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University of Leicester students to create audio tour of Leicester's Greyfriars Conservation Area as part of a city council conservation project

Posted by ap507 at Dec 09, 2015 01:41 PM |
Students involved in project run by Leicester City Council which aims to enhance and conserve the area

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 9 December 2015

  • An audio guide will take visitors on a 300 year journey through the area's legal history
  • The student project will be brought to life as part of Leicester City Council's £1.6 million Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative
  • The students are still keen to hear from people who have knowledge of the area's legal history

A £1.6 million initiative to conserve and regenerate the historic Greyfriars area of the city will include a walk-through audio guide created by students from the University of Leicester.

The second-year archaeology undergraduates are piecing together the legal history of one of the best known, and oldest, areas of Leicester.

Made famous by University archaeologists in 2012 following the discovery of King Richard III, Greyfriars was once the thriving legal hub of the city and is still home to numerous law firms to this day.

Now, five students are contributing to the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative – a project run by Leicester City Council which aims to enhance and conserve the area.

Nick Mellor, 19, Beth Potts, 21, Joe Bartholomew, 19, Petur Hansen, 22, and William Johnson, 20, will use archives and newspaper reports dating back more than 300 years to create the tour.

Nick said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to examine the legal history of Leicester’s Greyfriars, which has not been examined before. We hope that we can get some oral histories of the last few decades to add the personal experiences of some of the people who worked in the area, so we can provide an interesting audio trail.”

The students are still keen to hear from people who have knowledge of the area's legal history.

They will present their work at a seminar at the University this month (December), with full details of the project being submitted in January.

Tutor Dr Jo Appleby, from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “Our archaeology students all take a module in professional skills during their second year.

“For this module, they complete a project in archaeology or heritage with real-world implications, and it’s designed to give them some experience of working with the archaeological or heritage sector.

“This year, one group is working with the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative team to produce an audio guide and walking trail exploring the legal history of the Greyfriars area. They’ll be digging into archives and newspaper reports, but they’d also like to hear from individuals who have knowledge about the history of the area.

At the end of the project, the audio guide and walking trail will be made available to the public.

Dr Appleby added: “Although there can’t be many people who don’t know about the association of the Greyfriars area with the burial of Richard III, it has a rich history of its own which is relatively little known.

“This project aims to open up one part of the area’s heritage by exploring the history of some of the many legal firms that were based here.

“Our students are hoping to find out about some of the more unusual or sensational cases that it has seen.”

The section of Leicester the students will be researching falls under the umbrella of the Greyfriars Conservation Area – which contains some of the city's most important historic and cultural gems, including Leicester Cathedral, the Guildhall and, of course, the final resting place of Richard III.

The aim of the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative is to:

  • Make the historic core of the city more legible
  • Make the area more attractive and inviting to occupiers and visitors
  • Stimulate economic growth by making the historic core more inviting for commercial investors and residential use
  • Increase understanding and help people value Leicester's historic development, particularly the area of Leicester's old town
  • Increase greater participation and understanding in conserving Leicester's historic environment
  • Improve the local heritage skills sector through training in related skill

Businesses in the area are eligible for grants to bring buildings in Greyfriars back to life. 

Applications will be considered for projects which aim to restore lost architectural features, such as windows, and improve the frontage of buildings.

Leicester City Council made a successful bid for £1.1million of Heritage Lottery Fund cash to fund the Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative. The city council will put £450,000 of cash into the scheme.

Over the next five years, the project will see at least 20 of the most historically important buildings in the area to the south of Leicester Cathedral restored and regenerated.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The Greyfriars area is one of the city’s architectural and historical treasures, and we want to encourage people to enjoy it.

“This project will mean people can find out more about Greyfriars’ fascinating history for themselves. I’m sure the audio guide and walking trail will attract visitors to the area, helping to boost prosperity and investment in a historic part of the city centre.”

For more information on the ongoing Greyfriars Townscape Heritage Initiative, contact



For interviews about the University of Leicester’s audio tour project, please contact Dr Jo Appleby:

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