A History of the County of Leicester: Volume 4, the City of Leicester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1958.
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St. Martin's parish has always been an urban area within the borough walls: no part of it lay outside. The parish ceased to exist for civil purposes in 1896: its area was 37 acres in 1891. It is still an ecclesiastical parish. The ancient parish boundary runs south from the East Gate along Gallowtree Gate, up Horsefair Street and part of Millstone Lane, until it strikes through houses to join Friar Lane. From there it cuts across through more houses to Southgate Street, up which it runs to Redcross Street, and through more houses to meet Thornton Lane at the junction with Harvey Lane, and again through houses to the east end of St. Nicholas Street. From there it proceeds just south of Free School Lane and Bond Street to Churchgate, turning south to the East Gate. (fn. 1)
The general street pattern has remained unchanged since the early Middle Ages. The main street is the High Street, from the East Gate to the former High Cross, at the junction with High Cross Street. It was known in the Middle Ages as the Swinesmarket and is first mentioned in the borough records in 1335–6. (fn. 2) As the street grew in importance it became no longer desirable for the pig market to be held there and it was moved in 1524 to the present New Bond Street. (fn. 3) After this the High Street gradually received its present name, the Old High Street becoming known as High Cross Street. (fn. 4) Its importance in the 16th century is illustrated by the fact that it was in this street that Henry, Earl of Huntingdon chose to purchase his town house in 1569. (fn. 5) This stood at the corner of New Bond Street and High Street, and was known as Lord's Place. It was demolished in 1902 for street widening. The house and its grounds once occupied a very considerable quantity of ground, but by 1902 all that remained was one of the stone turrets, encased in 18th-century brick. (fn. 6) The street widening which occasioned the destruction of Lord's Place was stimulated by the building of the Great Central railway station in 1899, (fn. 7) and was carried on until the early years of the present century. The corporation purchased a large number of houses for demolition and nearly all the buildings in the street date from this time. (fn. 8)
At the western end of High Street stood the High Cross, the site of which is marked in the roadway. There was a cross here before 1278, when it was repaired, and it was rebuilt in 1314. (fn. 9) It was the site of the Wednesday market of the town until 1884. (fn. 10) In 1577 a new cross was built, a little farther to the north, to act also as a shelter for the market women. This stood until 1773, when most of it was taken down and sold, but one limb remained until 1836, when this too was removed and set up in front of the Crescent in King Street. It is now (1955) in the garden of the museum in the Newarke, having been presented to the town in 1940. (fn. 11)
Parallel with High Street to the south run Guildhall Lane and Silver Street. Guildhall Lane was known in the 19th century as Town Hall Lane, and in the Middle Ages as Kirkgate, Kirk Lane, or St. Martin's Church Lane, and occasionally as Holy Rood Lane. (fn. 12) The Guildhall, which was used as the Town Hall from at least the end of the 15th century until 1876, (fn. 13) stands on the corner of Guildhall Lane and St. Martin's West, and consists of a miscellaneous group of buildings forming an open quadrangle. The largest and earliest of these is the Great Hall, which forms the north side of the quadrangle. The earliest part of the hall dates from the late 14th century, when the three eastern bays of the timberframed building were erected as the hall of the guild of Corpus Christi. About 1450, two additional bays were added to the west, completing the fine, openceiled hall, upon the ceiling of which are painted coats of arms. The gallery at the east end of the hall was brought from another building in the town in 1842, and the staircase was added in 1922. (fn. 14) About 1500 a second, smaller hall was built, of a similar pattern, at right-angles to the extensions of the mid15th century and forming the west side of the quadrangle. It is possible, although not certain, that by this date the whole quadrangle was completed by the houses for the four guild priests on the east side and by kitchens on the south. The addition of the new hall may have been the result of the increasing use of the Corpus Christi guildhall by the corporation for its meetings. These buildings continued to be used by the guild until it was dissolved in 1547 and in 1563 they were sold to the borough.
About 1593 alterations were made in the western range. A floor was inserted at the tie-beam level of the hall of 1500 and another above, creating two floors above the ground floor. The ground floor room became the mayor's parlour and was panelled in oak about 1637, when the fireplace was added. In 1953–4 the fireplace was restored and repainted in its original colours. (fn. 15) The first-floor room, known as the Grand Jury Room, was also panelled in oak in 1637 and in 1955 was occupied by the library of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society. There is a large attic above.
The eastern range of the quadrangle, formerly the dwelling-houses of the guild priests, seems to have remained unaltered until 1836, except for the creation of a bedroom for the recorder on the first floor in 1580, and the alteration of a room to house the Town Hall Library in 1632. When the borough police force was established in 1836 its headquarters were in the Guildhall and the lower story of the east range was converted into offices and cells. In 1842 the southern range was demolished and a brick house was built for the chief constable of the borough. Nothing is known of the early history of the south range. In 1922–3 the Guildhall was restored by T. H. Fosbrooke, who removed the plaster with which the outer walls had been covered and exposed the timbers. With the exception of the lower floor of the east wing, which is stone-built, and the brick house to the south, the whole building is timber-framed, with roofs of Swithland slate. The Guildhall is maintained by Leicester Museum.
