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´╗┐Title: A Walk through Leicester - being a Guide to Strangers
Author: Watts, Susannah, 1768-1842
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Walk through Leicester - being a Guide to Strangers" ***

Transcribed from the 1804 T. Combe edition by David Price, email

                               A GUIDE TO STRANGERS,
                                  A DESCRIPTION
                                      OF THE
                              TOWN AND ITS ENVIRONS,
                              WITH REMARKS UPON ITS
                             HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES.

    "Within this hour it will be dinner-time,
    Till that I'll view the manners of the town,
    Peruse its traders, gaze upon its buildings,
    And then return and sleep within mine inn."


                     LEICESTER, PRINTED BY T. COMBE,
                               AND SOLD BY
                   T. HURST, PATER-NOSTER-ROW, LONDON,


The Editor of the following pages, while he has been solicitous to
furnish those who _travel_ with a POCKET CICERONE, feels at the same time
a wish that it may not be unacceptable to those who are _at home_.  The
latter, though, in the subject of this survey, they trace an old, a
familiar scene, will still feel that it possesses that interest which the
native spot binds around the mind, and when they point out to their
intelligent visitors and curious friends the most memorable objects of
their antient and honourable Town, it is his wish that this little
companion may be found useful; he, therefore, while he rejoices in their
support and feels their liberality, inscribes it with respect and
gratitude, to the

                        INHABITANTS OF LEICESTER.


To the traveller who may wish to visit whatever is deemed most worthy of
notice in the town of Leicester, the following sketch is devoted.  And as
the highly cultivated state of topographical knowledge renders
superficial remark unpardonable in local description, we shall endeavor
to produce, at the various objects of our visit, such information and
reflections as a conductor, not wholly uninformed, may be expected to
offer to the curious and intelligent, while he guides him through a
large, commercial, and, we trust, a respectable town; the capital of a
province which can honestly boast, that by its rich pasturage, its flocks
and herds, it supplies England with the blessings of agricultural
fertility; and by the industry of its frame-work-knitters, affords an
article that quickens and extends the operations of commerce.

We now request our good-humoured stranger to accept of such our guidance;
whether he be the tourist, whose object of inquiry is general
information--or the man of reflection, who, wherever he goes, whether in
crouded towns or solitary fields, finds something to engage his
meditation--or the mercantile rider, who, when the business of his
commissions is transacted, quits his lonely parlour for a stroll through
the streets--we shall endeavor to bring before his eye as much of
interest as our scenes will afford: and as for the diligent antiquary, we
assure him we will make the most of our Roman remains; and we hope he
will not quarrel with the rough forest stones of our streets, when we
promise him they shall conduct him to the smoother pavement of Roman

What may have been the name of the town we are about to traverse, before
the establishment of the Romans, cannot be ascertained; for the Britons
had no written monuments, and it cannot be expected that tradition should
have survived the revolutions, which, since that period, have taken place
in this island.  King Leir, and whatever surmises may have been founded
on the similarity between his name and the present name of the place, may
safely be left to those who are more fond of the flights of conjecture
than the solid arguments of truth.

After the establishment of the Romans, Leicester became one of their most
important stations; was known, we are well assured, by the name of RATAE,
and was a colony, composed of the soldiers from the legions, having
magistrates, manners, and language the same as Rome itself.  Under the
Saxon dynasty it obtained the name of LEICESTER, compounded of _castrum_,
or _cester_, from its having been a Roman military station, and _leag_,
or _lea_, a pasture surrounded by woods, for such was antiently the scite
of the town.  This name it has preserved, with less alteration in the
mode of spelling than almost any other town in the kingdom, through the
barbarous reigns of the Saxon kings, the oppressive system of the feudal
times, the dark gloom of monkish superstition, and the fatal revolutions
occasioned by the civil commotions of later ages.

Such is, most probably, the true etymology of the name of the place we
are now proceeding to survey; for which purpose we will suppose the
visitor to set forward from the Three Crowns Inn, along a strait wide
street, called


(corruptly pronounced _Goltre_), from its having formerly led to the
place of execution, the left side of which is the scite of the antient
city walls.

At the bottom of this street, a building, formerly the assembly-room, but
now converted to purposes of trade, with a piazza, under which is a
machine for weighing coals, forms the centre of five considerable
streets.  The


on the right, leads to a range of new and handsome dwellings, called
SPA-PLACE, from a chalybeate spring found there, which, though furnished
by the proprietor with neat marble baths and every convenient appendage
for bathing, has not been found sufficiently impregnated with mineral
properties to bring it into use.  The Humberstone-Gate is out of the
local limits of the borough, and subject to the concurrent jurisdiction
of the county and borough magistrates; though in the reigns of Edward VI.
and Elizabeth, attempts were made to bring it exclusively under the
magisterial power of the town.  It is part of the manor possessed by the
Bishops of Lincoln, in the twelfth century, and is still called the
_Bishops' Fee_.

Southward from the Humberstone-Gate to the Goltre-Gate, very considerable
additions, consisting of several streets, have lately been made to the

Advancing forward, the visitor, on passing the weighing machine, enters


a street of considerable extent, in the broader part of which stands what
may justly be deemed one of the most valuable curiosities of the place;
it is a _milliare_, or Roman mile-stone, forming part of a small obelisk.
This stone was discovered in 1771, by some workmen, digging to form a
rampart for a new turnpike-road from Leicester to Melton, upon the foss
road leading to Newark, and at the distance of two miles from Leicester.
Antiquarians allow it to be the oldest _milliare_ now extant in Britain;
and perhaps the inscription upon it is older than most others that have
been found upon altars, or other monuments of Roman antiquity in this
island.  It is about three feet long, and between five and six in
circumference.  The inscription, when the abbreviations are filled up,
may be read thus--

                              Imperator Caesar,
                     Divi Trajani Parthici Filius Divus,
                         Trajanus Hadrianus Augustus,
                   Potestate IV. Consulatu III. A Ratis II.

                          Hadrian Trajanus Augustus,
     Emperor & Caesar, the son of the most illustrious Trajan Parthicus,
             In the 4th year of his reign, and his 3d consulate.
                       From Ratae (Leicester) 2 miles.

Such is the inscription on this _milliare_, which our industrious
antiquaries seem faithfully to have extracted from among the ruins of
time and the injuries of accident; an object, which exhibits a curious
instance of the civilization introduced by the Roman arms into this
island; for the erection of marks to denote the distance from place to
place, is an accommodation, at least to the travelling stranger, which
unpolished nations never devised; and which the inhabitants of Britain
never generally enjoyed from the final departure of the Roman legions,
till the last century, when mile-stones were again erected along our
principal turnpike roads.  The unlearned visitor, it is confessed, will
be apt to view, with some degree of disappointment, the object of which
we are speaking, and about which much busy conjecture, and learned
antiquarian research has been employed; for indeed, its appearance is
neither singular nor striking, the engraving being but slight, and the
letters rudely formed.  But the ingenious observer will esteem it a
valuable curiosity; not only because it clears up the long doubted
question, whether the RATAE of Antoninus's Itinerary was the present
Leicester, but because it is one of those objects which assist the
reflecting mind in connecting the past with the present; and, by
confirming from sensible evidence the records of history, give greater
weight and effect to the lessons she may teach.

The situation in which this stone is at present placed, has often been
thought improper; for it is undoubtedly exposed to injuries from the
wantonness of play, and is so little conspicuous from its place in the
obelisk, that nothing appears necessarily to attract the attention of the
stranger.  A situation more private, though not wholly so, would be more
proper; such a one as the garden of the Infirmary would afford: it would
there have all the publicity the curious could wish, and all the security
the antiquary could desire.

Our visitor, continuing his walk along this street, which, as he probably
will know, is on the great road from the metropolis to the north-west
part of the kingdom, arrives at a scene of busy traffic.  Here, among
numbers of newly-erected dwellings (proofs of the increasing population
of the town) is the public and principal wharf on the navigable canal,
near which is an iron foundery.  This canal was formed, in consequence of
a bill passed in 1791, for the purpose of opening a communication with
the Loughborough canal, and through that, with the various navigations,
united to the Trent.  The line of the canal from Leicester to
Loughborough is near sixteen miles in extent, and serves to supply
Leicester with coal, lime, and the greater part of all the other heavy
articles, which the consumption of a place, containing sixteen thousand
inhabitants, requires.

The rates of tonnage, according to the act, from Loughborough to
Leicester, are--

For coals                1s. 2d. per ton.
Iron, timber, &c.        2s. 6d.

Quantity of the articles brought by this canal:

Coal annually consumed in Leicester and its vicinity      35,000
Ditto forwarded to other canals                           18,000
Merchandize for Leicester                                 4,000
Ditto sent down (chiefly wool)                            1,600

Thus, whether we consider the saving of corn, &c. consumed by the horses
employed in land carriage, the comparative cheapness of the conveyance,
or the improved state of our roads, relieved from such heavy weights, it
must be acknowledged that this canal adds more than might have been
expected to the convenience of Leicester, and the greater part of its
county.  Indeed, these _water-roads_, as navigable canals may be termed,
reflect the greatest honour on the ingenuity of man, exemplified in their
formation, and prove most strikingly to the thinking mind, how boundless
are the advantages of civilized life, and how inviolable the security
afforded to property by laws, wisely framed and judiciously enforced.

The view from this spot, across the Abbey Meadow, extending on the
opposite side of the canal, with the ruins of the Devonshire mansion,
commonly termed the _Abbey_, from its being the scite of _St. Mary de
Pratis_, will, by most visitors, be considered, at least, as very
pleasing; but as we mean to conduct our traveller to that place, we
shall, at present, forbear to particularize it.

We shall immediately, along a lane, called Arch-deacon's Lane, about the
middle of which is a Meeting house, with a small burial ground, belonging
to the General Baptists, guide our stranger to


This structure is rendered venerable by its tower, whose pinnacles and
trefoil-work, with the niche, or tabernacle, on the corner of the south
wall of the church, would have even shown it, had not its date been
confirmed by Bishop Alnwicke's register, 1441, to have been the work of
the era of the regular gothic.  From this tower, a ring of ten bells,
well known for their excellence, sound in frequent peals of harmony along
the meadow and river below.

This, when the other churches of Leicester were given to the abbey by
Robert Bossu, was annexed as a prebend to the cathedral of Lincoln, by
the bishops of that diocese to whom it then belonged.  The right of
presentation is vested in the person holding the prebend, and the parish,
with the neighbouring dependent parish of Knighton, is exempted from the
jurisdiction of the Arch-deacon of Leicester.  The inside of the church
is handsome; the nave and side aisles are supported by gothic arches,
whose beauty and symmetry are not concealed by aukward galleries.  The
organ was erected by the parishioners in 1773.

Several elegant modern monuments adorn the walls, and in the north aisle
is the alabaster tomb of Bishop Penny, many years abbot of the
neighbouring monastery of St Mary de Pratis.  In the church-yard the
military trophies of a black tomb commemorate Andrew Lord Rollo.  This
nobleman was an instance of the attraction which a martial life affords
to an elevated mind, for he entered the service at the age of forty, when
generally the habits and inclinations of life are so fixed, as scarcely
to admit any change.  After many years of severe and dangerous services,
he died at Leicester, as the inscription informs us, on his way to
Bristol, for the recovery of his health, 1765.

It is to be observed of this and the other churches in this place, that
the entrance is by a descent of several steps; a circumstance proving
incontestibly, that the ground without has been considerably raised,
since no reason could induce the founders of these sacred edifices to
sink the floors beyond the natural level; nor is the surface of the
church-yards alone, higher than the floors of the churches; so caused by
the continued interment of the dead: but the general level of the
pavements of the streets is also higher; from which it must be inferred,
that the ground on which the present houses are built has been every
where raised, and that very considerably.  That the rubbish produced by
buildings, and particularly the consumption of fuel, should produce this
effect, is what any one may readily believe; and the Bishop of Llandaff
calculates in his Chemical Essays, that the quantity of coal consumed
annually in London, would raise an area of ten miles square, a full inch.

