The Great Hall
|Built by||William the Conqueror|
|In use||Law court|
|Official name||Leicester Castle and the Magazine Gateway|
|Designated||26 June 1924|
|Map of central Leicester. The dotted line shows the line of the medieval town walls.|
Leicester Castle is in the city of the same name in the English county of Leicestershire. The complex is situated in the west of Leicester City Centre, between Saint Nicholas Circle to the north and De Montfort University to the south. A large motte and the Great Hall are the two substantial remains of what was once a large defensive structure. The hall is now encased in a Queen Anne style frontage. The Castle and the Magazine Gateway is a scheduled monument.
Leicester Castle was part of the medieval town defences, built over the Roman town walls. The castle was probably built around 1070 (soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066) under the governorship of Hugh de Grandmesnil. The remains now consist of a mound, along with ruins. Originally the mound was 40 ft (12.2 m) high. Kings sometimes stayed at the castle (Edward I in 1300, and Edward II in 1310 and 1311), and John of Gaunt and his second wife Constance of Castile both died here in 1399 and 1394 respectively.
Eventually, however, it was used mainly as a courthouse (sessions being held in the Great Hall), rather than a residence. Apart from being used for Assize Courts, the Great Hall was also used for sessions of the Parliament of England most notably the Parliament of Bats in 1426, when the conditions in London were not suitable.
A section of the castle wall, adjacent to the Turret Gateway, has gun loops (holes) that were poked through the medieval wall to use as firing ports by the city's residents when Parliamentarian Leicester was besieged, captured, and ransacked, during the English Civil War by the main Royalist Field army under Charles I and Prince Rupert on 31 May 1645. The third storey of the Turret Gateway (erroneously known as 'Prince Rupert's gateway') was destroyed in an election riot in 1832.
|Leicester Castle and The Newarke precinct, showing the Motte and bailey (green), boundary walls of The Newarke (blue), and the southern side of the town wall (red).|
The historic sites include:-
Church of St Mary de Castro
Trinity House - former Trinity Hospital
Newarke Houses Museum
site of Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke, now includes DMU heritage centre