Historic Gate and Wall Reconstruction

Two important examples of Leicester’s architectural history have received a financial boost from a government fund to support expert repair work.

Published: 21 April 2021

Leicester has been awarded two grants totalling £27,500 from part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund, administered by Historic England.

The city council successfully bid for £20,000 to help restore the Grade II*-listed Quenby Hall Gates, which currently stand in the gardens of Newarke Houses Museum.

In addition, the Leicester Unitarians have been awarded £7,500 from the fund to support repairs to the boundary wall of the city’s historic Great Meeting House.

The highly decorative, wrought iron Quenby Hall Gates date back to the early 18th century and were originally located at Quenby Hall, near Cold Newton and Hungarton, in Leicestershire. They were donated to Leicester Royal Infirmary in 1768, following a redesign of the hall’s gardens, and remained on the hospital grounds until the building of the Victoria Wing in 1901. They were relocated to New Walk Museum in 1902, before being moved to their current home in 1955.

The new funding will pay for the complete restoration and repainting of the historic gates, which will be carried out by expert contractors Calibre Conservation.

Repairs will also be carried out to the historic boundary wall to the Great Meeting House and Unitarian Chapel on Butt Close Lane. The Grade II-listed, 18th century red brick wall will be professionally surveyed, repaired, repointed and any missing brickwork replaced. This work will be part-funded by a grant from the city council’s Historic Buildings Grant scheme.

Both structures are currently in a poor condition and are included in the latest version of the Leicester Heritage at Risk Register. In the last four years, 25 properties have been removed from the local list due to efforts to repair, conserve and find new uses for them.

Deputy city mayor and Leicester City Council heritage champion Cllr Adam Clarke said: “We are delighted that Leicester has received this support from the Culture Recovery Fund. It will make a real difference in our efforts to enhance and protect the city’s historic buildings and artefacts meaning that we can all benefit even more from the valuable contribution they make to Leicester.”

Mike Drucquer, Chairman at Leicester Unitarians, said: “We are delighted to receive these grants for the much-needed restoration of the historic boundary wall.

“It has such an interesting history attached to it. The wall is a patchwork of different materials including stone from the old town walls and even the odd bit of Roman tile. It always makes a great starting point for historic tours.”

Work is due to begin on both sites by late-spring.

Lifeline grants from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund are designed to protect heritage sites and ensure that jobs and access to culture and heritage in local communities are protected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said: “Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of Covid-19.

“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”