Recording Leicester’s hidden medieval heritage

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Market Place, Leicester. No. 40 is the tall grey building with No. 38 to the left and No. 42 (Silver Arcade) to the right.

Medieval is probably not a word often conjured up by people if asked to describe Leicester today; Victorian, perhaps Georgian, will be more commonly used but hidden behind the 18th and 19th century shop fronts little known fragments of the medieval town still survive.

In 2012, ULAS carried out an historic building assessment of No. 40 Market Place in Leicester, recording a section of timber framing visible from the adjacent Silver Arcade. This has been discovered to be the rare survival of a part of a side wall of a jettied, two-storey late medieval building, with a second section of timber-framing forming part of a separate but related building.

The two fragments of timber-framing are fragments of two structures originally associated with the neighbouring property, No. 38 Market Place. It is likely that the jettied range is a wing at the back of a building that stood on the Market Street frontage, with the second building forming a 2-bay cross-range constructed against its north-western (rear) end. Construction of the jettied building may be broadly dated to between the later 15th century and the mid-16th century, whilst the second structure is probably slightly later, in the 16th century.

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The jettied building visible from the Silver Arcade.

Preservation like this is not unusual. Properties surrounding the Market Place have always had a high commercial value and have been altered, extended and rebuilt over the centuries to accommodate changing patterns of consumerism. The rapid pace of change is reflected in the successive rebuilding of the frontage range of No. 40 Market Place in the second half of the 18th century, in 1880 and again in 1924.

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Market Place, Leicester in 1812. Drawing by I.C. Cockshaw.

2 thoughts on “Recording Leicester’s hidden medieval heritage

    1. Hi Angela,
      Silver Arcade runs both sides of Cank Street, connecting the Market Place with Silver Street. The Odean Arcade is next door becoming Malcom Arcade the other side of Cank Street. In the photo, Silver Arcade is the white building to the right of the grey building. The Odeon Arcade is out of shot to the left of the photo.

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