The entrance via the south door was very much enhanced when the Vaughan Porch was built by J L Pearson (architect of Truro Cathedral) as a memorial to the four Vaughans who were parish priests here during the nineteenth century. It is a particular tribute to David Vaughan, who was a champion of workers’ education. The porch is a two storey building, the upper part containing the Muniments Room where some of the Cathedral’s records are kept.
Above the doorway of the porch are seven statues of men connected to Leicester. From left to right they are:
Guthlac c.673 – 714
Guthlac lived in the days of the Saxon Kings when Leicester was first made a diocese in 680, with Cuthwine as its first bishop. He gave up a life of violence to become a hermit living in the fens at Crowland. He was noted for his holiness and the advice he gave to many who found their way through the fens to seek his counsel.
Hugh of Lincoln c.1135 – 1200
In Norman times Leicester was within the Diocese of Lincoln. King Henry II persuaded a French monk, Hugh, to found a Carthusian monastery in his kingdom. Hugh was soon made Bishop of Lincoln, much loved for his care for the people. He began the building of Lincoln Cathedral. It is said he tamed a wild swan as a pet.
Robert Grossteste c.1175 – 1253
Lincoln diocese was too big and so was divided into Archdeaconries. Robert Grossteste is the most famous of the mediaeval Archdeacons of Leicester. He was a great scholar and Lincoln College of Education is named after him. He was a firm nationalist and gained popularity by supporting the King who at that time was resisting the financial demands of the Pope.
John Wycliffe c.1329 – 1384
John Wycliffe was an Oxford scholar and is famous for encouraging two of his followers to translate the Bible into English. He held the living of Lutterworth as an absentee until he went to live there in the last two years of his life. Foxe’s famous “Book of Martyrs” (which commemorates the protestant heroes of the Reformation era) begins with John Wycliffe. John Wycliffe wanted renewal of the church but was condemned for his pains. Some time after his death at Lutterworth, his bones were dug up and burnt and the ashes thrown in the stream.
Henry Hastings c.1535 – 1595
A leading Tudor Puritan, Henry Hastings was the 3rd Earl of Huntingdon. The Leicester home of the Earls of Huntingdon was in Lord’s Place off the High Street in Leicester. Mary Queen of Scots stayed there as a prisoner on her journey to Coventry.
William Chillingworth 1602 – 1643
William Chillingworth was an Oxford theologian, a friend of Jeremy Taylor and nephew of Archbishop Laud. He was Master of Wyggeston Hospital and Lecturer of Saint Martin’s. A Royalist, he became a chaplain to the Royalist army in the Civil War. He died as a prisoner of the Roundheads in 1643.
William Connor Magee 1821 – 1891
As Bishop of Peterborough William Magee was deeply concerned about Leicester in the nineteenth century. During his episcopate, he encouraged the building of many of Leicester’s famous Victorian churches and a large number of parochial schools. He appointed the first suffragan Bishop of Leicester, Francis Thicknesse, in 1888. Bishop Magee became Archbishop of York.