Leicestershire Tourist Attractions
There are plenty of tourist attractions to visit in Leicestershire so if your would like ideas for great family days out the why not visit one of the following places?
- Belgrave Hall Museum & Gardens
- Belvoir Castle
- Jewry Wall
- Leicester Racecourse
- National Gas Museum, Leicester
- National Space Centre, Leicester
- New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
- Rockingham Castle
- Rutland Water
Belgrave Hall Museum & Gardens, Leicestershire
Belgrave Hall Museum & Gardens in Leicester provides an oasis of peace and quiet from the busy city. Built in the early 18th century between 1709 and 1713 by Edmond Cradock in what was then a small village three miles from the town of Leicester, Belgrave Hall has since changed hands many times and has been lived in, loved and altered to meet the changing needs of its owners.
Today Belgrave Hall is a thriving museum, one of six museums run by Leicester City Council, and gives visitors a glimpse of the past and show the contrasting lifestyles of an upper middle class family and domestic servants in a Victorian house and gardens. The beautifully laid out natural room settings give the feeling of having just missed the occupants of the house. The dining room is set in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Hall is in the midst of two acres of serene walled gardens that are open to the public. The gardens were an important aspect of the Hall in Victorian times (a status symbol that showed the family’s wealth). Belgrave Hall is also famous for its ghostly goings-on – in 1998 it became world-famous when two luminous figures were recorded on the garden’s security cameras.
Address: Belgrave Hall Museum & Gardens, Church Road, Leicester LE4 5PE
Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
Occupying a commanding position with breathtaking views across the Vale of Belvoir, the present castle is the fourth to have stood on the site since Norman times. Inside, are many notable collections, military treasures in the guardroom to the stunning staterooms with their impressive period art, tapestries, furniture and sculpture.
Most of the weekend events are perfect for all the family such as medieval Jousting Shows, Family Fun weekends, Teddy Bears picnics, Steam Festival and many more. The hotel will be able to provide you with a full calendar of events
Address: Belvoir Castle, Grantham, Leicestershire NG32 1PE
Official Website: www.belvoircastle.com
The Jewry Wall in Leicester is believed to be the remaining wall of the public baths of Roman Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum) along with foundations of the baths, which are laid out in front of the wall. One of Leicester’s most famous landmarks, the Jewry Wall is nearly 2000 years old, and is a rare example of Roman walling. It is thought to be one of the second largest piece of surviving civil Roman building in Britain (the largest being the ‘great work’ at Wroxeter, also part of a municipal baths complex).
The remains of the Roman public baths were excavated in the 1930s by Dame Kathleen Kenyon and date from approximately 160 AD. The baths were more like Turkish Baths, with the citizens of Rome progressing through cold, warm and hot rooms and could visit a sweat room to keep clean and gossip with their friends. There was also an exercise hall which allowed the young and energetic to keep fit.
The Jewry Wall originally separated the exercise hall from the cold room from the rest of the baths. The wall and baths are adjoined by the Jewry Wall Museum, which contains excellent local examples of Roman mosaics and wall plaster.
Jewry Wall Museum
At Jewry Wall Museum you can discover the archaeology of Leicester’s past and find out about the people of Leicester from Prehistoric times to the Medieval period.
The celebration of Leicester’s Roman history continues inside the museum, with stunning collections including detailed mosaics, intricate painted wall plaster and a beautiful Roman cavalry helmet cheekpiece.
Complementing the Roman archaeology collections, there’s fascinating artefacts from other eras. From ancient stone tools to striking Medieval decorated tiles from Leicester Abbey, there’s something to interest the whole family at the Jewry Wall Museum.
Address: Jewry Wall Museum, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester LE1 4LB
Leicester Racecourse, Leicestershire
For a great day out whether you’re a horse racing fanatic or it’s your first visit to a racecourse, Leicester Racecourse in Oadby, Leicestershire offers so much to do for everyone. The course is oval shaped and nearly 2 miles long (1 mile 6 furlongs) and is run right handed. The chase course has ten fences, two of these are open ditches and there is one water jump.
At Leicester Racecourse, both forms of British horse racing event are held: the National Hunt, in which the horses race over fences or over hurdles, and Flat racing, in which the horses run an unobstructed distance. Experience the excitement of having a flutter and backing a horse, enjoy some fine dining in either the Paddock Marquee Restaurant or the Nelson Suite Restaurant, or ejoy the buzz around the bar, Leicester Racecourse has it all.
Address: Leicester Racecourse Co Ltd, Oadby, Leicester LE2 4A
Official Website: www.leicester-racecourse.co.uk
National Gas Museum, Leicester
Opened in 1977 with the purpose of preserving the knowledge and skills of the gas industry during a period of rapid technological and economic change, the National Gas Museum contained many artefacts which were collected during the conversion to natural gas. Previously known as the John Doran Museum after the then Chairman of the East Midlands region of British Gas, The National Gas Museum is described as “the largest, most representative and most significant holding of material related to the gas industry, its application and effects upon society, probably anywhere in the world.”
Following the demerger of British Gas in 1997, Centrica Plc and Transco set up the National Gas Museum Trust to take over the running of the museum to ensure the preservation of the artefacts for future generations and to provide a way of collecting and displaying present and future artefacts. Many of the objects on display have been donated by individuals and organisations keen to preserve the history of one of the UKs most significant industrial sectors.
