Opening Times | Directions | Access
Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King
The Guildhall hosts a major exhibition telling the story of King Richard III, his life and times and the search for his lost remains.
Facial reconstruction of King Richard III display:
18th May - 9th June
Find out more about the exhibition...
Leicester is very privileged in having one of the best preserved timber framed halls in the country, dating back six hundred years.
The Guildhall has had many uses and lives. The Great Hall itself was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessman and gentry).
Over the next hundred years the Great Hall was extended and the two wings at either end added.
By the end of the 14th century the corporation of Leicester had begun to meet in the Guildhall. When the Guild was dissolved in 1548 the Corporation bought the buildings for the sum of £25 15s 4d!
In 1632 the Town Library was moved into the East Wing of the Guildhall from St Martin' s Church. It is the third oldest public library in the country. At about the same time the ground floor of the West Wing was refurbished as the Mayor's Parlour.
The Great Hall was often used as a courtroom and a jury Room was created above the Mayor's Parlour. The Guildhall was also used regularly for theatrical performances, banquets and civic events.
With the growth of the town and the expansion of local government functions in the 19th century it became increasingly clear that, as a town hall, the Guildhall was far too small.
After much debate a new Town Hall was built on Horse Fair and opened in 1876. For the next fifty years the Guildhall was used for several purposes including the headquarters of the local police and a school. It became very dilapidated and there were even calls for its demolition as an eyesore!
Fortunately, the council decided to restore the building and following a major renovation programme it was opened to the public as a museum in 1926.
Today, The Guildhall is best known as an excellent performance venue, attracting acts from across the country, and as a museum where visitors can step back in time and come face to face with 'Crankie Gemmie' and 'Emma Smith', two of Leicester's notorious pick-pockets who can be found lurking within the Victorian police cells.
The Guildhall hosts a regular events programme including comedy, music, theatre and seasonal children's events. Visit our events pages to see What's On this month.
The Guildhall is available for private hire and an historic and atmospheric venue for weddings, civil ceremonies, renewing wedding vows and naming ceremonies.
Find out more about The Guild...
Find out more about The Guildhall's architecture...
* Please note special opening hours for the Richard III exhibition.
Daily for the duration of the exhibition: 11.00am – 4.30pm.
During Leicester city school holidays, the opening hours for the Guildhall exhibition will be extended to 10.00am - 5.00pm daily. Extended holiday opening hours apply for the following dates:
Facial reconstruction of King Richard III display: 18th May - 9th June 2013
May half-term: Monday 27th May – Sunday 2nd June
Summer: Monday 15th July – Wednesday 28th August
October half-term: Monday 21st – Friday 27th October
Christmas: Monday 23rd December – Monday 6th January 2014
Closed: Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Outside of these dates, normal opening hours of 11.00am – 4.30pm daily apply.
Free admission (small charge for certain activities on event days)
Telephone: +44 (0) 116 253 2569
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Visiting/directions to the museum:
The Guildhall is located in Leicester City Centre next to Leicester Cathedral. Download a Leicester City Centre map here.
The Guildhall is located in the heart of the city centre, within walking distance of most car parks. The nearest car park is The Lanes.
For more details including local bus information please visit Google Maps
To plan your journey to Leicester please visit Leicester travel pages.
The Guildhall has partial disabled access to the ground floor. Accessible toilet available.
There is no disabled parking at The Guildhall, the nearest car park is The Lanes approx 5 minutes walk.
School Group Bookings:
For more information click here or telephone 0116 225 4910.
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Download a Leicester City Centre map below: