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Leicester City Museums

We suggest, based on our experience, staying in a small village or town outside Leicester and taking a bus into the city. Buses are plentiful and often. Be prepared for walking in the city as attractions are quite separated from each other. If you don't have a car you can bus or taxi from one to the other. Allow at least a full day; two would be better.

Abbey Pumping Station Museum

Abbey Pumping Station by Barbara Ballard The Abbey Pumping Station is Leicester’s Museum of Science and Technology. It is located in a Victorian sewage treatment building and has displays on Leicester’s 200 year old industrial, technological and scientific heritage. Next to it is the National Space Centre

Opened in 1891, the Abbey Pumping Station pumped Leicester’s sewage to the treatment works at Beaumont Leys. The Victorian building and decorated beam engines were a cause of great civic pride. When it closed in 1964, the site was preserved because of the four beam steam engines that were used to pump the sewage. The engines were built in Leicester by Gimson’s and today are rare examples of Woolf compound rotative beam engines. Three of the four engines have been restored back to working condition.

There are special special steam event days during the year. The museum has exhibitions on light and optics, historic transport and public health.

Abbey Pumping Station
Corporation Road
Leicester, LE4 5PX
Tel. 0 116 299 5111
Open: Feb-Nov, Sat-Wed, 11am–4.30pm, Sun 1-4.30pm; daily during school holidays except Christmas holidays; open Dec and Jan for special events
Free car park, limited disabled access, guide dogs welcome

Belgrave Hall and Gardens

Belgrave Hall courtesy Leicester Museums Belgrave Hall and Gardens is located two miles from the city centre. The hall was buit 1709-13 for Edmund Craddock, a ‘nouveau riche’ hosiery merchant from Leicester. In 1846 it was purchased by John Ellis, an investor in coal mines and quarries. He helped engineer the building of one of the world’s first steam railways that ran from Swannington to Leicester in 1832.

The hall is furnished with period settings reconstructed to reflect Victorian times. There is a community gallery that gives the history of Belgrave area for the past 50 years. The Hall is surrounded by two acres of walled gardens with plants of the 18th-early 20th centuries. In the gardens are monuments and statues. Other gardens and glasshouses in the grounds have permanent collections of plants.

Belgrave Hall is also noted for its sightings of a ghost purported to be that of Charlotte Ellis who lived at the hall after 1845.

Belgrave Hall
Church Road, off Thurcaston Road; two miles from city centre
Belgrave, Leicester, LE4 5PE
Tel. 0116 266 6590
Open: Feb-Oct, Sat-Wed, 11am–4.30pm, Sun 1-4.30pm; daily during school holidays except Christmas holidays
Street parking available, accessible parking, limited wheelchair access inside building, guide dogs welcome

The Guildhall

Guildhall by Barbara Ballard Leicester has one of the best-preserved timber-framed halls in the country. The Great Hall of the Guildhall was built c1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful religious and social group). It was a venue for social gatherings, banquets, festivals, and a place for chantry priests to live.

Guildhall fireplace by Barbara Ballard When the Guild was dissolved in 1548 the Corporation of Leicester (the town’s civic body) bought the Guildhall for its meetings. It paid the sum of £25 15s 4d. In 1632 the town library occupied the space. The hall was also used as a courtroom, for theatrical performances, banquets and civic events. The city’s first police force was based at the guildhall, and incorporated Victorian police cells.

The guildhall is supposedly haunted by five ghosts. One of these is the White Lady who likes the library.

The Guildhall
Guildhall Lane
Tel. 0 116 253 2569
Open: Feb-Nov, Sat-Sun, 11am-4.30pm, Sun from 1-4.30pm; open Dec–Jan for special events and private hire.
Public car park 100 yards; limited disabled access (for easier wheelchair access, telephone prior to visit), induction loop available; guide dogs welcome

Jewry Wall Museum

The old Roman wall by the museum by Barbara Ballard Leicester's Museum of Archaeology is located in the remains of the Roman town's public baths. Its highlight is the 2000-year old Jewry Wall, the second largest piece of surviving Roman building in England. Its two arched doorways formed the entrance to a public bathhouse, the remains of which are laid out in front of the Wall.