Silver Street was formerly known as the Sheepmarket, (fn. 16) until the market was moved to the Saturday Market Place in 1506. (fn. 17) By the end of the 16th century it had received its present name, (fn. 18) but renewed its old function when a sheep fair was held there in the 18th century. (fn. 19) The Opera House, in Silver Street, was built by C. J. Phipps in 1876–7 and was for many years a notable theatre under the management of Eliot Galer. (fn. 20) It is now (1955) closed. Cart's Lane runs between Silver Street and High Street; the origin of the name is not known. Loseby Lane joins the west end of Silver Street with St. Martin's. Its first mention in written records seems to be in 1448, (fn. 21) but Billson suggests that it was named in the early 14th century for Henry of Loseby, who held property in St. Martin's parish about 1300. (fn. 22) In the 18th century the pig market was held there. (fn. 23) Today the street retains more of an 18th-century atmosphere than any other in the town. It has granite cobbles and most of its pleasant 18thand 19th-century houses remain unaltered. No. 17, in particular, is worthy of mention. Cank Street, St. Martin's, and Peacock Lane form the next series of streets running westwards parallel to High Street. Peacock Lane used to run as far as Cank Street, but from the middle of the 19th century the piece from New Street to Hotel Street has been known as St. Martin's. (fn. 24) Peacock Lane was known in the Middle Ages as St. Francis Lane, from the Franciscan friary which stood at the east end. The Peacock, after which the street was named in the 18th century, was a piece of land lying near Redcross Street. (fn. 25) Wyggeston's Hospital stood at the corner of Peacock Lane and St. Martin's West until its demolition in 1875. (fn. 26) The site of the hospital is now occupied by the grounds of the Alderman Newton's Boys' School. No. 21 St. Martin's is a good 18th-century house. Cank Street is named from the Cank, a public well which stood at its west end. (fn. 27) It is first mentioned in 1313. (fn. 28) From 1597 to c. 1763 the cattle market was held here. (fn. 29)
The street called Grey Friars, which runs from St. Martin's to Friar Lane, was constructed in 1872– 3. (fn. 30) It cuts through the site of Grey Friars, a large house built on the site of the Franciscan friary and owned by the families of Herrick, Noble, Pares, and Burnaby in turn from the 16th century to the 19th. (fn. 31) In the north-east corner of the garden of this house Thomas Pares established his bank in 1800. (fn. 32) The present bank building, owned by the Westminster Bank and one of the best pieces of modern architecture in Leicester, was erected by S. Perkins Pick in 1901. (fn. 33) The Trustee Savings Bank at the corner of St. Martin's is by Edward Burgess and was built in 1874. (fn. 34)
Hotel Street takes its name from the building which is now the County Rooms, which was begun in 1792 and designed as a hotel but never used as such. (fn. 35) The architect was the Leicester-born John Johnson and this is his most important building in his native town. The building was not completed until 17 September 1800, when it was opened by a company for use as public assembly rooms. In 1817 the building was sold to the county justices for use as a judges' lodging during the assizes and possibly for an archive repository. (fn. 36) Considerable alterations were undertaken after the sale and the interior arrangements and decorations date from this period, with the exception of the ball-room, which was designed by Johnson. The surveyor of the alterations in 1817– 18 was Joshua Harrison, architect and carpenter. (fn. 37)
The building is of ashlar, now blackened with smoke, and is of two stories. The projecting front porch has paired Roman Doric columns and is flanked by four windows with flat arches. There are three second-story windows, each of three lights, with semi-circular heads, divided by Ionic columns. Flanking the central window are two niches, containing terra-cotta figures of the comic and lyric muses by J. C. F. Rossi, R.A. Above each niche is a carved panel of dancing figures. There is a flat roof behind a parapet, the stones of which were reversed after the sale to the county to hide the inscription 'Assembly Rooms'. The original glazing bars have been removed and plate glass inserted in the windows.
The interior plan of the building is very simple. At the front on the ground floor are the dining- and drawing-rooms, with smoking-room and kitchens at the rear. The staircase rises opposite the front door, dividing in two and leading to the landing from which opens the ballroom. This runs along the whole length of the front of the house and is a magnificent room, decorated with figures in niches on the north and south walls, also the work of Rossi, and with paintings in circular panels on walls and ceilings by R. R. Reinagle. The ceiling has been replaced by one of acoustic tiles, and the rest of the room was decorated in pink and gold shortly before 1955. All the bedrooms are at the rear of the house. With the exception of the ballroom, all the original ceilings remain, including one of moulded plaster in the porch. The building is used by the Leicestershire County Council for meetings, and is still the judges' lodgings at the assizes.
