Shedding light on Leicester’s ‘Hidden’ WWI Memorials

Posted by er134 at Oct 30, 2014 12:50 PM |
University of Leicester to feature in new exhibition Friday 7 Nov to Sunday 9 Nov at Holbrook Memorial Hall, Holbrook Road, Knighton, LE2 3LF

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 30 October 2014

Contact to request images

Say the words ‘war memorial’ to most people, and they think about stone crosses listing names, erected in churchyards or market places, or tablets on the walls of churches and other public buildings reciting the lists of the dead of WWI and WWII.

But there are other less obvious memorials, whose history is more ‘hidden’ which play a very important part in the lives of the local community.

One such significant local memorial is the University of Leicester, set up as The University College of Leicester and Rutland after the First World War as a ‘living memorial’ to the fallen.  The building had been home to hundreds of wounded soldiers during the war when it was the 5th Northern Hospital.

Professor Richard Bonney, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Leicester, said: “Broken bodies were patched up and men had a few weeks respite from the horrors of the trenches as they convalesced before returning (if they were able) to fight once again.  It is fitting that a building which had cared for the physical well-being of the injured from Leicester and far beyond should turn into a place which nurtures the mind and pushes forward the boundaries of not just medical knowledge but also research and teaching in a wide range of disciplines.

“The story of this hospital and the foundation of the University is told in an exhibition which is on display in another ‘hidden’ war memorial not far from the University.  Holbrook Memorial Hall in South Knighton was built as a lasting memorial to people from the local community who died during WWI, as a result of service, abroad or at home.  It was opened on 23 October 1920 as a ‘social centre and for the stimulation of intellectual interests’ and as a means to encourage ‘true neighbourliness’.

“In this year when we remember those who died during those first gruelling months of the war, the Memorial Hall has been completely renovated, thanks to a grant from BIFFA Awards and with contributions from the Diocese of Leicester’s Growth Fund and Leicester City Council’s Ward grants. It can now continue to serve as a focal point for community life in this part of Knighton, just as the University of Leicester, another lasting memorial to the dead of the war, continues to educate people from all around the world and to push the boundaries of knowledge further.”

The University’s exhibition can be seen from Friday 7 Nov to Sunday 9 Nov at Holbrook Memorial Hall, Holbrook Road, Knighton, LE2 3LF.  It accompanies a display on Knighton in WWI which has been drawn together from the hidden WWI histories of people who lived in Knighton during the early years of the 20th century, or who live in Knighton now.  For more details of the exhibition and associated events, go to St Guthlac’s website:

The highly acclaimed UKPHA exhibition, 'The Empire, Faith and War: the Sikhs and World War I', also forms part of the exhibition in Holbrook Memorial Hall in its first visit outside London. See also


Notes to editors:

Contact Professor Richard Bonney, Emeritus Professor of History of the University of Leicester:

More information on the University of Leicester and the First World War can be found here:

Share this page: