Architectural Jewels (Self Guided), Leicester

The most interesting architectural buildings in Leicester can be observed in the central part of the city. The historical architecture of Leicester is very diverse and reflects a variety of styles. The city experienced an explosion of growth during Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901), which explains the predominance of the Victorian style of architecture. Stroll along the main streets of the city and enjoy Leicester's splendid architectural display on this tour.
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Architectural Jewels Map

Guide Name: Architectural Jewels
Guide Location: England » Leicester (See other walking tours in Leicester)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: Ella
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Thomas Cook building
  • Clarence House
  • Secular Hall
  • Grand Hotel
  • HSBC Bank (formerly known as Midland Bank)
  • The Turkey Cafe
  • Town Hall
  • The City Rooms
  • Newarke Houses
  • Leicester HM Prison
  • Holy Trinity Church
Thomas Cook building

1) Thomas Cook building

Situated in the center of the city, the Thomas Cook building is devoted to the famous Leicester traveler of the same name. It’s located on Gallowtree Gate near the Clock Tower. The building was constructed in 1894, two years after the death of Thomas Cook. It was built in the Victorian style to serve as an office building. The facade includes panels depicting memorable events from the life of Thomas Cook.
Clarence House

2) Clarence House

Clarence House is located on the corner of Humberstone Gate and Clarence Street. It was designed by architect Edward Burgess in 1877 and initially served as the Wyggeston Girls‘ School. It later became part of Charles Keene College. Today it is the headquarters of the Age Concern of Leicester. This three-story building was designed in the Victorian architectural style. Due to its historical importance, it is under the protection of the local government.
Secular Hall

3) Secular Hall

Secular Hall was designed by W. Larner Sugden of Leek in 1881 for the Secular Society. Made of red brick, the building is famous as the residence of one of the country's oldest secular societies, which was founded in 1851. The facade of the building is decorated with the busts of five world-famous thinkers - Socrates, Jesus, Voltaire, Thomas Paine and Robert Owen. The walls also sport Masonic symbols. The building is under the protection of the government, as it is an important historical landmark.
Grand Hotel

4) Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel was built by Amos Hall and Cecil Ogden from 1897 to 1898. It’s located on Granby Street near the corner of Belvoir Street. Architect Amos Hall constructed the hotel's Silver Arcade, as well as the beautiful “wedding cake” on the top of the hotel. Initially the Grand had the reputation as of one of the most stylish hotels in Leicester. It was later bought by the Ramada Jarvis Company. Although it lost some of its uniqueness, it remains a quality hotel.
HSBC Bank (formerly known as Midland Bank)

5) HSBC Bank (formerly known as Midland Bank)

Another building designed by prominent Leicester architect Joseph Goddard is the HSBC Building (formerly the Midland Bank Building). This impressive structure is located on the corner of Bishop and Granby Streets. It was built in 1874 in the Venetian Gothic style. Particular attention was paid to the details of the facade, which include a number of small statues and large stained-glass windows. The building is particularly impressive inside.
The Turkey Cafe

6) The Turkey Cafe

Heading down Granby Street you’ll find another architectural attraction – the Turkey Café. The cafe has a blue facade and a mosaic of a turkey on the top story. This building was constructed in the Victorian style by Arthur Wakerley, who was the mayor of the city. While some elements of the cafe are drawn from Turkish culture, this night venue has little to do with the country of Turkey.
Town Hall

7) Town Hall

Leicester Town Hall in the City centre of Leicester is a welcoming building set in a square which contains an impressive fountain. The building is the town hall of the city and contains Leicester Bike Park. The town hall was built on the former cattle market between 1874 and 1876 in the Queen Anne Style by Francis Hames. On the first Wednesday of each month, a free tour is given by a Blue Badge tourist guide. This starts at 2 pm and lasts up to 2 hours and concludes with tea and biscuits in the Lord Mayor's Tea Room. Contrary to the notice board outside, visitors do not need tickets for the tour. Some history is given of the building, details of previous Lord Mayors etc. and one can visit the former courtroom and the current main council chamber.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The City Rooms