New Street, to the west of Grey Friars and parallel with it, was laid out in 1711, (fn. 38) when it was still part of the site of the Franciscan friary. Like Loseby Lane, New Street preserves its 18th-century character. Nos. 12 and 14, in particular, should be mentioned. They were built as a pair, with a passage between the two fronts and projecting side wings.
Friar Lane is also named from the Franciscan friary. It is first mentioned by this name in 1391, (fn. 39) but the street had existed for some time before that date. Friar Lane also has some good 18th- and 19thcentury houses. No. 17 has been described as 'the handsomest Georgian house now left in the old town'. (fn. 40) Nos. 18 to 28 are a terrace in light grey brick, with well-arranged and proportioned windows. The County Offices, on the corner of Grey Friars and Friar Lane, were completed in 1937, to the designs of the firm of Pick, Everard and Keay. (fn. 41)
Millstone Lane is first mentioned as such in 1452, (fn. 42) when it still lay at the very edge of the built-up part of the borough, with arable land bounding it to the south. In the 16th century it was sometimes known as Horse Fair Lane, for horses were bought and sold in the fields outside the South Gate. (fn. 43) From 1774 until 1872 the cattle market was held here, and there was also a cattle fair here in the 18th century. (fn. 44) There are some fine Georgian houses in the street, especially No. 20. The Gas Offices at the corner of Pocklington's Walk are by Edward Burgess. (fn. 45) The present Horsefair Street, to the east, was laid out at the beginning of the 19th century, on the site of the old Horse Fair Gardens. (fn. 46) The Theatre Royal, in Horsefair Street, was built in 1836, by Samuel Beazley, who specialized in theatres, and William Parsons, the Leicester architect and surveyor. (fn. 47) It replaced John Johnson's theatre, which had been built in 1800, (fn. 48) and occupies roughly the same site. The theatre has a simple classical facade of two stories, the lower rusticated and forming an arcade over the street. Above, Ionic columns support a simple pediment. The rear elevation faces the market and is of three stories. The Alliance Assurance building, in Horsefair Street, is by Goddard and Paget. (fn. 49) The National Provincial Bank at the corner of Granby Street and Horsefair Street was built by William Millican in 1870. (fn. 50) The Royal Hotel, also in Horsefair Street, is by Everard and Pick. (fn. 51)
The Town Hall stands in Town Hall Square and was built between 1874 and 1876 to the designs of F. J. Hames, a Leicester-born architect, who won the competition for the new building sponsored by the corporation in 1873. (fn. 52) With the exception of the winning design, all the plans which were submitted were either Gothic or Classical in character. (fn. 53) Hames suggested the building of a town hall which was clearly influenced by the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, and whose style is perhaps more reminiscent of the period of Queen Anne in England. In considering the various designs, The Builder remarked in 1873, 'We should scarcely wish to see so important a building erected in this style. It may be urged that it harmonizes with the character of the Leicester streets; but that, perhaps, should be a reason against rather than for it; for the town sadly wants enlivening with regard to its architecture, and if this design were carried out, something should, at all events, be done, by a more striking treatment of the angles, to take away a little of the workhouse look which from some points it would inevitably present.' (fn. 54) Hames's building was erected as originally designed, and is one of the most distinguished buildings in the borough.
It is built of deep red Suffolk brick with dressings of Ketton stone. The site slopes away to the north and the angle has been offset by the clock tower at the north side of the building. This device, together with the fact that the details on the front are not always exactly repeated, relieves the building of that monotony which was feared by The Builder. The Town Hall now forms an open quadrangle. Side wings were added to the front, and the front elevation was exactly repeated in the new block built to face Bowling Green Street and to complete the quadrangle in 1932. Hames's great council chamber was completely remodelled in 1932. (fn. 55)
The Market Place, now the site of the only retail market in the town, was formerly the Saturday Market and was so called as early as 1298. (fn. 56) Various types of goods were sold in this area during the Middle Ages: the meat market was in the north-west corner, where the butchers still have their shops. There was a fish market by the 14th century. The first market hall was built in 1440 by the Duchy of Lancaster and was known as 'Le Draperie'; it was granted to the borough in 1589. Another public building is first mentioned in 1533. (fn. 57) The origin of its name, the Gainsborough, is unknown, but it was a market hall and prison, and its upper story was used by the borough justices: it may in fact have been the same building as the market hall, to which as such there is no reference after the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 58) A new Gainsborough was built in 1747 by the Leicester architect John Westley. (fn. 59) This was demolished in 1851 and rebuilt as a singlestory hall designed by C. Wickes. (fn. 60) In 1855 F. W. Ordish won the corporation's competition for a corn exchange with the design of the building which exists today. (fn. 61) He added to the top of the market hall the Corn Exchange with its clock tower and, instead of opening a staircase from the interior, he built a rusticated open bridge carrying an outside staircase. This design was not appreciated by his contemporaries and it was widely criticized. (fn. 62) It is now unfortunately impossible to see the staircase clearly on account of the permanent stalls which stand in front of it.
