The system on which this volume has been compiled and edited is the same as that
described in the editorial note to the second volume of the Victoria History of Leicestershire. The same group of Leicestershire patrons, under the distinguished chairmanship
of Sir Robert Martin, have continued their generous grants for the support of a local
editor, and the University of London has watched over the whole enterprise and published the results.
This is the first volume in the Victoria History series to be devoted exclusively to the
history of a provincial town. Like its two predecessors, the second and third volumes
of the Victoria History of Leicestershire, it was planned by Dr. W. G. Hoskins, while
still Reader in English Local History at the University College, Leicester, now the
University of Leicester. Dr. Hoskins also commissioned many of the articles that form
the volume, but, owing to his departure for Oxford, he was unable to edit them.
Designed to cover the history of Leicester since the Conquest, this volume falls into
three main parts. The first part covers the political, social, economic and administrative
history of the town as a whole. For this purpose the history of Leicester has been
divided into four periods, and for each period there are two parallel chapters. In addition
there are chapters on education and, for the period since 1835, on three of Leicester's
industries. There is no separate article, however, on engineering: it was deemed impossible to divide engineering in the city from engineering in the county, and the whole
history of engineering in Leicester and in Leicestershire has been treated in a single
chapter in Volume III. The second part of the present volume covers the topography
of the area which constituted the borough until 1891. In this part it was found inconvenient, and in some respects impracticable, to deal with all the various subjects within
the topographical framework familiar to readers of parish histories in this series. There
are, therefore, in addition to chapters on the several parishes and liberties, separate
chapters on mills, lost churches, Roman Catholic and Protestant nonconformity, the
borough charities, and almshouses and hospitals. The third part of the volume covers
the topography of the areas added to Leicester at various dates since 1891. It may be
specially mentioned that the history of the population and physical growth of the city,
which is the work of Mr. C. T. Smith, has been woven into the chapters on social and
administrative history since 1660, and not reserved, as in rural Leicestershire, for
For general help in the preparation of the volume, and especially for advice upon
architectural descriptions, thanks are due to Professor Jack Simmons. Thanks are also
due to Mr. C. D. B. Ellis for his advice, particularly on the history of charities. The
services of Dr. L. A. Parker, the Leicestershire County Archivist, and Mr. G. A.
Chinnery, the Leicester City Archivist, are recalled with like appreciation. Information
provided by Mr. A. Wright, of Leicester City Library, and by Mr. J. Hill, of Leicester,
about the history of the City in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is gratefully
acknowledged, as is also the permission given by parochial incumbents, clerks of
charities, and others to consult records in their possession.
The articles in this volume were in preparation up to the summer of 1956, and do
not take account of changes which have taken place since then, notably the transformation of University College, Leicester, into the University of Leicester.