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The architects who have refurbished the great hall at Leicester Castle….

Maber Architects

An architects practice has celebrated the tenth anniversary of its Leicester office with a VIP tour of one of their latest projects in the city – the restoration and refurbishment of the Great Hall of Leicester Castle.

Its city office is in De Montfort Street.

The firm’s roots go back more than 30 years, and it employs 70 people across five offices in the Midlands and London.

Since the Leicester office opened in 2007, it has grown to employ 10 people and has been responsible for some of Leicester’s best known buildings and architectural projects.

Maber director Ian Harris, who heads the Leicester office, said: “Two huge reasons for our success are long-term relationships with clients and the talent of our people, so it was great to bring everyone together to celebrate in an amazing space.”

The newly-refurbished Great Hall is thought to be the largest medieval hall of its kind in Europe.

Ian said converting it into a new Business School for De Montfort University brought together a wide range of the practice’s skills, including architecture, interior design, landscape design and conservation.

Part of the hall, once used as a Crown Court, retains the Gothic Victorian furniture, including the judge’s chair, dock and jury benches, which must rank it as one of the most unusual university teaching spaces in the world.

Some of Maber’s other major Leicester projects have included:

• The King Richard III Visitor Centre in the city centre, a £4 million project designed to tell the story of “the king in the car park”.

• The Summit, a £13 million, 12,200 sq m student residential space with a 22-storey tower that has created a new landmark at the western gateway to the city.

• New Walk Museum’s new entrance and spiral staircase, featuring a design inspired by ammonites

• Charnwood Primary School for Leicester City Council – an award-winning design that complements the traditional architecture of the existing Victorian school buildings.

See: http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/business/maber-architects-celebrate-10th-anniversary-753489

There’s more at http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2017/june/lovingly-refurbished-leicester-castle-shines-for-visitors.aspx

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There was room at the Blue Boar for Richard III….

Blue Boar, Highcross Street, Leicester - c.1826

Here is an article from the Leicester Mercury:

“Apart from a recent council explanatory information panel tucked on its side wall above a litter bin, few passers-by would know that the modern brick box building housing a hotel and casino was the site of Leicester’s most famous inn, that once was the penultimate stop of a king of England. For this is the spot on which the famous Blue Boar Inn was sighted.

“It’s a name known to everyone with an interest in historic Leicester. It owes its fame to a watershed in England’s history and, of course, to a monarch whose name has recently made Leicester known worldwide.

“Today’s bland building, out of scale and style with the rest of Highcross Street, is the site of the old Blue Boar Inn, from where King Richard III and his nobles led his army into the Battle of Bosworth, which ended the Wars of the Roses – it also ended the king’s life and the Plantagenet dynasty.

“On August 20, 1485, Richard came to stay at the Blue Boar – probably then known as the White Boar – because, it seems, Leicester Castle was by then in a state of decline and was considered unfit and unprepared for the monarch. So, Richard went to what was then the town’s best inn. It was situated in Highcross Street, then Leicester’s main thoroughfare.

“Although the inn has been immortalised by great Leicester artist John Flower (see above) it is thought that what is seen in his drawing was just one wing of what would have been, in Richard III’s time, a much larger building. The king is thought to have occupied the large room on the first floor of the portion of the inn we see in Flower’s drawing.

“After this historic event, the story is that the bed, which it is said the king brought with him, was from then on known as the King’s Bed and that many years later, a hidden treasure of coins was found in the bedstead. In 1605, the inn’s landlady, Mrs Clarke, was murdered “through connivance of her female servants, in order to obtain possession of the gold”.

“Since the discovery of Richard III’s remains, Leicester has become a place of pilgrimage with visitors from all over the world coming to the Cathedral and the visitors’ centre. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the Blue Boar had been preserved, so that, too, could have been included on the pilgrims’ schedule?

“However, before we begin to blame 20th century planners for the inn’s destruction, we have to go back much further – to the early Victorian period, in fact, as it was 1836 when the Blue Boar was felled, having “passed into the hands of a speculative builder who waved aside all protests and tore the place down”. Sounds familiar, 200 years on. This act was described by Professor Jack Simmons as “a hateful act of vandalism”.

“In its place a terrace of houses was built. In the 1960s, these houses were demolished and a similar sort of box building built, housing the Exquisite Knitwear company.

“This area is once again becoming a focal point of Leicester’s commercial life.

“Today’s replacement for the Blue Boar Inn is a Travelodge – which is rather appropriate, when you think about it.”

The Blue Boar site today

 

 

 

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