Many lives of Leicester

Archaeology shows that Leicester was a celtic settlement in the Iron age, long before the Romans arrived and created a garrison town. With Romans and soldiers and access to a navigable river, the community naturally grew. We didn’t have to wander far to see some old buildings. Sadly there is very little left of the castle other than a few walls.

Old castle walls

But the castle grounds weren’t wasted as they were incorporated into the more modern homes.

Inside thd GuildHall

Commerce thrived, and wealth was acquired which needed showing off. Leicester has one of the countries oldest surviving guildhalls built 600 years ago. It’s now a museum, showing off it’s finery.

Magnificent fireplace in the guildhall

Guildhalls frequently became the town’s courthouses and prisons, Leicester’s being no exception, proudly showing off it’s gibbet iron. This one is a replica of one used to display the executed body of James Cook. He was hung for a grusome murder infront of a 30000 strong crowd in 1832, and that was before social media was banned from showing grizzly images. Apparently criminals weren’t always dead before they were hoisted up for public display.

Gibbet Iron, no longer in use

Thomas Cook (no connection to the afore mentioned murderer) was born in Derbyshire but made his home in Leicester. It was here that he set about encouraging social improvement through education and consumption of less alcohol. He saw the emerging railway as a means to create this opportunity and in 1841 he organised his first escorted tour. He took a group of 500 people 12 miles from Leicester to Loughborough to attend a temperance meeting, it cost 1 shilling. The rest they say is history.

Thomas Cook overseeing the building work at the train station

Leicester also played a pioneering role in the knitwear industry, introducing machinery to manufacture hosiery, there are knitting machines on display in the Abbey Pump house. However it is the Leicester Seamstress that is commemorated with a city centre sculpture where she is sewing up the stocking seams by hand.

The Leicester Seamstress