It’s all about Leicester today, with an early start so that we can have a prolonged stop in celebration of Richard III at the cathedral. Leicester, I have discovered, has had a remarkable influence on British life, the university upbringing inspiring the Attenborough brothers whilst sports, stage, broadcasting, travel and music have all been influenced by a range of personalities including Gary Lineker, Sue Townsend, Thomas Cook, Gok Wan, Kasabian, Julie Etchingham, Englebert Humperdinck, Phil Oakey, Peter Shilton, David Icke, Alistair Campbell, Showadddywaddy, Emile Heskey, Martin Johnson and many others.
Thomas Cook’s influence lives on in Leicester where his statue is by the Railway station. It was unveiled by great-great-grandson Thomas Cook in the 1990s. Thomas Cook’s first excursion was a railway trip to Loughborough, costing a shilling for 485 tourists. I’ll visit the Thomas Cook panels at Gallowtree Gate.
The city, well known for its textiles industry is also home to Walker’s crips, founded there by Harry Walker in 1948.
Coincidentally the city was also home to Britain’s famously heaviest man, 52 stone gaoler Daniel Lambert, who died in 1809 and hailed Romemary Conley CBE, author of the Hip and Thigh Diet and accorded Freedom of the City in 2001, the same year when the unusual decision was made to confer the honour to the entirety of Leicester City Football Club.
As well as the discovery of Richard III in a car park, the city has royalty connections with history textbook footnote Lady Jane Grey, and whilst claims on King Leir/Lear being a founder of the city is apprently a myth that hasn’t stopped a statue being erected. Car parks continue to be scoured just in case.
Leicester and surrounds make the best picnic food in the world, so we’ll head to Watermead Country Park. The lakes there are named after tragic heroes of biopic literature and film, King Lear and Elephant Man John Merrick.
Leicester Cathedral and Richard III visitor centre
Dress Code: Cook’s Tours, Richard III’s jewelled hat, , Adrian Mole, Humperdinck sass, any national treasure.
Fuel: Melton Mobray Pork Pie, Stilton, Red Lecicester, Walker’s. NB, Stilton isn’t from Stilton and cannot be made there!
Overnight: Aaron Lodge Guest House, Leicester