Skip to content

Faith & Belief

With a history dating back to the Saxon period, St Nicholas Church is the oldest known place of worship in Leicester though our modern city has a long history of welcoming a variety of different ethnic communities and religious faiths.

Leicester’s diverse communities of today worship in the many Churches, Mosques, Temples, Mandirs, Gurdwaras and Synagogues located across the city. Non-religious belief also plays a major role in the life of Leicester which has the only building dedicated to secularism in the UK.

Leicester is noted for the many nationalities represented in the city’s population and the many different religious communities that regularly come together to celebrate the city’s diversity. In 2015 researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science officially named Narborough Road as the most diverse street in the UK with 22 countries of birth represented among the 108 proprietors.

Belvoir Street Chapel

Affectionately known as the “Pork Pie Chapel”, Belvoir Street Chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse–drawn cab.

Jain Centre

What we know today as Leicester´s Jain Centre started life in 1863 as a Congregational Chapel (an independent church).

Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurdwara

Leicester's first Sikh gurdwara now occupies a building that used to be a knitwear factory.

St Mary de Castro

The church was founded by Robert de Beaumont, 1st Earl of Leicester, and built inside the fortified enclosure of Leicester Castle.

Faith in Roman Leicester

Leicester has been a place of diverse culture and faith for some 2,000 years. A confirmed Roman temple has been discovered and references to other temples have also been found.

Freemasons’ Hall

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest non-religious, non-political and charitable organisations. It became established in Leicester in the 18th Century, with the first Lodges meeting in local public houses.

Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel

Built in 1708 as a “Meeting House of Protestant Dissenters”, the Great Meeting is the earliest example of a major brick building in Leicester.

Highfield Street Synagogue

The Highfields Street Synagogue was mostly funded by donations from Israel Hart and other local Jewish business men, it opened in 1898.

Secular Hall

This is the only building in Britain that is entirely devoted to secularism. Secularists believe religion should have no privileged role in civil and state activities. It was a very controversial idea in Victorian times.

Wesleyan Chapel

Today Bishop Street Methodist Church occupies a prime location in the city overlooking Town Hall Square. This area was used as a cattle market and the land around it was therefore cheap enough for the early Methodists to buy and build on.

Charles Street Baptist Chapel

Baptists were one of the largest Non-Conformist groups in Victorian Leicester and included influential men like Thomas Cook (the great travel pioneer and anti-alcohol campaigner), prominent manufacturers and civic dignitaries.

Leicester Cathedral

Leicester Cathedral is at the physical heart of the Leicester, situated in Leicester’s Old Town. The Cathedral famously houses King Richard III’s tomb.

Leicester Abbey

Leicester Abbey (demolished around 1538) lay just to the north-east of medieval Leicester, beside the main road leading to Nottingham and Derby, in a pleasant spot next to the River Soar. A number of magnificent ruins related to the abbey complex remain today and can be seen in the grounds of Abbey Park.

Grey Friars

Franciscan friars first arrived in Leicester in the early 13th century. Their friary occupied a large walled precinct south of St Martin’s Church (now Leicester Cathedral) and west of Leicester’s Saturday market place, between two important medieval thoroughfares, Friar Lane and St Francis’ Lane (Peacock Lane today).

Church of the Annunciation

In the basement of De Montfort University's (DMU) Hawthorn Building, stand two arches which were once part of a medieval church. Today, these ruins form the centrepiece for the university’s Heritage Centre.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Located on the corner of Catherine Street and Gypsy Lane is the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), a white limestone Hindu temple. The mandir building is a former denim factory and it has now become one of the largest and most stunning mandirs in the Midlands.

Central Mosque

First established in 1968 by a group of Pakistani Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Centre would go on to expand from a side street in Highfields to the grand Central Mosque on Conduit Street. The original Islamic Centre is still on Sutherland Street, made up of converted residential buildings and is certainly one of the oldest Mosques in Leicester.

Diwali in Leicester

Diwali in Leicester is a huge, cultural celebration enjoyed by people who have come from far and wide to see the thousands of decorative Diwali lights along the city’s “Golden Mile”, enjoy spectacular firework displays and see homes, temples and gurdwaras all illuminated.

St Barnabas Church and Vicarage

St Barnabas was designed by the Leicester architects Goddard and Paget in the Perpendicular style and built by the local firm of G. Hewitt. Its ‘picturesque and pleasing’ exterior was of red brick with Bath stone dressings.

story of leicester
Your ultimate guide to visiting the city