Take a seat or move around freely. Scroll through the dates and browse the summary of what happened at different times in the Castle's history. When you see something of interest, just tap the button to learn more. Enjoy.

1066 - The End of Saxon England

Saxon army

On the 5th January 1066, King Edward "The Confessor" died. His death would begin a chain of events that heralded change throughout England.


© Image John Cook

© Image John Cook

In 1068 King William I invaded Leicester and took the city by storm. Hugh de Grandmesnil, one of the few proven companions of William The Conqueror, began to build Leicester Castle.


Great Hall of Leicester Castle

It is believed that the Great Hall began life in the early part of the 12th Century under the watchful eye of the first Earl of Leicester, Robert de Beaumont. 

1208 - Simon de montfort

Simon de Montfort

Simon de Montfort, became the 6th Earl of Leicester in 1208. He enlarged and improved the residential buildings of the castle.

1265 - criminal court connections

Edmund Crouchback

During the rule of Edmund Crouchback, the Great Hall begins to be used as a criminal court, a function that the Great Hall performed until 1992.

1324 - Building Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital

Henry Plantagenet inherited Leicester Castle in 1324. He became the third Earl of Leicester and was the founder of the Newarke Trinity Hospital for the poor of Leicester.

1361 - John of Gaunt inherits leicester castle

John of Gaunt

John of Gaunt inherited Leicester castle in 1361. He was one of the wealthiest noblemen in England. He took his last breath here in 1399.  

1426 - the parliament of bats

Henry VI

On three occasions the English Parliament was held here at Leicester Castle’s Great Hall. The most tense parliament in 1426 became known as the Parliament of Bats.

1483 - richard III stays at leicester castle

Richard III

Richard III reigned as the King of England from 1483 – 1485. Two weeks after he was crowned King of England he stayed here at Leicester Castle on his way from London to York. 

1536 - decline of the great hall

Arms of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster

When the House of Lancaster took over the throne of England with the accession of Henry IV in 1399, Leicester Castle became one of many castles that the Lancastrians owned. As a result, Leicester Castle went into a period of decline.

1645 - civil war

leicester castle under attack

Turret Gateway

The English Civil War spanned nine years from 1642–1651. Leicester was in the hands of the Parliamentarians but stood close to the Royalist towns of Newark and Ashby.

1689 - brick frontage added

Leicester Castle

Around 1689 the eastern side of the Great Hall was taken down and replaced with a brick frontage. The Great Hall is one of the earliest brick buildings in Leicester.

1774 - a grand concert

george frederick handel

A George Frederic Handel concert is held at The Great Hall for the anniversary of the infirmary in 1774. This is widely regarded as the most important musical event ever held in Leicester.

1798 - napoleonic wars

John of Gaunt's cellar

John of Gaunt’s cellar is thought to have been used as a prison during the Napoleonic Wars. Elaborate, deeply cut graffiti can still be seen in the cellar from this period.

1821 - converted to castle courts

Court in Leicester Castle

Court in Leicester Castle

The increase in urban population during the 19th century led to building of court facilities across the country. Leicester decided it would create courts in Leicester Castle’s Great Hall. 

1883 - 1884

j m barrie at leicester castle

J M Barrie

James M Barrie, the Scottish author and dramatist best known for his play Peter Pan, frequently covered cases as a journalist at Leicester Castle's Great Hall for The Nottingham Post.

1919 - green bicycle murder trial

Bella Wright

A young woman named Bella Wright was shot at Little Stretton. Earlier that evening she had been seen with a man on a green bicycle. This became one Leicester’s most notorious trials.

1972 - the end of the assizes

Leicester Castle court

Courts of Assizes continued to be held at the Castle Courts up until 1972. These were replaced by a single permanent Crown Court.

1992 - leicestEr castle courts close

One of the cells at Leicester Castle

Leicester Castle Courts closed in 1992 when the City and County magistrates joined together at the new courthouse in Pocklington’s Walk.