Cathedral Gardens are an attractive, new public space in front of Leicester Cathedral, with areas of lawn, trees and flowerbeds, new seating and a water feature, and incorporating many of the existing gravestones and the much-loved and beautiful cobbled walkways of St Martins East and West running alongside the Cathedral.
The iconic statue of King Richard III was moved from its original site in Castle Park to a new home in the Gardens opposite the new King Richard III Centre. Also featured within the Gardens is Towards Stillness, a new work of public art commissioned by the county council which sits at the other end of the Gardens, and tells the story of Richard’s time in Leicester from the Battle of Bosworth to the discovery of his grave in 2012.
Cathedral Gardens combines the Cathedral precincts with the grounds of St Martins House, to create a space large enough to host outdoor events with gathering space for up to 800 people for outdoor services, concerts or other public events.
Cathedral Gardens were officially opened on Saturday 5 July 2014 as part of a celebratory weekend, Garden of Life. Over the course of this weekend, hundreds of visitors enjoyed outdoor performances and activities, seminars, spiritual workshops and prayer rooms, culminating in a service of open-air full-immersion baptisms and confirmations.
Alongside work on Cathedral Gardens, improvements have been made to Peacock Lane, now featuring high-quality paving, a level carriageway and new street furniture. A stretch of St Martins – from Greyfriars to New Street – has also been pedestrianised and reconstructed in high quality porphyry stone to create an attractive approach to the new King Richard III Centre.
Cathedral Gardens was delivered in partnership between Leicester Diocese and Leicester City Council, with support from Leicestershire County Council and private donors.
The overall scheme was awarded the sum of up to £1m from the European Regional Development Fund following a successful bid by the City Council. A further £1m contribution came from the City Council’s capital works fund relating to the highways and public realm aspects of the scheme, and the balance of funds were raised by the Cathedral, including a grant from the County Council, from the Kirby Laing Trusts and generous gifts from benefactors David Wilson CBE and the Samworth Family Trust.