- About the place
- Visitors information
The first recorded mention of the church of St Martin comes from 1086, 20 years after the Norman Conquest. Over the centuries, this church grew and expanded both physically and spiritually, surviving the Reformation and the tumultuous period of religious upheaval which occupied most of the Tudor reign, and undergoing extensive restoration in the late 19th century.
Following the First World War, the efforts of the then Vicar and later Archdeacon of Leicester, Frederick Brodie Macnutt, led to St Martin’s church being selected as the Cathedral of the restored diocese of Leicester. The building was finally hallowed as Leicester Cathedral in 1927, with Macnutt as the first Provost of Leicester.
Throughout the 20th century the Cathedral continued to develop, establishing a firm choral tradition and being beautified by the generosity of its patrons and congregation. In 2000, the Cathedral became a pioneer, with the Very Revd Vivienne Faull being appointed as the country’s first female Cathedral Provost (later Dean).
Now for over 80 years a Cathedral, and nearing a millennium as an established site of Christian worship, Leicester Cathedral is standing on the brink of a new era as it branches out even further into the community with the opening of St Martin’s House in 2011 and the launch of the Cathedral Square project.
Architecture to note includes the Vaughan Porch designed by Pearson, the tower by Brandon and the internal ordering of the choir and screen by Nicholson.
The Stained Glass includes two windows by the well known Arts and Crafts specialist Christopher Whall as well as a third later window designed by his daughter.
St Martin’s House – in 2011, St Martin’s House will open as a centre of outreach and enterprise, acting as a Centre for the Diocese and Cathedral, and offering a new heart to the city.
Richard III memorial stone – Leicester Cathedral is the only Cathedral in the country to feature a memorial to King Richard III, who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and whose body was buried in the churchyard of the Church of the Grey Friars, before allegedly being dug up and throw in the nearby River Soar.
St George’s Chapel is the regimental chapel for the Royal Tigers, the Leicestershire Regiment which also began the well known local rugby club.
The Organ – the Cathedral organ was fully restored in 1930 by Harrison & Harrison Ltd, and celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.
The Choir and Chorister Outreach Project – the boys, girls, Songmen and Choral Scholars sing at services throughout the week, under the direction of Jonathan Gregory. Leicester Cathedral’s Chorister Outreach Project is also pioneering in its mission to engage schoolchildren in singing, who might otherwise not have the opportunity.
Organ Recital Series – every summer the Cathedral plays host to a number of visiting organists. This year’s recitalists include David Titterington, David Goode, Jonathan Gregory and Nigel Ogden.
The Guildhall – now a museum, and host to a wide variety of performances and events.
CURVE – a vibrant new theatre and arts centre, putting Leicester back on the cultural map).
Highcross Shopping Centre – an expansive retail complex, featuring such stores as John Lewis, the Apple Store, Debenhams, Waterstones and Next, as well as a wide variety of restaurants.
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery – Leicester's oldest museum has wide-ranging collections spanning the natural and cultural world. A family friendly day-out, displays include Egyptians, Wild Space, World Arts and Leicester’s Fine Art collections.
Jewry Wall Museum – situated next to the remains of a Roman public bathhouse, thought to be one of the tallest surviving pieces of Roman masonry in the country, the Jewry Wall Museum is a celebration of the Roman history of Leicester, as well as other periods of history.
Other churches nearby include St Nicholas (the oldest church in Leicester - Saxon) and St Mary de Castro (founded 1107).
Leicester is also home to numerous temples (including the only Jain temple in Europe), mosques and gudwaras in what is believed to be the UK’s first ‘plural city’. The St Philip’s Centre is a centre for study and engagement in a multi-faith society.
Abbey Park – containing the ruins of Leicester Abbey, and a memorial statue to Cardinal Wolsey.