THERE’S a new addition to a popular outdoor heritage trail that’s helping to bring Leicester’s 2,000 years of history to life.
Today (Wednesday), City Mayor Peter Soulsby and deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair unveiled the city’s latest heritage panel, which tells the story of Leicester’s Saffron Hill Cemetery.
Since 2014, when the Story of Leicester project was launched with heritage panels featuring the city’s Town Hall and Secular Hall, Leicester City Council has installed the colourful panels in both neighbourhood and city centre locations so that local people and visitors can learn more about the history that’s all around them.
Nine years later, around 260 heritage panels have been installed, charting the city’s development from Roman times to the present day and commemorating the people, places and events that have helped to shape the modern city of Leicester.
With dozens more stories ready to be told, the council expects the 300th panel to be installed by the end of March.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Our heritage panels take people on a journey through 2,000 years of local history, guiding them from the site of the city’s Roman Forum to the narrow streets of Medieval Leicester, and from the shoe factories of the city’s manufacturing heyday to the modern city we know today.
“Leicester’s history is undoubtedly one of its strengths, and as we approach the milestone of our 300th heritage panel, I hope that these easy-to-read information boards will continue to encourage people to find out more about our city’s extraordinary past.”
Deputy city mayor responsible for culture, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “When we created our first heritage panels back in 2014, we wanted to unlock Leicester’s hidden history and present it in an easy-to-read way.
“The panels were an instant hit, with both local people and visitors.
“Like all the others in the collection, this latest panel is a simple and effective way of ensuring that we don’t forget our city’s unique and fascinating past.”
The latest panel has been installed at Saffron Hill Cemetery – the 40-acre cemetery in south Leicester that was first consecrated for burials in 1931.
Laid out on land purchased from Mrs Eyres-Monsell of Dumbleton Hall, the cemetery’s geometric paths and formal open spaces were inspired by the American cemeteries of the time. Its chapel and lodges – now Grade II listed – were completed in the late 1920s.
As well as featuring ancient gravestones recently removed from Leicester Cathedral, the cemetery also includes around 80 Commonwealth War Graves.
Since 1963, the cemetery has provided space for Muslim burials, with a purpose-built Muslim prayer house – a Janazgah – added in 1985.
More information about all of the panels on Leicester’s heritage trail – believed to be the largest of its kind in the UK – can be found on the Story of Leicester website.
A brand new souvenir brochure, listing all of the city’s heritage panels, will be available from Visit Leicester for a small charge later this year. The information will also be available to download free of charge.
Picture caption: Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair and City Mayor Peter Soulsby unveil Leicester’s latest heritage panel at Saffron Hill Cemetery.