Leicester is the county’s main city. There is nothing to recommend the city as such but it does have a number of attractions including the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery (Egypt, dinosaurs, and natural history), a 14th-16th century timber roofed guildhall, St Martin’s cathedral, a 1330 almshouse, and the Jewry Wall and Archaeology Museum. This museum is built on the site of an excavated Roman bath, part of which is a 2000-year-old wall.
Leicester’s newest attraction is the National Space Centre. Five themed galleries encompass the world of space science.
For something more historic visit Belgrave Hall and gardens. The 18th century Queen Anne house has rooms of Edwardian and Victorian furniture and décor. The hall has been the site of many paranormal investigations.
Next to the Space Centre is an attraction of a different kind, the Abbey Pumping Station Museum. Housed in a now disused Victorian sewage treatment building, there are fascinating displays all about the scientific industrial treatment of water and its waste of the city.
Charnwood Forest lies partly in the county of Leicestershire. Here villages are dotted amongst small woodlands. A visitor centre and museum in Loughborough provide information and walking routes. The carillion, set in a lovely park, has displays and from the top there are views over the area. The high street is closed to traffic, and there are plenty of shops available.
Loughborough’s museums include the Bell Foundry, the largest working bell foundry in the world, and a Great Central Railway museum at the railroad. Steam train rides are available. The parish church dates from medieval times. The old hall of the rectory is one of the oldest in England, surviving from 1200.
Anstey is a large village with a medieval packhorse bridge. Another packhorse bridge is found at Rearsby. Barrow on Soar sits on the river Soar and has a 13th century church. Mountsorrel has a roadside butter cross, a canal, historic properties, and a museum. Rothley has a number of old cottages, a Saxon cross and an impressive church. Woodhouse near Beacon Hill country park is a conservation village with a church dating back to 1300.
Prehistoric remains include Breedon and Burrough hills, both dating from the iron age.
Later historic sites include the Bosworth Battlefield with a visitor centre and country park. This is where the deciding battle of the War of the Roses took place in 1485. Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor, thus instituting the line of Tudor monarchs. For a full day out you can take the Shackerstone steam railway from the battlefield, stopping at the next historic station for tea and then returning by the same route. From there it’s just a few minutes by car to a canal with boat trips and a café.
The county has a number of medieval manor houses, notably unfinished Kirby Muxloe (allow two hours minimum). The owner ran afoul of the law and the house was never completed.
Donnington-le-Heath is a small but very atmospheric house that tells about life of the times. The small garden is perfect to relax in on a sunny day, and there’s a wonderful restaurant on the premises.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle’s ruins are dominated by its huge tower. Eighty feet high, it was split into two parts during the civil war. In the town is the Priest’s House from the early 19th century, a museum, and 15th century St Helen’s church. A preserved blast furnace, the Moira Furnace Museum, is nearby.
The ruins of Bradgate House, birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, are located in Bradgate park, where there is a visitor centre. Herds of deer inhabit the park. There’s a wide paved walkway from one side of the park to the other, taking in the ruins. At one end is the village of Newton Linford, home to thatched cottages and eating spots.
Belvoir Castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, originally dated from the 11th century but was much restored in the early 19th century after a fire. The name means ‘beautiful view’, and its position atop a hillside covered with gardens provides one. Inside are priceless works of art by Holbein, Rubens, Reynolds, and Gobelin and Mortlake tapestries. Also on view are Chinese silks, furniture, porcelain, and sculpture.
Stanford Hall was built in the 1690s on the site of a 15th century house. It’s been home to the same family since that time. A library has 5000 books and old manuscripts. Of special interest is the ballroom with its fancy ceiling. There are family portraits, costumes and collections as well as royal Stuart portraits.
The ancient market town of Melton Mowbray lays claim to the invention of pork pies and Stilton cheese. St Mary’s church dates from 1170. Butter and corn crosses are in the market. Guided town walks are available. There’s a country park close by.
13th century Market Harborough is another market town with interesting old buildings. The parish church, St Dionysius, has a 160-foot high spire and stained glass windows. Next to the church is the timber Grammar School dating from 1614. The town has a number of old coaching inns. A walk along the riverside leads to a lovely park.
Market Bosworth’s Dixie Grammar school is 17th century, and there are three old pubs in the town centre. Canal walks start in the village.
Snibston Discovery Museum has great hands-on activities for the kids on a rainy day and there’s a few areas for adults as well. Market Bosworth’s Dixie Grammar school is 17th century, and there are three old pubs in the town centre. Canal walks start in the village. Wymondham is home to a windmill.
Appleby Magna has a beautiful 14th century church with a marble tomb, a 1697 grammar school, a medieval moated house, and other historic houses. Breedon on the Hill’s parish church stands on the summit of the hill. The 13th century church interior has monastery remains, elaborate memorials and carvings.
Rockingham is home to a former royal castle, built by William the Conqueror. It was used until the 16th century by the early kings. Of note is the collection of paintings spanning the 18th through 20th century. The house served as the model for Chesney Wold in Charles Dickens’s ‘Bleak House'. There’s an excellent restaurant on the premises and far reaching views from the hilltop location.
The Foxton Locks are a great spot for a sunny day out. You can rent a canal boat, take a guided boat ride, walk along the canal, visit the small museum, enjoy some eats, or just be lazy and watch the boats coming and going.
For opening times and full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.
