The Normans began the construction of the original St Martin’s church of around 900 years ago. It was rebuilt and enlarged between the 13th and 15th centuries and became the ‘Civic Church’, with strong links with the merchants and guilds (with the Guildhall being located nearby). Just over 100 years ago the Victorian Architect, Raphael Brandon, magnificently restored and, in places, rebuilt the church, including the addition of a 220ft spire. When the Diocese of Leicester was re-established in 1927, the church was hallowed as Leicester Cathedral.
The Bishops of Leicester
In 680AD, the Saxons gave Leicester its first Bishop, Cuthwine. Two hundred years later the last Saxon Bishop fled south from the invading Danes. For over 1000 years following the departure of its last Saxon Bishop, Leicester had no Bishop and the people of Leicestershire were looked after by the Bishops of Lincoln and later by the Bishops of Peterborough. It was not until 1927 that Leicester again had its own Bishop and the Church of St Martin became Leicester Cathedral.
Some Important Dates
|316 – 397||The life of St Martin|
|680||Cuthwine is first Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Leicester.|
|870||The Midlands are invaded by the Danes. Leicester ceases to be a separate diocese.|
|1072||The Normans put Leicester under the jurisdiction of the Lincoln diocese.|
|1086||First recorded mention of St Martin’s Church. The Norman church replaces the Saxon one.|
|13th century||Leicester Abbey is built. For a time, the Abbey appoints the St Martin’s vicars.
Aisles are added to the church.
|1225||First record of the name of the priest of St Martin’s.|
|1343||The Corpus Christi Guild is formed.|
|15th century||The Nave and Chancel are extended.|
|1535||The nearby Greyfriars Monastery is closed.|
|1548||During the Reformation, St Martin’s is stripped bare of statues, vestments, screens and stained glass.|
|1634 and 1642||Visits by King Charles I.|
|1656||Sir John Whatton dies. A memorial to him is put on the north wall.|
|1757||The spire is added to the Norman tower.|
|1837||Leicester is now in the care of the Bishop of Peterborough.|
|1859||David Vaughan is appointed vicar of St Martin’s.|
|1860||Victorian restoration begins. The tower and spire are completely rebuilt, replacing the spire which had been built onto the original Norman tower in the 18th Century and which had subsequently become unsafe. A new West window is constructed and the Nave roof is completely re-built to accomodate it.|
|1888||The Suffragan Bishop of Leicester is appointed by Peterborough.|
|1922||St Martin’s is raised to the status of Collegiate Church.|
|1927||Leicester has its own Bishop again. St Martin’s is hallowed as Leicester Cathedral.|
|1939||The Song School and Vestry are built.|
|1946||King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visit the Cathedral.|
|1980||The Richard III memorial slab is placed in the Chancel floor.|
|1986 – 1987||Interior decoration and rearrangement of the churchyard.|
|1997 – 1998||Festival Year – the 70th anniversary of the Cathedral.|
|2000 – 2001||The Millennium Appeal aims to raise £1.5 million.|
|2002||The Provost becomes Dean under the Cathedrals Measure.|
|2011||St Martins House opens. Cathedral staff move to new offices within the building.|
|2012||Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duchess of Cambridge visit Leicester Cathedral at the launch of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom.
The mortal remains of King Richard III are discovered beneath a nearby Council car park. Plans are begun for his eventual reinterment in Leicester Cathedral.
|2015||The mortal remains of King Richard III are reinterred with dignity and honour in Leicester Cathedral, an event watched by millions around the world.|