To the south of the old exchange and running up to Hotel Street was the lane called Cornwall or the Back Side, where carriages and agricultural implements were sold and which was widened when the exchange was demolished in 1851. (fn. 63) The Conduit stood in the Market Place at the south end of Cheapside from 1612 until 1841, being rebuilt in 1709. (fn. 64) It was an octagonal building of brick, which covered a large lead cistern. In 1841 it was replaced by a tall iron column which supported a lamp and a tap. This remained until 1852, when it was replaced by a statue by Edward Davis of the 5th Duke of Rutland, in the pedestal of which there was also a tap. This last vestige of the old Conduit disappeared in 1872, when the duke's statue was gilded and moved to stand in front of the Corn Exchange. (fn. 65) The remains of the old Conduit were in 1955 in a garden in Wigston Magna. (fn. 66)
Besides the regular Saturday market, most of the other markets of Leicester have been at some time or other held in the Market Place. (fn. 67) A cattle market was first mentioned in 1341 and was held in the Market Place in the later Middle Ages, (fn. 68) but it was moved to Cank Street, Loseby Lane, and Cow Lane in 1597. In 1793 it returned to the Market Place, where it was held until 1804 when it was removed to the present Town Hall Square. The new Cattle Market in Welford Road was opened in 1872. The sheep market was originally held in Silver Street, (fn. 69) but was moved in 1506 to the Market Place, where it was held until it was transferred to Town Hall Square in the 19th century. (fn. 70) The pig market appears never to have been held in the Market Place. (fn. 71) In the 19th century many improvements were made in the layout of the Market Place. Besides the widening of the Back Side, the building of the Corn Exchange, and the removal of the Conduit, in 1876 a passage was opened between Gallowtree Gate and the Market Place at the east end of Horsefair Street. (fn. 72) The Fish Market, on the south side of the Market Place, was rebuilt by William Millican in 1877. (fn. 73) In spite of clearances the view of the Market Place is disappointing, for the stalls are now erected permanently and it is impossible to gain a clear view of either the Corn Exchange or the 18th- and 19thcentury houses which still remain. A brick gable with traces of timber work in it, to be seen in the arcade known as the Angel Gateway at the north-east corner of the Market Place, is all that remains of the Angel Inn, the best-known of Leicester's inns from the 16th to the 18th centuries. (fn. 74) Cheapside, which leads from the Market Place to High Street, was only so named at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 75)
North from High Street runs New Bond Street. In the Middle Ages this was known as Parchment Lane or Street (vicus parcamenorum) (fn. 76) or Parcheminergate, (fn. 77) presumably from the residence there of parchment makers, who were established in Leicester as members of the guild merchant by the early 13th century. (fn. 78) After the pig market was moved there from High Street in 1524, (fn. 79) Parchment Lane gradually became known as the Swinesmarket, although it was still called Parchment Lane in 1594. (fn. 80) It retained the name of Swinesmarket even after the pig market was moved to Loseby Lane in the 18th century. (fn. 81) At the beginning of the 19th century Miss Watts remarked that the street 'may afford interest to the mind though not to the eye; for the reflective traveller will not regard as unimportant the humble dwellings of those manufacturers whose industry supplies the commercial wealth of the nation'. (fn. 82) New Bond Street became the name of this street by c. 1860; the old name was still in use in 1846. (fn. 83)
As a completely urban area, St. Martin's parish has until recent years been densely populated. In 1563 it had a population of 160 families. (fn. 84) By the end of the 17th century there were at least 250 inhabited houses, (fn. 85) perhaps more, and in 1709 the vicar calculated that there were 416 families, or about 1,984 persons of all denominations. (fn. 86) By the end of the 18th century there were 565 inhabited houses and 2,825 inhabitants. (fn. 87) In 1801 there were 3,167 inhabitants, and the highest population figure was reached in 1821, when there were 3,200 inhabitants. Thereafter there was a slow but steady decline as the parish became less and less the fashionable place in which to live, and its inhabitants, or the more wealthy of them, moved out into the new suburbs. (fn. 88) By 1931 the population of the parish was only 508. (fn. 89)
