Leicester, All Saints Church
Leicester, All Saints Church
One of the oldest churches in Leicester, situated near the site of the old North Gate to the city. All Saints dates to the Norman period and retains several interesting Norman features.
The west doorway is a lovely piece of Norman craftsmanship, with traditional carvings such as zig-zag patterns. The interior has quite a few items of interest. Among these is a 13th century circular font, with some very nice carving. In the south aisle is an early medieval tomb niche, and a 14th century sedilla. A more modern feature is a Georgian Mayor's chair.

One of the most fascinating episodes from the history of All Saints relates to a medieval Mayor. In 1417 Margery Kempe (1373-c.1438) was put on trial in the church, accused of being a Lollard (dissenting from traditional church beliefs). Kempe was a mystic, with connections to Julian of Norwich, and author of what has been called the first autobiography in English, The Book of Margery Kempe, dictated around 1430.

The book was unknown for centuries until the manuscript was discovered in 1934, lying hidden in a private library in Lancashire. She was also a mother of 14 and daughter of a former Mayor of King's Lynn. The trial at All Saints was headed by the Mayor of Leicester. Kempe was not really a Lollard, and was able to escape the terminal sentence that usually followed an accusation of heresy against Lollards, and was freed.

One unusual feature of All Saints is that the tower is placed at the north east corner, rather than the traditional west end or centre.

All Saints is no longer used for regular worship and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust.