• Thomas Cook was a prominent local Baptist and an ardent supporter of the temperance movement (abstinence from alcohol)
  • A statue of the prominent Baptist minister Robert Hall can be seen in DeMontfort Square on New Walk
  • The chapel houses a museum dedicated to the life and work of pioneering Christian missionary William Carey

“Dissenting chapels”

The architect William Flint had the Charles Street Baptist chapel built in 1830. In his Guide to Leicester, Thomas Cook wrote:

“Charles Street Chapel is a neat edifice seating about 700 people. The congregation includes several very influential families and the senior Member of Parliament of the Borough (Richard Harris) is an office-bearer in the church. The Sunday school contains about 260 scholars and 26 teachers.”

 

A service at the chapel in 1943

William Carey, pioneering missionary

Non-Conformists were Christians who refused to “conform” to the Church of England (that is they “dissented”) and so set up their own churches. They held considerable political and economic power in Victorian Leicester.

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. Baptist ministry in Leicester produced two outstanding men, Robert Hall, a renowned preacher and social reformer whose statue stands in De Montfort Square, and William Carey, a shoemaker who became a pioneer Christian missionary to India, social reformer and Bible translator.

The William Carey Museum

The Central Baptist Church houses an important museum celebrating the life and work of William Carey.

Find out how to visit.

Visitor information
Public access inside, booking required

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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