15 Best Places to Visit in Leicestershire (England)

Leicestershire made the news in 2012 when the body of King Richard III was found.

The notorious 15th-century ruler was buried in an unmarked grave after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. If you’re a history geek, there are plenty of places around Leicester to satisfy your Richard’s curiosity, from the battlefield where he was killed to his final resting place at Leicester Cathedral.

But there’s more to it than that: Leicester has excellent museums, the countryside is decorated with stately homes and cosy hamlets with thatched cottages.

You can spend your time in vibrant university towns like Loughborough or head to one of the many food festivals in Melton Mowbray, home to Stilton cheese and pork pie.

Let’s explore the best of Leicestershire:

1. Leicester

Leicester, England

Richard III has been the focus of attention in Leicester since his body was rediscovered under a car park in 2012.

The city has a new visitor center detailing how his grave was found and the methods used to identify his 500-year-old skeleton.

There are plenty of other places in Leicester, though, with high-profile attractions, museums and venues such as the National Space Centre, the Curve Theatre, the 15th-century half-timbered town hall, the New Walk Museum and Richard III’s refurbishment in 2015 Burial Cathedral. Leicester City won the Premier League at 5,000-1 odds in 2016, and the city gave us one of the most amazing underdog stories in sport in 2016. The Foxes play at King Power Stadium, which has a healthy capacity of over 30,000 people.

2. Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray

Melton Mowbray has two famous British favourites on the menu.

First up is the pork pie, which is unsalted seasoned pork chopped and included in the pastry.

This portable food is served cold and was first favored by fox hunters in the 19th century.

The market town is also one of the few places licensed to produce Blue Stilton, a strong, crumbly cheese that will be transplanted at Christmas.

In these traditional settings, festivals and events commemorate the town’s culinary contributions each year: the Melton Mowbray Food Festival in October and the Cheese Fair in late April, to name just two.

3. Loughborough

Loughborough Market

The largest town outside Leicester consists of Loughborough University, which makes up a quarter of the population during term time.

So outside of summer, the town can be fun and youthful, and from June to September it’s quieter, depending on what you like.

In October there will be the Loogabarooga Festival, a literary event that brings writers and illustrators to town with lots of fun activities for the kids.

Loughborough city centre was updated in the 1930s, giving it some striking Art Deco buildings, such as a cinema in the bull market.

The town’s weekly market also reminds you that you’re in a healthy rural community, with deals on Thursdays and Saturdays and antique markets on Fridays.

4. Market Harbourough

Gaboro Market

In Market Harborough, one building that will immediately catch your eye is the Old Grammar School.

Now over 400 years old and restored in 2014, this unusual timber-framed building houses a grammar school on the ground floor and stands opposite the Butter Market, which is now a Saturday artisan market.

At the Haradon Museum, stealing the limelight is the Haradon Treasure, the largest Iron Age coin hoard ever found in the UK, with more than 130 coins unearthed in 2000. Next to the old grammar school is the Grade I listed Church of St. Dionysius, mostly from the Middle Ages, with a stately 47-meter spire to complete the historic landscape of the town centre.

5. Market Bosworth

Market Bosworth

Traces of Richard’s last days can be found in this picturesque market town, minutes north of the battlefield where Richard died, ending the Age of Gorse, heralding the 1485 The Tudors. The King’s funeral procession passed Bosworth Market on their way to Leicester Cathedral in 2015 after Richard’s body was found.

The Bosworth Field Heritage Centre is located in a country park and features an indoor gallery with weapons and armor, some originals and some reproductions for you to try on.

There are also regular guided walks that show you important places around the site and add a historical touch to what you see.

6. Hinckley

Hinckley

If you want to take part in a major event in British history, Hinckley is located somewhere south of Bosworth Market and also has easy access to Bosworth Battlefield.

But the town’s manufacturing history is also interesting: Hinckley’s big business is hosiery, dating back to the introduction of frame knitting machines in the 1600s.

Housed in a group of original frame cottages, the Hinckley and District Museum will tell you all about the town’s knitting history, complete with historic handmade frames.

Like almost everywhere, Hinckley’s church attendance has dwindled over the years.

But the medieval St. Mary’s Church is still involved in the community, as the North Church has been converted into a coffee bar and there is also an informal bookshop.

7. Lutterworth

lutworth

In the far south of the county, Lutterworth is a market town that was granted market concessions in 1214, and some grocers honor the tradition on Thursdays.

For the curious, there are some thatched buildings and small landmarks in the center.

Rutworth Town Hall is a late Georgian building built in 1836 with distinctive rounded edges, designed by Joseph Hansom, who gave us Birmingham Town Hall and the Hansom carriage.

There are two good old pubs: The Cavalier Inn and The Shambles Inn, both with thatched roofs, the latter dating back to the 1500s.

