Skip to content

New guide to Old Town’s legal past

Published on Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE legal history of one of the oldest areas of Leicester has been brought to life in a new audio tour.

Smartphone owners can now download a free walk-through guide to the historic Greyfriars area and explore its heritage as the city’s thriving legal quarter.

The guide has been created by students from the University of Leicester’s school of archaeology and ancient history as part of the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative – a project run by Leicester City Council to enhance and conserve the area.

Students Joe Bartholomew (19), Peter Hansen (22), William Johnson (20), Nick Mellor (19), and Beth Potts (21) used archives and newspaper reports dating back more than 200 years to create the tour and help bring the history of this important area to life.

The tour begins in New Street, which was home to one of the city’s oldest law firms, that of William Heyrick, which dated back to 1794. It takes in some of the hostelries frequented by legal professionals over the last two centuries and the history of the former bathhouses in the area – which have long since been converted to legal offices.

Student William Johnson said: "It’s important that areas like Greyfriars are not just allowed to decay and be forgotten as they represent an important part of the city’s heritage.

“Creating the audio trail was a fantastic experience as it gave us an opportunity to learn more about this highly interesting area and a chance to share this with a wider audience."

Tutor Dr Jo Appleby, from the University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “The students produced the audio tour as part of their second year ‘Professional Skills’ module, in which students are able to work on real-world heritage projects with outside collaborators such as Leicester City Council.

“We are hugely proud of their contribution to the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative.”

Cllr Adam Clarke, Assistant City Mayor and the council’s heritage champion, said: “Leicester’s ‘Old Town’ area is one of the city’s architectural and historical treasures and we want to encourage more people to discover and enjoy it.

“This new audio tour will help more people to find out about the fascinating history of this area for themselves.”

The Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative is backed with £1.1milllion of Heritage Lottery Fund cash, following a successful bid by Leicester City Council.

As part of the five year scheme, property owners and businesses in the area can apply for money to repair buildings, restore architectural features such as original windows, fencing and decorative masonry, or to bring empty space back into use. A programme of training events, workshops and tours is also being developed.

The Legal Leicester audio tour can be streamed for free at www.mixcloud.com/LeicesterCityCouncil

For more information about the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative visit www.leicester.gov.uk/thi