Leicester Cathedral Gardens

Leicester, UK

Cathedral Gardens is an attractive, new public space in front of Leicester Cathedral, providing sweeping lawns, new seating and specifically commissioned public art, all set within an improved pedestrianised Cathedral precinct.

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The designs for Cathedral Gardens pre-date the momentous discovery of the remains of King Richard III in a nearby car park. This discovery generated worldwide media interest and gave rise to the creation of the Richard III Visitor’s Centre. Leicester Council recognised this was an opportunity to optimise and build on this unexpected focus for the city, to create a lasting legacy through investment in a new public realm.

Leicester Diocese and Leicester City Council commissioned Gillespies to deliver a new public realm that would ‘reconnect Leicester’ and a civic space that would become the ‘thriving heart’ of the city.

A framework of high quality streetscapes, restored historic connections and open spaces work together to reconnect and unify the disparate areas of the city. A terraced lawn gently steps down to embrace the Cathedral, forming an extension to the Cathedral and providing a flexible space that is capable of hosting outdoor events for up to 800 people.

The introduction of two new gardens — one sensory and sunny, and the other intimate and shaded — provides places for visitors to convene and repose, and introduces an abundance of planting and biodiverse species to the city centre.

The iconic statue of King Richard III was restored and reinstated in the gardens, alongside specifically commissioned artwork telling the story of Richard III's death.

"I look out on Cathedral Gardens every day from my front door. They have given the city an open green space at its very heart, which is already well used by the public all year around, and also sets off our city’s cathedral perfectly.""

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester

"It was important that we delivered a vibrant public realm that would provide the ideal backdrop for the reinterment of King Richard III, but also worked to reconnect Leicester City Centre."

Steve Wardell, Managing Partner at Gillespies