Treasures Unlocked

Melton St Mary's - copyright Chris Jones

While visiting Leicestershire's attractions, why not visit a local church to learn more about the area?

Treasures Unlocked is a group of ten churches each of which is located close to one of Leicester and Leicestershire's major attractions.  Each church is open and has something interesting to share that could easily be overlooked by visitors to the area. 

Where can you find a spire that reaches 210ft or a remarkable collection of tombs of the Lords of Belvoir?   See the stained glass windows at St Mary's Church in Melton Mowbray after your visit to Belvoir Castle or after you've sampled the pork pies that are made locally.  Or search for the marks on the pillars that are said to be from the sharpening of knives and swords by troops during the civil war.

There are lots of suggestions here - extend your visit just a little longer and unlock the treasures located in many of our local churches in Leicestershire.


This project has been financially supported by the Leicestershire Rural Partnership.


Leicester Cathedral copyright Chris Jones

Leicester City

Leicester city boasts two shopping centres in the centre of the city, Highcross and the Haymarket Shopping Centre.  The Lanes, which are also located centrally, have many independent shops positioned in a pedestrianised area which are good for a leisurely time of shopping.

Museums in the city include New Walk Museum located in the tree lined promenade which has stayed free of traffic since it was laid out in 1785.  The museum houses art exhibitions, Egyptian artifacts and prehistoric remains that have been found in Leicester and Leicestershire.

Other museums are the Jewry Wall Museum with the largest free-standing Roman structure remaining in Britain and the timber framed Guildhall with its police cells and large hall.  The Guildhall is located opposite Leicester Cathedral in Peacock Lane.  One of five medieval churches in the old town of Leicester, it was built on a pre-Christian religious site and has been a cathedral since the 1920s. 

Inside there is a memorial to Abigail Herrick, a member of the famous Herrick family.  Abigail lived at Wigston Magna and when visiting Dublin she met and married a cleric named Dr Swift.  Their son is internationally remembered for 'Gulliver's Travels'. 

There are tearooms and restaurants in the city serving food from every corner of the world that will cater for every taste and budget.

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Loughborough is the county town of the borough of Charnwood.  There is a bustling outdoor market in the town centre on Thursdays and Saturdays, there's peace and quite at several country parks including Bradgate Park and Beacon Hill and visitor attractions such as Great Central Railway and John Taylor's Bell Foundry.

Great Central Railway is a double track preserved railway that runs between Loughborough and Birstall and has special event days throughout the year.  John Taylor's Bell Foundry has a long and fascinating history and has shipped its bells all over the country including one of the bells in St Paul's Cathedral in London.

Just around the corner from John Taylor's Bell Foundry is the Parish Church of Loughborough, All Saints.  The bells here were also made at the foundry and a plaque in the church gives details of how they were produced.

Both the foundry and All Saints Parish Church is close to the town centre where you will find lots of places to eat and drink.

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St Helen's copyright Chris Jones

Ashby de la Zouch

Ashby de la Zouch is a pretty market town in North West Leicestershire.  The headquarters of the National Forest is in the nearby village of Moira which is home to the family visitor attraction, Conkers.

Conkers, the award winning attraction at The Heart of the National Forest, is a unique mix of indoor and outdoor experiences that will keep you and your family engaged for hours.  There are outdoor activities including an assault course, birdwatching hides and Conkerchoo the train that will transport you from one side of the attraction to the other.  Inside there are interactive activities helping you to learn a little more about recycling and wildlife.

Also in Ashby de la Zouch there are the ruins of the English Heritage owned Ashby Castle where an audio tour will take you back in time when the castle was inhabited.

St Helen's Parish Church is centrally located in the town centre, close to the ruins of Ashby Castle and is well worth a visit while in the area. At the back of the church is a rare finger pillory, which was used to punish those who had misbehaved in church!

There is a huge choice of places to eat and drink in the Ashby area.  From tearooms to country pubs to restaurants, there is something for everyone.

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Bottesford Church copyright Chris Jones


Bottesford is the most northerly village in Leicestershire and lies to the north of the town of Melton Mowbray.

Belvoir Castle looks out over the Vale of Belvoir and can be visited during August.  It is home to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland and houses many notable paintings and pieces of art.

The parish church in Bottesford is St Mary the Virgin which has many interesting features.  It was built by and has always been the family church of the inhabitants of Belvoir Castle, who were buried in the church until 1828 - hence the monuments.  It is one of the largest village churches in England and contains a remarkable collection of tombs of the Lords of Belvoir.  One tomb is the only one in the country to record the death of two heirs to an earldom by witchcraft! 

The countryside in the Vale of Belvoir is beautiful and there are many country pubs and restaurants offering lunches and afternoon teas for every taste.

Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray is situated in the north east of Leicestershire and is a market town in the true sense.  It has weekly livestock markets as well as an open air street market selling everything from local produce to clothing and footwear.

The town is well worth a visit for shopping and Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe runs demonstrations on how to make a real hand raised pork pie - you could even have a go yourself!  Melton Country Park is located in the centre of the town and is a pleasant place to find some peace and quiet and hosts the annual Melton Show in the summer.

St Mary's Parish Church is also located in the centre of the town and has many notable features.  World renowned organist and conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent was organist and choirmaster at St Mary's from 1914 to 1924 and a special memorial window in the chancel was added to commemorate his life when he died in 1967. 

While in the town centre you can choose from a wide range of tearooms, pubs and restaurants for a snack or meal.

