Saturday, September 29, 2012

St Mary de Castro, Leicester

Where should Richard III - if it is Richard III - be buried? The answer, of course, is Leicester, but there are those who have questioned this, suggesting York or Westminster Abbey instead.

I suspect that one reason for this is that Leicester's rich heritage is not as widely appreciated as it should be. You can start with the Jewry Wall, the second largest piece of surviving civil Roman building in Britain, and its neighbouring Saxon church of St Nicholas.

Today I visited the second oldest church in the city, St Mary de Castro. Here Geoffrey Chaucer was married and the four-year-old Henry VI was knighted here by his uncle John, Duke of Bedford. When Parliament met in the Great Hall of Leicester Castle next door, it first heard Mass in St Mary de Castro.

The church is interesting in that it effectively has two naves. The southern one was originally the Castle chapel and the northern one was the parish church. Originally these were separate buildings, but they are now combined in one.

Today they were serving refreshments inside and there was a jumble sale in full swing. All proceeds were going to their Save Our Spire appeal.

My photograph was taken through the surviving South Gate of the Castleyard. The Great Hall survives behind a plain 19th-century facade - it is the building to the left of the church.

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