Leicester’s political and administrative development began early in the 12th century and is tied with the growth of a town council in the early 14th century. The use of the Medieval Guildhall as the Town Hall lasted for almost 400 years. By the mid-19th Century much larger premises were needed to support a rapidly growing industrial centre.

The city has a history of active citizenship and political discourse with regular speeches, marches and rallies held in the Market Place and at Victoria Park over the years. The secular movement has long been an important part of political life in Leicester and today the city is home to the only building in the UK devoted to entirely to secularism. Many of the campaigns for workers’ rights and equal rights were spearheaded by political figures in the city.

In 1919 Leicester regained its city status after 800 years and in 2011 was one of only 12 cities in the UK to have a directly elected Mayor.

Amos Sherriff

The story of Amos Sherriff is one of remarkable achievement in the face of severe adversity.

The Guildhall

The Guildhall dates back to medieval times and would have been a building of importance during the time of Richard III.

Women's Social and Political Union Shop

The Women’s Social and Political Union, better known as the Suffragettes, was formed in 1903 to campaign for votes for women.

Gaols in the City

In the 18th century Leicester had four gaols on or near Highcross Street.

St Mark’s Church and School

When first built around 1870, St Mark’s was one of the main working class parishes of Leicester.

The Roman Forum and Basilica

When the streets of Roman Leicester were laid out in the early 2nd century AD, a large open space in the centre of the town was set aside for the construction of the main public buildings.

The Royal Leicestershire Regiment

The troubled days that marked the closing period of the reign of King James II saw the birth of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Colonel Solomon Richards was commissioned to raise the Regiment on 27th September 1688.

The Town Hall

The opening ceremony was performed on 7 August 1876 by the Mayor, Alderman William Barfoot, beginning with the Borough Magistrates and members of the Council ‘taking a regretful leave of their ancient and time-honoured place of meeting at The Guildhall’.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower was built originally as a solution to traffic congestion on the site of the town´s former hay and straw market in 1868.

City Hall

In 1919 Leicester was recognised as a city. It continued to expand, along with its Council. By 1930 it was agreed new municipal offices were needed to centralize the Housing, Electricity, Rates, Motor Licence and Valuation departments.

Free Grammar School

The school was built around 1573 using stone, timber and lead from St Peter´s church that had been demolished following an appeal to Queen Elizabeth I. The royal coat of arms is displayed over the entrance.

Leicester During the First World War

Following the outbreak of war on August 4th 1914 the part-time soldiers of the Leicestershire Regiment Territorial Force and the Leicestershire Yeomanry were mobilised. Magazine square was used to enlist and drill local soldiers.

The Castle Motte

The first Leicester Castle was probably built in 1068 on the order of Duke William of Normandy (William I). It was located at the south-west corner of the Roman town walls, in a dominant position overlooking the Saxon town of about 350 houses, and the river crossing.

The Magazine

Today, the ‘Magazine’, or more correctly, the Newarke Gateway dominates the western end of Newarke Street where it joins Vaughan Way and Oxford Street. Today, the gateway, which was built about 1400, is one of Leicester’s finest surviving medieval buildings.

Trinity Hospital and Chapel

The Hospital of the honour of God and the Glorious Virgin and All Saints (Trinity Hospital and Chapel) was founded in 1330 by Henry Plantagenet, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, who was a grandson of King Henry III and chief advisor to King Edward III.

Leicester Castle

The lord and important retainers would have sat at the north end of the hall, and in the centre of the building was a large open hearth. Doors at the north end led to the lord’s private apartments, whilst at the south end there was access to a separate kitchen above an undercoft (John of Gaunt’s cellar), where ale, wine and food would have been stored.

story of leicester
Your ultimate guide to visiting the city