• Built in the area that was occupied by the a cattle market and 50 years later the Town Hall
  • It contains a magnificent 17th century organ, 100 years older than the building itself
  • Methodists were non-conformists. These were Christians who refused to “conform” to the Church of England and so set up their own churches

The chapel and the cattle market

Today Bishop Street Methodist Church occupies a prime location in the city overlooking Town Hall Square. This area before 1870 was used as a cattle market and the land around it was therefore cheap enough for the early Methodists to buy and build on. The chapel is one of the oldest buildings to survive in this part of the city and predates the Central Library (1904) and Town Hall itself (1873).

The animal sheds of the cattle market are in the foreground and you can see the chapel in background, circa 1870

The Methodist architect and the royal organ builder

The chapel was built in the Georgian Neo-Classical style by the architect Rev. William Jenkins in 1815, himself a Methodist minister. Inside, a magnificent 17th century organ case by “Father” Smith, organ builder to Charles II, predates the chapel itself by over 100 years.

The Arthur Wakerley connection

Victorian Leicester was non-conformist in its religion, outlook and politics. Non-conformists were Christians who refused to “conform” to the Church of England and so set up their own churches. Many of the town’s most influential citizens and industrialists were nonconformist. Arthur Wakerley, a member of the chapel’s congregation, was Mayor in 1897 and a renowned Leicester architect who designed the Turkey Cafe on Granby Street.

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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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