Guildhall: click the image above to see (a) the external view
and (b) a description of the internal timber structure
Medieval churches
Medieval streets
Leicester's fields


Wyggeston's house
Click the image for an explanation


From Guildhall to new Town Hall:

five centuries of urban governance.

The feast of Corpus Christi developed in the Low Countries from 1264 onwards. By 1318, it had become established in England. The Guild of Corpus Christi, a socio-religious guild, was established in Leicester by 1343, attached to the parish church of St Martin. From the 13th century, St Martin’s was the principal parish church in the borough (It became the cathedral with the formation of the diocese of Leicester in 1927-8). In the 1390s, and by 1394, a new guildhall was constructed for the Corpus Christi Guild, opposite the parish church, this present building. The Guild acted as a shadow government for the borough. About 1490, the guildhall also became the premises of the borough, the town hall, when the buildings were expanded.
After the sequestration of guilds in 1547, the ‘guildhall’ continued as the town hall. Under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, the borough was enabled to establish a police force, which was located here (view the cells and the gibbet). By the late nineteenth century, the development of civic pride and municipal government rendered the ‘guildhall’ too unimpressive as a focus for urban governance. The new Town Hall in Horsefair Street was designed by 1874 and built by 1876, with the open space of Town Hall Square reflecting municipal pride.

The Horse Fair was transferred from there to the new Cattle Market in the former South Field, outside the built-up area. Such a relocation of livestock markets outside the urban precinct was general in urban centres (J. Blackman; R. Scola).

By clicking on the button above, you can play the oath of members entering the 'chapman' gild (gild merchant).