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  • Designed by Arthur Wakerley – local architect who also held the position of Mayor of Leicester
  • The tiles on the frontage were made by Royal Doulton
  • Cafés were popular as ‘respectable’ meeting places in Edwardian times

Turkey – country or bird?

The charming Art Nouveau style Turkey Café was designed by local architect and former mayor Arthur Wakerley. People at this time were fascinated by “orientalism” and the building reflects Wakerley´s interpretation of Turkish architecture. Turkey the country and turkey the bird are both themes woven into his design. The frontage of the building was covered in matt-glazed Carraraware made by the Royal Doulton Company.

“A place to give rest to the body and pleasure to the eye”

Once finished, the Turkey Café was leased to the restaurateur John Winn, opening in 1901. The family continued to run it until the 1960s. Cafés were popular in Edwardian times as they provided respectable meeting places for women and were promoted by anti-alcohol campaigners as an alternative to pubs.

Advertisements from 1911 show that Winn´s had its own bakery and roasted its coffee each day “by the Most Efficient Mechanical Process Invented”. They claimed to serve “the finest coffee the world produces, roasted hourly, ground hourly, and retaining all its delicious aroma.”

Changes to the Café

In 1911 the café was extended to provide a Smoke Room for gentlemen and extra tearooms. A Ladies´ Orchestra gave performances twice daily. The café regularly hosted social events and the meetings of local clubs and societies. The building has been frequently remodelled, both inside and out, but in the 1980s Rayners Opticians restored the exterior using original architect drawings.

The Turkey Café is now a cocktail bar and is open daily. Find out how to visit.

Visitor information
Public access inside

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.

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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Leisure & Entertainment

Cook’s Temperance Hall & Hotel

In 1853 Thomas Cook built an impressive Temperance Hall and adjoining Temperance Hotel on Granby Street. The Temperance Hall was demolished in 1961, but the Hotel frontage (now 121 Granby Street) has survived, the upper two storeys retaining much of their original appearance.

Leicester Museum & Art Gallery

In 1848 a school building was bought by the Leicester Corporation with the idea of converting it to a public museum, one of the first council-run museums to be established in the country. It opened in 1849.

Silver Street and The Lanes

The area known as ‘The Lanes’ dates back to medieval Leicester with the street pattern remaining much the same for many centuries. Roughly following the ancient Roman road that connected the west and east gates of the town the street has had various names over the years but by 1587 it was known as Silver Street.

Victorian Turkish Baths

Turkish baths were once very fashionable with more than 600 in Britain. There were two Victorian Turkish baths in the centre of Leicester during the late 1800’s, the one surviving at 40 Friar Lane and the other being at 9 New Street around the corner.

The Blue Boar Inn

On Leicester’s medieval High Street (now Highcross Street), close to where a Travelodge stands today, there was once an elaborate timber-framed building known as the Blue Boar Inn. Here, by tradition, Richard III spent a final night or two before the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

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