Stamford House is a luxurious local estate built in 1690, while at the Rutworth Museum you can see the patent for the world’s first jet engine.

8. Sorrel

Mansorrel of Castle Hill

Mountsorrel is one of the five most popular addresses in Leicestershire, with a wealth of period properties surrounded by lush, rolling countryside, but also a quick commute to Leicester in the south.

Mountsorrel’s meeting point is the Butter Market, which has a classic 1790s design.

Curiously, it replaced a 16th-century market cross that was brought to his estate in Swishley by the estate owner, where it still stands.

Take the kids to the Stonehurst Family Farm, a working farm where kids can handle a variety of domestic animals, and a car museum with a surprising fleet of vintage tractors and sports cars.

9. Oderby

University of Leicester Botanic Gardens

A residential town a few minutes from Leicester city centre, Oderby has a lot to offer.

At Brox Hill Country Park, in 30 hectares of woodland and meadows, there is an environmental centre equipped with solar panels, wind turbines and rainwater collectors to teach children about renewable energy.

A charming park of a different kind is the University of Leicester Botanic Gardens, maintained by the University’s Department of Genetics and surrounded by lovely Edwardian properties.

Oderby also has Leicester Racecourse, which hosts national hunting (jumping) conferences and races, so whenever you’re in town you should have something.

10. Kirby Muxlow

Kirby Muxlow Castle

The village, a few miles west of Leicester, is also an integral part of the Richard III Trail.

Kirby Muxloe Castle is a beautiful and evocative 15th century ruin surrounded by a moat.

Anyone who has studied Shakespeare’s “Richard III” will know its owner, William Hastings.

A follower of Richard’s York House, Hastings was accused of treachery and executed within minutes of London in 1483. Work on his home and fortress stopped immediately, which only made the ruins of the castle even more striking.

Spend the day at the highly acclaimed Kirby Muxloe Golf Course, which welcomes non-members and has been in business since 1893.

11. Newtown Linford

Bradgate Park

Another village tied for the most liveable place in Leicestershire is Newtown Linford in Charnwood Forest.

The countryside here is distinctly mountainous, and the geology of the place is fascinating: the rocks in Bradgate Park are 600 million years old and have volcanic origins.

As long as humans were here, they quarried in the area to sharpen tools and grind grain.

Bradgate Manor has its own story to tell, as the ruined manor was the residence of Lady Jane Grey, Queen, and lived there for nine days before being executed in 1553.

12. Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Ashby-de-la-Zouch Castle

In west Leicestershire, Ashby is a proud market town within the National Forest.

The park is a major project to replant the huge woodlands that spread across much of the Midlands before the Industrial Revolution, attracting wildlife back to the former industrial area.

Hicks Hut is a great way to see it all, in the cycling center of an old coal mine that is gradually being taken over by trees.

Ashby Castle is another property owned by Lord Hastings, who turned it from a manor into a fort in the 15th century.

Even though it was half-destroyed in the English Civil War, you can still climb the tower for stunning views and go underground through a secret passage between the tower and the kitchen.

13. Desford

Tropical Bird Land, Desford

A popular family day activity in the Leicester area is the Tropical Bird Park, an aviary where many species of parrots can fly around in semi-freedom before returning to their enclosures at night.

A large number of these birds are former pets that have been relocated to more humane environments.

There is a children’s play area and a tea room in the attraction.

Before your arrival or after your departure, you can park at the Blue Bell in Desford for lunch or wander around the village.

The church is a Norman church, built in the 13th century, and the old hall on Desford Street dates from the early 1600s and has Flemish gables.

14. Wymonham

Weymonham Abbey

This lovely village is just east of Melton Mowbray in the Stilton cheese producing country.

There is a caravan park in summer, packed with holidaymakers looking to revel in this quintessential English countryside.

It is located at the foot of the 200-year-old Wymondham Windmill, which has been converted into a tea room and shop.

There is a friendly pub in the village, Berkeley Arms and St Peter’s Church, built in the 13th century with early English designs.

For a day out, Belvoir Castle is just 15 minutes to the north and remains the seat of the Duke of Rutland.

Originally a Norman fortress, but after centuries of destruction and reconstruction, a Gothic Revival palace was built here in the 19th century.

The venue has stunning views of the Belvoir Vale and the interior is richly decorated.

15. Colville

Snebston Mining Museum, Colville

This town is one of those places that knows what you’re looking at to appreciate it.

As the name suggests, Coalville was an industrial town that didn’t exist before the 1830s, and was home to thousands in the years after the coal seam was discovered.

The centre has 19th century cottages built for workers, which are not as common in Leicestershire as in the western and northern counties.

There’s plenty to see nearby, such as the sensational Donington-le-Heath estate, built in the 13th century and once owned by Everard Digby’s brother, who was involved in a gunpowder plot and executed in 1606.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Leicestershire, England
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