Improvements to be made at Jewry Wall Museum

Jewry wall

The archaeologist who led the project to discover King Richard III’s remains will be leading investigations in a project to improve Leicester’s finest Roman site.

Leicester City Council is due to begin work improving Jewry Wall Museum, including creating better public access and improving the condition of the site, which features one of the tallest surviving pieces of Roman masonry in the UK.

Preliminary work will address the façade of the building, cleaning the concrete and repainting fascias. The main part of the work will then create a level access walkway from St Nicholas Circle to the entrance of Vaughan College, and install an internal lift and staircase linking the upper floor with the museum below.

It will also improve St Nicholas Path that runs between the Jewry Wall and St Nicholas Church, revealing the old cobbles which have been covered by a modern asphalt surface.

A design scheme will also be commissioned, to put forward improvements to the museum itself, in order to bring it up to date and better equip it to tell the story of Roman Leicester.

Archaeological investigations will need to be carried out before works can start, and special permission must be granted to do so because the planned works are within the scheduled national monument itself.

The investigations will be carried out by Dr Richard Buckley OBE, the head of the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology, who led the successful dig which unearthed King Richard III in August 2012.

Jewry Wall is home to extensive ruins of a former Roman bath house, along with a city council-run museum telling the story of Leicester from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Leicester City Council purchased the Vaughan College complex from the University of Leicester in July 2015.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby announced the package of improvements on Friday, March 4, as part of an event celebrating Jewry Wall Museum’s 50th anniversary.

He said: “Jewry Wall is one of the finest examples of Roman masonry in Britain, and is also a very important part of the story of Leicester.

“The museum celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, but unfortunately much of what is a beautiful, fascinating site is tucked away and hard to access, and the museum buildings tired and out-dated.

“We recently purchased Vaughan College, which borders Jewry Wall, and we are very keen to make better use of that as part of these plans.

“Jewry Wall really is unique and should be a major landmark in the city – I want these improvement works to make sure that the ruins and the museum are more accessible and appealing to visitors of all ages, and can also play a better role in education about Leicester’s Roman past.”

The first phase of work is expected to cost about £1.5million, which includes the façade works, the new walkway, landscaping works, improved museum access and works to the St Nicholas path.

The cost also includes drawing up plans over the following six months for more extensive improvements to the museum itself.

Some preliminary landscaping work is expected to get underway next week. A tree and some hedges will be removed to allow the archaeological investigations.
Scheduled Monument Consent is expected in the next five or six weeks, after which the archaeological works can begin. The archaeological investigation itself is expected to take two to three weeks.