St. Martin's has always been a very wealthy area. In 1524, (fn. 90) in the two wards which together covered the whole of the present High Street, 38 per cent. of the taxpayers were rated at over £6 each, as compared with just over 20 per cent. in the High Cross, Southgate Street, and Friar Lane ward, the next wealthiest. In the 17th century, the hearth tax returns show a high proportion of prosperity and a high average of hearths to each inhabited house. (fn. 91) In the ward which covered the Market Place and Cank Street 86 persons paid tax on an average of just under 3.4 hearths to each house, and only two houses were exempt because their occupiers were too poor to pay. The average in the New Bond Street and High Street ward was 3.5 hearths to the house, not counting one empty house with 4 hearths, and in the ward which covered Silver Street, Loseby Lane, and Guildhall Lane it was just under 3. The Town Hall and Wyggeston's Hospital had a total of 11 hearths between them. There was one empty house in this ward and 2 additional hearths in outhouses. One or two names, however, are obscured in the original list of those exempted in this ward. Only about 37 houses in all these wards were excused payment. At the end of the 18th century, it was calculated that 520 out of 565 houses paid window tax. Of the 45 exempted, some were empty. (fn. 92) This time was the peak of the parish's prosperity and the remaining houses which date from the late 18th century and the early years of the 19th are sufficient indication of the wealth which was concentrated in this relatively small area. In 1837 the Boundary Commissioners reported that St. Martin's parish contained a smaller number of houses and yet a larger amount of property than any other parish in the borough, and they proposed that it should be split up among several wards to disperse the high rateable value. (fn. 93) At that time the total rental of the parish was over £14,000, as compared with nearly £13,000 in St. Mary's, which was a very much larger area and was already beginning to be exploited for new building. In St. Martin's 125 persons were paying more than £40 yearly in rent, as compared with St. Mary's with 27, and only 109 in St. Margaret's, whose total rental was over £43,000. (fn. 94) Even when St. Martin's was beginning to lose some of its population a little later in the century, it was still extremely wealthy, with a high rateable value for poor rate in 1847, £22,111, as compared with the £27,638 of St. Mary's and the £79,900 of St. Margaret's, a very much larger parish. The poor rate of St. Martin's was then levied at 1s. 7¾d. in the pound. (fn. 95)
During the 18th century the parish gradually developed a commercial character, although people still lived on or very near to their businesses, like Thomas Pares. (fn. 96) It was the feeling that this was no longer desirable which led to the great fall in the population of the parish during the last century. Its 18th- and 19th-century houses have now very largely become offices. Something of the former graciousness still lingers about streets like New Street and St. Martin's, and forms a pleasant setting for Leicester Cathedral.
St. Martin's parish was governed by the usual parish officers. The administration of poor relief in the parish is described elsewhere. (fn. 97) In spite of being a stronghold of Toryism and regularly returning four Tory members to the corporation, it was the vestry of this parish which opposed the erection of the new borough gaol in 1823, (fn. 98) and demanded an investigation into how the borough rates were spent. Until the Liberals gained a majority in the vestry in 1849, the battle over the payment of church rates was fought with great severity in St. Martin's, and the vestry was responsible for the prosecution and imprisonment of William Baines, a nonconformist tradesman, for his refusal to pay. (fn. 99) After 1849 the payment of church rates was made a matter of voluntary subscription. (fn. 100)
Town Hall Library.
The Town Hall Library was formerly housed in the belfry of St. Martin's Church, and later in the chancel. (fn. 101) It was moved to the Guildhall in 1633, after the preparation of a room for its use, (fn. 102) and remains there (1955). It is not known how the library was begun or how long it had been in existence when the new room was made ready for it, but it was evidently already the property of the borough. Its removal to the Guildhall drew attention to the library and during the 17th century it received many gifts of books, including one from Henry, Earl of Huntingdon (d. 1643). Few books were given after 1669. The books are mainly of theological or ecclesiastical interest, but there are a number of political works and some early classical texts. The library's greatest treasure is the Greek MS. New Testament which was presented by Thomas Hayne in 1645. The library fell into disuse and decay during the 18th century, but a new catalogue was prepared in 1919 and the library is now carefully preserved in the Guildhall.
