On the day that we visited Leicester Cathedral and the temporary Richard III exhibition, we also visited the Guildhall. What a beautiful building!
It’s a Grade I listed timber framed building, with the earliest part dating from c. 1390. The Guildhall once acted as the town hall for the city until the current one was commissioned in 1876. Although some parts are earlier, the majority of the building dates from the 15th century. It is located in the old walled city, on a street now known as Guildhall Lane, just across from the west door of the cathedral.
There was also an unusual clock on the wall. On each full hour the little figures move out and face each other to clang out the hour (for some strange reason I was reminded of Punch and Judy!!).
The mayors chair is there as well, and there is also a seat for the representative of the ruler of the land. It has the motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom (Dieu et mon Droit) over the seat. Mind you it looks a bit uncomfortable!
Next door is the Great Hall. It was built around 1390 as the meeting place of the Guild of Corpus Christi (founded in 1347); the guild was a group of businessmen and gentry who had religious connections. The Guildhall was used for banquets, festivals, and as a home for a priest who prayed for the souls of Guild members in the nearby St Martins church. By 1495 in was in use as the Town Hall and remained so until the remarkably late date of 1875. The hall was used for many purposes, including council meetings, feasts, as a courtroom, and for theatrical performances.
The hall has the most wonderful wooden vaulted ceiling.
Upstairs there’s a small bedroom and the library.
This was an unexpected gem to find on our day in Leicester. There is also an old jail on the site with some interesting inmates! And apparently there are five resident ghosts…
It is a beautiful building with a great sense of history throughout…. and I think it’s a wedding venue as well!
Opening times (as far as I know)
Open daily: 11am – 4.30pm
(February – October)
Open November – January for special events.