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  • The tomb of King Richard III is covered with a single slab of Swaledale fossil stone weighing 3 tonnes
  • The Cathedral is dedicated to a Roman Officer who became a Bishop in the 4th Century and later a saint: St Martin of Tours
  • The church was dedicated as Leicester’s Cathedral in 1927

The final resting place of King Richard III

Leicester Cathedral is at the physical heart of the Leicester, situated in Leicester’s Old Town. The Cathedral famously houses King Richard III’s tomb.

A long and rich history

The church was built on the site of Roman ruins and is dedicated to St Martin of Tours, a 4th century Roman officer who became a Bishop.  It is almost certainly one of six churches referred to in the Domesday Book (1086) and portions of the current building can be traced to a 12th century Norman church which was rebuilt in the 13th and 15th centuries. In the Middle Ages, its site next to Leicester’s Guild Hall, ensured that St Martin’s became Leicester’s Civic Church with strong ties to the merchants and guilds of the town.

The building you see today is predominantly Victorian. The tower and 220 foot spire were designed by the architect Raphael Brandon and were rebuilt in the 1860s.

In 1927 St Martin’s was dedicated as Leicester’s Cathedral when the diocese was re-created, over 1,000 years after the last Saxon Bishop of Leicester fled from the invading Danes.

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King Richard III’s remains are lowered into his grave. Credit Leicester Cathedral

Fit for a king

Today over one hundred thousand people visit Leicester Cathedral every year, primarily to see the tomb of King Richard III, the last English monarch to die in battle. King Richard’s mortal remains were interred by the Archbishop of Canterbury in March 2015 after five days of commemoration events and activities around the city and county of Leicester. A magnificent tomb cut of a single piece of Swaledale fossil stone weighing 3 tonnes now covers his grave.

Inside, on permanent exhibition, is the Pall, a decorative cloth which covered King Richard’s coffin during his reinterment. It was designed and created by artist Jacquie Binns. The embroidery tells the story of King Richard’s life and the discovery of his body in a car park very near to the Cathedral.

Other items that can be seen inside the Cathedral include 14th century wooden carved figures, each “afflicted” with some kind of illness. One has a medieval hearing aid, while another is suffering from sore shoulders.

Open to the public all year round

The Cathedral and King Richard III’s tomb are open to the public 365 days of the year. There is no entry charge, but voluntary donations towards the overall costs of maintaining and running the Cathedral are greatly appreciated.

To find out how to visit the Cathedral and the tomb of King Richard III please see the Visit Leicester website.


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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