St. Martin's has for long been regarded as the principal church in the borough. In 1575 it was ordered that two or three members of every household in the borough and its suburbs should attend the Wednesday and Friday sermons in the church. (fn. 103) It was also specifically associated with the corporation, and the mayor was made responsible for the churchwardens' accounts by an order in the common hall in 1510. (fn. 104) Nichols referred to St. Martin's as the principal church in the county (fn. 105) and by the 19th century the assize sermons, archdeacon's courts, and bishop's confirmations were held there. (fn. 106) The undoubted pre-eminence of St. Martin's made it the obvious choice for a cathedral, when it was proposed to create a see of Leicester in 1922, although the claims of St. Margaret's were also pressed. (fn. 107) In 1922 the church was made collegiate, with the Bishop of Peterborough as dean supported by a college of clerical and lay canons, to prepare for the creation of the new bishopric. (fn. 108) By an Order in Council the see was created in 1926 in fulfilment of the Bishopric of Leicester Measure of the previous year. St. Martin's Church was hallowed as the cathedral in February 1927. (fn. 109) Dr. Cyril Bardsley, who had been the first dean of the temporary college, was appointed the first bishop. (fn. 110) Great emphasis was laid at the time upon the existence of the AngloSaxon see of Leicester from the 7th to the 9th centuries, which was thus recreated after a thousand years. (fn. 111)
The cathedral body now consists of a provost and college of canons, clerical and lay. The provost is also the Vicar of St. Martin's in its capacity as a parish church. (fn. 112)
The advowson of St. Martin's was presumably one of those given in 1107 to the college of St. Mary de Castro and transferred in 1143 to Leicester Abbey. (fn. 113) The church is first mentioned in 1220, when it was already appropriated to the abbey. (fn. 114) In 1225 a vicarage was ordained by Hugh of Welles, Bishop of Lincoln, and it was provided that the abbey was to supply a house and the same food as enjoyed by the canons, and to allow the vicar in addition the altarage and other perquisites. (fn. 115) The advowson of St. Martin's belonged to the abbey until the Dissolution when it passed to the Crown. (fn. 116) Although the parish presented its own vicars between 1646 and 1656, the advowson remained with the Crown (fn. 117) until it was granted to the Bishop of Peterborough in 1867. (fn. 118) It is now (1955) vested in the Bishop of Leicester. (fn. 119)
In 1528 the parishioners complained that the clergy laughed and talked together during services and omitted to wear their surplices. The vicar generally sent a Franciscan friar to visit the sick, and the friar was described as both neglectful and indiscreet. (fn. 120)
The value of the living before the appropriation to the abbey was £16; in 1291 it was £11. (fn. 121) By 1535 it had fallen to £6 13s. 4d., and was said to be £6 13s. 8d. in 1561, (fn. 122) but after the Dissolution the vicar leased from the Crown the profits which had previously belonged to the abbey for £5 yearly. He received an annual pension from the Crown of £3, which was still paid c. 1800. (fn. 123) In 1705 the vicar calculated that his total profits were only £3 2s. 11¼d. This, however, was after he had paid a curate to read prayers on weekdays. (fn. 124) In 1624 Christopher Tamworth of Gray's Inn left 200 marks for the purchase of land by the corporation. It was designed to pay for the holding of services in St. Martin's Church twice on each weekday. This benefaction is known as Tamworth's Prayers. (fn. 125) A further 30s. yearly was given by John Stanley shortly after the Restoration, and this payment is made to the vicar by Leicester Corporation. (fn. 126) In 1831 the vicarage was valued at £140. (fn. 127)
In January 1457/8 the abbey purchased a house next to the Guildhall for the use of the vicar (fn. 128) and the vicars of St. Martin's lived there until 1760, when the house was demolished to extend the burial ground. (fn. 129) The vicar received a rent of 10s. yearly from the parish for the site of his old house. The Provost's House is in St. Martin's East. There is no glebe.
The guild of Corpus Christi was founded in 1343 as a social and religious guild attached to St. Martin's Church, with four chaplains and endowed with lands to the value of £20 a year. (fn. 130) In 1392 a licence from Richard II granted the guild power to amortize its lands, then valued at £19 16s. yearly. (fn. 131) Soon after this the guild erected the first part of its hall on a piece of ground to the west of the church. (fn. 132) The Corpus Christi guild was the most important in the borough and was so closely knit with the government of the town that its guildhall was used for meetings of the town council from the 15th century and became the Town Hall after the Dissolution. The guild was dissolved in 1548, (fn. 133) when its total income from property was £27 1s. 7¼d. (fn. 134) There were then only two regular chaplains and another who celebrated the 'Jesus Mass', probably on Corpus Christi day when the guild feast was held. The chantry certificate states that without the chaplains the Vicar of St. Martin's would have been unable to carry out his parish duties. (fn. 135) The property of the guild was said to be partly in decay so that rents were less than they should have been; in 1525–6 decayed tenements were valued at over £8. (fn. 136) Part of the property of the guild was granted in 1549 to Robert Catlyn and part to Edward Pese and William Wynlove. (fn. 137)
The date of the foundation of the guild of St. George is unknown. It is first mentioned in 1499, when the common hall decreed that the members of the Forty-Eight should contribute to its unkeep. (fn. 138) From this it might be deduced either that the guild was in financial difficulties or that it had been recently founded, but with insufficient property for its support. The annual festival of the guild was the ceremony of 'Riding the George', the guild procession in which men representing St. George and the Dragon took part. (fn. 139) The last reference to the guild seems to be in 1543, when the master of the guild was fined for not riding the George. (fn. 140) No certificate of the guild's property has survived, but a good deal of it, including the guildhall, seems to have passed to the corporation. The hall probably stood on the east side of St. Martin's Church. (fn. 141) The annual procession seems to have been of much more interest than the size or importance of the guild would appear to merit.
