Saturday 3 October 2015

Leicester surprises

Taking Maffi's advice, we tied up at the secure Castle Gardens mooring in the centre of Leicester, trusting we can confirm "secure" come tomorrow. The gardens are in fine trim.

We found Leicester in festival fever.

Various events are happening on the stage tonight, and we met groups wandering round…

or performing, in honour of the rugby world cup – Leicester is hosting three of the matches.

By the time the last act finishes tonight, of course, England may themselves be effectively out of the tournament, bar a miracle. Or perhaps they will be celebrating even more fervently a famous victory.

One contest in which Leicester also had a part to play was that between Richard III of York and Henry Tudor, which had its final act at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The amazing discovery of Richard's grave under a Leicester corporation carpark led to his re-burial in Leicester cathedral.

Whatever you think about this monarch (or monarchy in general), the links between church and state in England, or the competing demands for a cathedral of (a) being a place of worship, (b) funding the maintenance of a big building, and (c) being a tourist attraction, I thought they'd done the whole thing rather well.

There are attractive low-key illuminated boards around the cathedral that go way beyond providing information. Each relates to a theme, has a relevant Bible verse at the top, a triangular section in which something about Richard is described, and then another triangular section making a brief comment about the relevance of the theme today, sometimes for Leicester in particular, and inviting the reader to reflect on it. The one in this picture focused on Richard as a law-maker genuinely interested in justice.

Exiting the cathedral we found ourselves in front of the Guildhall.

Now Grade 1 listed, this building was at threat of being demolished early last century, on grounds of its being an eyesore. Which only goes to show how tastes change!. Thankfully it was restored and became a museum. It has some splendid features.

I liked this fireplace, and then we went through into the Great Hall.

It needs a better eye than mine to capture the angles, but it's a splendid room. Upstairs we found the library.

This is currently hosting an exhibition by the Leicester Society of Botanical Illustrators. I had no idea such things existed, but my Aunty Mil (actually a great-aunt) would have been delighted. Right up her street.

It was based around the plants that would have been around in Richard III's time, and it was all explained in a fascinating discussion with Beryl, a member of the society.

She continued our education with some things out of a bag!

So Leicester, like most places, has had a few surprises for us.


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