of visiting Leicester today is the opportunity to sample one of its famous Indian restaurants, many of which can be found along the Belgrave Road.

The city's best known monument is the late Victorian clock-tower, situated in the centre of town, which contains statues of Simon de Montfort amongst other city benefactors. There are many fine Georgian town houses in Friar Lane and New Street, and two 16th-c. Chantry Houses, located to the west of the castle, that now form the Newarke Houses Museum of social and domestic history. The nearby Trinity Hospital almshouses date from 1331.

Leicester Cathedral and Guildhall

Leicester Cathedral and Guildhall © TAB

Leicester's modest 14th-c cathedral can be found just off the High Street. Located next to it is the fine timber-framed Guildhall, one of Leicester's few surviving medieval buildings. Leicester's much older castle, located near the river Soar, was originally a Saxon stronghold and rebuilt in 1068 by Leicester's first Norman Lord. The castle's 12th-c. great hall, now concealed within 18th-century brick work, was once used as the local courthouse. The remains of the original Norman motte (central mound) can be seen from within the St Nicholas Circle Castle Gardens, which provide a formal and peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Running alongside the park is the 12 mile long riverside walk, that provides a pleasant green corridor through the city centre.

Leicester is blessed with many parks and green open spaces. In particular, New Walk (laid out in 1785), is a tree-lined pedestrianised avenue that runs for about a mile from the city centre to Victoria Park. Part way along the walk is the Leicestershire Museum & Art Gallery, which has exhibits on Egyptology, natural history and local archeology. The ruins of an Augustinian abbey, founded in 1143, lie in Abbey Park just north of the city. It is claimed that Cardinal Wolsey died at the abbey in 1530, where an inscription marks the presumed site of his grave.

Content by Steve B

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