Saturday, April 12, 2014

Guildhall, Leicester, England

Our interest in Richard III took us on a trip to Leicester, where his remains were found in 2012. One of our stops was the medieval Guildhall in the middle of town, one of the best preserved medieval halls in England.

The Guildhall in Leicester has a long history. It was built in 1380 for the Guild of Corpus Christi (some local buisnessmen) who let the Corporation of Leicester (the local civil government) use the premises. The Great Hall was the meeting place for the civil authorities. It was also used for entertainments and other social gatherings.

Guildhall, Leicester (with the cathedral in the background)

Between the cathedral and the Guildhall

The Great Hall

Over the entrance of the hall

In 1548 the guild disbanded and the Corporation bought the building. The building became the civic center of Leicester. The West Wing was refurbished as the Mayor's Parlour and the East Wing housed the Town Library (third oldest public library in England!).

Mayor's Parlour

Mayor's Seat

The fireplace

The library

If you only have one book, make it the Good Book

Right by the library is the Recorder's Bedroom, though no sign explained why the recorder had to sleep there.

Mysterious and cosy

The building also has some jail cells which were closed but we were able to peep through a window in the door to the mannequins made up as prisoners. The set up was a little tricky--visitors had to hold the window open and push a button to turn the light on inside. Add in holding up your underage child and it was extra-tricky!

Cell door

The buildings surround a small courtyard which had an interesting clock and a ping pong table, which we tried with little success. The kids just aren't big enough yet.

Courtyard by the Mayor's Parlour

Courtyard by the Library and Cells (that's the cathedral peaking over)

The clock

The kids goofing around

The entrance to the museum has an exhibit on King Richard III, whose remains were found in the car park nearby. A lot of construction was going on when we visited (March 2014) in anticipation of the the burial of Richard's remains in the cathedral. J took the picture of the picture of the skeleton!


J's favorite part (taking the picture, not what he took the picture of)

Detailed info about Richard

Part of the construction is to build a permanent Richard III museum in Leicester, so the exhibits will eventually move out of the Guildhall and into the new museum.

At least five ghosts are supposed to haunt the hall, but since we came during the day we didn't see any. If the stories are right, the building is the most haunted in Leicester. With the jail there it is easy to see why they sprang up.

Tomorrow we're off to the cathedral!

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