Venues

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Newarke Houses Museum

Newarke Houses Museum is composed of two historic houses, Wygston's Chantry House and Skeffington House and tells the story of contemporary Leicester and the history of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. The museum displays include a cinema experience, a collection of toys from Tudor to present day and a play area for children to try various games.

Find out more about Leicester’s famous son Daniel Lambert and visit a 1950s street scene inspired by Wharf Street that includes the Jolly Angler public house, a grocer and a pawnbroker, with sounds and conversations from the times. Discover more about the story of Leicester at War. Through personal stories find out about the home front and the history of the Regiment, including a recreation of a First World War trench with sound and lighting.

Through oral histories, archive film, computer interactives and collections discover the histories of Newarke Houses, the surrounding historic area and contemporary Leicester. The museum also offers a meeting room available for school visits, meetings and birthday parties. The flexible room can host 40 people and has a interactive whiteboard.

The refurbishment of the museum was funded by a £1 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant and a further £250,000 each from Leicester City Council and the Royal Leicestershire Regimental Association.

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Leicester Guildhall

Leicester is very privileged in having one of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country, dating back six hundred years. The Guildhall has had many uses and lives. The Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessman and gentry).

Over the next hundred years the Great Hall was extended and the two wings at either end added. By the end of the 14th century the corporation of Leicester had begun to meet in the Guildhall. When the Guild was dissolved in 1548 the Corporation bought the buildings for the sum of £25 15s 4d!

In 1632 the Town Library was moved into the East Wing of the Guildhall from St Martin' s Church. It is the third oldest public library in the country. At about the same time the ground floor of the West Wing was refurbished as the Mayor's Parlour. The Great Hall was often used as a courtroom and a jury Room was created above the Mayor's Parlour. The Guildhall was also used regularly for theatrical performances, banquets and civic events.

With the growth of the town and the expansion of local government functions in the 19th century it became increasingly clear that, as a town hall, the Guildhall was far too small. After much debate a new Town Hall was built on Horse Fair and opened in 1876. For the next fifty years the Guildhall was used for several purposes including the headquarters of the local police and a school. It became very dilapidated and there were even calls for its demolition as an eyesore! Fortunately, the council decided to restore the building and following a major renovation programme it was opened to the public as a museum in 1926.

Today, The Guildhall is best known as an excellent performance venue, attracting acts from across the country, and as a museum where visitors can step back in time and come face to face with 'Crankie Gemmie' and 'Emma Smith', two of Leicester's notorious pick-pockets who can be found lurking within the Victorian police cells.

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