Heritage panels celebrate city's historic villages
Leicester's historic villages are to be celebrated in a new series of heritage information panels.
The new panels will tell the stories behind six of the city’s oldest villages: Aylestone, Belgrave, Braunstone, Evington, Humberstone and Knighton.
Each of the 13 panels features an illustrated map and information about the heritage buildings in the area, encouraging people to find out more about their neighbourhoods.
“We’ve been installing heritage information panels in the city centre over the last two years, helping to make people more aware of the history that’s around them,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.
“We now want to encourage people to explore and enjoy Leicester’s historic villages with this new series of panels that celebrates the buildings and features that give our villages their unique character.”
Some of the first panels to be installed will be in Belgrave and Aylestone.
Belgrave’s three panels reveal how the area got its name – “beautiful grove” – from the Normans, and how it became a desirable suburb for wealthy Leicester residents in the early 18th century.
They also tell the story of the 17th century Talbot Coaching Inn, whose outbuildings were reputedly used as a morgue for the bodies of executed criminals.
Aylestone’s two panels recall the village’s long history, from medieval settlement and farming community to 20th century residential suburb.
The story of Aylestone’s role as a “pleasure resort” in the early part of the 20th century is also told, with the village’s boating centre, tennis courts, ballroom and ‘Japanese Pleasure Grounds’ proving to be a magnet for people living in Leicester in the 1920s.
Heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke said: “There’s so much to discover about the history of Leicester’s villages, if you know where to look.
“These new panels will help point people towards the 13th century stone font in St Andrew’s Church and the 15th century packhorse bridge in Aylestone – or inform them that Belgrave’s Thurcaston Road was part of the great road that linked London and Manchester in the 17th century.
“We hope that these bite-sized chunks of history will encourage people to find out more about the city where they live, and provide visitors with the information they need to make the most of their stay in Leicester.”
The first heritage panels have been installed at the following sites:
• Church Road, Belgrave
• Medieval Bridge, Thurcaston Road, Belgrave
• Loughborough Road/Bath Street, Belgrave
• Old Church Street, Aylestone
• Riverside Drive, Aylestone
The remaining eight panels in the historic villages’ series are due to be installed by the end of March.
They will complement the 67 heritage information panels already installed around the city centre, which celebrate Leicester’s 2,000 years of history – from Roman times to the modern era.
All the panels are part of the city’s ‘Story of Leicester’ project, which aims to bring the past to life for people living in Leicester today, and acts as a source of reference on the city’s heritage.
To find out more about the Story of Leicester, visit the website at www.storyofleicester.info