At an event held on Thursday 27 February it was announced that the Cathedral Gardens project will finally be completed in June, with a celebration opening weekend on Saturday 5 July, held alongside the Diocesan Assembly, Garden of Life.
After many years in the planning the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby laid the first Porphyry paving slabs to mark the arrival at the final stages of the project.
They were joined by (pictured l-r) Peter Burgess (Caseys – lead contractors), Sir David Samworth and David Wilson (major donors), the Very Revd David Monteith (Dean of Leicester) and John Nicholls (Chair of Gardens Group).
What is Cathedral Gardens?
Cathedral Gardens is a £2.5m project which will create 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, currently in Castle Gardens, will be moved to sit opposite the new King Richard III Centre. Towards Stillness is a new work of public art commissioned by the county council which will sit at the other end of the Gardens, which tells the story of Richard’s time in Leicester from the Battle of Bosworth to the discovery of his grave in 2012.
When complete, the Gardens will combine 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 is being delivered in partnership between Leicester Diocese and Leicester City Council, with support from Leicestershire County Council and private donors.
Alongside work on Cathedral Gardens, improvements are also being made to Peacock Lane. This will feature high-quality paving, a level carriageway and new street furniture.
A stretch of St Martins – from Greyfriars to New Street – is being pedestrianised and reconstructed in high quality porphyry stone to create an attractive approach to the new King Richard III Centre.
The overall scheme has been 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 comes from the City Council’s capital works fund relating to the highways and public realm aspects of the scheme, and the balance of funds have been 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.