8) The City Rooms

The City Rooms is a Georgian building, completed in 1800. It would have become Leicester's first hotel but was not completed and the building was sold in 1799 with £3,300 still needed to complete it, and opened as the Leicester Assembly Rooms in 1800 and used for the first time on 17 September to house the visitors to the Leicester Races held at Victoria Park, with the ground floor being used as a coffee house and the upper floors for wedding receptions, banquets and balls.

In 1817 it was adapted to become the Judges Lodgings when it passed into the hands of the County Justices, then becoming known as the County Rooms. When it passed into the ownership of Leicester City Council it was renamed again, to The City Rooms. The ballroom which runs the whole width of the building on the first floor is the centerpiece. Decorated with paintings by Ramsay Richard Reinagle and figures in niches on the front of the building by John Charles Felix Rossi, representing the comic and lyric muses. The building has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Newarke Houses

9) Newarke Houses (must see)

The Newarke Houses are located next to Leicester Castle on Newarke Street 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.
Leicester HM Prison

10) Leicester HM Prison

HM Prison Leicester was designed by William Parsons to resemble a castle. The oldest part dates from 1825, and it was opened in 1828. The gatehouse including the adjoining building to north and south and the perimeter wall are grade II listed. Between 1900 and 1953, eight executions took place at the prison. The last was that of John Reynolds, convicted of murder at Leicester Assizes, and hanged on November 17 1953.

In 2001 Leicester hit headlines as a “failing prison” and David Ramsbotham, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, declared that it should be shut down. In November 2006 an inspection report from the Chief Inspector of Prisons criticised Leicester Prison after nine inmates died there in a 28-month period. Continued overcrowding and poor health at the prison were also highlighted. Employment for inmates at the prison centres around Education, Kitchen, Domestic Cleaners, and the Greening Party. Education at Leicester Prison is provided by Milton Keynes College, and is mainly focused on vocational and foundation subjects. The prison also has a library provision, gym and chaplaincy covering a variety of faiths.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Holy Trinity Church

11) Holy Trinity Church

The Church Building Act of 1818 provided funds for two new Leicester parishes, one of which was Holy Trinity. The church was built in 1838 in accordance with classical design as the city expanded, and formed part of a new suburb. In 1872, Holy Trinity was completely redesigned in a High Gothic style, with spire and side turrets in red-purple brick with limestone decoration. In the 19th century, the church had wooden pews and a single central aisle, with balconies on both sides of the church; the central aisle was occupied by the middle classes and the balconies by their servants. A significant building project was undertaken in the late 1980s, and there is now a single balcony at the rear of the church. The church and nearby buildings are now part of the New Walk conservation area.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Leicester, England

Create Your Own Walk in Leicester

Create Your Own Walk in Leicester

Creating your own self-guided walk in Leicester is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Top Religious Buildings

Top Religious Buildings

Leicester is a multicultural city that supports a variety of religious communities. Next to Christian churches you can find mosques and Buddhist temples. Virtually every established faith is represented in Leicester. Explore Leicester's most notable places of worship and learn more about the cultural and religious life of the city on this tour.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Leicester Introduction Walking Tour

Leicester Introduction Walking Tour

Part of England’s East Midlands region, the city of Leicester made history in 2015 as a new burial site of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, in place for over 900 years. Other than the king’s life and death, there are other attractions in Leicester worthy of attention. To check them out, use this self-guided walk and learn more about the past and present of Leicester in its variety!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Historical Buildings

Historical Buildings

Leicester is a city in the East Midlands of England with a rich past. Valuable historical monuments in Leicester are under the special protection of the local government and are the pride of the city. Take this historical tour of central Leicester and learn about the city's medieval history.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles