• Only one pillar remains of the original High Cross shelter, originally there were 8
  • The pillar has had many homes over the years: King Street, Cheapside, museum gardens and even a private garden
  • The remaining pillar from the High Cross can now be seen in its original location

A medieval market place

The area that is now Jubilee Square would have been at the very heart of medieval Leicester.  On Wednesdays a market was held at the junction of what is now Highcross Street and High Street.

A stone in the road on Highcross Street marks the location of the original High Cross

The High Cross

In 1577 the High Cross was built to provide shelter for traders and consisted of eight pillars in a circle holding up a dome. The structure gradually fell into disrepair as the town developed and by 1773 most of it was pulled down to allow room for carriages to pass by. Just a single pillar remained which can still be seen in Jubilee Square.

On the move

The High Cross has been moved many times. Over the centuries it has been located in the front lawn of The Crescent in King Street, the rear gardens of Newarke Houses Museum and in Market Place before being returned to its original location where it now stands.

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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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A Working Town

Luke Turner & Co. Ltd.

In the mid-19th century the manufacture of elastic webbing for boots, stockings, braces etc. was a very profitable business in Leicester. Supplying both the footwear industry and hosiery, the Luke Turner company extended the uses to which the material could be put.

Leicester Market

Leicester Market has been a place of social and cultural importance since the 13th century when it became the centre for trade in the area. The first mention of it was in 1298 when a market larger than today’s took place ‘bounded by the city walls and the corn wall’, which was used by horse dealers to display the speed of their animals.

Makers Yard

The buildings at 82-86 Rutland Street, now Makers Yard, form the earliest surviving example of an unpowered hosiery factory in the East Midlands. They were originally built in stages between 1854 and 1863 for J. Brown and Sons, a hosiery manufacturer specialising in gloves.

Glenfield Tunnel

The Glenfield Tunnel, when it opened in 1832, was the longest steam railway tunnel in the world. It forms part of the Leicester & Swannington railway network, the first steam railway in the Midlands and one of the first in the world.

High Street

High Street follows a route that existed in Roman times, connecting East Gate to the Forum and Basilica (now Jubilee Square). In medieval times it was known as Forum Porcorum (‘pig market’) or Swinesmarket, but by 1524 had been renamed High Street to reflect its increased importance.

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