But notwithstanding it may safely be affirmed that a much greater
quantity of fuel is at present consumed, and more rubbish produced
annually in Leicester, than at any other period whatever, yet the seeming
paradox may easily be proved, that little, if any alteration in the level
of the town is made now.  For the demand of all the refuse of the yards
for the purposes of agriculture, and the ordinary attention paid to
sweeping the streets, prevent any accumulation of soil: the change of
level then, of which our churches afford such indubitable proofs, can
only have taken place when the streets were unpaved, and made the
receptacle of every kind of offal from the houses; and when the yards,
uncleared for the purposes of improved agriculture, were choaked by
accumulated filth; the whole almost ever yielding in abundance those
noxious steams, the loathsome parent of pestilences, which, in former
days, frequently proved the scourges of our larger towns, and too often
spread their contagion to the villages.  Hence the entrance into our
churches, among other good sentiments, may excite in the reflective mind
a gratitude for the improved comforts the inhabitants of large towns now
enjoy; and the same circumstances may also call forth the exertions of
benevolence to promote still greater cleanliness, and to remove from the
habitations of man those effects of filthiness, which, in proportion to
their extent, are always offensive, and sometimes fatal.

Westward from this church-yard, extends a street strait and wide, but
meanly built, called


Here nothing can be traced worthy of observation, except the etymologist
stops to glean the remark that _Sanvy_ is derived from _sancta via_, the
antient name of the street, so denominated from the solemn procession
that passed through it on Whitsun Monday, in its way from St. Mary's to
St. Margaret's.  In this procession the image of the Virgin was carried
under a canopy, with an attendant minstrel and harp, accompanied by
representatives of the twelve apostles, each denoted by the name of the
sacred character he personated, written on parchment, fixed to his
bonnet; these were followed by persons bearing banners, and the virgins
of the parish.  Among other oblations they presented in St. Margaret's
Church two pair of gloves; one for the Deity, and one for St. Thomas of

The stranger, having visited St. Margaret's Church, may proceed up the


about the middle of which he will pass through an area of about an acre
and a half, the property of Sir Nigel Gresley, Bart. now used as a wood
yard; but formerly given by Queen Elizabeth to the freemen of Leicester,
for the practice of public sports, and especially archery; whence, from
the butts, or shooting marks erected in it, it is called _Butt-close_.

There is good reason to believe that plots of ground were once destined
to the like purposes in almost every village, and butts erected for the
practice of that art, to which several of the most important victories of
the English were certainly owing.  The use of the _arbalest_, or
cross-bow, was certainly very antient in Europe, and was the weapon that
proved fatal to Harold at the battle of Hastings: but the long bow was
not familiar to the English, or, perhaps, not known in Europe, till the
return of Edward the First from the Holy Land, where he became sensible
of its superior advantages from his conflicts with the Saracens.

From this period till the time of Charles the First, frequent orders were
issued by the kings, and acts of parliament were passed, enforcing and
regulating the exercise of the long bow.  Persons of all ages, from seven
years old and upwards, were obliged by penalties to appear at stated
times, each with his bow of a length equal to his own height, and, at
least, a brace of arrows, to try his skill and strength before the butts
near their respective places of residence; and by a statute of Henry the
Eighth, no one under twenty-four was allowed to shoot at any mark, at a
less distance than eleven score, or 220 yards, a distance of greater
length than our _Butt-close_ is at present; yet it is certain that the
adjoining orchard once formed part of it, and other encroachments may
have been made on it, probably at the north end.

The great execution that may be done by the bow, from the rapidity of its
discharges, and the confusion a flight of arrows is likely to occasion,
especially among cavalry, has inclined some to contend that it is a
weapon in excellence superior to the musket.  But the difficulty of
procuring, in any great quantity, the proper wood for the formation of
bows, the expense of arrows, and, above all, the long practice and
training, even from infancy, necessary to form an archer capable of
drawing _an arrow a cloth-yard long_, {23} will ever secure the
preference to the latter weapon, which, though as commonly used, perhaps
less certain of hitting the mark, is however capable of doing much
execution at double the distance to which the bow will carry {24}.

Crossing the Butt-close, to the alley on the right, we pass the
_Presbyterian_, or GREAT MEETING HOUSE, built, as appears by a date on
the walls, 1708; the congregation of which was first established in 1680.
The seats are calculated to accommodate eight hundred persons.  An organ
was erected here in 1800, a valuable advantage to the choir, who form a
musical society, cultivated with great care, and justly celebrated for
its excellence.

In an opposite lane, now called Causeway-lane, but formerly St. John's,
leading to the Town Goal, the scite of St. John's Chapel, is a small
place of worship appropriated to the service of the _Romish Church_.  It
is secluded from observation, being situated behind the house of the
officiating priest, and is a neat miniature representation of the
peculiar decorations with which the members of that religion adorn the
places where they offer up their public devotions.

Opposite the Great Meeting is a Meeting House newly erected by a society
of_ Independents_, which will seat six hundred persons; and in the
adjoining lane, which has undergone a nominal degeneracy from _St.
Peter's_ to _Woman's Lane_, is another, erected 1803, by a society
calling themselves _Episcopalian Baptists_.  Between these two latter
buildings, is an area used as a _Bowling Green_, and _Tea Garden_, with
many small structures erected for the general purposes of amusement; it
is known by the name of the _New Vauxhall_.  Among this various
assemblage of edifices stands one, which from its size will attract the
attention of visitors; it is a spacious House for the reception of
Lunatics, under the direction of Dr. Arnold.  From hence we pass an
irregular street, now called the


formerly _Parchment Lane_; which may afford interest to the mind tho' not
to the eye; for the reflective Traveller will not regard as unimportant
the humble dwellings of those Manufacturers whose industry supplies the
commercial wealth of the nation.

From this street we arrive at a spot still called the


tho the gates of the ancient town were, some years ago, taken down to
render the passage more commodious.  In the massy wood of these gates
were found balls of a large size, which probably had lodged there ever
since the assault made upon the town by king Charles's forces in 1695,
when according to a note in the pocket-book of one Simmonds, a
quarter-master in the King's army, which is now preserved in the Harleian
library, "Col. Bard's Tertia fell on with scaling ladders, some near a
flanker, and others scaled the horne work before the draw-bridge on the
east side."

We now advance along the


observing on the right hand, about half way up, a lofty hexagon turret,
whose top is glaz'd for the purpose of a prospect seat.  It bears on the
inside, marks of considerable antiquity, and is a remain of the mansion
of Henry Earl of Huntingdon, called _Lord's Place_.  It has a winding
stair-case of stone, with a small apartment on each story, and is now
modernized with an outward coating of brick.

From hence we enter a street, which was formerly upon the great north
road; it leads to Ashby-de-la-zouch, and changing its denomination at
different places, intersects the town from the southern extremity, where
stands the Infirmary, to the North Bridge, a space of a mile and one
eighth; where it is crossed by High-Street and St. Nicholas' Street, it
takes the name of


from a plain doric pillar bearing the name of High Cross, and which
formed some years ago one of the supporters of a light temple looking
building of the same name, that served as a shelter to the country people
who here hold a small market on Wednesdays and Fridays for the sale of
butter, eggs, &c.  Here the members of parliament are proclaimed, and
here also may be seen on Michaelmas day, the grotesque ceremony of the
poor men of Trinity Hospital, arrayed like ancient Knights, having rusty
helmets on their heads and breast-plates fastened over their black
taberdes proclaiming the fair.

Some paces lower the massy stone front of an edifice adorned with
rusticated pillars points to the eye the _County Goal_, erected in the
year 1791, at the expense of six thousand pounds.  The spectator may
prehaps be led into a reflection on the violation of propriety, when he
sees the Roman Fasces and Pileus encircled by heavy chains decorating an
English prison.  Under these symbols the name of the Architect is fully
conspicuous, and it may be observed as an example of sudden vicissitude,
that the builder of this fabrick became, as a debtor, its first

This prison, to which the county bridewell is now added, was erected,
upon the scite of the old goal, some years after the benevolent Howard
visited Leicester, and is built with solitary cells after the plan
recommended by that celebrated philanthropist.

The mention of a character so widely expanding beyond the customary
sphere of human action irresistibly arrests the attention of the heart
that glows into admiration at striking examples of virtue, and of the
head that feels interest in tracing the motives which influence the
conduct of man.

Separated from the county prison, by a lane called _Free-School Lane_, is
a rude heavy building, adorned with the Royal Arms.  This is the FREE
GRAMMAR SCHOOL, the aera of whose original foundation has been thought
uncertain; but upon the authority of the learned topographer Leland, it
is ascertained to have been founded by one of the three Wigstons interred
in the collegiate church in the Newark, and who, according to the same
writer, was a Prebendary of that church.  This, if not the same person,
was brother to him who founded the Hospital dedicated to St. Ursula, now
called _Wigston's Hospital_.  The master of that Hospital, had formerly
the privilege of recommending, if not appointing the master and usher of
the school, but this right is now exercised by the Mayor and senior
Aldermen.--The present building was erected by the Mayor and Burgesses,
in the fifteenth of Elizabeth, who granted them for that purpose, the
materials of the adjoining church of St. Peter.

On the opposite side of the street projects the gabel end of a building
once part of the _Blue Boar_, afterwards _Blue Bell_ inn, in ancient
times undoubtedly the principal inn of the place.  The old over-hanging
window gave light to a chamber in which stood the bedstead, which has
been celebrated by the name of _King Richard's Bedstead_, from the
circumstance of his having slept in it a few nights preceding Bosworth

Antiquaries have spoken of this bedstead as belonging to the king rather
than to the master of the house; and this opinion has been thought
favoured by the circumstance of a large sum in gold coin, partly of
Richard's reign, accidentally discovered in its double bottom.  The
bedstead is of oak, highly ornamented with carved work, and is now, in
the possession of Tho. Babington Esq. M.P.  There seems but little reason
to suppose that a Royal General while attending the march of his Army,
should unnecessarily encrease his baggage by so cumbrous a piece of
furniture, or that a Sovereign, guarded by nearly all the military force
of the Nation, should find it expedient to hide his gold like a private
unprotected person.  The bedstead therefore, it may safely be inferred,
belonged, not to a monarch, but to the master of a good inn; and the
money was secreted in it by some person anxious to secure his property
from the dangers threatened by times of civil distraction.

At the bottom of _Blue Boar Lane_, which takes it name from the inn, is a
small Alms-house, founded 1712, by Matthew Simons Esq. for six Widows,
and endowed with 20_l._ 10_s._ annually.

The next observable object in the High Cross Street, is the TOWN GOAL.
It is a commodious building, with a handsome stone front, and built after
the plan of Howard--the Architect, Mr. W. Firmadge.

In taking down the old Goal for the erection of the present edifice, in
the year 1792, incorporated with the walls of the cells were discovered
the remains of the chapel of St John, supposed to have been destroyed
during the contests between Henry the Second and his Son.  A regular
stone arch belonging to this chapel, of a circular form, with ornaments
of cheveron work, was carefully taken from among the ruins of the old
goal, and preserved by that industrious Antiquary and Historian of
Leicester, Mr. Throsby.

The small Hospital of St. John, to which this chapel belonged, joins the
prison; it supports six Widows who subsist on a very scanty stipend
arising from various annual donations.  Bent's Hospital, being the ground
floor of the same building, supports four Widows on an endowment equally

We are now approaching one of the most valuable traces which Leicester
affords of our Roman Conquerors, a relick of their tesselated floors;
preserved with great attention, in the cellar of Mr. Worthington,
opposite the town prison.  It was discovered in the year 1675, about four
feet and a half under the surface of the earth, which beneath was found
to consist of oyster shells to a considerable depth; it was sunk from its
original portion on one side being considerably inclined from the
level.--This pavement, which is an octagon three feet diameter,
represents a Stag looking intently upon the modestly-inclined countenance
of a figure seemingly female, with her arm resting affectionately against
his neck; in front stands a boy, whose wings and bow plainly indicate him
to be a Cupid; he appears about to discharge an arrow at the breast of
the female; a circumstance which renders it very certain that the subject
must be the amours of some fabulous personages, but assuredly not _Diana
and Actaeon_; nor yet as some Antiquaries have hastily supposed,
_Cypressus_ lamenting the death of his favourite stag.  Indeed in the
whole of the _Metamorphoses_, no story cm be found bearing the slightest
resemblance to the subject before us.

