This page provides a brief introduction to the history of Leicester Cathedral and the Bishops of Leicester, as well as information about historical tours of the Catheral. A more indepth series of online guides to the Cathedral and its history can be found by clicking here.
The Normans began the construction of the original church around 900 years ago. It was rebuilt and enlarged between the 13th and 15th centuries and became the 'Civic Church' with strong links with the merchants and guilds (with the Guildhall being located nearby). Just over 100 years ago the Victorian Architect, Raphael Brandon magnificantly restored and, in places, rebuilt the church, including the addition of a 220ft spire. When the Diocese of Leicester was reestablished in 1927 the church was hallowed as Leicester Cathedral.
The Bishops of Leicester
In 680AD, the Saxon's gave Leicester its first Bishop, Cuthwine. Two hundred years later the last Saxon Bishop fled south from the invading Danes. For over 1000 years following the departure of its last Saxon Bishop, Leicester had no Bishop and the people of Leicestershire were looked after by the Bishops of Lincoln and later by the Bishops of Peterborough. It was not until 1927 that Leicester again had its own Bishop and the Church of St Martin became Leicester Cathedral.
Some Important Dates
316 to 397 St.Martin lived.
680 Cuthwine, first Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Leicester.
870 The Midlands invaded by Danes. Leicester ceased to be a separate diocese.
1072 Normans put Leicester under the jurisdiction of the Lincoln diocese.
1086 First recorded mention of St.Martin's. Norman church replaces the Saxon one.
13th cent. Leicester Abbey built. For a time, the Abbey appointed the St. Martin's vicars.
13th cent. Aisles were added to the church.
1225 First record of the name of the priest of St. Martin's.
1343 Corpus Christi Guild formed.
15th cent. Nave and Chancel extended.
1535 The nearby Grey Friars Monastery was closed.
1548 During the Reformation, St.Martin's was stripped bare of statues, vestments, screens and stained glass.
1634 & 1642 Visits by King Charles I.
1656 Sir John Whatton dies. Memorial to him put on the north wall.
1757 Spire added to the Norman tower.
1837 Leicester now in the care of the Bishop of Peterborough.
1859 David Vaughan appointed vicar of St. Martin's.
1860 Victorian restoration begins. (Tower and roof rebuilt. New spire added.)
1888 Suffragan Bishop of Leicester appointed by Peterborough.
1922 St.Martins raised to status of Collegiate Church.
1927 Leicester has its own Bishop again. St.Martin's hallowed as Leicester Cathedral.
1939 Song school and Vestry built.
1946 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit the Cathedral.
1980 Richard III memorial slab placed in Chancel floor.
1986/87 Interior decoration and rearrangement of the churchyard.
1997/98 Festival Year - 70 years a Cathedral.
2000-2001 Millennium Appeal to raise £1.5 million.
September 2002 Provost becomes Dean under Cathedrals Measure.
A historical tour of Leicester Cathedral is available for adult group bookings, and can be tailored to suit your requirements. Tours last on average about one hour, and are usually given from 10am to 12:15pm, and from 2pm to 4pm. To make a booking please go to Bookings. A small charge is made per group, and current rates can be obtained from the bookings manager.