Leicester Castle is a complex located in the west of Leicester City Centre, in the midst of De Montfort University to the south and Saint Nicholas Circle to the north. It is open to the public on a daily basis starting from Monday up to Sunday. It is the oldest aisled and bay divided timber hall that is still surviving in the whole of Britain. The magnificent castle has managed to retain some of its original 12th century timber posts.
Historical Background of Leicester Castle
The castle was built over the Roman town walls and its construction was so as to serve as part of the medieval town defenses. It was built under the governorship of Hugh de Grandmesnil just after the Norman Quest in 1070. Various Kings resided at the castle including Edward I in 1300 and Edward II in 1310 and 1311. The castle went ahead to become an official royal residence. This continued until the middle of the 15th century when the castle was no longer considered suitable. It started being used as a courthouse; with sessions being held right there at the Great Hall.
A small part of the castle wall, adjacent to the Turret Gateway, contains gun loops that are said to have been poked right through the great wall, so as to use them as firing ports by the residents of the city, when the Parliamentarian Leicester was besieged.
The Great Hall
The Great Hall was built by the Second Earl who was Robert de Beaumont’s son, in 1150. His son’s name was Robert ‘le Bossu’. The project brought about the creation of a large stone aisled building that was divided into two aisles and a nave. The roofing was made from timber and was supported on oak posts. The north end of the Hall was where the lord and other important retainers would have sat, and in the middle of the structure was a huge open hearth.
The structure still survives to date although its original design has been altered a few times.
A royal residence
During the reigns of Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, and Edward IV, the castle was used as an official royal residence. All this Kings are known to have stayed here, and this was during the late 15th century. Richard III is also rumored to have stayed twice at this specific castle in 1483, and is also said to have signed the letters he sent from there with the words ‘from my castle to Leicester’. His stay is the last record of a member of the royal family occupying the castle.
Current use of the Leicester Castle
The castle remained vacant since it was abandoned, and is now being used as a venue to hold events although it is currently out of bound to the public due to the covid-19 restrictions.
The premises now have a new resident which is the Montfort University opening as the Leicester Business School. The university was launched at the premises in 2016 and has been running since then.
If you are in Leicester, you can visit Leicester Market.
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44 Wellesbourne Crescent
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