Abbey Pumping Station Museum
Corporation Road, Leicester, LE4 5PX
Tel. 0 116 299 5111
Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle (EH)
South Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch
Tel. 0 1530 413 343
In Tourist Information/library building on North St, Ashby-de-la-Zouch
Tel. 0 1530 560 090
Web: Ashby Museum
Battlefield Line Railway
Shackerston Station, Shackerstone
Tel. 01827 880 754
Web: Battlefield Line Railway
Belgrave Hall and Gardens
Church Road, off Thurcaston Road, two miles from city centre
Belgrave, Leicester, LE4 5PE
Tel. 0 116 266 6590
Bell Foundry Museum (Taylor’s)
Freehold St, Loughborough
Tel. 0 1509 212 241
See photos and more information in our article Bell Foundry Museum
Web: Taylor Bells
Belvoir Castle (HHA)
On hillside seven miles from Grantham, off A607
Tel. 0 1476 871 002
For photos and more on the castle go to our article Belvoir Castle
Web: Belvoir Castle
Bosworth Battlefield, Visitor Center, and Country Park
Ambion Lane, Sutton Cheney, Nuneaton
Signed from A5 and other local roads
Tel. 0 1455 290 429
For photos and more details see our article Bosworth Battlefield and Heritage Centre, Country Park and Shackerstone Battlefield Line Railway
Web: Bosworth Battlefield
Bradgate Country Park and Visitor Centre
Bradgate Park, Newtown Linford
Tel. 0 1162 362 713
Breedon on the Hill Priory Church
Breedon on the Hill
Tel. 0 1530 411 767
Web: Breedon Church
Brocks Hill Country Park and Visitor Centre
Washbrook Lane, Oadby
Tel. 0 116 257 2888
Castle Donington Museum
4 Apiary Gate, Castle Donington
Tel. 01332 812 711
Queens Hall, Granby St, Loughborough
Tel: 0 1509 233 754
Tel. 0 116 223 2060
Donington-le-Heath Manor House
Manor Rd, southern edge of Coalville between Donington le Heath and Hugglescote villages
Tel. 0 1530 831259
Foxton Canal and Museum
Middle Lock, Gumley Rd, just off A6 or A427 near Market Harborough (signposted)
Tel. 0 116 279 2657
Web: Foxton Locks
Web: Foxton Inclined Plane Trust
Web: Foxton Boats
Grace dieu Priory
Off A512, between Shepshed and Thringstone
Tel. 0 1530 454 603
Great Central Railway
Tel. 0 1509 230 726
Guildhall Lane, Leicester
Tel. 0 116 253 2569
Adam & Eve Street, Market Harborough (town centre, entrance via Fox Yard)
Tel. 0 1858 821 085
Hill Hole Quarry Nature Reserve
Hill Lane, Markfield
Tel. 0 1455 238 141
Jewry Wall Museum
St Nicholas’ Circle, Leicester, LE1 4LB
Tel. 0 116 225 4971
Kirby Muxloe Castle
4 miles west of Leicester off B5380
Tel. 0 116 238 6886
Loughborough Carillon and War Memorial Museum
Queens Park, Loughborough
Tel. 0 1509 263 370
Melton Carnegie Museum
Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray
Tel. 0 1664 569 946
National Space Centre
Exploration Drive, Leicester (off A6 two miles north of the city centre)
Tel. 0 116 261 0261
Web: National Space Centre
Newarke Houses Museum and Gardens
The Newarke, Leicester, LE2 7BY
Tel. 0 116 225 4980
New Walk Museum and Art Gallery
53 New Walk, Leicester, LE1 7EA
Tel. 0 116 225 4900
Rockingham, Market Harborough
Tel. 0 1536 770 240
Sence Valley Forest Park
Ravenstone Rd, Ibstock
Tel. 0 1889 586 593
Shackerstone Battlefield Line Railway
Shackerstone Station, Shackerstone, Nuneaton
Tel. 0 1827 880 754
Web: Shackerstone Battlefield Line Railway
Stanford Hall (HHA)
Tel. 0 1788 860 250
Web: Stanford Hall
Staunton Harold Church
Five miles north-east of Ashby-de-la-Zouch
Tel. 0 1332 863 822
Stonehurst Farm and Motor Museum
Bond Lane, Mountsorrel
Tel. 01509 413 216
Reservoir Rd, Thornton
Tel. 0 1332 865 081; for events and activities tel. 0 870 1791 111; for fishing tel. 0 1530 230 808
Wigston Framework Knitters Museum
42-44 Bushloe End, Wigston
Tel. 0 116 288 3396
Tourist Information Centres
North St , Ashby-de-la-Zouch, LE65 IHU
Tel. 0 1530 411 767
Snibston Discovery Park
Ashby Road, Coalville, LE67 3LN
Tel. 0 1530 813 608
Hinckley Library, Lancaster Road
Hinckley, LE10 0AT
Tel. 0 1455 635 106
7/9 Every Street, Town Hall Square
Leicester, LE1 6AG
Tel. 0 116 265 0555
Loughborough Town Hall
Market Place, Loughborough, LE11 3EB
Tel. 0 1509 218 113
Council Offices, Adam and Eve St
Market Harborough, LE16 7AG
Tel. 0 1858 821 270
Melton Carnegie Museum
Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray, LE13 1RB
Tel. 0 1664 480 992
Leicester Tourist Information official website: Go Leicester
Official website of Leicester city council: Leicester city council
Photo of Belgrave Hall courtesy of Leicester City Museum website: Leicester Museums
Photo of King Richard's flag courtesy of Bosworth Battlefield
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Some of our Leicestershire Articles
Bosworth Battlefield and Heritage Centre, Country Park and Shackerstone Battlefield Line Railway Bradgate Park
Bell Foundry Museum
Foxton Canal, Locks and Museum
Leicester City Museums
Charnwood, a National Forest
Other England Articles
Horseshoe Cottage Farm
near Bradgate Park, Leicestershire