Sunday, 29 March 2015

Richard III and Leicester

Inside the DMU Heritage Centre

A week in the life of Leicester!

Last week I made an unusual detour and visited the new Heritage Centre at De Montfort University in Leicester, and this week, I have again ventured out to Leicester, in a week that has been one of the most exciting in all its history.
The souvenir programme

My week did, however, start in Loughborough when on Saturday evening I went along to the Charnwood Orchestra Banks of the Green Willow concert at the Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity (aka Loughborough Parish Church). This concert, which was in memory of the fallen of WW1, and to mark the re-positioning of the Great War memorials in the Parish Church, was composed almost entirely of English music, ranging from Butterworth, through Howells, to Vaughan Williams, and including songs by the French composer, Duparc.

The real story of the week, however, began on Sunday, which saw me watching as much of the live procession through the county of the body of Richard III, as I could find on television, my pc and BBC Radio Leicester. Even through a television screen, this was a hugely emotional event, but was really just the start of what turned out to be a very exciting week.

Queues snaking along Loseby Lane
On Monday lunchtime I went into Leicester city centre, thinking I might just pop into the cathedral and have a quick look at the coffin of Richard III. Nothing prepared me for the queues that had already built up, and I went away resigned to not having time to go into the cathedral.

On Tuesday evening I was lucky enough to go along to a lecture at De Montfort University, given by Professor Kevin Schurer, of Leicester University, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) and DMU’s Dr Douglas Cawthorne and Steffan Davies, one of his PhD students. The first lecture discussed and explained the difference between mitochondrial and Y chromosone DNA, and how this was used to confirm the descendants of Richard III. The second lecture described how DMU’s Digital Building Heritage Team built up a picture of what the original Grey Friars, and created a fly-through, which is now in the Richard iii Visitor Centre.

Here’s the full version of Dr Turi King and Professor Schurer’s original paper.

View from the queue!

By Wednesday morning I had become desperate to queue up and visit the coffin of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, so at 8am I joined the queue. It was worth the 45-minute wait: The atmosphere inside was charged, and the embroidered cloth covering the coffin was stunning. The British Legion volunteers were excellent, standing tall and erect, silently guarding the coffin.

The coffin in the cathedral
On Thursday I again made the trip to Leicester, this time to watch the reinterment service on the big screen set up in Jubilee Square. Standing on the wall of Wyggeston House, I had a great view of the screen, over the tops of the crowd, and of the procession of army bands along High Street and the of cathedral-goers along Applegate and Peacock Lane. It was a bit of a dull day weatherwise, and the wind was excruciatingly cold, but again, the atmosphere was electric. I’ve never seen Leicester so full of people, the cafés so busy, and the streets alive with festivities, that weren’t just centred on Jubilee Square.
Band marching along High Street

Watching the big screen in Jubilee Square


The procession
Thursday was so much fun, that I spent the whole day in Leicester: I had a lovely lunch in James’ café / bistro, and then spent an hour or so wandering around the shops – not something I normally have time to do! I was lucky enough to talk to a number of volunteers, all of whom had interesting stories to tell, and met some wonderful people, including a lady on the park and ride bus back with whom I discovered I had mutual friends!

On Friday evening, after a long day at work, my hubby and I went into town to see some of the “glow”! There were clay pots filled with deep candles around the whole of the cathedral square, in Jubilee Square, and along Peacock Lane. The smoke and the smell from these was astonishing!! We were too tired to stay for the firework display, but if the rest of the week’s events were anything to go by, I’m sure these would have been spectacular!  

The big question now, of course, is what next? For Leicester? For Richard III? For lynneaboutloughborough?


Friday, 20 March 2015

DMU Heritage Centre, Leicester, 2015

There are so many events taking place in Leicester over the next week, because of that BIG event, that I'm taking a break from Loughborough this week, and heading over to the new Heritage Centre at De Montfort University! I was lucky enough to get a preview of the new Centre before it was officially opened, and I was impressed with what I saw. There's a temporary exhibition area, which currently features WW1, and a temporary area in which staff and student work will be displayed. This is in addition to those famous arches - which aren't going anywhere! -  and other displays about the university and the area in which it's situated. The Centre is in the Hawthorn Building accessed from the door opposite Newarke Houses Museum: The entrance corridor is adorned with a timeline, framed by wooden arches which echo the stunning arches situated within. 

While you're in the area, visit Castle Gardens, and Newarke Houses Museum, or, if you can, book a guided tour of castle and the Magazine.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

A walk in Booth Wood

Apologies for not posting last week: Still feeling a little poorly, so I've very quickly put together a short video walk through Booth Wood. Booth Wood is situated off Ravensthorpe Drive, which is off Old Ashby Road, on the right as you head out to the M1. Photo quality not brilliant as this was taken with my old camera. Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Blacksmiths

The Blacksmiths - also known as the Blacksmith's Arms

Pubs were often named after an occupational group of people, perhaps because this was where people in that trade met to quench their thirst. Usually such pubs didn't have a sign, but if they did it would probably be taken from the Arms of the Worshipful Company. In the case of our Blacksmiths, you can see an anvil and hammer on the very top of the roofline, between the 19 and the 31 of the date. You can also see the original name on the roofline either side of the date in the middle.

