24.7 Architectural walking tour of Leicester with Colin Crosby

Colin, our tour guide, showed us first New Walk Centre, then New Walk itself, created as a route to the Racecourse. Then in Market Street we saw the Auction Rooms which attracted people and business to the city.

We were shown statues, of which Leicester has many, only outstripped by Liverpool and London. One of these was of Thomas Cook, who first hired trains from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance meeting and then, with his son, started his world business.

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We made our way to St Martin’s Square, the old cathedral churchyard now opened out and regenerated with the new sculpture “Towards Stillness”, and were allowed into the cathedral for a few minutes to see the latest tomb of King Richard III.

Colin next showed us the Market Hall, seat of local government for 400 years. Nearby was the BBC’s first regional station but now in their new building.
After seeing Wygston House (where we had watched the World Cup) more thoroughly in daylight…

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…we walked around to Jubilee Square to see the High Street (city walls now gone) and the eating houses and spectacular glass of the new shops in Highcross Shopping Centre.

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Passing the free Grammar School, we moved on to St Nicholas church, a very early Saxon church with 14th Century tower and architecture from many periods, but including Roman tiles in its construction and a brick bearing a dog paw-print (just as people today walk in cement whilst it is setting!)

It shares an historic boundary Jewry Wall with the Roman public Baths originally watered by an aqueduct. A Jewry Wall museum is out of sight on the left, which there was no time to explore.

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On the West Bridge above the River Soar we were shown characters from the Canterbury Tales.

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Walking next through Castle Gardens, we arrived at the church of St Mary de Castro (Mary of the walls) in the Old Town, associated with both Richard III and Henry II.

We then entered the Castle through the Bailey and saw the remains of its Motte, and were reminded of the 1640 siege of Leicester which ended in a bloody Royalist victory in 1645

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Finally, a short walk along Castle View brought us back surprisingly quickly to The Magazine and magazine Gate and the de Montfort campus.

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We arrived bang on time at 16.00 and thanked Colin for being so erudite and witty, before we all dispersed.

Review and photographs by:
Norman Ashfield  

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