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  • Freemasonry became established in Leicester around in the late 18th Century with the first lodge being built in 1790
  • The Hall on London Road is said to have one of the finest ‘Lodge Rooms’ in the country
  • Freemasons were involved in the ceremonial laying of the Town Hall foundation stone

Georgian Freemasonry in Leicester

Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest non-religious, non-political and charitable organisations. It became established in Leicester in the 18th Century, with the first Lodges meeting in local public houses. The St John’s Lodge (1790) and the Provincial Grand Lodge, the governing body of the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland, were founded in Georgian times and still exist today.

London Road Freemasons´ Hall

Freemasons’ Hall (80 London Road) is a former Georgian house, purchased by the Freemasons around 1909. The Holmes Lodge Room, one of the finest in the country, was designed by local architect Howard H Thompson. Freemasons’ Hall contains a museum and library, said to hold one of the finest collections of masonic books and artefacts outside London. 

Holmes Lodge Room
Holmes Lodge Room, Freemasons Hall, London Road

Freemasonry and the story of Leicester

Freemasons have played a prominent role in the history of Leicester, both as businessmen and professionals, and as a body. One of the most influential figures in the 19th Century was William Kelly, a Provincial Grand Master, in whose memory a Benevolent Fund was established, now known as the Leicestershire & Rutland Masonic Charity Association. Support for local charities remains a central principle of Freemasonry, but Freemasons were also traditionally involved in ceremonies involving the laying of foundation stones, including that of the new Town Hall in 1874, ‘trying’ the stone in accordance with ancient custom with ‘plumb rule, level and square’.

Visitor information
Can be seen from the street


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Medieval Leicester

(500 – 1500) The early years of this period was one of unrest with Saxon, Danes and Norman invaders having their influences over the town. Later, of course, came Richard III and the final battle of the Wars of the Roses was fought on Leicester’s doorstep.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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  • Roman Leicester
  • Medieval Leicester
  • Tudor & Stuart Leicester
  • Georgian Leicester
  • Victorian Leicester
  • Edwardian Leicester
  • Early 20th Century Leicester
  • Modern Leicester
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Faith & Belief

Wesleyan Chapel

Today Bishop Street Methodist Church occupies a prime location in the city overlooking Town Hall Square. This area was used as a cattle market and the land around it was therefore cheap enough for the early Methodists to buy and build on.

Central Mosque

First established in 1968 by a group of Pakistani Sunni Muslims, the Islamic Centre would go on to expand from a side street in Highfields to the grand Central Mosque on Conduit Street. The original Islamic Centre is still on Sutherland Street, made up of converted residential buildings and is certainly one of the oldest Mosques in Leicester.

Faith in Roman Leicester

Leicester has been a place of diverse culture and faith for some 2,000 years. A confirmed Roman temple has been discovered and references to other temples have also been found.

Grey Friars

Franciscan friars first arrived in Leicester in the early 13th century. Their friary occupied a large walled precinct south of St Martin’s Church (now Leicester Cathedral) and west of Leicester’s Saturday market place, between two important medieval thoroughfares, Friar Lane and St Francis’ Lane (Peacock Lane today).

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Located on the corner of Catherine Street and Gypsy Lane is the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), a white limestone Hindu temple. The mandir building is a former denim factory and it has now become one of the largest and most stunning mandirs in the Midlands.

story of leicester
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