The earliest known church of ST. MARTIN was a cruciform building of the 12th century, with narrow aisles, which was, with the exception of its central tower, completely rebuilt in the 13th century. In the late 13th century or early in the 14th an outer aisle was added to that already existing on the south side. In the early 15th century the chancel was rebuilt (fn. 142) and the north and south chapels added to it. The clerestory and west doorway date from the end of the 15th century or early in the 16th. In 1489 new stalls were built by a carpenter named John Nicoll. (fn. 143) At the visitation of 1528 the parishioners complained that rain was dripping into the choir, and repairs were presumably undertaken by the abbey. (fn. 144) One of the aisles was extensively repaired in 1545–6. (fn. 145) The chancel was repaired by the churchwardens in 1633. (fn. 146) St. Martin's seems to have been maintained in good repair throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, as befitted the principal church of the borough. In 1705 and 1724 galleries were built, and in 1737 part of the spire was taken down. (fn. 147) In 1787 a new clock was installed by the corporation. (fn. 148)
During the last half of the 19th century the church underwent extensive restoration and alteration, which has been continued since the recreation of the See. From 1846 to 1867 the church was repaired by John Raphael Brandon. New roofs were built over the chancel and aisles in 1847–8, closely following the designs of the old ones. (fn. 149) In 1848 the piers between the nave and the north aisle were replaced. Those of the south aisle were renewed in 1851, when the church was also re-seated throughout. (fn. 150) The clerestory and west windows were also restored. Brandon's greatest achievement at St. Martin's was the rebuilding of the tower, which stood over the crossing on four great Norman pillars. These were replaced and the whole tower demolished about 1861, and replaced by a completely new tower and spire of Gothic design. These together reach a height of 220 feet and add dignity and proportion to the building. The new nave roof was completed in 1867, when the spire was finished. (fn. 151) The south aisle was restored at the end of the last century by J. L. Pearson. (fn. 152) The Vaughan porch on the south side of the church is by G. F. Bodley and was built in 1897 in memory of Edward Vaughan and his three sons. The north aisle and porch were restored by G. E. Street. After the First World War the church's architect was Temple Moore, who designed a number of the interior fittings. Sir Charles Nicolson became architect when the church was created a cathedral and was assisted by William Keay of Leicester. The sacristy was built in 1927 and the vestries in 1939. (fn. 153)
The church now consists of nave, chancel, north and double south aisles, north transept, north and south porches and chapels, central tower, sacristy, and vestry. The chancel, of four bays, is lighted by an east window and by two north and one south windows. To the west of these, four-centred arches open into the St. Katherine and St. Dunstan chapels. In the south wall of the transept is a moulded cinquefoil piscina adjoining triple sedilia formed by continuing the window recess down to a stone seat. Also on the south side is a range of three early 16th-century stalls. The bishop's cathedra stands against the north wall. The altar and elaborately carved and gilded reredos are the work of Temple Moore, and, together with the east window by Christopher Whall, constitute the War Memorial. (fn. 154) The most important memorial in the chancel is that to George Newton (d. 1746), the son of Alderman Gabriel Newton.
St. Katherine's Chapel was rebuilt in 1865 (fn. 155) and is maintained by the members of the Herrick family resident in America. It was known in the 17th century as Herrick's or Reynolds's Chapel. (fn. 156) It contains a number of finely carved memorial slabs commemorating the family; the earliest is of 1598. In the south wall are the mutilated remains of a piscina. A medieval painting of St. Katherine which was on the north wall was obliterated in 1847. (fn. 157) The chapel was restored by Nicolson in 1929. (fn. 158) St. Dunstan's Chapel on the south side of the chancel was also rebuilt in 1865, (fn. 159) and was dedicated to the memory of the Needham family. It contains a number of 18th- and 19th-century memorial tablets, and one to James Andrewe (d. 1638), which has an alabaster relief showing him in his study. This chapel was restored in 1930. (fn. 160)
The triptych in the north transept is by the Italian artist Vanni and was presented by Sir William Skeffington in 1790. (fn. 161) Also in this transept is an unusually large dug-out chest, 7 ft. 6 in. long with six hinges, and a piece of fine 15th-century carving, consisting of nine traceried panels supporting a bookrest. There is a stair in the north-east corner. The screens between this transept and the chapels and crossing, and between the nave and chancel, as well as the wall panelling, are all modern.
The nave is stone-paved, of five bays. The modern gallery and organ-loft at the west end extend to the outer wall of the north aisle. They were designed by Sir Charles and Sydney Nicolson and completed in 1930. (fn. 162) The font, presented in 1860, stands under the gallery. (fn. 163) In the north aisle, which is also of five bays, is a signed monument by Joshua Marshall to John Whatton (d. 1656), coloured and gilded with busts of Whatton and his two wives. (fn. 164)
The south aisle is of six bays, so that there is no south transept. It is in two parts, divided by an arcade rather loftier than that into the nave. The brackets of the roof of the outer aisle rest on wall posts carved with standing figures, which are modern copies of those originally erected in the late 13th or early 14th century. Three of the originals now stand against the south wall, supporting a table made from the inlaid sounding board of the Georgian pulpit. In the south wall of the outer aisle there are sedilia and a piscina similar to those in the chancel.
