Rich history of the campus and surrounding area
De Montfort University’s campus is located in an area of Leicester that is steeped in history.
It was home to Saxon royalty and to Leicester Castle, and is said to be the place where Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales and the ‘Father of English Literature’, was married.
Leicester Castle and Chaucer
Leicester Castle was built on a site associated with Saxon royalty and was a favourite of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III, who spent much of his time there. The castle mound still exists, along with the Norman hall – considered to be one of the finest examples of its type in Northern Europe – which is hidden behind a Georgian frontage on Castle View and is one of Leicester’s hidden treasures.
Chaucer, who was in the employ of John of Gaunt, is said to have married his wife at the ancient church of St Mary De Castro, whose steeple is still a prominent sight in the area today.
Trinity Hospital and St Mary of the Annunciation
The oldest building on campus is Trinity House, the building in which De Montfort University's vice chancellor is based.
Built in 1331 as a hospital, it was part of the College of the Newarke, a religious enclave that included a church called St Mary of the Annunciation, which sat on the site of the current Hawthorn Building.
Although a small building, contemporary accounts describe the church as very beautiful, although it was unfortunately demolished under orders from Edward VI in the 16th century.
A house was built on the spot sometime after its demolition, and when that building was removed at the end of the 19th century, a pair of arches, all that remained of the church, was discovered in the cellar. When Hawthorn was completed, the arches were moved into the building, as close as possible to their original location. They can still be seen on the ground floor of the building to this day.
While the church was destroyed, Trinity House survived only because the city elders took it on as an almshouse for the poor.
Trinity House’s chapel is the oldest surviving part of the building and contains fascinating historic relics, including the tomb of a noblewoman who was originally laid to rest in St Mary of the Annunciation.
De Montfort University's archive contains information about both the university's history and that of the area surrounding it. For more information, or to contribute to the archive, email firstname.lastname@example.org