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, Museum
Daily open: 11am – 4.30pm
Closed: 24, 25, 26, 31 December 2013 and 1 January 2014.
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
Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King
- 8 February 2013 — 27 April 2014 *on now
Find out more about one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of recent years at Leicester’s medieval Guildhall.
In September 2012, Leicester became the centre of international media frenzy when an archaeological excavation in a car park in the middle of the city uncovered a skeleton. Was this the long-lost body of Richard III, the last English king to be killed in battle?
Richard III is one of English history’s most infamous characters. In 1483 he ruthlessly seized power from his young nephews and ruled as King until he was killed two years later at the Battle of Bosworth by the army of the man who would become Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. After the battle, Richard’s body is recorded as having been taken to Leicester and buried in the friary church of the Greyfriars.
Five hundred years later the exact site of the building and burial had been lost but a research team involving the University of Leicester Archaeological Service, The Richard III Society and Leicester City Council decided to see if they could find it again.
The Guildhall exhibition has been developed by Leicester Arts & Museum Service to introduce the remarkable story behind this excavation, narrated by those working on the project. The exhibition will allow visitors the chance to explore the historical and scientific evidence that has been gathered from the Greyfriars site.
- Any age
- Family friendly