The elegant and picturesque Gilpin has chosen to denominate this pavement
"a piece of miserable workmanship," which can only be owing to the manner
in which he injudiciously viewed it.  By placing the light in a proper
position, the spectator will observe that the effect of the whole piece
gives the idea of good design, shade, and relief; and will be clearly
convinced that it could not have been wrought by a hand which had not
made considerable progress in the art of painting, as is evident from the
rounding of the arm of the female, the foreshortening of the stag's horn,
and the animated expression of each countenance.  The tesserae are of
various sizes, mostly square, but where a narrow line of light was
required, as in the strait Grecian nose of the female, they are small and
long.  They appear to be a composition, and are of three or four distinct
shades, the darkest a brown approaching to black, the next a warm or red
brown, and the lightest, which forms the ground work, an ochery white.

The admirers of this art, so much practised by the Romans as a decoration
of their magnificent buildings, an art which has survived so long as to
have obtained an established manufactory in modern Rome, will ascertain
the pavement in question to be one of the first specimens of antient
mosaic, and will, with gratified attention, here behold form and shade
called up from that unmanageable material, a piece of baked earth.

The commonly received opinion of these pavements having been the floors
of baths, as founded on the circumstance of their being discovered three
or four feet under the surface of the earth, is not conclusive; for the
soil has been raised by accidental accumulation; and had not this been
the case, the depth of three or four feet would not have been sufficient
for a Bath as it could not have allowed room for submersion.  Neither
does the vault with a floor and walls of tesselated work, and pipes in
the roof, discovered near Leicester in the reign of James the first, the
memory alone of which is preserved by our indefatigable topographer, Mr.
Nichols, render such an opinion in any respect more certain; but that
some of them were floors of sitting rooms may be justly inferred, from
the flues constructed under them for the purpose of conveying heat.

In examining the specimens of the mosaic art, we are tempted to draw a
far different conclusion from that adopted by the truly learned author of
the _Munimenta Antiqua_, who strongly adduces the number of _fragile_ (as
he terms them) tesselated floors found in Britain, as a proof of the
slightness of the superstructures erected by the Romans.  Now, surely it
is not to be expected that a people whose architecture in their own
country was so strikingly characterized by massiveness & splendor,
should, in this island, which though a distant was a durable conquest,
and improved by all their arts and industry, have departed from their
usual principles.  And farther, the taste and costly magnificence
discoverable in these curious remains must lead to the conclusion that
they could not have committed them to slight or ordinary buildings, for
they were decorations which the experience of more than fourteen hundred
years has scarcely surpassed.  Even the looms of modern Brussels, in
elegance and beauty of pattern, cannot fairly outvie the Mosaic Carpets
of the antient Romans.

The next object that engages the eye is the church of _All Saints_,
projecting on the west end into the street, exhibiting in its clock an
humble copy of the machinery of St Dunstan's, in London.  It is a small
neat church with three aisles and a low tower, and nothing in its
architecture attracts regard.  This vicarage with that of _St Peter's_,
which was annexed to it in the reign of Elizabeth, includes the antient
parish of _St Michael_, and part if not the whole, of that of _St.

A monument in this church-yard commemorates a character greatly
distinguished by his large donations to the poor--_Ald. Gabriel Newton_.

Of the prevalence of alms-giving in Leicester, this parish, together with
the rest, bears full testimony, in a long list of benefactors, from the
Royal Grant of Charles the first of forty acres of land in Leicester
forest, to poor housekeepers, (which now produces annually 33l. 11s. 4d
{42}) to the donor of the penny wheaten Loaf.  From the returns to
Parliament in the present reign, when accounts were made of all the
charitable donations in the kingdom, it appears that there are donations
in the parishes of Leicester, in land and money (including the endowments
of the lesser Hospitals) mostly vested in the trust of the Corporation
and by them distributed, to the annual amount of upwards of 800l.--see

A short space below the church is the spot where formerly stood the North
Gates; here a narrow lane, which once obtained the name of St. Clements,
from its leading to that church, but which is now degraded into
_Dead-mans Lane_, is the passage to a Meeting House, belonging to the
Society of Quakers.  The street continuing in a right line, now takes the
name of


and conducts us to a bridge over the Canal, beyond which is the _North_
or _St. Sunday's Bridge_.  This is an elegant stone structure, erected in
1796 and when viewed from the Abbey meadow below, it forms with the trees
and slopes beyond it a very pleasing scene.  Its three arches are small
segments of a large circle.

At the foot of the bridge in an area enclosed by a low wall, and
distinguished by a few scattered grave-stones, the church-yard of _St.
Leonard_ meets the eye.  The church, of which no trace remains, was
demolished by the Parliament Garrison in the reign of Charles the first;
as from its convenient situation it might have covered the approach of
the enemy, and given them the command of the bridge.  The parish still
remains distinct, and the occasional duty is performed by the minister of
St. Margaret's.

We cannot leave the North Bridge, without remarking that near this spot
once stood an establishment, which as it related to a privilege
exclusively royal, that of coining money, has ever been thought to confer
honor on the places where it was allowed to be exercised.  It is
undoubtedly proved from the series of coins that has been collected, that
money was coined at the _Mint at Leicester_, in regular succession from
the reign of the Saxon king Athelstan, down to Henry the second.  The
_Monetarii_, or Governors of the mint, were entitled to considerable
privileges and exemptions, being _Socmen_, or holders of land in the Soc,
or franchise of a great Baron, yet they could not be compelled to
relinquish their tenements at their lord's will.  They paid twenty pounds
every year, a considerable sum, as a pound at the time of the conquest,
contained three times the weight of silver it does at present.  These
pounds consisted of pennies, each weighing one _ora_ or ounce, of the
value of 20 pence.  Two thirds of this sum were paid to the king, and the
other third to the feudal Baron of Leicester.

The Leicester coins of Athelstan and Edmund the first have only a rose
with a legend of the king's name, that of the Moneyer, and Leicester;
from Etheldred the second, they bear the impress of the royal head and
sceptre, with the same stile of legend unchanged.

In this series of Leicester coins, which has been engraved with accurate
attention in the valuable work of Mr. Nichols, the triangular helmets,
uncouth diadems, and rudely expressed countenances of our Saxon
Sovereigns, exhibit, when opposed to a plate of Roman coinage, a striking
contrast to the nicely delineated features of the laurelled Caesars.  In
no instance of comparison does the Roman art appear more conspicuous.
The great quantity of coins of that scientific people which have been
found at Leicester, is an additional testimony of its consequence as a
Roman town; these, unfortunately upon being found at different periods,
have paffed into various hands, and altho' some few gentlemen here have
made collections, yet it is to be regretted that by far the greater part
of the coins have been taken from the town.  Had those found in the last
century been thrown together into one cabinet, Leicester might have
exhibited at this time a respectable series of Roman coinage, both in
brass and silver, from the emperor Nero, down to Valens.  Leaving those
whose taste shall so direct them, to pursue the train of reflections to
which this most curious subject may lead, we return to our route.  From
the North Budge two streets branch out, that on the left the


leading to the Ashby-de-la-Zouch road, and that on the right, the


conducting us to the Abbey.

The name of _Abbey_, so dear to painting, poetry, and romance, naturally
raises in the mind an idea of the picturesque and the aweful; but we are
now approaching no gothic perspectives, no "long drawn aisles and fretted
vaults," and scarcely able to bring a single instance of assimilation, we
visit indeed an Abbey only in name; yet we visit a spot well adapted to
the purposes to which it was appropriated.  Sequestered, surrounded by
pleasing objects, and dignified by the not uncertain evidences of
history, it offers to the thinking mind all those interesting sensations
which a review of past times, important events, and manners now no more,
can possibly produce.

An antient brick wall with a small niche of stone is the first indication
of its boundaries.  This is said by Leland, to have been built by Bishop
Penny who was Abbot of this Monastery in 1496.  This prelate continued in
his Abbacy till he was translated to the See of Carlisle, and even then,
when spared from his episcopal duty, he delighted to dwell among his
brethren in this religious retreat, and was interred in the neighbouring
church of St. Margaret.  Tracing the wall, we enter the grounds by a
modern gateway, and perceive, among orchards, gardens, and potatoe
plantations (the land being occupied by a Gardener and Nursery-man) the
front wall, facing the north west, of the mansion, once belonging to the
Earls of Devonshire, which, as Mr. Grose has ascertained from a MS. in
the British Museum, was built out of the ruins of the Abbey, long after
its dissolution.  The massy stone stanchions of the windows of this house
which still remain entire, and the firmness of the walls, shew the
durability of the materials.  They still retain the traces of that fire
by which the forces of Charles the first on their retreat northward after
their defeat at Naseby, destroyed that mansion, a few days before, the
quarters of the king himself.

In these gardens, nearly thirty acres in extent, no traces now remain of
the refectory, the cells of the Abbot and twelve Canons, the structures
raised in the year 1134, by the great Robert Bossu, Earl of Leicester;
neither is there, as might have been hoped, one vestige of that noble
church, believed to have been built by Petronilla, the wife of his son
Robert Blanch-mains, and adorned with the pious donation of a braid of
her hair wrought into a rope, to suspend the lamp in the great choir; an
offering at which some of our modern females who sacrifice their tresses
with other views, may perhaps smile.  Nor has the diligence of the
enquiring Antiquary been more successful in the discovery of any traces
of the tomb of Cardinal Wolsey, that great example of fallen ambition;
who, after a life of more than princely magnificence, stripped of his
honours, deprived of his eight hundred attendants, came here, sick,
almost solitary, and a prisoner, performing a wearisome journey on an
humble mule, to crave of the Abbot "_a little earth for charity_."

But, however barren this spot may seem to be of antient relicks, it is
not wholly destitute of objects calculated to revive in the thinking
mind, the events to which we have been alluding; for in the small garden
or court before the main front of the present ruins are still to be seen
the delapidated towers of that gate-way thro' which Wolsey entered in
melancholy degradation, and thro' which other great, more prosperous, and
often royal visitors were admitted with their stately trains.

Returning by the first entrance, and passing this interesting gate-way,
and the antient stone wall of the Abbey, overhung with profuse ivy, the
visitor will find himself well recompensed for the trouble of a traverse
along the Abbey meadow, from the Bleach-yard at the angle of the wall, to
the navigation bridge at the bottom of North-gate street.

On crossing the antient bed of the Soar, the eye will immediately take
its flight over a fine level plain containing at least five hundred acres
of perhaps the richest soil in the kingdom, for that may truly be said of
the _Abbey Meadow_.  The right of this tract is vested partly in a number
of proprietors who claim the hay, and partly in the inhabitants of
Leicester, who possess the privilege of here pasturing their cows till a
certain period of the year.

This ample area was formerly used as a race ground, but that annual sport
is now removed to the South-side of the town, having been here frequently
incommoded by the floods from the Soar.

It has lately, at various reviews been dignified by a display of that
admirable patriotism, which, while it reflects honor on the British name
in general, is found in particular to glow with equal zeal and firmness
in the breasts of the Volunteers of Leicester and its County.

