Newarke Houses, Leicester

Newarke Houses, Leicester

The Newarke Houses are located next to Leicester Castle in the historic part of the city. These two buildings are of different styles and ages, but together they help illustrate the development of the city. Wygston Chantry House was built by William Wiggston, who was the mayor of Leicester in the 16th century. It served as lodging for priests. Built in 1547, this is the only remaining Elizabethan-era house in the city. The other house dates back to the 17th century and is known as Skeffington House. It once served as the Skeffington family home. On the first floor are exhibits that teach about the development of Leicester over the past 300 years.

The Newarke Houses Museum incorporates the museum of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, and has a range of exhibits illustrating post-medieval and contemporary Leicester. The museum stands in the middle of the De Montfort University campus.

The museum occupies two buildings: Wyggeston's Chantry House (built circa 1511), and Thomas Skeffington's Skeffington House (built in the seventeenth century). The houses were used during the Siege of Leicester in 1645 as part of the English Civil War. The two properties were sold in 1908 and, while Chantry House remained a private residence, Skeffington House became a school for boys. Both properties were acquired and converted for museum use in 1953 as part of the celebrations surrounding the coronation of the Queen. One room on the ground floor of the museum represents the buildings' 17th Century interior.

Amongst the items on display are various possessions of Daniel Lambert, an 18th-century resident of Leicester who weighed over 50 stone (320 kg) and became famous in his lifetime as Britain's largest man, and remains one of the city's famous icons. Possessions on display include items of clothing and his chair.

The museum also houses a 1950s Leicester street scene modelled in Wharf Street with a number of model shops, as well as an exhibition of toys from Tudor times to the present.

Other collections relate to Leicester's industrial and hosiery industry, such as Corah's and Wolsey, major clothing firms in Leicester. The museum has an exhibit with a particularly focus on the more recent history of Leicester, from the 19th century onward.

The museum also includes a display about the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, a large collection of items relating to life during the wars, a large collection of medals, with records regarding the involvement of people within the Leicester Regiment, which can be accessed via a computer.

The gardens of the museum are laid out on separate sides of the main building which has an extension into the garden. These are laid to box hedges in medieval style maze-like geometric patterns. The garden was stocked in Victorian times with a variety of exotic trees and other plants, several of which survive to the present day. The end wall of the garden has gun loops, cut in it by Cromwell's troops, the Round-heads, in 1645 during the English Civil War when the Cavalier Prince Rupert was besieging the town.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Newarke Houses on Map

Sight Name: Newarke Houses
Sight Location: Leicester, England (See walking tours in Leicester)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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