The north porch, though very much restored, dates from the 15th century. It is of brick and timber, covered with a decorated plaster skin, and has a ceiling of wooden fan tracery. There was formerly an upper chamber to the porch. (fn. 165)
The tower contains the only Norman work left in the church, a short piece of billet work on the north side of the north-west pier. It rises in four stages, terminating in an octagonal broach spire, with gabled steeple lights at three intervals, a floriated finial and a weather vane. There is a clock above the windows. Inside the church the wooden ceiling of the tower is divided by beams resting on stone corbels.
Before the Reformation there were five chapels in St. Martin's Church. The Lady Chapel was in the outer south aisle and was used as the chapel of the Corpus Christi guild. (fn. 166) After the Reformation it became the site of the archdeacon's court, which is still (1955) held there. St. George's Chapel, that of the guild of St. George, was probably at the west end of the outer south aisle, although very little is known about it. (fn. 167) It has, however, been re-established in that place, and was fitted up as the War Memorial chapel of the Leicestershire Regiment by Temple Moore in 1921. (fn. 168) St. Dunstan's and St. Katherine's chapels have already been mentioned. There was also probably a rood chapel, the altar of which probably stood in front of a large cross or rood somewhere in the church, which occasionally caused the church to be referred to as St. Cross. Offerings were certainly made at the foot of such a cross, but its position is unknown. (fn. 169)
There was an organ in St. Martin's before 1547, when the instrument was dismantled and sold. Although restored after 1553, it was again destroyed in 1562 or 1563 and the church probably remained without one until the end of the 17th century. In 1753 the organ was repaired and moved to the west end, and twenty years later it was replaced by a new one built by Snetzler. This was restored in 1873. (fn. 170) A new organ was installed in the new gallery in 1930. (fn. 171)
There were five bells in Henry VIII's reign. By 1781 there were ten, which were then recast by Edward Arnold. Four of them were recast by Taylor of Loughborough in 1854. (fn. 172) In 1936–7 the whole ring was again recast by Taylor. Two more bells were added at the same time, (fn. 173) bringing the present ring up to twelve.
The registers date from 1558, and there are churchwardens' accounts from 1544. (fn. 174) The earliest pieces of plate are a cup and paten dating from 1662. (fn. 175)
The monuments in the cathedral are 'a memorial to the civic, social, and military life of Leicester during the last four hundred years'. (fn. 176) Besides those already mentioned there are monuments to John Throsby and Thomas North, among the historians of Leicester; and one to John and Frances Johnson, parents of John Johnson the architect, which was designed by their son and executed by John Bacon, R.A., in 1786. (fn. 177)
Elizabeth Ossiter before 1653 left a house in Abbey Gate for the relief of the poor of St. Martin's. By 1837 there was no longer a house on this site, but the land was let for 30s. yearly. (fn. 178) It was sold in 1875 and the proceeds invested in stock, which now produces £13 4s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 179)
Thomas Topp by will dated 1716 left £200 charged upon lands at Enderby to apprentice one poor boy from the parish every year. By the begin ning of the last century the rent was £20 yearly and was sufficient to apprentice two poor boys. (fn. 180) Some of the land seems to have been sold as the parish now owns considerable numbers of shares as well as some land at Enderby, which together produce an income of £56 15s. 2d. yearly, which is used for general charitable purposes.
George Bent by will proved 1736 left £2 12s. charged upon a house in Guildhall Lane for the distribution of bread to the poor. (fn. 181) This rent is still paid.
John Nichols by will proved 1815 left £100 for distribution to poor parishioners. (fn. 182) The money was invested and produces £3 2s. 4d. annually.
Benjamin Garland's gift of 5s. yearly is paid to the parish by Leicester Corporation. (fn. 183) In 1837 the Charity Commissioners reported that this gift, then 3s. 6d., had not been paid for 30 years and that its origin was not known. The charity existed before 1786, and was revived in the 19th century. (fn. 184)
The parish receives £28 6s. 8d. yearly for Richard Elkington's charity from the Trustees of Leicester General Charities, and a payment under Heyrick's Bread Charity. The Corporation pays sums under the Hobbie, Courteen, and Ive charities. (fn. 185)
The Lewis almshouses in Millstone Lane disappeared in the later part of the 19th century, probably when parts of the street were rebuilt. They stood originally near the churchyard of St. Martin's, but the original building, left by Hugh Lewis by will proved 1651 for the use of three poor widows, was sold in 1732. The inmates were moved to a house in Millstone Lane, which was rebuilt in 1814. (fn. 186) Mrs. Ward's charity, the date of which is unknown, was a payment of 25s. yearly from a close in St. Margaret's parish. Part of the land was conveyed to St. Margaret's Church at the beginning of the last century for the enlargement of the burial ground, and charged with the whole payment. It is not known how long the payment continued after 1837, but it is now (1955) lost. (fn. 187) Frances Power left by will in 1749 a house, the profits of which were to be used for teaching ten poor children. (fn. 188) Nothing further is known of this bequest.