The view to the North-ward is simply ornamented by the church and village
of Belgrave, whose inhabitants in 1357, in consequence of a dispute with
the Abbot concerning the boundaries of the Stocking Wood, blockaded the
North Bridge, and the Fosse, with a determination of depriving the Monks
of their usual supply of provision from their _Grange_, or Farm at
Stoughton.  This view forms a pleasing contrast to the towering churches
and close grouped houses of Leicester.  The eye of taste will however
soon turn from these objects and dwell with greater pleasure on the noble
ivied walls bounding the Abbey domains; it will proceed to contemplate
the mingling angles of its ruins, and in the back ground, the rich tops
of the woods in the neighbourhood of Beaumont Leys.  This scene however,
will not serve merely to amuse the eye, but will naturally lead the well
informed visitor to interesting and affecting thoughts, while he
contemplates the spot in which, in former times, were acted all the
striking rites of the Romish Church, tho' he may lament the superstitious
errors into which a dark and ignorant age had plunged mankind, he need
not join with the destroyer of these venerable institutions in lording
then memory with odious crimes, nor deem them even wholly useless.  Pity
and a regard to truth will lead him to acknowledge that, tho' their
worship was less pure than the reformed service now happily established
in this Island, yet it was calculated, by its address to the senses, to
keep alive the remembrance of the faith of the Gospel, and to prevent the
warring Baron and his rude vassals from relapsing into heathenism.  Let
it also be remembered, that Monks, odious as we are wont to consider
them, were at one time, the only inhabitants of Christendom, who were at
all acquainted with such sciences as then peered above the mists of
overwhelming ignorance.  Of history, they may be said to be the modern
fathers, and tho' perhaps, like the age in which they lived, in some
respects, blind themselves, they led, not indirectly to the enlightening
of the present age.  But in their own times they were far from useless;
their monasteries were ever ready to receive the wearied traveller, and
many persons of family, tho' of broken fortunes were honorably maintained
at their board.  The poor were gratuitously relieved from their kitchens,
and that in a manner, upon the whole, more favorable to religion and
morality than they are now by those parish rates, which the abolition of
monasteries, and the partition of their property among private
individuals, have rendered so oppressively necessary.  To these valuable
purposes the revenues of our Abbey were fully competent, for it possessed
the advowsons of thirty six parish churches in Leicester and its County,
which together with lands in various places, and rights in particular
districts, produced annually for its disposal more than one thousand

Quitting the Abbey meadow, and passing the North lock, we still continue
our walk along pleasing rural scenes.  The sweeps of the river which here
beautifully meanders, wash, almost closely, a large extent of town,
affording an agreeable prospect on the left, and a slope finely
diversified with groves and pasturage descends gently to the meadows on
the right.  Approaching the Bow-Bridge, we pass a plot of ground
insulated by the Soar, called the Black Friars, once the scite of a
monastery belonging to the Augustine or Black Friars, of which no traces
now remain.  That arm of the river which flows under the west bridge, is
by some supposed, from its passing under the scite of the old Roman town,
to be a canal formed by that people for the convenience of their
dwellings.  It is now called the _New Soar_, and whether it can
authentically boast the honor of being a Roman work, the antiquary may
perhaps endeavour in vain to decide.  A tunnel or Roman sewer, was
discovered in 1793, at an equal distance between the Roman ruin, called
Jewry Wall, and the river, and in a direct line towards the latter, which
contained some curious fragments of Roman pottery.

Tho' it be the leading purpose of this survey to point out existing
objects, those who lament the loss of such antient remains as were justly
to be prized, will pardon a brief tribute to the memory of _Bow-Bridge_.
That single arch of stone, richly shadowed with ivy, spanned, at the
corner of this island, the arm of the Soar.  Its beautiful curve,
unbroken either by parapet or hand-rail, well merited the name with which
some Antiquaries have graced it, the _Rialto Bridge_.  On the top of the
bow, feeding on the mould which time had accumulated upon the stony
ridge, flourished a spreading hawthorn; this with the stream below, when
sparkling under the reflection of the western sun, the broken shrubby
banks, and the distant swell of Brad-gate Park hill, formed a picture
which has often allured the eye; a picture, that, as it repeatedly
arrested the painter's hand, we can hardly say is now no more.

Of this Bridge, the learned author of the _Desiderata Curiosa_, who has
mistaken it for the adjoining one of four arches, has given a plate in
which is represented a troop of horsemen with banners, carrying the dead
body of Richard the third, thrown upon a horse, over a bridge which never
exceeded three feet; a width fully sufficient for the purpose for which
it seems to have been constructed, that of affording a foot passage from
the monastery of the Augustines to a spring of pure water some yards
distant.  This spring till within a few years, was covered with a large
circular stone, having an aperture in the centre, thro' which the monks
let down their pitchers into the water, and retained the name of _St.
Austin's Well_.

But tho' not over this bridge, yet over the adjoining one, known also,
probably from its vicinity to the other, by the name of _Bow-Bridge_, the
monster Richard really passed, proud, angry, and threatening, mounted on
his charger to meet Richmond; and over it, the day after the battle, his
body was brought behind a pursuivant at arms, naked and disgraced, and
after being exhibited in the Town-Hall, then situated at the bottom of
Blue-Boar Lane, was interred in the church of the Grey-Friars near St.

The name of this king excites in the mind a sensation of horror;--and
tho' it required the overwhelming evidence of human depravity furnished
by the French revolution, to make the author of the "Historic Doubts,"
believe his crimes possible, the concurrent testimonies both of
Lancastrian and Yorkist Chroniclers, too well demonstrate them.  Tho' the
latter may have endeavoured to soften the picture, and Shakespear may
have thrown upon it the darkest shades by working up his deformity of
body and mind into a picture of diabolical horror, the original, the
undoubted traits are preserved by both parties; traits, which so far from
being peculiar to Richard, marked likewise the other characters of the
contending houses.  Nor did he deviate widely from the manners of the
times when he "_waded thro' slaughter to a throne_."

A pleasing woody road leads from Bow-Bridge to Danett's Hall, the seat of
Edward Alexander, M.D.  The ground here rising in a gentle slope obtains
a command of the town, and that the dryness of the soil and agreeableness
of the situation, mark it as a desirable spot for residence, even the
taste of the antient Romans may prove; for in the plot of ground known by
the name of the "great cherry orchard," remains a relic of one of their
houses.  This is a fragment of a tesselated floor, discovered a few years
ago, but covered over by a former possessor of the estate.  It is
composed of tesseroe of various sizes, forming an elegant geometrical
pattern, but how far it extends, has not yet been ascertained.

Among the great number of these pavements found at Leicester, are three
very perfect ones discovered in the ground belonging to Walter Ruding
Esq. adjoining the old Vauxhall, near the west bridge--they also are
composed in curious and exact patterns, and form entire squares; but are
now filled up.  Of these, together with that in the great cherry orchard,
very accurate plates are given in Nichols.

To the westward of Danett's Hall, and West-cotes, the seat of Mr. Ruding,
is a lane or bridle road, commonly called the Fosse, but various reasons
lead to the belief that it is not part of the antient Roman road of that
name.  The unvarying testimony of tradition has clearly proved that the
road from the town westward lay, in the reign of Richard the third, over
Bow-Bridge.  By attending to the Fosse, which runs nearly in the line of
the Narborough road by West-cotes, it will seem likewise necessary to
conclude that the approach to Leicester, in the time of the Romans, was
also over a bridge situate near that spot; for as it is certain that the
Fosse did pass thro' Leicester, and the Romans in forming their roads
scrupulously adhered to the strait line, they would cross the old Soar
near this place.

When the Romans penetrated into Britain under the reign of Claudius, they
found it almost in every part, crowded with woods, and infested with
morasses; and as the natives well knew how to avail themeslves of these
fastnesses, the island could never be considered as effectually conquered
till it was rendered accessible to the march of the legions, and means
were provided for speedy communication of intelligence from even the most
distant parts of the provinces.  On this account their Cohorts early
applied themselves to the task of forming roads; nor did they cease their
labours till in the time of Antoninus, they had opened passages thro' the
island in all directions.  In the reign of that emperor, these works,
connected with others which they had already constructed on the
continent, formed a great chain of communication, which, passing thro'
Rome, from the Pict's wall, or north west, to Jerusalem, nearly the
southeast point of the empire, was drawn out to the length of 4080 Roman,
or as Mr. Reynolds has shewn, of so many British statute miles.  Along
these roads proper relays of horses were stationed at short distances,
and it seems that couriers could travel with ease above an hundred miles
a day.  Two of these roads, as already observed, passed thro' Leicester.
One, the _Via Devana_, leading from Camalodunum, or Colchester, in Essex,
to _Deva_, of west Chester, a distance of about two hundred miles, has
been lately discovered by some ingenious and able Antiquaries of the
University of Cambridge.

It enters Leicestershire in the neighbourhood of Rockingham; continues a
strait road for many miles till it nearly reaches Leicester, and passing
thro' the town it is found to leave the county near Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
The other road, called the _Via_ _Fossata_ or Fosse, always known, and
every where remarkable, traverses the island in a north-east direction,
from near Grimsby on the coast of Lincolnshire, passes thro' Bath, and
terminates at Seaton, a village situated on the coast of Devonshire, a
distance of more than two hundred and fifty miles.  This road enters
Leicesteshire at a place called Seg's Hill, on the wolds, or antiently
wild and uncultivated parts of the county; from thence it passes the
village of Thurmaston and approaches the East gates of Leicester, by the
street called the Belgrave Gate.  On the south-west of the town it is
again recognized in the Narborough road, and from that village it
proceeds again a solitary lane till it enters Warwickshire at High Cross,
where it crosses the no less celebrated Roman road, the Watling-Street.
It is well known that in the formation of these roads, the Romans spared
no cost and labour.  From the remains of some of them it appears that
upon a bed of sand they spread a coating of gravel, upon which the
pebbles, and sometimes hewn or squared stones were laid, firmly compacted
together in a bed of cement.  This, we have reason to believe, was the
structure of such of the roads in this island as are distinguished by the
title of _Street_, a word derived from the Latin _Strata_, meaning formed
of layers.  But such pains were not, it is probable, taken in all cases;
and from the name of one of the roads passing thro' Leicester, the
_Fosse_, an abbreviation of the Latin _Via Fossata_, meaning the way
ditched, or dug, we cannot but conclude that it was a road raised by the
spade and formed with a rampart, and probably covered with gravel in the
manner of our present turnpike roads.  The same may also be said of the
_Via Divana_, whose rampart, now covered with grass, the ingenious
discoverers observed in many places.

When the Saxons subdued this island, after the departure of the Romans,
to preserve a ready communication between distant places formed no part
of then rude and simple policy.  Hence the best roads of the Romans were
neglected by them, and since the Romans had either forbidden, or the
inclination of the Britons had dissuaded them from erecting villages on
the line of public roads, those roads became useless, and their lasting
materials are only to be found, tho' not distinguished, in the
foundations of the neighbouring habitations.  As it would always be more
easy to carry away the materials of a Roman road than dig for them in a
quarry, it has happened that those materials have been in general so
intirely removed, as to leave almost no where any other trace, than
history and tradition, of their existence.

From the departure of the Romans in 445, to the beginning of the
eighteenth century, the roads of this Island received little or no
improvement from the legislative powers, except by an order in the reign
of Henry the second, that roads should be cleared of woods and made open
that travellers might have leisure, if they should find it prudent, to
prepare to resist the almost armies of robbers which were spread over the
face of almost every county.  Roads, being no longer regulated by any
system, to pass from place to place so as to avoid as well as might be
the inconveniences of woods, bogs, and sloughs, became the only business
of the traveller.  It was thus by accident the line of our present roads
was formed, and to this their frequent circuits and other inconveniences
are owing.

During the period above mentioned they were in general so bad as to be
useless for the passage of any other carriages than carts, and for these
only in the summer season; so that the people inhabiting the same country
as the Britons, who are said to have had numbers and great variety of
cars of all kinds, were so exclusively confined to the use of horses and
mules, that scarcely any other mode of conveyance was known even in
London, and this so late as in the reigns of Elizabeth and James the
first; for it is certain that when the great Shakespeare fled from his
country and came to town, his first means of subsistence were the
pittances he might earn by holding the horses of the persons who had come
from different parts of London to see the plays then performed at the
Bankside Theatre.

It is not indeed to be asserted that till the eighteenth century our
roads never received any repairs, for necessity would frequently call for
something of the kind in most places; nor yet that Toll Bars were
antiently wholly unknown; for it is certain that a Gate or Bar was first
erected in the reign of Edward the first, at a place now called Holborn
Bars in London, for the purpose of collecting tolls for the repairs of
the roads.  But it must be allowed that the art of constructing a good
and firm road was ill understood, and worse attended to; and when, in the
beginning of the last century, turnpike roads were first made, it was
imagined that the only good form was that of a ridge and furrow lying
across the road on the line of its direction.  Turnpike gates were also
in many places considered as such impositions that even in the beginning
of the reign of George the second, some persons contested the payment,
several were frequently seen together, especially at newly erected gates,
suffering an interruption in their journey rather than submit to what
they deemed an imposition.  Every one who understands the true
conveniences of life will rejoice, that both the formation and repairs of
roads, and also the usefulness of turn-pike tolls are now better
understood; that even countries once held to be inaccessible are now open
at all times and at all seasons to the traveller, and that most of our
roads are now so well suited to the purposes not only of convenience but
of pleasure, that we have no reason to lament the destruction of the
Roman ways, or even not to think that we have within these few years
greatly surpassed them in the expedition of our mails and all the
conveniences and comforts of travelling.

