University of Leicester Archaeological Services

Leicester Regeneration
Medieval Leicester

Medieval St Peter's Church and environs

Plan of phases of the church of St PeterThe site of the former St. Margaret’s Baths on Vaughan Way – earmarked for the new John Lewis store – was excavated in 2004 and 2005, revealing the medieval graveyard and church of St. Peter.  This was one of the four ‘lost’ churches of Leicester, dismantled in 1573 to provide building materials for the nearby Free Grammar School.


Most of the plan of the church was revealed (as shown above). This probably began as a two-celled building (1). The nave was later extended (2) and by the late twelfth century, a western bell tower had been added (3), within which was found a large bell-casting pit. Aisles were added (4), the chancel extended (5), and a small, sunken-floored charnel house built (6).

Photograph of bell-casting pit

The bell-casting pit seen here was a rare find.  The bell was cast within the bell-tower.  The black fragments are the remains of the bell mould. The orange scorched stone plinth for the bell mould runs parallel to the scale, at the back of the pit. This was dated to the late 12th century. Read more about the cemetery and medieval population under Services to Clients (Post-Excavation) or click here.

Plan of medieval buildings to the northeast of the cemetery.

The excavations not only revealed the Church and cemetery of St Peter’s but also these medieval buildings to the northeast of the cemetery. These were contemporary with the church and show something of its setting. The ‘Hall’ originally had stone walls almost 1m thick, which could have supported a second storey. Adjacent to this was an undercroft, a large semi-basement which may also have supported a second storey. Its owners would have been important members of the medieval parish.

Photograph of late medieval, clay-walled building.


Outside the cemetery, this late medieval, clay-walled building was revealed. The ‘kitchen’ area had two hearths at the top and right of the picture and a stone-lined drain and possible sump on the left.

Read more about this site in Projects, or click here

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UPDATED: 11th April 2014
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.