It is thought that the original pub was actually called the Black Boy, but was changed to the Blacksmith's Arms.

The Blacksmiths in Wards End that we see today is the second incarnation of that particular pub, the first being opened in the mid-1800s, before being demolished in the early 1930s, to be replaced by this rather handsome art deco building that stands today.

Over the years the pub has had various names, and started life as The Blackboy, it's name changing to The Blacksmith's Arms in about the 1870s.  The Blacksmith's closed its doors as a traditional pub in the 1990s, and became known, amongst other things as, @The Office, Voodoo, an Indian restaurant (but the name escapes me), and Baroque, though I've probably missed some!

Today, The Blacksmiths has been renovated and now serves meals in its spacious rooms.

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The Blacksmiths in 2013 as The Baroque

The Swan in the Rushes

The Swan-in-the-Rushes - also known as the Charnwood Inn, The Plough, The Old Plough and the Charnwood Forest Railway Inn

Animals are often to be found in the names of pubs, and I'm supposing that this pub is so called because it is in The Rushes, which many years ago would probably have been boggy, so maybe swans could be found there?

The Swan in the Rushes which we see today in The Rushes is a classic example of the 1930s Art Deco style and makes good use of Hathernware faience tiles. This pub was originally opened in 1932 as the Charnwood Inn, but there had been a pub on that particular site since the late 1800s, firstly named The Plough (not to be confused with a pub of the same name in Market Place), then renamed, The Old Plough, and finally the Charnwood Forest Railway Inn.

Today, The Swan in the Rushes is a lively place, where bands perform and Mikron, the travelling canal theatre group, put on their plays.

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The Swan-in-the-Rushes

The Boat Inn

The Boat Inn

I really don't have a clue about the origin of this pub's name, unless it really is as obvious as it appears!

The Boat Inn on the canal bank, is just off Meadow Lane, and was opened around the end of the 1700s. At one time there was a house joined to each side of it, but now it stands alone, albeit with an extension.

It's a popular place for people who are travelling along the cut, to partake of refreshments. It's also a popular establishment for people of the town and students to visit.

In days gone by, the canal touring theatre group Mikron, used to perform outside The Boat, on the banks of the canal, and it was here I first encountered the actor Mark Williams (Mr Weasley in the Harry Potter films, amongst many other parts!).

This is The Boat today: Click on the picture of the pub to return to the Pub Quiz.
The Boat Inn
The Marston's Brewery pub sign

The Old Boot Inn

The Boot Hotel - also known as the Old Boot

Another pub whose name I can't quite work out! The only information I have about pubs with this name are that it could be one of those occupational names (as there were many shoemakers - and probably bootmakers - in the Loughborough of old), or it's related to Sir John Schorne, a rector who apparently turned the Devil into a boot, but since Sir John was living in Buckinghamshire, it seems unlikely to be relevant to our Boot!

The original Old Boot Inn was opened around the 1770s and could be found in what was then known as Fishpool Head. Like so many other pubs, the building was demolished in about 1900 and a new pub of the same name built on the same plot, only now the street is called Cattle Market.

Some of the stories I've heard told of The Old Boot are quite fascinating! When The Essoldo (now the Odeon on Cattle Market) held its dances, it didn't have a license, so people would nip off to The Old Boot for a quick drink before returning to the dance floor. But more exciting than that was the idea that there were hoof marks going up the stairs of the pub as Loughborough's war horse, Songster, after he returned safely from the First World War, would climb the stairs with his mount on his back, parade round the upper rooms and then carefully descend again!

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of The Old Boot to show you, but there are some on the internet. I did go out today to take a picture of Sital House, the former Don Millers/Jessops, the former Abbey National/Santander as this is where the Old Boot used to be, next to town Hall Passage, but it rained rather a lot!

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The Three Horseshoes Inn

The Three Horse Shoes Inn

Three horse shoes is quite a popular name for a pub, but could have a number of different origins. So, for example, this could be an occupational sign, or it could be a reference to travellers, so either the loss of a horse shoe, or a warning to travellers to check their horses hooves before continuing on their journey. Alternatively, it could be an artistic nod, as objects arranged in threes are attractive to look at, or because threes are used a lot in heraldry. Finally, this could be an association with folklore, magic and folk medicine, as three is a powerful number in these areas, and a reinforcement of luck.

The Three Horse Shoes Inn on Nottingham Road opened in about 1873. A photograph taken in the early 1900s shows that it served Bass ales, and the landlord was Thomas W. Richards. The pub closed in about 1925, but what became of it around that time, I don't know. Later, in about 1956 the building was transformed into Twiggers Motorcycles, who remain there to this day.

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The former Three Horse Shoes Inn, now Twiggers Motorcycles