On this western side of the town, where its environs afford the
attraction of woody scenery, the stranger is invited to prolong his
stroll round _Ruding's Walk_.  This walk, tho' a continuation of the
plantation that encloses West-cotes, is liberally left open by its
possessor, who generously shares with the public the pleasure of his cool
and shady scenery.  Where the walk, after winding thro' a flourishing
shrubbery, enters a grove of tall and venerable elms, the churches and
buildings of the town, broken by the intermediate trees of the paddock,
and the long line of distance varied by villages, scattered dwellings and
corn-mills, unite in a rich and pleasing prospect.

On turning towards the West, the lover of contrast may for a moment call
to his imagination the dark, heavy, and almost impenetrable forest which
covered these lands in the twelfth century, and depicture figures of the
inhabitants of Leicester bearing from thence their allowed load of wood,
the supply for their hearths, and for this privilege, paying at the West
bridge, their toll of _brigg silver_ to their feudal Baron.  To this
picture he will oppose the present scene of pasturage, flocks, and free
husbandmen, cultivating the earth under the protection of just and equal
laws.  The slightest glance at past ages is a moral study, that renders
us not only satisfied but grateful.

We cannot pass West-cotes, without noticing an object in the possession
of Mr. Ruding, highly interesting to the admirers of the fine Arts.  This
is a picture in painted glass, representing Mutius Scaevola affording
Porsena an astonishing proof of his resolution by burning that hand which
had assassinated the secretary instead of the king.  The exquisite
finish, and perfect preservation of this small piece bespeak it of the
antient Flemish school, whose artists according to Guicciardini, invented
the mode of burning their colours into the glass so as to secure them
from the corrosion of water, wind, or even time.  There is no department
of the delightful art of painting that so much excites wonder as this.
When, in examining this piece, it is considered that every tint and
demi-tint of the highly relieved drapery, every stroke of the distant
tents and towers, was laid on in a fusile state; that delicate command of
skill which could prevent the shades from liquefying into each other, and
arrest every touch in its assigned place, so as to produce the effects of
the most finished oil painting, cannot be sufficiently admired.

Entering the town we pass the Braunston Gate, to the bridge of the same
name, crossing the old Soar, and soon arrive at the West bridge, which
crosses the new Soar.  From hence the canal, taking the name of Union
Canal, proceeds toward Market Harborough.  On the corner of an old house
upon the bridge, is an antient wooden bracket, which formerly supported a
bell, by some supposed to have been used by the mendicant brothers of the
neighbouring monastery of St. Augustine, who here took their station to
beg alms, or, which is more probable, it might have been the bell
belonging to the porter of the gate which stood here.

The street called Apple-gate, that leads us to the church of St.
Nicholas, will not be passed without interest by those who recollect that
on this spot, where the ground rises in a gentle ascent from the river,
the Legions of Rome established their town; and we are now arrived at an
object which brings them more forcibly to remembrance, a massy arched
wall, commonly termed, from its bounding the quarter antiently inhabited
by the Jews, the _Jewry Wall_.

This ruin, so minutely described by many Antiquaries, will afford to
curious and learned observers, a valuable specimen of the mode of
building practised by the Romans, but the uses for which it was designed,
will, most probably, for ever elude their researches.  They will not
however, forbear their conjectures concerning it; of these, two have
obtained most credit; one, that it was a temple of the Roman Janus; and
the other, the Janua, or great Gate-way, of the Roman town.  The latter
seems chiefly supported by the assertion of the learned Leman, that the
line of the Fosse, having joined the Via Devana, runs thro' this spot.
But whoever minutely examines the arches, will not easily overcome the
objections which the work affords to oppose this opinion; or assign a
reason why a city no larger than our Ratae should have a Gateway with so
many openings; nor does any satisfactory answer occur to the query why a
gate should be placed in what seems to have been the central part of the
antient city.  And perhaps all the evidence for the other opinion rests
upon the dark sooty coat that encrusts the interior of the arches; an
appearance which the smoak of the town would easily produce in one
century.  Indeed, little, it seems, can be concluded from the present
outside of the work; for as we cannot conceive that the Romans would have
elected so rough an edifice, it must be supposed that the present remains
were originally coated with workmanship more worthy of such polished
builders.  If, however we must indulge a conjecture, we shall be led to
imagine, from the slight remain of ornament, which is only the fragment
of a niche, that this wall was either part of a Roman temple or bath.
Still however such an opinion rests, and must rest, on nothing but
conjecture, since the remains are too scanty to afford sufficient data
for a settled opinion.  Thus may we take our leave of this remarkable
object, which, tho' incontrovertibly of Roman origin, and likely to exist
when the church built with its stolen spoils shall be no more, must
continue for ever, as it is at present, an interesting mystery.

The adjoining church of St. Nicholas is a small edifice of very rude and
consequently very antient construction.  It has evidently been built at
different periods.  It consists only of two aisles, the north one having
long since been taken down; the south aisle is gothic, and the other,
properly the nave, is of that massy unornamented style, in use before and
at the conquest; from the circumstance of its being built with the
materials of the neighbouring Roman work, it will perhaps be no
anachronism to assign to it a date prior to that period.  The tower is
also Saxon; and the spire having been damaged by the wind is now taken

The area, eastward of the churchyard, is called _Holy Bones_; bones of
oxen having been there dug up in sufficient numbers to induce the belief
that it was once a place of sacrifice.  The church of St. Augustine which
stood on this spot, is supposed to have been destroyed before the

At the corner of this area is a charity school, established on the bounty
bequeathed by Ald. Gabriel Newton, for the clothing and educating thirty
five boys; and in the terms of the founder's will, "instructing them in
toning and psalmody."

In a lane not far from St. Nicholas' church, called Harvey Lane, is the
meeting house of the Calvinistic Baptists, which is capable of containing
500 persons.

From St. Nicholas' street, we again arrive at the High-Cross, and proceed
southward, along High-Cross-Street.  In this street, in the house of Mr.
Stephens, are the remains of a chantry or chapel, established for the
purpose of saying masses for the dead, once belonging to St. Martins
church.  They consist of a range of windows, exhibiting in curiously
painted glass, a regular series of sacred history.

The next object, worthy of attention, at which we arrive, is an elegant
gothic building, with an inscription "_Consanguinitarium_, 1792."  It
consists of five neat dwellings, to which is annexed a yearly stipend of
upwards of 60l. and was built by John Johnson, Esq. a well-known
Architect as a perpetual home for such of his relations as may not be
favored by successful fortune.

Turning down a narrow alley, called Castle Street, we arrive at a
spacious area, on the right of which is a charity school, built in 1785,
belonging to the parish of St. Mary, which clothes and educates 45 boys
and 35 girls.

The visitor will now have a full view of St. Mary's church, antiently
known by the distinguishing addition of _infra_ or _juxta Castrum_, a
building in which he will perceive, huddled together, specimens of
various kinds of architecture, from the Norman gothic of the north
chancel, to the very modern gothic of the spire; a mixture which evinces
the antiquity of the church, marks the disasters of violence, accident,
and time, and proves that the neighbourhood of the castle, within whose
outer ballium or precincts it stood, was often most dangerous.  That
there was a church, on this spot in the Saxon times, seems almost
certain, from some bricks apparently the workmanship of that people,
found in the chancel; and the cheveron work round the windows of this
chancel proves that the first Norman Earl of Leicester, Robert de
Bellomont, when he repaired the mischiefs of the Norman conquest, or
rather of the attack made by William Rufus upon the property of the
Grentemaisnells, constructed a church on a plan nearly like the present,
and adorned it with all the ornaments of the architecture of his times.
This Earl founded in it a college of twelve canons, of whom the Dean was
most probably one, and among other donations for their support, he
endowed it with the patronage of all the other churches of Leicester, St.
Margaret's excepted.  These, his son and successor, Robert, surnamed
Bossu, converted into regular canons, and removed them, with great
additional donations to the Abbey in the meadows.  He seems however to
have continued an establishment of eight canons in the collegiate church,
tho' with revenues comparatively small, since their income, at the
dissolution of the monasteries, was valued only at 23l. 12s. 11d.  That
the number of these canons remained unchanged at the time of the
dissolution, appears probable from the circumstance of seven cranes and a
socket for an eighth being still found in a kind of press, or ark, as it
is called, in the vestry, for the purpose of suspending the priests'

The inside of the church is spacious and commodious, and has lately been
rendered still more so by converting the gothic arches of the south side
of the nave into one bold semicircular arch whose span is 39 feet, and
erecting a gallery in the wide south aisle, said to have been built by
John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster.

In the great choir or chapel called Trinity choir, at the east end of the
great south aisle, (for the aisles of our churches were formerly often
divided into chapels, but of which in this church no traces now remain),
was held a _Guild_ or Fraternity, called _Trinity Guild_, founded in the
reign of Henry the Seventh, by Sir Richard Sacheverel, Kt. and the good
Lady Hungerford.  Collections were made four times a year, of the
brethren and sisters belonging to this Society, whatever it might be, for
Antiquaries have not rendered the point sufficiently clear, but from
their meetings being held in churches, it is most probable that they were
of a religious nature.  The money when collected was applied to meet
various expenses, but chiefly to pay the wages of their priest, perhaps
their confessor, and to supply their great feast held annually on Trinity
Sunday, for which, according to the account of the steward and wardens,
the following articles were purchased, A.D. 1508.

                                      s.        d.

A dozen of Ale                        1         8
A fat Sheep                           2         4
Seven Lambs                           7         0
Thirty Chickens                       1         11
Two gallons of Cream                  0         8
0.5qr. of Malt                        2         0
Fourteen Geese                        4         3

From a curious and ingenious Mathematical Essay on the comparative prices
of similar articles in different ages, presented to the society of
Antiquaries, we have here the pleasure of offering to the attention of
our visitor, the following valuable remarks.

    "The generality of readers when they look into the records of antient
    times, are forcibly struck by the seeming lowness of the prices of
    every article of common demand, when compared with the modern prices.
    When they find that an ox was formerly sold for a few shillings, and
    the price of a quarter of corn calculated in pence, they are led to
    envy the supposed cheapness of those ages, and to bewail the
    distressing dearness of the present.  Nothing however can be more
    absurd than the whining complaints founded upon such facts; for since
    the cheapness of living depends not so much upon the price given for
    every article of prime necessity, as upon the means by which, to use
    a common expression, the purchase may be afforded, we must, if we
    wish to form a proper judgment on the subject, rightly compare these
    means as they existed in different ages, otherwise our conclusions
    will be not only idle, but sometimes mischievous.

    "It is very certain that money is a commodity, no less than the
    articles it is employed to purchase, and like them, its absolute
    value is depreciated or lowered by abundance.  Since the discovery of
    America, the quantity of gold and silver brought into general
    circulation, and of late, the general and extensive use of paper
    money which represents real specie, produces the same effect as would
    arise from a still greater encrease of it.  From this natural
    depreciation alone of the value of coin, it follows that were all
    other circumstances to have continued the same, the relative value of
    money would have decreased, or a greater number of pieces of the same
    denomination would be now required to produce the same effect as
    formerly, and therefore that it will be necessary to multiply any sum
    of money of the present age, into some certain number, in order to
    learn the effect of the same sum in an assigned preceding age."

From this multiplication it is demonstrated that the price of the dozen
of Ale, for which the Trinity Guild paid 20d. is equivalent to something
more than 6d. a quart;--the fat sheep at 2s. 4d. to 1l. 11s. 4d.--the
seven lambs at 7s. to 16s. each;--the thirty chickens at 23d. to rather
more than 2s. 6d. the couple;--the two gallons of cream at 8d. to 2s. 8d.
a quart;--the half quarter of malt at 2s. to 3l. 4s. the quarter;--the
fourteen geese at 4s. 3d. to nearly 5s. each.

In the reign of the Norman kings, articles, but especially corn, were
dearer than at present.  In Henry the sevenths reign meat was cheaper,
but other articles dearer than at present.  We now return to the church
of St. Mary.

