• The only surviving Elizabethan urban gentry house in Leicestershire
  • Chantry House dates from 1511
  • Clad in stucco (plaster) during the 18th Century to give it an elegant Georgian appearance

Two Tudor houses in the heart of modern Leicester

William Wigston´s Chantry House was added to the Newarke precinct around 1511. William Wigston was a wealthy Leicester wool merchant and town benefactor. The Chantry House was built as a home for two priests who said masses and prayers for the souls of the royal family and William Wigston himself. Around 1600 the Chantry House became a grand domestic residence.

Skeffington House

Built between 1560 and 1583, it’s the only surviving Elizabethan urban gentry house in Leicestershire. Thomas Skeffington, the house´s first owner, was Sheriff of Leicestershire at the time of the Spanish Armada. John Whatton, the house´s third owner and part of Charles I´s royal household, was on the Siege of Leicester committee during the English Civil War. The house, originally of rubble stone like the Chantry House, was much altered by its 18th-century owners. They built a brick extension and clad everything in stucco (plaster) to give it an elegant Georgian appearance.

Chantry House with scaffolding after bomb damage during WWII

What remains of the two houses today?

Fortunately the Chantry House survived bomb damage during World War II and now both houses form Newarke Houses Museum. Features of the original buildings and their past owners remain. William Wigston´s coat of arms and a partition wall survive inside the Chantry House. The elegant panelling and grand staircase added by William Wright to Skeffington House in the 18th century are also evident, as are his initials over the front gate.

The Regimental Gallery at Newarke Houses Museum

Newarke Houses Museum & Gardens

The two house are now the home of Leicester’s social history and Royal Leicestershire Regiment museums.

The museum has extensive public gardens planted with a wide variety of flowers, shrubs and trees.

Discover the history of the Leicestershire Tigers Regiment, including a recreation of a First World War trench with sound and lighting. The museum displays include a cinema experience, a collection of toys from Tudor to present day and a play area for children to try various games. Find out more about Leicester’s famous son Daniel Lambert and visit a 1950s street scene inspired by Wharf Street, Leicester.

Find out how to visit.

Visitor information
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Gallery

Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Early 20th Century Leicester

(1910 – 1973) The diverse industrial base meant Leicester was able to cope with the economic challenges of the 1920s and 1930s. New light engineering businesses, such as typewriter and scientific instrument making, complemented the more traditional industries of hosiery and footwear manufacturing.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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