Leicester is an ancient Iron Age settlement that was held as a high status tribal centre near the east bank of the River Soar just over 2,000 years ago. It quickly turned into a significant capital city at the time of the Roman Conquest of Britain around AD43.

Through the centuries the city’s population grew, exploding with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s. Much of the Leicester was re-built and old buildings swept away for new terraced houses built to accommodate the workers, which gave rise to a strong community spirit in many areas of the city.

After World War II more new communities came to Leicester, from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and the Indian sub-continent. Today Leicester is one of the most diverse cities to live in and is one of the fastest growing cities in the UK in terms of population.

Living Like a Roman

Leicester’s Roman inhabitants lived in a wide variety of houses, ranging from rows of small, simple rectangular buildings built along street fronts (with domestic rooms located behind shops or workshops) to larger, elaborate townhouses built around colonnaded courtyards.

The Vine Street Courtyard House

One of the largest townhouses found in Leicester was a courtyard house excavated at Vine Street in 2004-06.

The Streets of Medieval Leicester

Medieval Leicester lay within the old Roman walls and its layout was heavily influenced by remaining Roman structures.

Wygston’s House

Wygston’s House is the oldest house in Leicester. It has been here since medieval times and the road it stood on was the widest and busiest thoroughfare in the town, High Street.

Bow Bridge

Two of Leicester’s best-known legends about Richard III are linked with Bow Bridge. Both were first published by the antiquarian John Speed in 1611.

Chantry House and Skeffington House

A pair of 14th Century houses that are now home to Leicester's social history collection and the museum of The Leicestershire Regiment

New Walk

New Walk is a rare example of a Georgian pedestrian promenade. Laid out by the Corporation of Leicester in 1785

17 Friar Lane

17 Friar Lane stands on was once part of the Friary of the Franciscans or Grey Friars.

Welford Road Cemetery

The Cemetery is a Grade II listed ‘Park and Garden of Special Historic Interest’open to the public

Top Hat Terrace

Top Hat Terrace was built in 1864 for Francis ‘Tanky’ Smith, a former Detective Inspector in the Leicester Borough Police who had a reputation as a master of disguise.

YMCA Building

Work began on the building in 1899. The architect, YMCA president Alderman Albert Sawday, became Mayor of Leicester in 1903.

Lancaster Road Fire Station

Central station is a grand structure that has stood for over 90 years guarding the city and its people. A. E. and T. Sawday architects designed the station along with the specially built fireman’s houses that surround it.

Saffron Hill Cemetery

The cemetery was formally opened by Cllr H Carver JP, Lord Mayor of Leicester in October 1931. Muslim burials have taken place at Saffron Hill since June 1963. Saffron Hill contains the first purpose built Muslim Chapel or Janazgah in Western Europe.

Former City Police Headquarters

In 1933 the City Police got a new purpose built headquarters in this building designed by G. Noel Hill and A.T. Gooseman of Leicester City Architects´ Department

The Golden Mile

The story of the Golden Mile is one of resilience and enterprise. For many years the Belgrave Road was a thriving area with large companies such as Wolsey and the British United Shoe Machinery (BUSM) company sharing the nearby streets with many smaller workshops and businesses.

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre started life as the Belgrave Hall Wesleyan Methodist Church and Mantle Memorial School. Both were designed by local architect Arthur Wakerley, a former mayor of Leicester.

story of leicester
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