Leicester Museums & Galleries website
0116 253 2569
0116 253 9626
The Guildhall has had many uses and lives. The Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessman and gentry).
By the end of the 14th century the corporation of Leicester had begun to meet in the Guildhall. When the Guild was dissolved in 1548 the Corporation bought the buildings.
In 1632 the Town Library was moved into the East Wing of the Guildhall from St Martin' s Church. It is the third oldest public library in the country.
The Great Hall was often used as a courtroom and was also used regularly for theatrical performances, banquets and civic events. It is thought that Shakespeare performed here.
With the growth of the town a new Town Hall was built on Horse Fair and opened in 1876. For the next fifty years the Guildhall was used for several purposes including the headquarters of the local police and a school. Following a major renovation programme it was opened to the public as a museum in 1926.
The Guildhall has a well-founded reputation of being a haunted building and has featured on Living TV's 'Most Haunted'. If you have an interest (and the nerve) to spend an evening in a haunted building, you can take part in a 'Ghost Watch' at the Guildhall or Leicester Castle. For further information on coming events or to arrange private bookings for a minimum of 10 people, telephone 0116 253 2569.
Library, Castle or defences
Open February - November, Saturdays - Wednesdays: 11.00am - 4.30pm; Sundays: 1.00pm - 4.30pm.
Open on certain Thursdays and Fridays for children's activities during school holidays.
Open December - January for special events and private hire.
Closed Thursdays and Fridays and all December and January apart from special events.
For easier wheelchair access (via side gate to avoid cobbled entranceway), please telephone the museum on 0116 253 2569 prior to visit.
Today, The Guildhall is best known as an excellent performance venue, attracting acts from across the country, and as a museum where visitors can step back in time and come face to face with 'Crankie Gemmie' and 'Emma Smith', two of Leicester's notorious criminals who can be found lurking within the Victorian police cells.
Architecture, Law and Order, Performing Arts, Personalities, Social History