Description in 1877:
"Leicester, the capital of the county to which it gives its name, and one of the chief seats of the hosiery manufacture, is an ancient borough and well-built market town, which has been greatly improved by the formation of new streets, and the erection of elegant public edifices and handsome houses, during the present century in which its population has increased from 16,900 to about 110,000. It is pleasantly seated, nearly in the centre of the county, on gently rising ground, chiefly on the east side of the river Soar, in 52 degrees 38 min. north latitude, and in 1 degree 8 minutes west longitude. Its distance by turnpike is 97 miles N.N.W. of London, 22 miles S. of Nottingham, 15 miles N.N.W. of Market Harborough, and 22 miles S.S.E. of Derby; and by railway it is distant from Birmingham 48 miles; London 97.5, via Hitchin, and 102.75 via Rugby; Leeds, 103.5; Sheffield, 74.5; York, 117.25; Rugby, 20; Derby, 29.5; Nottingham, 27.5; and Manchester, 96. Its position. so nearly in the centre of England, has had much to do with its rapid increase. Midway between the north and south, east and west, it lies full in the main stream of traffic. By the Midland railway and its various branches Leicester is connected with all the great lines of railway now traversing the kingdom; and by means of the river Soar and the Union Canal it has water communication with the Trent and most parts of England. In addition to these facilities the town is approached on all sides by excellent turnpike-roads, and in its neighbourhood are many pleasant and some populous villages. Before the introduction of railway travelling upwards of fifty coaches passed through the town daily to London and all parts of the kingdom. Its weekly markets, on Saturday for corn, provisions, &c., and on Wednesday, for cattle and sheep are well supplied; as are also its numerous fairs. The improved arrangements, the fine new Cattle Market, and the increased facilities offered by the Railway Companies, have made the town a favourite meeting place for agriculturalists generally. Now that the Cattle Market has been removed to the suburbs it is to be hoped that the pleasure fairs will be similarily dealt with, as they greatly interfere with the course of business in the central part of the town, in which they are now held. Leicester is of great antiquity, and the See of a Bishop from about 680 to 874. It was long distinguished for the number of its churches and monastic institutions, for the fine spleandour of its formidable Baronial Castle, and the strength of its tower, walls, and other military works, of which there are still some interesting remains. The streets are generally wide, and the houses of the labouring classes are not crowded so closely together as in most other large manufacturing towns. [WHITE's "History, Gazetteer and Directory of the Counties of Leicester and Rutland." 3rd Edition 1877]
The Local Studies Collection contains a variety of material on Leicestershire towns and villages. There is also general material on genealogy, the FamilySearch system (IGI for UK and Ireland on CD ROM) as well as parish records for the City and the 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses for Leicester on microfiche / film.
The registers of the public cemeteries in Leicester (Welford Road, Gilroes, Belgrave and Saffron Hill) can be viewed by contacting:- Burial & Cremation Manager,
New Walk Centre,
Leicester, LE1 6ZG
Telephone:- U.K. 0116 252 7382, Overseas +44 116 252 7382
Max WADE-MATTHEWS has written a book about the (Grave Matters, Heart of Albion Press. 1992.) Part of his website is dedicated to the cemetery and includes a history, many photos.
The Leicestershire & Rutland Family History Society has a section on cemeteries with general information, location of registers, photographs of Gilroes cemetery, a plan of Saffron Hill cemetery, and a brief history of the Welford Road Cemetery. They have also published details of Leicester burials between 1813 and 1881 in five volumes on microfiche.
Due to the rapid growth in the population of Leicester in the nineteenth century many new ecclesiastical parishes were formed. Details of these new parishes and a number of more recent closures are listed on a separate page.
Max WADE-MATTHEWS has written four booklets available from the publishers Heart of Albion Press about the inscribed monuments in Leicester's remaining medieval churches; All Saints', St. Margaret's, St. Mary de Castro, St. Martin's and St. Nicholas.
David MANN has transcribed the St. Margaret's Parish Church Marriages from 1837 - 1897. The full transcription is available from the Leicestershire and Rutland Family History Society on microfiche or CD ROM.
The Catholics had two places of worship in the town and the Presbyterians, one.
The Wesleyan Methodists had a chapel in Humberstone Road and Bishop Street.
The Reformed Methodists had a chapel in the London Road.
Leicester is the capital of the county, a borough and a city with several parishes, and lies approx. 100 miles north of London and 27 miles south of Nottingham, virtually in the centre of England. The city stands on the banks of the Soar River (part of the Union Canal) and several rail lines intersect here, although fewer than in the 1800s.
If you are planning a visit:
By automobile, all roads lead to Leicester. It lies just east of the M1 motorway, at the north end of the M69 motorway, at the west end of the A50, and midway down the A6 and the A46.
You can see pictures of Leicester which are provided by:
Leicester was a Roman town named "Ratae". Many Roman coins, urns and pavements have been found in and around the city.
The Saxons called the river the Lear and the city was known to them as "Legerceastre". This was softened over time to "Leircestre".
In 874 the town was seized by the Danes and held under their leader Hubba. It was not completely taken from them until William the Conqueror arrived in 1068 and then turned the place over to Hugh de GRENTMESNIL.
The railway station on London Road was rebuilt in 1891. Another passenger station stood on Belgrave Road.
Alan Godfrey Maps have reprinted four old detailed Ordnance Survey maps at a scale of 14" to the mile covering Leicester in the period from 1902 - 1911. Details of how to order these and the other 1,000 maps they publish are available on their website.
Leicester Borough Lunatic Asylum was opened on 2 September 1869 (One source gives a 10 May 1837 opening).
A new wing was added in 1890 for 80 patients and another larger one in 1901 for 348 patients. The second wing required 49.5 acres of land to be purchased, but it raised the total capacity to 875 patients.
This became the Leicester Borough Mental Hospital in 1912 since the term "lunatic" was going out of style.
This name was changed again in 1947 to the Towers Hospital.
It is unknown what patient records may exist in the Archives office. Hospitals were not required to archive patient records. Patient admission records exist for 1869 thru 1945.
The Leicester and Leicestershire South African War Memorial in Town Hall square, unveiled by Field-Marshal Lord Grenfell on July ist, 1909, is to commemorate the men of the city and county -who fell in the South African War, 1899-1901.
The Leicestershire and Rutland Family History Society have published The Leicestershire Military Index. Volumes 1 & 2 covering the Royal Marines and Chelsea Pensioners from 1814 - 1831 are available on microfiche only. Volume 3, Chelsea Pensioners from 1832 - 1851 is also available in printed form.
The Leicestershire Militia had its headquarters at Magazine Barracks, The Newarke. In 1881, SIr F. T. FOWKE, baronet, was lieut.-colonel and in command, his adjutant was Captain Robert K, WATSON, and the quartermaster was Lieut. Alfred WHITBY.
The Leicestershire Yeomanry Cavalry had its headquarters at Regent Street on the London Road.
The Leicestershire Rifle Volunteers had its headquarters at #2 Pocklington's Walk.
Bastardy cases would be heard in the Leicester petty session hearings.
In 1331 Henry GROSMONT, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, founded an almshouse for 50 poor people and infirm persons in the Newarke, Leicester. The number of poor people was later increased to 100. King James I granted a new charter and called it "The Hospital of the Holy Trinity." The building was rebuilt in 1776. There is a photograph at Flickr.
Miss MASON's almshouses, built in 1832 in Vauxhall street, provided room for four poor females.
The Memorial Cottage Almshouses, in Knighton drive, were erected by Miss Sarah BARLOW for four poor widows.