I can’t wait!

So I fell into Google Earth and resurfaced a couple hours later with an impressive list of cheesy touristy-ness to go look at in Leicester alone. I’ve noticed among all the Brits I know that if you ask about any city they’ll tell you that “it’s a bit of a hole” and not that exciting. Fairly certain this comes from being jaded to ancient things when you’ve grown up among them. As an American though, I am at pee-my-pants levels of excitement. Leicester has a surprising amount of history still standing! I have to wonder if being further north means there will be more history standing about, but that’s entirely a guess. I’m slowly creating a list of things to just pop by after classes (the fact I can do this is fantastic) and enjoy at my leisure. Just keeping it to buildings you can see on Google Street View (and not even including the museums!), I’ve wrangled:

  • Leicester Market: Open Monday to Saturday and has over 270 stalls. It is around 800 years old but was moved to the current site around 700 years ago. It is the largest outdoor covered market in Europe.
  • Jewry Wall: The construction is a substantial ruined wall of a public building of Ratae Corieltauvorum (Roman Leicester). The wall, an impressive example of standing Roman masonry, is dated to approximately 125–30 AD. It is among the largest pieces of surviving civil Roman architecture in Britain. The structure comprises alternate bands of Roman brick and coursed masonry, of local granite, limestone and sandstone. In the centre of the wall are two large arched openings about 3 metres (10 ft) wide and 4 metres (13 ft) high; and there are further arched alcoves on the eastern side.
  • Abbey Park (Leicester Abbey ruins): Founded in 1143, the abbey was an Augustinian religious house created by the 2nd Earl of Leicester. It grew to become the wealthiest religious establishment within Leicestershire. The Abbey’s prosperity was boosted through the passage of special privileges by both the English Kings and the Pope.
  • St Margaret’s Church: This church is an ancient Anglican parish church situated on St Margaret’s Way. Parts of the transept date from c. 1200, and parts of the aisles from the late 13th century. Most of the church was rebuilt in Perpendicular style c. 1444. The west tower, which is 108 feet (33 m) high, was built at that time. It contains a ring of 14 bells including a flat sixth.
  • Cathedral of St Martin: A church dedicated to St Martin has been on the site for about a thousand years, being first recorded in 1086, when the older Saxon church was replaced by a Norman one. The present building dates to about that age, with the addition of a spire, and various restorations throughout the years. Most of what can be seen today is a Victorian restoration by architect Raphael Brandon. The cathedral of the former Anglo-Saxon diocese of Leicester was on a different site.
  • Church of St Mary de Castro:  St Mary de Castro is an ancient church in Leicester, England, located within the former bailey of Leicester Castle. Today it acts as a parish church in the Church of England’s diocese of Leicester. It dates its founding to 1107 after Henry I of England granted the lands and castle to Robert de Beaumont, although it has been implied that an Anglo-Saxon college of St Mary had existed and Robert merely refurbished it.
  • Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower: A major landmark and popular meeting point in town. It is located roughly in the middle of the area inside the ring-road, and is at the point where five major streets (Gallowtree Gate, Humberstone Gate, Belgrave Gate, Church Gate and Eastgates) meet, and also close by to the junction with Cheapside.
  • Welford Road CemeteryThe cemetery opened in 1849. Welford Road Cemetery was initially intended for dissenters, but the local Anglican community was able to gain inclusion. Two adjacent chapels were built, serving both Anglicans and non-Anglicans. The two chapels have now been demolished, as has a gothic lodge near the main entrance. The gardener’s lodge survives as the University of Leicester chaplaincy, and the ornate 1895 entrance gates are still in place.
  • The Grand Hotel: The hotel was built between 1897-98 and is located on Granby Street. The Kings Hall on the first floor was at one time a cinema. The hotel has always been considered as one of Leicester’s most prestigious, but arguably its heyday was during Victorian times.
  • The Turkey Cafe: Built in 1900, the facade puns on two meanings of “turkey”, with a vaguely Eastern exotic style of architecture and three large turkey birds on the facade. The Turkey Cafe was opened in September 1901 as a tea room and was popular with women. Not only was it a respectable venue for gathering, but it provided a convenient meeting place to discuss the progress of women’s rights. However, the cafe was not designed with only women in mind. Located in the back of the cafe was the Smoke Room. This room with its dark interior provided a place for men to gather and converse as well. The popularity of the cafe rose so high that in 1911 Winn expanded into the building next door.
  • The Magazine (Newarke Gateway): The gateway is an imposing structure, dating back to 1410 and looking like a small castle, in the heart of Leicester’s historic Old Town. It should really be called the Newarke Gateway, as it was an entrance to the Newarke, a 14th century addition to Leicester Castle, but acquired the name Magazine Gateway during the Civil War, when it was used as storage for the town’s weapons and gunpowder.
  • Bow Bridge: Richard III rode out from Leicester on the morning of Sunday 21 August 1483, crossing Bow Bridge “with great triumph and pomp” on his way to do battle at Bosworth. Following his defeat he returned to the town using the same route, this time as a naked corpse slung over a horse. There’s also a story that after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1500s, Richard III´s body was dug up by an angry mob and thrown into the River Soar. This story, now discredited, is recalled on the plaque near the bridge in 1856.
  • Greyfriars (Richard III’s original burial spot): Greyfriars was a friary of the Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans, established by 1250 and dissolved in 1538. Following dissolution the friary was demolished and the site levelled, subdivided, and developed over the following centuries. The locality has retained the name Greyfriars particularly in the streets named “Grey Friars”, and the older “Friar Lane”.
  • St Nicholas’ Church: An Anglican parish church and the oldest place of worship in Leicester. Parts of the church fabric certainly date from circa AD 880, and a recent architectural survey suggested possible Roman building work. The tower is Norman. By 1825 the church was in an extremely poor condition, and plans were made for its demolition. Instead, it was extensively renovated between 1875 and 1884, including the building of a new north aisle. Renovation continued into the twentieth century.
  • HM Prison Leicester(Perhaps not visit inside, but good lord look at the architecture!) The prison was designed by William Parsons to resemble a castle. The oldest part dates from 1825, and it was opened in 1828. Between 1900 and 1953, eight executions took place at the prison. The last was that of John Reynolds, convicted of murder at Leicester Assizes, and hanged on November 17, 1953.
  • Former Church of All SaintsAt the time the church was built, it was at the heart of the city. In the Domesday Book it’s recorded that Leicester had 6 churches, and it’s assumed that this was one. It was enlarged in about 1300.  In 1418 Margery Kempe was tried for Lollardy (for being a follower of John Wycliffe) in the church. In 1583, during outbreaks of the plague, the assizes were held in the church.
  • Chantry House: William Wyggeston founded the chantry chapel in 1512, connected with the Collegiate church in the Newarke. The Chantry House was built for two priests to say masses and prayers for the King and Queen and also ‘where mass might for ever be said for the good estate of William Wigston’. The College was dissolved in 1547 and the priests were pensioned off. The chantry house has now been incorporated as part of the Newarke Houses Museum.
  • Old Grammar School: Formerly the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School. The school was built in 1573 but has been much restored and altered. The building is constructed of stone rubble with a late 1500s roof of tiles, steep-pitched with gabled ends.


Well, more like meet again, but still.

3 thoughts on “I can’t wait!

  1. This is such a good idea! Sometimes I’ll just google earth random cities,it’s so fun/creepy haha. It’s so exciting that you already know what you wanna see though!


  2. I recommend the new food hall at Leicester market to buy some locally made cheese. Sparkenhoe Red Leicester is outstanding. You have to try it.


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