Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Leicester's Place in English History

I recently gave a talk to the Co-op Ladies at their Knighton centre, on “Leicester’s Place in English History”.

This is a talk that always goes down well, in which I seek to show that in all the significant periods of English history Leicester and its surrounding area had an important involvement.

Leicester is actually one of the oldest towns in Britain (Colchester is the oldest, but Leicester is up there in the oldest ten or so), and was an important town on the Fosse Way in Roman times.

Leicester was one of the Five Boroughs of the Danelaw, the others being Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln and Stamford.

Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, was, having imprisoned Henry III, effectively the ruler of England until defeated and killed at the Battle of Evesham.

One of John of Gaunt’s homes was Leicester Castle. Under his protection were John Wycliffe, the Rector of Lutterworth, who was the first man to translate the Bible into English, and Geoffrey Chaucer, the author of “The Canterbury Tales”, who was married at St. Mary de Castro Church.

Henry VI was knighted at St. Mary de Castro.

Richard III spent his last knight in a bed at Leicester, before being killed at in battle near Market Bosworth and buried at the Grey Friars in Leicester.

Lady Jane Grey, from Bradgate House near Anstey, was Queen of England for nine days.

Charles I and Prince Rupert successfully besieged Leicester, before having their council of war at Market Harborough and losing the Battle of Naseby in Northamptonshire.

The Industrial Revolution saw to it that Leicester grew enormously, and during the 19th century Thomas Cook organised his very first trip, from Leicester to Loughborough.

I think all that, although a mere synopsis, has proved the point!