Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Leicester Learning

Although I had been to England several times, it was usually for business so my touring was limited to London and a couple of nearby suburbs. So I quite excited to get to Leicester and see another English city and all that it has to offer. I took a morning train from St. Pancras (a beautiful station as you can see below), splurging on first class, as it was only $5 more than standard class, and arrived around 11 am.

The city center is quite compact and they have posted signs signifying important historical buildings all around, colour coded to represent the era (Elizabethan, Victorian, etc.). Below is the Thomas Cook building, constructed in 1884 in honour of the man who first conceived of road trips.

Ironically, for me at least, the first road trip in 1841 was a temperance excursion from Leicester to Loughborough. I did not follow suit, having an ale at the Ale Wagon when the rain hit.

The main attraction here is the King Richard III Visitor Centre and Leicester Cathedral. If you haven't heard, they discovered the remains of King Richard III under a car park back in 2012. Think about that. An actual monarch, killed in battle, buried unceremoniously and left there for over 500 years. Intrepid archaeologists decided to look for the remains and amazingly found them in the first place they dug. Truly a fascinating story and one well worth researching if you haven't learned the details. Even today, his name brings controversy as he is suspected of orchestrating the murder of his two nephews, who were in line for the throne before him.

The Cathedral (above) includes a statue of Richard in armour, holding a crown (below).

After much scientific testing that "proved" the bones were actually Richard III, his remains were finally re-interred this year in the cathedral, which is free to visit. Even this was a controversial act requiring court intervention, while some claim the bones are not Richard's at all.

The Latin phrase translates to Loyalty Binds Me. Sports fans would agree.

If you doubt the authenticity of the claim, the visitor centre provides a detailed step-by-step reconstruction of the project that discovered the skeleton and confirmed it was Richard, which should convince you. The final stop is a glass floor above the actual spot where the bones were found; now a lighting system shows you how they lay when they were unearthed (above). Well worth the admission fee of £7.95.

There were a couple of other sights around town, including a statue that represents the three popular sports in England (soccer, cricket, and rugby).

Finally, above is Welford Road Stadium, home of Leicester Tigers. I hope to get back here for a day or two in the future and take in a match here.



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