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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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A possible film about the “ordinary woman” who found Richard III under a car park…?

alan_partridge_2

Well, I’m not at all sure about this—one seldom dares to be sure about anything where Alan Partridge is concerned. It may be a joke. If you look at the penultimate paragraph of this article, then you see why I’m hesitant. Not sure if it’s actually about Philippa Langley, but one thing you cannot say about her is that she’s ordinary!

Addendum: This film seems definite. You will learn more here.

Appeal for Richard III event photographs….

Coffin about to leave for Leicester

If you have some photographs you took when Richard was taken to Leicester for reinterment, or any other shots taken at that time (and which might help to build a portrait of the king), there is to be display of such work at the present exhibition in the King Richard III Visitor Centre. To read more:

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Appeal-Richard-III-event-photographs-create-new/story-28752088-detail/story.html

Submissions by March 14th!

 

A much overlooked landmark

Those of you who attended part of Richard III’s reburial week, or visited St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Visitors’ Centre subsequently, may have wandered off into the east of the city centre along Cank Street, Silver Street by the old arcades, or even the High Street, past. At the end of High Street, into which the others flow, you may have turned back at the Clock Tower, where Gallowtree Gate, Humberstone Gate, Church Gate and Haymarket also meet, not necessarily having the time or inclination to explore another part of the city, with another shopping centre and a bus station. Humberstone Gate leads south to Granby Street and the railway station, passing the Town Hall Square with the four lions. You may even have checked your watch against the Clock Tower without examining its structure more closely.

The stone Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower itself, a Grade II listed building, dates only from 1868 but was the site of an Assembly Rooms for a century before that. Over a thousand pounds was raised over the course of a year to build it from one of a hundred and five designs. Although it is a comparatively new building, with three out of five approaches now pedestrianised, it has stone statues of four men significant to Leicester’s history, all with an education connection, although one is much better known on a national basisclocktower.

The first of these is Simon de Montfort (1208-65), the 6th Earl of Leicester from a Norman family, who took up arms against his brother-in-law, Henry III, and proclaimed two parliaments before he was defeated and killed at Evesham. The second is William Wyggestone (Wigston, c.1497-1586), a wool merchant who made a large bequest to found a grammar school. The third was his contemporary Sir Thomas White (1492-1567), a cloth merchant who founded St. John’s College, Oxford and helped to try Lady Jane Grey. The fourth was Alderman Gabriel Newton (1683-1762), the benefactor of a charity school at St. Mary de Castro Church.

So, if you find yourself at the Clock Tower with five minutes to spare, you would do well to take a closer look.

Richard III’s ‘Armour’ at the New Leicester Visitor Centre

I haven’t seen this for myself yet – but I’ve seen plenty of photographs and a good deal of huffing and puffing over the replica of Richard III’s suit of armour at the recently-opened Visitor Centre in Leicester.

The bone of contention, (apart from the replica’s authenticity, on which I don’t feel qualified to comment), is that it’s painted white, looks more like a Star Wars storm-trooper than the last Plantagenet king, and is therefore somehow insulting to his memory.

The critics do have a point, up to a point – it’s not particularly attractive. However, as a former museum conservator, I do feel qualified to comment on the likely rationale behind this choice of display technique, because it’s not an uncommon one. From the images I’ve seen, the ‘armour’ looks like a teaching resource: there are numbered labels stuck to it at various points, which I assume tie into a key naming the various pieces and possibly giving information about them. It is painted white to show up well in the dimly-lit display case, to allow the labels to be seen and read easily, and most importantly, to make quite clear that this is a REPLICA – that the Visitor Centre designers have not defaced a real suit of historical armour by sticking adhesive labels all over it. A comparable technique is frequently deployed when original artefacts – ceramic vessels, wall-paintings or whatever – are reassembled by conservators and gap-filled with modern materials painted in a different colour; the intention is not to con the viewer into thinking the item was found complete and in perfect condition, but to differentiate between the historic fabric and the modern reconstruction.

I further assume that the designers chose a white colour-scheme for the replica in an attempt to avoid complaints by visitors who might otherwise believe that it is Richard III’s real armour, and that it has been treated inappropriately; so I bet the poor souls are gobsmacked by the flood of ferocious complaint it has nonetheless provoked.

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