In the year 1783, the spire which had several times been injured by
lightening, was so much shattered by a fresh stroke as to require to be
taken down to the battlements.  It was rebuilt under the direction of an
architect, of the name of Cheshire at an expense, exclusive of the old
materials, of 245l. 10s. the height of the spire from the ground 61
yards.  In this church, in which for many years he officiated as curate,
is interred the Rev. W. Bickerstaffe, a man of great simplicity of
manners, and urbanity of disposition; who by his laborious and minute
researches materially assisted the Topographers of Leicester.

Near the north door of this church is a passage leading under an old
fashioned building forming a gate-way into an area called the castle
yard.  That the present structure was the gate-way of the castle when it
was tenable as a place of defence, cannot, for a moment be imagined; but
that there was always an entrance at this place we are well assured, for
the adjoining building on the left is known by the name of the Porter's
Lodge, and it must therefore be concluded that the present was built upon
the scite of the antient gate-way, and that it was constructed with the
timbers and other materials taken in later ages from some part of the
castle which had been taken down.

At this gateway was preserved, till within a few years past, an antient
ceremony expressive of the homage formerly paid by the magistrates of
Leicester, to the feudal Lords of the castle.  The mayor knocking for
admittance at the gate was received by the constable of the castle, while
the mace was sloped in token of homage; he then took an oath of
allegiance to the king as heir to the Lancastrian property; the latter
ceremony, agreeable to one of the corporation charters, is still
performed, but in private.  The office of constable of the castle, which
in the beginning of the reign of Mary, was held by Henry duke of Suffolk,
with the annual fee of sixty shillings and eight pence, is now retained
only nominally.

Opposite the gate-way stands a building most probably erected by the
first of the Bellomonts, tho' the modern front which meets the eye
effectually conceals all the outward traces of antiquity.  The inside of
the edifice however is a room exceedingly curious.  Its area is large,
being about seventy-eight feet long, twenty-four high and fifty-one
broad.  It is framed into a sort of aisles, by two rows of tall and massy
oaken pillars, which serve to support a large and weighty covering of
slate.  This vast room was the antient hall of the castle, in which the
earls of Leicester, and afterwards the dukes of Lancaster, alternately
held their courts, and consumed in rude but plenteous hospitality, at the
head of their visitors, or their vassals, the rent of their estates then
usually paid in kind.  On the south end appear the traces of a door-way,
which probably was the entrance into a gallery that has often, among
other purposes, served as an orchestra for the minstrels and musicians of
former days.  This hall, during the reigns of several of the Lancastrian
princes was the scene of frequent Parliaments, whose transactions our
provincial historians have carefully recorded.  At present it is used
only for the holding the assizes and other country meetings, to which
purpose it is, from its length, so well adapted, that, tho' the business
of the civil and crown bars is carried on at the same time at the
opposite ends of the room, the pleadings of the one do not in the least
interrupt the pleadings of the other.

The reflecting visitor, who may choose to compare the uses to which this
place is now applied, with the purposes for which it was built, will not
fail to derive from the comparison so very favorable to the present
times, a satisfaction most worthy the benevolent heart.  Instead of the
rude licentious carousals of the Bellomonts, when the baron domineered,
even in drunkenness, over his assembled slaves, we often see large bodies
of the inhabitants of the county, men worthy of freedom and possessing
it, assembled to consider with decorum, and to decide with unawed,
unbiassed judgment, upon measures of no little importance to the kingdom
of England.  And instead of the savage violence, or idiot folly which
mostly dictated the award of every kind of property, in those feudal
times, we see happily substituted the fair examination of the witnesses,
the eloquent pleadings of the barristers, the learned observations of the
Judge, and the impartial decisions of the Jury, nobly co-operating to
investigate truth, and to decide, according to right, the means alike of
happiness and virtue.  In what manner, and by what degrees this happy
change was effected, the following well authenticated anecdote may serve
to shew.

Robert de Bellomont, the first earl, sitting in the apartment of the keep
of his castle at Leicester, heard a loud shout in the neighbouring
fields.  Enquiring into the cause, he found that it was given by the
partizans of a combatant who was then fighting a duel with his near
relation to ascertain the right to a certain piece of land in St. Mary's
field.  The cruelty and absurdity of such a mode of decision seems to
have been forcibly impressed upon the mind of the earl, by this affecting
circumstance; and he agreed with the burgesses and inhabitants of
Leicester, on the payment of one penny for every house that had a gable
or gavel in the High-street (a payment afterwards known by the term
_gavel pence_) that all pleas of the above mentioned nature should be
determined by a jury of twenty four persons.

From the county hall, or castle, as it is commonly called, a road to the
right leads to an antient gate-way strongly built and once furnished with
a port-cullis, and every requisite for defence.  The embattled parapet
being much decayed, was taken down a few years ago, and its roof is now
reduced to one of an ordinary form.  When this alteration was made, the
arms of the dukes of Lancaster by whom the gate-way was undoubtedly built
were destroyed on the outside; but on the inside, at the spring of the
arch, two mutilated figures, one of a lion, the other of a bear,
doubtless some of their devices, still remain.  The lion passant, it is
well known, formed part of the arms of that family, and the muzzled bear
was a symbol used on the seal by Edward the first in his transactions
with Scotland.  Nothing can be more probable than that the Lancastrian
princes would ornament their buildings with a figure which would serve to
preserve the memory of their descent from so renowned a monarch.

The stranger must now be requested to pass thro' the uninviting doorway
of the adjoining public house; and he will be led by an easy ascent up to
the _mount_, or perhaps the scite of the keep of the castle, which tho'
lately lowered considerably for the purpose of converting it into a
Bowling-green, yet affords a pleasant station for a view of the environs
of Leicester, and is the spot from which the best idea can be formed of
the antient form and boundaries of the fortifications.

It is well known that the fast Saxons built few or no castles, for having
nearly exterminated the Britons, during the long continued warfare that
preceded their conquest of that people, they had no occasion for strong
fortresses to secure the possession of the territories they had acquired;
and in the later ages of their dynasty they were too indolent and
ignorant to undertake such works with spirit and effect, notwithstanding
the frequent and sudden inroads of the Danes, rendered such places of
retreat highly necessary, and the great Alfred earnestly recommended
their construction.  Hence the places of defence found in this island at
the conquest, were few in number, and those generally too slight to
resist the continued attacks of time.  For this reason the antiquary need
not endeavour to extend his researches after the state of the castle of
Leicester beyond the time of the arrival of William the Norman.  On the
division of the provinces made by that monarch, Leicester became part of
the royal demesne; a castle was erected to ensure the submission of the
inhabitants, and the wardenship of it entrusted to Hugh Grentemaisnell
baron of Hinckly, who possessed considerable property in the
neighbourhood.  This castle, like other Norman works of the same kind,
would have its barbican or out-work, defending the gate and bridge over
the outer ditch would be commanded by a strong wall, eight or ten feet
thick, and between twenty and thirty high, with a parapet, and crennels
at the top, towers at proper distances, and a gate-way opening into the
town.  It would, we may presume, extend from the river below the Newark
round by St. Mary's church, and then, turning towards the river again,
whose waters were brought by a cut across the morass lying on the west
side, to wash that part of the wall, and fill the ditch, would thus
enclose what was called the outer Bayle or Ballium.  Within this, at a
distance not now to be ascertained, but probably not less than eighty or
an hundred yards, another, similar, but perhaps stronger fortification,
would extend from, and to the river, and this entered at the gates
already described, would enclose the inner Bayle, where stood the lofty
massy keep, the hall, and all the apartments and rooms belonging to the
noble and potent owners.  Although the curious will be inclined to join
in the pathetic laments of the writer of the memoirs of Leicester,
(Throsby) that the just position of the castle and its extent in former
times cannot be known; yet strong probability will almost authorize us to
believe that the account here given does not vary very widely from the
truth; for these conjectures are directly confirmed by the well still
open on the top of the castle hill or keep, and by the entire remains of
a large cellar, forty-nine feet long and eighteen wide, nearly adjoining
the great hall, on the west.  That more traces should not be discoverable
will not appear surprising when we consider what effects may be produced
by the decays of time and accident, by the accumulation of soil, and
encroachments of buildings.

During the disputes concerning the succession, on the death of the
Conqueror, the Grentemaisnells seized Leicester castle, and held it for
duke Robert.  This subjected it to the fury of the successful partizans
of William Rufus, and the castle lay for some time in a dismantled state.
In the next reign it was granted by Henry to his favourite Robert first
earl of Leicester, who repaired the damages and it became the principal
place of residence of himself and the second earl, Robert Bossu.  The
third earl Robert surnamed Blanchmains, encreased his property and power,
by his marriage with Petronilla, or Parnel, the heiress of the
Grentemaisnells, but the violent temper of this earl involved him in
disputes with king Henry the second, whose forces under the command of
the Chief Justiciary, Richard de Lucy, took Leicester and its castle by
assault, and reduced both to an almost uninhabited heap of ruins.
Blanchmains regained however the favor of his king and was restored to
his estates, but both he and his son, Robert Fitz-Parnel engaging in the
crusades, the town of Leicester was but ill rebuilt, and the castle
remained in a state of delapidation for many years.  Fitz-Parnel dying
without issue, the _honor_ of Leicester, as part of the Bellomont estates
were called, passed into the family of Simon de Montfort, in consequence
of his marriage with one of the sisters of Fitz-Parnels.  But the
Montfort earls of Leicester, both father and son, were too much engaged
in the busy transactions of their times to pay much attention to their
property at Leicester.  After the death of the latter, in the Battle of
Evesham, the Leicester property was conferred by Henry the third on his
second son Edmond earl of Lancaster, whose second son Henry, heir and
successor to Thomas earl of Lancaster, beheaded at Pontefract, in the
year 1322 made Leicester his principal place of residence, and under him
and the two next succeeding earls, the castle recovered and probably
surpassed its former state of splendor.

When the dukes of Lancaster ascended the throne, Leicester tho'
frequently honored with their presence, received no permanent benefit,
and tho' several parliaments were held there in the reign of Henry the
sixth, the castle had so far decayed in the time of Richard the third,
that that monarch chose rather to sleep at an inn a few evenings before
his fall, than occupy the royal apartments in the castle.  From this time
the castle seems to have made constant progress to decay, so that in the
reign of Charles the first, orders, dated the ninth of his reign, were
issued to the sheriff Wm. Heyrick, Esq. of Beaumanor (as appears from
papers in the possession of that family) "to take down the old pieces of
our castle at Leicester, to repair the castle house, wherein the audit
hath been formerly kept, and is hereafter to be kept, and wherein our
records of the honor of Leicester do now remain; to sell the stones,
timber, &c. but not to interfere with the vault there, nor the stalls
leading therefrom."

From others of the same papers it appears that the timber sold for 3l.
5s. 8d. the freestone, and iron work for 36l. 14s. 4d. and that the
repairs above ordered cost about 50l.  Thus was the castle reduced to
nearly its present state, and tho' the Antiquary may in the eagerness of
his curiosity lament that so little of it now remains, yet he must surely
rejoice in his reflecting moments that such structures are not now
necessary for the defence of the kingdom, and that the fortunes of the
noblemen are now spent in a way calculated to encourage the arts and
promote industry, rather than in maintaining in these castles a set of
idle retainers, ever ready to assist them in disturbing the peace of the
realm, and still more ready to insult and injure the humble inhabitants
in then neighbourhood.

Descending from the castle mount, and passing thro' the south gale-way of
the castle yard, the visitor enters a district of the town called the
Newark, (New Work) became the edifices it contained were new when
compared with the buildings of the castle.  They owed their foundation to
Henry, the third earl of Lancaster, and his son Henry first duke of that
title.  By these two noblemen they were nearly finished, and what was
wanting towards their completion was afterwards added by John of Gaunt.
They must then have formed a magnificent addition to the antient dignity
of the castle.  The remains of the walls which enclosed this area enable
us to affirm that its form was a long square, bounded on the north by the
castle, on the east by the streets of the suburbs of the town, on the
south by the fields, and on the west by the river.