The museum is housed under the clock tower of an 1878 Victorian building which was originally the gatehouse to the gas works when town gas was first made at Aylestone Road. The National Gas Museum is an ideal venue for clubs, groups, schools and family outings. Children are intrigued by what they see and learn, and a quiz has been devised to specially appeal to the younger visitors. At various places a special card has been placed among the exhibits and a question is posed on the quiz sheet.
There are tour notes which you can take around the museum, audio tapes describe the exhibits or play appropriate sound effects at several points, or the Curator will be happy to accompany you and your group around the museum to tell the story of the development of the gas industry and explain the fascinating exhibits.
Address: The National Gas Museum Trust, PO Box 28, 195 Aylestone Road, Leicester LE2 7Q
Official Website: www.gasmuseum.co.uk
National Space Centre, Leicester
The award winning National Space Centre is an all weather attraction for the whole family and the UK’s largest attraction dedicated to space. Located just two miles from Leicester city centre, the National Space Centre is easily accessible from the M1 and M69 Motorways, making it the perfect destination for a day of breathtaking discovery and interactive fun for all the family.
Voted large visitor attraction of the year in 2009, upon arrival you will soon understand why as you journey through the six hands-on galleries and sit back in awe in the UK’s largest planetarium. Challenge yourself in over 150 interactive experiences including a voyage of discovery in the 360° fulldome experience, and travel through three floors in the glass lifts in the 42m high Rocket Tower.
On site facilities include over 400 parking spaces, a gift shop and restaurant to further enhance your day out – a visit to the National Space Centre in Leicester really is an out-of-this-world experience!
Address: National Space Centre, Exploration Drive, Leicester LE4 5NS
Official Website: www.spacecentre.co.uk
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
The New Walk Museum and Art Gallery is a museum not far from the city centre within the historic New Walk area of Leicester. Leicester’s oldest museum has developed over the last 160 years into one of the premier museums in the region, and has been the inspiration for many people including Lord Attenborough and Sir David Attenborough who pursued their love of art and natural history by regularly visiting the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery.
The wide range of collections across the natural and cultural world include an Egyptian area, Wild Space, World Arts, minerals of Leicestershire and Leicester’s Fine Art collections, as well as the two dinosaur skeletons — a cetiosaur found in Rutland (affectionately named George), and a plesiosaur from Barrow upon Soar. The art gallery displays works by Modern and Old Masters including works by Hogarth and Francis Bacon, whilst the Exhibitions programme features works from the collections and touring exhibitions from National Museums.
Tours of the New Walk Museum are also available for groups, and there are a range of events from curator’s talks to concerts regularly taking place. There is a Gift Shop and Costa Coffee Shop and The City Gallery Shop offering of craft & design gifts, making New Walk Museum & Art Gallery a great family friendly day-out in Leicester.
Address: New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, 53 New Walk, Leicester LE1 7EA
Rockingham Castle, Leicestershire
Rockingham Castle is an 11th century earthwork mote and bailey fortress that was ordered to be built by William the Conqueror. Located in Rockingham on a raise site for 900 years, Rockingham Castle is located in the village centre, 23 miles south-east of Leicester, Rockingham Castle was built in the Norman layout of two baileys with the mote in-between.
A Royal fortress for 450 years, in medieval times Richard the Lion Heart used the castle and King John’s treasure chest can be seen in the Great Hall which he left there. By the end of the 11th century, King William II had founded the stone castle, when adding a shell keep to the large mote and encasing the inner bailey with a curtain wall. The impressive Edwardian two storey twin-tower gatehouse was built in 1270.
Rockingham Castle has examples of architecture from every period of its 950 year history, and surrounding the castle are 18 acres of gardens. Visitors tour the Castle in their own time with guides throughout, on hand to answer questions. The tour starts in what was originally exclusively the “below stairs” are in the Old Kitchen, which has recently been restored to how it would have looked in 1895.
The Great Hall was built in 1086 and retains a strong Tudor atmosphere featuring portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and her most powerful advisors – Lords Burghley, Howard and Dudley. The Long Gallery also house paintings, some of which are the finest paintings and furniture in the Castle. The historic Panel Room demonstrates the evolution of Rockingham Castle from its earliest use as a Royal Fortress to its modern role as a family home and national treasure.
Located at the end of the tour of the house is the castle gift shop which can also be reached by the castle courtyard. With something for everyone, from toys to ties, picnic sets to puzzles, china to jewellery, books to book marks, the shop was highly praised in the 2007 Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme inspection for variety and originality. The tearooms provide a comprehensive menu of refreshments in truly historic surroundings within Walker’s House, an annex of the castle located in the courtyard.
Address: Rockingham Castle, Rockingham, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 8TH
Official Website: www.rockinghamcastle.com
Rutland Water, Leicestershire
Rutland’s most popular tourist attraction, Rutland water was built in the 1970s to supply water to the East Midlands and was originally named ‘Empingham Reservoir’. Nowadays Rutland Water has an international reputation for providing a balance of sport and leisure and wildlife conservation.
The 3,100 acre reservoir has many activities for all ages such as fishing, sailing, windsurfing, rock-climbing, canoeing, walking, cycling, climbing, bird watching, cruises along the reservoir and a visit to the Normanton Church Museum. Hire a dinghy, fishing boat or canoe, or just relax by the water and watch the action around the 25 mile shoreline, there is so much to do at Rutland water.
Address: Whitwell Road, Empingham, Oakham, Leicestershire LE15 8PX