The museum tells the story of Leicester from prehistory to the end of the medieval period. In the museum are archaeological collections from 300,000 years ago to the end of the Middle Ages. The Roman collections include a mosaic and three examples of Roman wall painting.

Jewry Wall Museum
St Nicholas’ Circle
Leicester, LE1 4LB
Tel. 0 116 225 4971
Open: Feb-Nov, Sat-Sun, 11am-4.30pm, Sun from 1-4.30pm; open Dec–Jan for special events and private hire; term time open Mon-Fri for groups by appointment only.
Public car park adjacent to the museum (within St Nicholas’ Circle), wheelchair access through Holy Bones via Vaughan College’s private car park (telephone prior to visit to ensure access through the car park is clear), guide dogs welcome

Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens

Newarke House entrance courtesy Leicester Museums Newarke Houses Museum is sited in two historic houses, Wygston Chantry House and Skeffington House. There are history galleries and displays and a section devoted to the Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

William Wygston was Leicester’s richest citizen and built Wygston’s Chantry House 1511/12, the only Elizabethan urban gentry house surviving in the county. It was used to house two chantry priests who sang masses for William’s soul in the nearby church of St Mary of the Annunciation.

Skeffington House is thought to have been built by Sir Thomas Skeffington between 1560-1583. Originally a stone building only one room deep, it was altered and enlarged over the centuries. There is a garden at the site with a medieval castle wall, complete with English civil war gun-loops at the bottom. It borders the churchyard of St. Mary de Castro.

The Newarke
Leicester, LE2 7BY
Tel. 0 116 225 4980
Open: Feb-Nov, Sat-Sun, 11am-4.30pm, Sun from 1-4.30pm

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery

New Walk Museum courtesy Leicester Museums New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Lieicester’s oldest museum, is situated within the historic New Walk area of the city. In 1849 the Literary and Philosophical Society presented its collections to the town. The collections included the natural and cultural world. The museum is also a venue for musical performances and weddings.

Galleries include:
Wild Space (an interactive exhibition that deals with biodiversity with sections on the Antarctic and the Arctic, undersea life, the African savannah, the rainforest, and the desert. There is a miniature world of insects and spiders); Mighty Dinosaurs; Leicestershire's Rocks; Ancient Egyptians (mummies, coffins, treasures); World Arts (decorative articles from around the world); Our World through art (changing selection of artworks from 15-21 centuries include paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by local, national, and international artists); Focus Gallery (paintings and drawings by British artists); Gallery Nine (community art gallery space); Temporary Exhibitions Gallery; Discover-Where Big Ideas Begin (for children to interact with objects); Expressionism and Beyond (German Expressionism work).

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery
53 New Walk
Leicester, LE1 7EA
Tel. 0 116 225 4900
Open: daily, Mon-Sat from 10am-5pm, on Sun from 11am-5pm; closed Dec 24-26 and 31 and Jan 1; downstairs art galleries may be closed until noon on certain Saturdays for weddings

National Space Centre

National Space Centre by Barbara Ballard The National Space Centre provides all you want to know and then some about our solar system and the universe. The story is told in displays, videos, and hands-on activities. It’s an indoor all weather attraction especially designed for kids. A half day will just begin to cover all that is available for them to participate in.

National Space Centre
Exploration Drive (next to the Abbey Pumping Station Museum)
Leicester, (off A6 two miles north of the city centre)
Tel. 0 116 261 0261
Open: you will need to check the calendar on their website as it varies from month to month, week to week
Light refrehsments; shop; large pay parking lot
Web: National Space Centre

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Leicester City Museums
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