Judging from what remains of these walls, we feel inclined to maintain
that they were rather calculated to enclose, than strongly protect, the
buildings they surrounded; for if the walls now standing be the original
walls, they were not capable of resisting the modes of attack usually
practised in the age in which they were built; nor is the gate-way that
still remains entire, formed with towers to command, or with grooves for
a port-cullis to defend, the entrance.  Indeed if the state of England
during the age of the founders be considered, magnificence rather than
great strength might be expected to be their object, and magnificent
truly were the buildings of the Newark.  The gate-way now known by the
name of the Magazine, from the circumstance of its being the arsenal of
the county, is large and spacious, yet grandly massive; and the form of
its arches, which partake of the style of the most modern gothic, tho'
built at the time when, according to the opinions of the most learned
Antiquaries, that truly beautiful species of architecture was not
generally established, prove the ready attention of the founders to the
progress of the arts.

This gate-way led to an area, which tho' nearly surrounded by buildings,
was much more spacious than the present wide street, an area worthy the
dukes of Lancaster.  On the south another gate, similar to the Magazine
now standing, opened into the court opposite the strong south gate of the
castle, and on the west rose a college, a church, and an hospital, which
completed the grandeur of the Newark.  These latter buildings formed a
lesser quadrangle or court, having on the north the present old, or
Trinity Hospital, built and endowed for an hundred poor people, and ten
women to serve them.  On the south stood a church dedicated to St. Mary,
and cloysters; the former called by Leland "not large but faire;" the
"floures and knottes in whose vault were gilded," he says, by the rich
cardinal of Winchester; the latter, (the cloysters,) were both "large and
faire;" the houses in the compace of the area of the college for the
Prebendaries (standing on the west side) the same author says, "be very
praty," and the walls and gates of the college occupying the east side of
the court, he says, "be very stately."  Nor did the princes of Lancaster
limit their designs to magnificent structures; this college was as well
filled as the hospital, for it contained a dean and twelve prebendaries;
thirteen vicars choral, three clerks, six choristers and one verger, in
all thirty-six persons; and the endowment was adequate to the
establishment, for the revenues at the dissolution amounted to 595l. 12s.
11d.  Among the various donations to this college, the following taken
from the Parliamentary rolls of the year 1450, will not be found unworthy
the attention of the curious.  The king (Henry the seventh) grants to the
dean and Canons of the church collegiate of our lady at Leicester, "a
tunne of wynne to be taken by the chief botteller of England in our port
of Kingston upon Hull," and it is added "they never had no wynne granted
to them by us nor our progenitors afore this time to sing with, nor

When it is considered that the castle just surveyed occupies a station
most pleasant as well as commanding; that from the buildings of the
Newark it derived all the splendor which the arts and taste of the times
could bestow, and that its adjoining a large, well fortified, and not ill
built town was calculated to contribute most essentially to the
convenience of its possessors, it will appear to have been one of the
most agreeable residences in the kingdom for such powerful noblemen as
were the dukes of Lancaster; nor will the visitor be surprised to find
that it was occasionally used as a seat by the kings, its owners.

But of all the periods of its history that will surely appear most
interesting, in which Henry de Gresmond, first earl of Derby, and on the
death of his father, earl and then duke of Lancaster, already renowned
thro' Europe for his atchievements in arms, aud crowned with laurels from
the fields of Guienne, where he taught the English how to conquer at
Crecy and Agincourt, returned to reside at Leicester, and to add to the
distinction of wise and brave the still more valuable title of _good_,
which he was about to earn by the practice of almost every virtue at this
place.  Then indeed was Leicester castle the scene of true splendor and
magnificence, for it was the scene of bounty influenced by benevolence
and guided by religion, of taste supported by expense yet directed by
judgment and regulated by prudence, and of elegance such as the most
accomplished knight of that most perfect age of chivalry might be
expected to display.  This nobleman died of a pestilential disorder at
the castle, in the year 1361, greatly lamented by the inhabitants of
Leicester.  The order of his funeral appointed by himself, and curiously
recorded by our local historians, is a pleasing proof of his good sense
and piety; the body being taken in a hearse from St. Mary's near the
castle, to his collegiate church as he directed, "without the pomp of
armed men, horses covered, or other vanities"--and the rank of the
deceased alone denoted by the magnitude of five tapers, each weighing one
hundred pounds, and fifty torches.

The buildings of the Newark continued nearly in the state already
described till the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, when Robert
Boone the last dean, terrified by the power of the tyrant Henry, and
alarmed by the unjustifiable rigours of the king's commissioners,
surrendered his house and received with the rest of his brethren,
trifling pensions for life, from this period the buildings of the college
being unsupported by any fund sunk into decay, or were applied to
purposes widely different from the intention of the founders.  The
church, cloysters, and gate-way are entirely removed, with the exception
of two arches of the vault under the former, which are still to be seen
firm and strong in a cellar of the house, now a boarding school.

The old hospital itself seems also to have been infected with the
contagion of ruin, for tho' spared by the rapacious hand of Henry, the
number of poor in the house 64 men and 36 women, are reduced from their
original allowance of seven pence weekly, to the now scanty stipend of
two shillings, which arises from the rents of lands and tenements in
Leicester, and its vicinity.  The house has been reduced to its present
form by contracting the dimensions of the old one; for that standing in
need of considerable repairs, his present Majesty, to whom, as heir to
the dutchy of Lancaster, the expensive privilege of repairing it belongs,
gave the produce of the sale of an estate at Thurnby in this
neighbourhood, which had escheated to the crown, for that purpose.

At the east end is a small chapel in which prayers are read twice a day,
and where some mutilated monumental figures, probably of the Huntingdon
family, are still to be seen.

Nothing farther remains to be noticed concerning this interesting part of
the town, except that the south gateway was beaten down by the king's
forces at the storming of the place in the spring of the year 1645, when
they left only a part of the jamb on the eastern side standing.  One of
the prebendal houses on the west side of the antient quadrangle of the
college has, within these few years, been purchased for the vicarage
house of St. Mary's parish.  Opposite the old hospital a house has been
lately erected as an Asylum for the reception and education of poor
female children.

From the Newark, in a lane opposite to which called Mill-Stone lane, is a
Meeting-House of the Methodists, we proceed along South gate or


At the end of this street, situated on a gentle eminence affording the
desirable advantages of a dry soil and open air, we perceive one of those
edifices which a country more than nominally christian must ever be
careful to erect, a house of refuge for sick poverty.  The Infirmary,
which owes the origin of its institution to W. Watts, M. D. was built in
1771, nearly on the scite of the antient chapel of St. Sepulchre, and is
a plain neat building with two wings, fronted by a garden, the entrance
to which is ornamented with a very handsome iron gate the gift of the
late truly benevolent Shuckbrugh Ashby, Esq. of Quenby.  The house is
built upon a plan which for its convenience and utility received the
approbation of the great Howard, whose experience and observation
qualified him for a competent judge.  It is calculated to admit,
exclusive of the fever ward, 54 patients, without restriction to county
or nation.  Its funds, notwithstanding the exemplary liberality it has
excited, are, owing to the pressure of the times, scarcely adequate to
its support.  Adjoining the Infirmary is an Asylum for the reception of
indigent Lunatics.

At the distance of a quarter of a mile from the Infirmary, are some
remains of a Roman labour, called the _Raw Dikes_, these banks of earth
four yards in height, running parralel to each other in nearly a right
line to the extent of 639 yards, the space between them 13 yards, were
some years ago levelled to the ground except the the length of about 150
yards at the end farthest from the town.  It was a generally received
opinion that they were the fortifications of a Roman camp, till the
supposition of their having been a _cursus_ or race course, was started
by Dr. Stukely.  If it is to be admitted that they formed an area for
horse races, of which the Romans are known to have been extravagantly
fond, we may imagine that the sport here practiced consisted in horses
running at liberty without riders between the banks; traces of such a
race run in an enclosed space may be found in the _Corso dei Barberi_,
now practiced in the streets of Florence; {125} the Italians having in
many instances preserved the original customs of the Romans.  But the
question must still hang in a balance whether the Raw Dykes were the
scene of Roman games, or

    _The massy mound, the rampart once_
    _Of iron war in antient barbarous times_.

From the Infirmary, if the visitor wishes to close his walk, he may enter
the town by the Hotel; if he feel inclined to extend it, he will find
himself recompensed by the pleasure his eye may receive from a lengthened
stroll up the public promenade, called the _New Walk_.  This walk three
quarters of a mile long, and twenty feet wide, was made by public
subscription in 1785; the ground the gift of the corporation.

Following the ascent of the walk, we gain on the left a pleasing peep up
a vale watered by the Soar, where the smooth green of the meadows is
contrasted and broken by woody lines and formed into a picture by the
church and village of Aylestone, and the distant tufted eminances
decorated by the tower of Narborough.  A little imagination might give
the scene a trait of the picturesque, by placing among the meadows near
Aylestone, the white tents and streaming banners of king Charles' camp,
there pitched a few days before his attack on the garrison of Leicester;
or it might advance the royal army a little nearer to its station in St.
Mary's field, from whence the batteries against the town were first
opened.  Still continuing to ascend, the walk affords along its curving
line many stations from which the town with its churches appears in
several pleasing points of view.

Returning by the London toll-gate if the traveller wishes to obtain a
full view of a fine prospect, he will turn aside from the road, and mount
the steps of one of the neighbouring mills.  From such a station the
clustered buildings of the town extend before the eye in full unbroken
sweep; beyond it the grounds near Beaumont Leys varied in their tints by
tufted hedge-rows, and streaky cultivated fields, blend into the grey
softness overspreading those beautiful slopes of hill into which the
eminences of Charnwood forest, Brown-rig, Hunter's hill, Bradgate park,
Bardon and Markfield knoll, rise and fall.  These hills, running from
hence, in a northern direction compose the first part of the chain or
ridge, that, from the easy irregularity and elegant line it here displays
rises at length into the more grand and picturesque hills that form the
peak of Derbyshire.  The abbey and the adjacent villages pleasingly vary
the scene on the right, from whence it melts away into the blue distance
of the neighbourhood of Melton, the north-east part of the county.

As we descend along the London road, watching the hills more and more hid
by the town, the road bends into a curve, and here takes the name of
Granby Street; many ranges of buildings having been here erected within
the last fifteen years.  Turning to the left, we again arrive at the town
by the entrance into _Hotel Street_.

That ingenuity of improvement not only in the conveniences, but the
recreations of life, which has lately advanced so rapidly as well in the
provincial towns as in the capital, led the inhabitants of Leicester into
a plan for the erection of new edifices appropriated to the purposes of
public amusement.  The considerable buildings, which in this place arrest
the stranger's eye were accordingly erected by J. Johnson, Esq.
architect, on subscription shares.

The front of the


which name it bears, having been originally designed for that purpose,
may from the grandeur of its windows, its statues, bassi relievi, and
other decorations, be justly considered as the first modern architectural
ornament of the town.  Here a room, whose spacious dimensions, (being
seventy-five feet by thirty-three,) and elegant decorations, adapt it in
a distinguished manner for scenes of numerous and polished society, is
appropriated to the use of the public balls.  Its coved ceiling is
enriched with three circular paintings of Aurora, Urania, and Night, from
the pencil of Reinagle, who has also graced the walls with paintings of
dancing nymphs.  Beside the eight beautiful lustres, branches of lights
are held by four statues from the designs of Bacon.

Uniting under the same roof, every convenience for the gratification of
taste, and the amusement of the mind, a coffee room handsomely furnished
and supplied with all the London papers, affords the gentlemen of the
town and country as well as the stranger, to whom its door is open, an
agreeable and commodious resort, while on the opposite side a spacious
bookseller's shop furnishes the literary enquirer with a series of all
the new publications.

