Leicester Cathedral is situated in the City Centre, close to the Guildhall. With its tall spire, the Cathedral is an important part, not only of Leicester's life and work, but also of the city's skyline.
One of five mediaeval churches in the Old Town of Leicester, it was built on a pre-Christian religious site and has been a Cathedral since the 1920s. Previous to this, it was simply St. Martin's Church. It was felt to be desirable for the Cathedral to be not only in the Diocese's biggest city, but also in the centre of the Diocese. In addition to this, St. Martin's had for centuries been the civic church, where councillors had taken part in official services.
Inside there is a memorial to Abigail Herrick, a member of the famous Herrick family, one of whose members was Robert Herrick, the clergyman poet who wrote "Cherry Ripe". Abigail lived at Wigston Magna. She visited Dublin, where she met and married a cleric named Dr Swift. Their son, Jonathan, is internationally remembered for his satirical work "Gulliver's Travels".
A church dedicated to St Martin has been on the site for about a thousand years, being first recorded in 1086, when the older Saxon church was replaced by a Norman one. The present building dates to about that age, with the addition of a spire, and various restorations throughout the years. Most of what can be seen today is a Victorian restoration by architect Raphael Brandon. The Cathedral of the former Anglo-Saxon Diocese of Leicester was on a different site.
A memorial stone to King Richard III is located in the chancel. He is not actually buried there, having been originally buried in the nearby Greyfriars Church. According to local tradition his corpse was exhumed under orders from Henry VII and cast into the River Soar.
The church was elevated to a Collegiate Church in 1922, and made a Cathedral in 1927, following the establishment of a new Diocese of Leicester in 1926.
The East Window was installed as a monument to those that died in World War I. Its traditional style and masterful use of reds sets the whole cathedral ablaze with light in the mornings. The highest window contains a sun-like orb with cherubs radiating away from it. In the centre Jesus sits holding a starry heaven in one hand with one foot on a bloody hell. Surrounding Jesus are eight Angels whose wings are made from a red glass. To the far right stands St Martin, who stands on the tail of a dragon. The dragon goes behind Jesus and can be seen re-emerging under the feet of St George who stands on its head. On the bottom row can be seen from left St Joan of Arc, Mary, Jesus with crying angels, Mary Magdalene, James and finally St Martin of Tours.
A World War I soldier can be found in this window. The Cathedral has had a major interior and exterior tower and spire restoration from 2004 to 2005. The main work was to clean and replace any weak stonework with replacement stone quarried from Tyne Valley. The cost was up to £600,000, some of which was donated by English Heritage and the public. The tower of the Cathedral has 13 bells (including a peal of 12). These can be heard on Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings, with peals being rung on special days. Leicester Cathedral has services, of course, and is otherwise open at all reasonable times (Monday to Saturday 8am - 6pm, and on Sunday from 7am - 5pm).
There is a Visitor Centre, with cafe and toilets, at the Guildhall, operated for the joint benefit of both buildings. Parking is available in the nearby NCP at the Holiday Inn, Highcross Leicester (Highcross Rooftop and Highcross John Lewis car parks) and at St Nicholas Place at the end of Guildhall Lane. Limited on street parking is also available and is metered at certain times of day. It is normally possible for coach parties to be dropped off and picked up in the layby in front of the former bus depot on Southgates, approx 350 yards from the South entrance to the Cathedral. Wheelchair access is available at the South door and ramps are placed within the Cathedral building at strategic points.
School and group visits by prior arrangement. Guided tours of the Cathedral by prior arrangement.
Images copyright Chris Jones.
Donation of £3 per adult is requested.
|Season Dates||Opening Hours|
|Tue 1 Jan 2013 - Tue 31 Dec 2013||Mon - Sat 08:30 to 18:00 | Sun 07:00 to 17:00|
St. Martin's House, Leicester, LE1 5DE
Map reference: SK 585044 Lat: 52.63434 Long: -1.13698
Nearest station : 1 mile (1.6 kms) from Leicester station
Welcome sheets with cathedral information in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Gujarati, Hindu, Urdu, Japanese.
|Fri 6 Dec 2013||Mediaeval Baebes|
|Sat 7 Dec 2013||Christingle Service|
|Sat 7 Dec 2013||Richard III: The Leicester Connection|
|Mon 9 Dec 2013||Christmas Concert|
|Sun 22 Dec 2013||The Cathedral Carol Service|
|Tue 24 Dec 2013||Crib Service|
|Tue 24 Dec 2013||Midnight Mass|
|Wed 25 Dec 2013||Christmas Day Choral Eucharist|
|Sun 2 Feb 2014||Candlemas|
|Sat 8 Feb 2014||Charity Fundraising Gala Event: A Night of Comedy|
|Wed 12 Feb 2014||Dominic Holland - Still Talking|
|Sat 5 Apr 2014||Bach Johannes Passion|
small section of cobbles
Designated parking can be arranged by prior arrangements.