City of Mansions

Many readers will be delighted that Braunstone Hall, having been left near derelict for so many years, has at last gained a new lease of life as a restaurant, hotel and wedding venue.

Originally completed in 1776, designed  and built by Leicester architect William Oldman, the building has now been re-named Winstanley House. This was name of the family that lived there for so many years, before the hall and park were compulsorily purchased by the City Council in 1925.

The hall is only one of the impressive big houses situated in various parts of the city, each of which was at one time a posh private residence.

Belgrave HallWell known to many is Belgrave Hall in the north of the city. This was built in the reign of Queen Anne by a member of the Craddock family. It is, of course today, one of the City's most popular museums. In recent years it has acted as host to a whole variety of cultural activities.

Knighton Hall in the south of the city is an early eighteenth century building, close to the heart of the leafy suburb of Knighton. It serves today as the official residence of the Vice Chancellor of Leicester University. It was also lived in for a time by another of the Craddock family - hence the name of the pub (The Craddock Arms) which stands near the gates to the Hall.

Evington Hall was built by Henry Coleman between 1840 and 1845. After becoming a private residence it went through various incarnations as a convent and a school. Interestingly at the time of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930's it was, for a while, to become a home for Basque refugee children. Some of these children, now in their 80's, re-visited their old home when they returned to Leicester for a nostalgic journey. They found city much changed!

Thus each of these former splendid city residences have each gone on to find widely different uses in later years. Each has gone through periods of doubt and uncertainty about its future but each has now thankfully found a new role.

Roger Blackmore