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St Peters - copyright Chris Jones

Market Bosworth

Market Bosworth is a small town located in the west of Leicestershire between the towns of Hinckley and Ibstock.  It is a very pretty town with lots of old buildings and places to visit.

For an afternoon out you can choose from the Bosworth Water Park where you can learn to sail, camp or walk on the small man-made beach.  The Battlefield Line is a small preserved railway line that runs from Bosworth Battlefield to Shenton.  Or if you prefer to be near to water, the Ashby Trip also runs past the Battlefield, so give yourself time for either a train or canal ride.  Allow penty of time to walk around the battle trail and visitor centre at Bosworth Battlefield.

The Parish Church at Market Bosworth is St Peter's on Church Street and has stained glass by Kempe in the south aisle.  The Dixie memorials commemorate various members of the family who first came to Bosworth in 1567.

You can have lunch at the Tithe Barn at Bosworth Heritage Centre or walk around the town of Market Bosworth and look at the pubs and restaurants to see what they have to offer.

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Newtown Linford copyright Chris Jones

Newtown Linford

Newtown Linford is situated just outside the city in beautiful countryside in the Borough of Charnwood.

The main entrance to Bradgate Park, which is one of the largest attractions in the Midlands, is here in Newtown Linford.  Bradgate Park has rocky outcrops, small spinneys, a pretty gorge all within the 850 acres of landscape.  It is also where the famous Leicestershire landmark 'Old John' can be found.

The Park was owned by the Grey family who were influential nobels of medieval and Tudor England.  Bradgate House, one of the first unfortified brick dwellings in the country was begun in 1490 and its most famous resident was undoubtedly Lady Jane Grey, the 10 day Queen of England.

Located right beside the Park in Newtown Linford is All Saints Church that dates from the 16th century.  Inside there is a stained glass window commemorating the life and death of Lady Jane Grey.

There are tearooms and pubs in the village where you can stop for refreshments.

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Gumley & Foxton copyright Chris Jones


The village of Foxton lies just outside the market town of Market Harborough in the south of Leicestershire.

Market Harborough is a lovely town for shopping and eating out and has real character.  The local museum has exhibitions which include a recent archealogocial find of Roman coins.   Foxton Locks is a flight of ten locks in two staircases which raised the waterway 75 feet to the summit level.  Negotiating the locks took time so an inclined plane was installed in 1900 in an attempt to speed up boat traffic.  The boat lift was abandoned in 1911 but is currently being restored and together with the museum makes for a pleasant outing.

Local churches are St Andrew's Church in Foxton and St Helen's Church in nearby Gumley.  Both churches are well worth a visit. 

St Andrew's stands high at the south end of Foxton and has parts that date back to the 13th century.  In the chancel  are memoral tablets to the Revd F T Corrance and his relatives and glass in the east window was inserted in 1893 in memory of the Revd Edward Ellis and his wife.  St Helen's in neighbouring Gumley stands in the grounds of Gumley Hall and consists of a spired west tower, chancel, nave, south aisle and south porch and is largely of the 14th century.   



The market town of Lutterworth lies west of Market Harborough and is famous for being the place where Frank Whittle developed the jet engine. Find out more about Frank Whittle's invention at the town's museum. It is also believed that Lutterworth is the place where Canon John Wycliffe produced the first translation of the Bible from Latin into English.  Visit the grand 17th century house of Stanford Hall, located on the banks of the River Avon, where you will find more aviation links.

The St Mary's Church consists of a west tower, nave, chancel, north & south aisle, vestry and cafe/shop. The quadruple chamfered arches from the tower towards the nave and flanking aisles are late 13th century as are the lancets window in the chancel south wall and the west wall. Many of the windows have late c13 and c14 window tracery, and the aisle roofs date to the 14th century. The tower originally had a spire but this blown down in 1703.


Market Harborough

Surrounded by rolling landscapes, the picturesque town of Market Harborough is the ideal place to head for to experience rural activity, bustling streets, stylish independent shopping, tasty food and drink and winding waterways.

Browse boutiques selling handmade jewellery, handbags, designer clothing and antiques. After you're all shopped out, stop off at one of the cafes, restaurants or pubs to relax and unwind.

Explore the surrounding countryside, with a visit to Foxton Locks. The inclined plane is a unique demonstration of Victorian engineering. Walk along the waterside and watch narrowboats navigating their way through the lock system and stop off and enjoy a meal at the Foxton Locks Inn. Take the children to Wistow Maize Maze where the whole family can find their way around this themed maze.

Inside the parish church of St Dionysius there are north and south galleries still with their boxed pews, which were installed in 1836, extended east in 1844, and thankfully were never removed. The chancel has some fine windows and the grand east window was installed in 1860 by Hardman.  There is also a Royal Arms dated 1660 above the west wall of rich plasterwork completed by Allen of Northampton. The font is Victorian and dates from 1888.

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Breedon on the Hill

Breedon is notable for its carboniferous limestone hill that rises 400 ft above sea level that gives distant views across several counties. A large portion of the hill has been cut away by an active quarry. On top of the hill is the Bulwarks Iron Age hill fort, within which is Breedon's historic Church of England parish church.

Breedon is located just a few miles from East Midlands Airport and M1 motorway.  Donington Park motor circuit is also close by.

St Mary and Hardulph is famous and rightly so for the Saxon carvings around the church that date from the 8th-10th centuries. This was when the Kingdom of Mercia was at its height and one of the most powerful in England. They originally were on the inside and outside walls of the previous Saxon Minster church and there are various types to admire.




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