Adjoining the hotel, a small theatre built also by Mr. Johnson, neatly
and commodiously fitted up, nearly on the plan of the London houses,
furnishes the inhabitants of Leicester with a more complete display of
the dramatic art than they had before enjoyed, and has been the means of
gratifying them by the talents of several performers of the first rate
excellence.  The popular pieces of the London stage, are here every
season represented in a manner pleasing to the town and honorable to the

Proceeding thro' a street which now only nominally retains a trace of the
monkish establishments that formerly occupied its ground, being called
Friar Lane, we observe a charity school, for 35 boys and 30 girls,
erected 1791, belonging to the parish of St. Martin.  At the farther and
less handsome end of this street is the Meeting House of the General
Baptists.  Passing down the New Street, part of the scite of the
monastery of the Grey Friars, we arrive at


At what period after the demolition of Leicester in the reign of Henry
the second, the church of St. Martin, antiently St. Crosse, was rebuilt,
cannot be accurately stated.  The chancel, which is the property of the
king, rented by the vicar, and was erected after the main fabrick, is
ascertained to been have built in the reign of Henry the fifth, at the
expense of 34l.  And as the addition of spires to sacred edifices was not
introduced into England from the east till the beginning of the reign of
Henry the third, the date must be fixed between the two intervening
centuries, and if the spire was built with the church not very early
after the introduction of that ornament of our churches, as the handsome,
solid form of St. Martin's bespeaks considerable practice and expertness
in the art.

The church originally consisted only of a nave and two aisles; the south
aisle, where the consistory court is held, which is formed by a range of
gothic arches whose clustered columns unite strength with lightness, was
added after the erection of the others.  In contemplating the inside of
this church, it is curious to draw a brief parallel between its present
plain yet handsome appearance, and its catholic magnificence before the
zeal of the reformation, justly excited, but intemperate in its
direction, had, during its career against Romish absurdities destroyed
almost every trace of ornament in our churches.  And whilst we survey its
present few decorations, its brass chandeliers depending from the elegant
cieling of the nave, the beautiful oak corinthian pillars of its altar
piece, which is ornamented with a picture of the ascension by Francesco
Vanni, (the gift of Sir W. Skeffington Bart.) and its excellent organ, we
can scarcely forbear lamenting the violence with which the magnificent
range of steps was torn from its high altar, then hung with draperies of
white damask and purple velvet.

Its two other altars, {135} its chapels of _our Lady_ and _St George_,
one at the east, the other at the west end of the south broad aisle, were
also destroyed; the sculptured figures that adorned the pulpit, the
tabernacles, and brazen eagles demolished, and, as the parochial records
testify, 20d. was paid for "cutting the images heads, and taking down the
angels wings."  In the succeeding century after this sacred structure had
exhibited this scene of demolition, it became a theatre of war.  Hither
fled part of the Parliamentary garrison, after being driven by the
royalists from their fortress in the Newark; making a citadel of a
church, which, on the arrival of the enemy to storm the hold was polluted
with the bleeding bodies of Englishmen slain by Englishmen, who pursued
their victory by chacing the defeated into the Market-Place, where the
stragglers were slaughtered.

From this anecdote of civil discord we are led to contemplate the more
rationally excited bravery of the present times, by the sight of the old
colours of the 17th or Leicestershire regiment of foot, which are
suspended over the royal arms at the east end of nave.  They were
presented to the corporation by Lieut. Col. Stovin, of that regiment, and
how much their intrepid defenders suffered in guarding them, may be known
from their worn and tattered appearance.

As it is the most curious and useful branch of antiquarian research to
read the manners and sentiments of an age in its public solemnities and
pastimes, we will not leave the church without a wish for a better
investigation of an obscure and singular custom, that antient carnival of
Leicester, "_the riding the George_."  The horse of this chivalrous
saint, which, when the reformation had overthrown the monkish mummeries
that so inconsistently blended religion with pastime, was sold for twelve
pence, stood at the west end of the south aisle, harnessed in all the
trappings of Romish splendor.  Notice of the day appointed for this
festivity was annually given by the master of St. George's Guild; sports
of every variety animated the town, and that the jubilee, was, in the
strictest sense _general_, is proved from the summons issued in the 17th
of Edward the fourth, ordering _all_ the inhabitants to attend the mayor,
to _ride the George_.  Mention of the celebration is recorded so late as
the 15th of Henry the eighth.

The stranger who is an admirer of sacred harmony will not pass without
particular notice, the Organ of St. Martin's.  A spirited subscription in
1774, furnished the church with this noble ornament.  It was built by the
celebrated Snetzler, and esteemed one of the best specimens of his art.
It has three sets of keys, from F in alt, to GG.  The stops in the great
organ are, the stopped diapason, two open diapasons, flute, and
principal, trumpet and baffoon, all entire, the 12th, 15th,
sesqui-altera, cornet and clarion.  In the ch. organ, are two diapasons
and principal.  In the swell two diapasons, principal, hautboy and

A range of antient stone building bounding the west side of the church
yard is an hospital founded about the year 1516, by W. Wigston, Merchant
of the staple at Calais, and mayor of Leicester, for 12 men and 12 women,
their pay about 3s. weekly.  It has a master and confrater.  The Chapel
has a large gothic window of painted glass.

On the north side of the hospital is a building called _the Town
Library_, established 1632 by the corporation, at the motion of the then
bishop of Lincoln.  It consists of about 948 vols. chiefly the Latin
classics and historians, to which no modern additions whatever have been

The building adjoining the Library which is the hall formerly belonging
to the guild or fraternity of St. George, which, together with the Corpus
Chrisri guild, the principal establishment of that kind in the town, was
founded in St. Martin's church, was purchased, on the dissolution of
guilds and chantries by the corporation, and is the guild-hall of the
borough.  It is adorned with several portraits among which is that of Sir
Thomas White, Kt. citizen and merchant Taylor of London, who among many
magnificent charities, bequeathed 10,000l. in the trust of the
corporation to be lent without interest in sums of 50l. and 40l. to every
freeman of Leicester for the term of nine years; a charity of peculiar
value as it affords a perpetual incitement to the exertions of rising

The magistracy of Leicester is an institution of great antiquity and
respectability, being a corporation by prescription, dating its
establishment from immemorial usage before its first charter in the reign
of king John.  It consists of 72 members; 24 aldermen, 48 common council
men; the officers are a recorder, town-clerk, bailiff, and steward.

By forming cities and towns into corporations, and conferring on them the
privileges of municipal jurisdiction, the first check was given to the
overwhelming evils of the feudal system; and under their influence
freedom and independence began to peep forth from amid the rigours of
slavery and the miseries of oppression.

To be free of any corporation was not then, as at present merely to enjoy
some privileges in trade, or to exercise the right of voting on
particular occasions, but it was to be exempt from the hardships of
feudal service; to have the right of disposing both of person and
property, and to be governed by laws intended to promote the general
good, and not to gratify the ambition and avarice of individuals.  These
laws, however rude and imperfect, tended to afford security to property
and, encourage men to habits of industry.  Thus commerce, with every
ornamental and useful art, began first in corporate bodies, to animate
society.  But in those dark ages, force was necessary to defend the
claims of industry; and such a force these municipal societies possessed;
for their towns were not only defended by walls and gates vigilantly
guarded by the citizens, but oft-times at the head of their fellow
freemen in arms, the mayor, aldermen, or other officers marched forth in
firm array to assert their rights, defend their property and teach the
proudest and most powerful baron that the humblest freeman was not to be
injured with impunity.  It was thus the commons learned and proved they
were not objects of contempt; nay that they were beings of the same
species as the greatest lords.

It is pleasingly curious to observe in these times the shadow of the
semblance of this most useful military power preserved as at Leicester,
in the array of a few of the poor men of Trinity hospital, clad in pieces
of iron armour, attending the beadle while he proclaims a fair; nor is it
less so to recollect that the feasts annually given by the mayor were
once held in imitation of the rude hospitality of the Barons whose feasts
not a little contributed to give a consequence to the commons of England,
and to humanize the haughty chief by shewing him that respectability
might belong to those who did not wield the sword, and that men might
have dignity even tho' they had no pretensions to the glare of titles and
the illusions of birth.  Thus will the intelligent observer find, that
corporate bodies were the true sources of law, liberty and civilization,
and by rendering the occupation of trade respectable they may be deemed
the first origin of that commerce which has rendered Great Britain the
most powerful and most happy nation of the earth.

These few reflections we will suppose to have occupied the time during
the short walk from St. Martin's church to the


In this spacious area, which is surrounded by handsome and well-furnished
shops, and whose public ornaments are the plain but respectable building
called the _Exchange_, built in 1747, where the town magistrates transact
their weekly business, and a small octagon edifice enclosing a reservoir
of pure water, the _Conduit_, erected in 1709, we must, having completed
the circuit of the town, offer our farewell to our visitor.

Here closing our little tour, which has engaged us in an imaginary
acquaintance with the intelligent stranger, we beg he will accept a
friendly adieu: and a wish, that as he quits the town thro' which we have
conducted him, and which we have endeavoured to represent in a view not
unworthy the attention of a mind that seeks for more than mere passing
ideas of amusement, he may not consider that time as prodigally spent
which he has passed in his WALK THROUGH LEICESTER.

APRIL, 1804


The Manufactory of Stockings in this town and county, is the largest in
the world; besides wove worsted hose, which are the staple article of the
place, a great variety of cotton hose are now made, which from their
cheapness, obtain a sale in this, and most other countries.

The machine by which these hose are made, was first invented in the year
1590, by the Rev. W. Lee, of Calverton, in Nottinghamshire, who exhibited
it before Queen Elizabeth, but not meeting with that encouragement he so
justly deserved, immediately left the country, and carried it to France,
where he would have established it at Rouen, had it not been for the
murder of the French king which prevented the execution of a grant of
privilege and reward in favor of Mr. Lee and his art.

Soon after Mr. Lee died under great disappointment at Paris, and several
of his workmen returning to London, laid the foundation of Stocking
Weaving in this county.  The manufactory has been gradually increasing,
but within these last ten years has rapidly advanced to its present
flourishing state.  The number of workmen employed in this branch is not
less than 20,000 who produce from the raw material about 15,000 dozen per

*  A full account of this manufactory, in all its branches, is preparing
for the press, and will be published in the course of the summer.


The reader is requested to correct the account of St. Martin's organ, as

Great organ, two open and a stop diapason, principal, 12th, 15th,
ses-quialtia, cornet, clarion, trumpet.  Choir organ, two diapasons,
principal, 15th, flute, bassoon.  Swell, two diapasons, principal,
cornet, hautboy, trumpet.

                                              [Combe, Printer, Leicester.]


                                T. COMBE,

Has on Sale the best Literary Productions, in elegant and other Bindings,
and every new Work of Merit may be seen at the Library

                          AS SOON AS PUBLISHED.

          Any quantity of Books purchased, or taken in exchange.

             _Printing_, _Binding & all sorts of Stationary_.

Gold Paper, Ornaments and Borders--Coloured Papers and
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other Articles.

                          A CIRCULATING LIBRARY,

_which collects all the varieties of the Day_.

Map of Leicester

        [Picture: The 1802 map of Leicester published by T. Combe]


{23}  "He had a bow bent in his hand,
   Made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth-yard long,
   Up to the head drew he."

                                                              CHEVY CHACE.

{24}  See an Essay on this subject by the Hon. Daines Barrington in the

{42}  This sum is now distributed under the title of wood and coal money.

{125}  See Starke's Travels.

{135}  These altars, dedicated to St. Dunstan and St. Catherine stood,
one where the present vestry is, the other in Heyrick's Chancel, so
called from its containing the monuments of that antient family.

Transcriber's  Notes

Original spelling, punctuation and grammar have been retained in this
transcription.  The following, however, have been corrected:

page 35: "to to which this chapel" has been corrected to "to which this

page 35: "joins the the prison" has been corrected to "joins the prison"

page 43: "bridge over the the Canal" has been corrected to "bridge over
the Canal"

page 74: "a good and firm rood" has been corrected to "a good and firm

page 75: "usefulness of urn-pike tolls" has been corrected to "usefulness
of turn-pike tolls"

page 90: "comparative prises of similar articles" has been corrected to
"comparative prices of similar articles"

page 93: "the prssent age" has been corrected to "the present age"

page 97: "whieh meets the eye" has been corrected to "which meets the

page 107: "death of he Conqueror" has been corrected to "death of the

page 109: "Henry the the third" has been corrected to "Henry the third"

page 118: "supported by expesne" has been corrected to "supported by

Also note that "have paffed into various hands" (page 47) and "trumpet
and baffoon" (page 139)  are both as in the book, with the old printer's
ff for ss usage.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Walk through Leicester - being a Guide to Strangers" ***

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