Art and Music

Art and music in the time of Richard III

[This article was originally published in Arts in Leicestershire magazine]

As part of our contribution to celebrating the history, culture and heritage of Leicester, this page looks at the art and music of the 15th century, and especially that which was prominent at the time of King Richard III.


Leicester has a rich and varied cultural history. This is due largely to the successive waves of people who settled here over the two thousand years of the area’s time as a place of residence, industry and commerce.

The art and culture of the area changed as people came to live here from mainland Europe – the Romans, the Saxons, the Normans, right up the contemporary migrations of those from the Asian and African continents.

Leicester today is a melting pot of cultural traditions and a rich diversity of people currently contribute to the amazing variety of our city’s music, dance, visual arts and theatre.

Our magazine [Arts in Leicester]  does it best to find and document the arts and culture of the city today but of no less fascination is our heritage and history.

When we started this section, we had only to walk through the city and look up to see several centuries of the built environment.

The life that went on in those buildings is much more difficult to curate but there are clues that can fuel our imagination as to what entertained our ancestors – the music, painting and drama that would be have been going on in these buildings for several centuries.

This article begins that journey, probing back into medieval times to ask about what people were listening to then and what part art played in their lives.

We want to understand what our ancestors ate, listened to and looked at and what clothes they wore, what books they read.

A great deal of that cultural heritage has evaporated into the past but enough clues have survived to give us some kind of sense of what their culture was likely to have been like.

18th August 2013

Project launched to trace musical history

Today saw the launch of this magazine’s project to trace the History of Music in Leicester.

28th July 2013

Music from the time of Richard III

A concert was given at Leicester Guildhall today. The musicians performed songs from the time of Richard III. On stage were singers, lute players and percussionists. It was this that gave us the idea of filling in some of the cultural backgrounds to the life and times of Richard the third.

[The Great Hall was built in about 1390 as a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi (a small but powerful group of businessmen and gentry) The Great Hall was extended over the next hundred years and two wings were added at either end.  By the end of the 14th century, the Corporation of Leicester began to meet in the Guildhall. when the Guild was dissolved in 1548, the Corporation purchased the building for the sum of £25 15s 4d.

The group performed songs in English and French. Two types of lute were being played; these were modern versions of the type of instruments that would have been common at that time. One musician played a recorder and others played a variety of small hand drums.

Musicians performing in Leicester Guidhall 2014

The musicians working with The Orpheus Project (see web site link below) plan to release an album of music – The Last Plantagenet – from the era of King Richard III. Today’s programme included songs from the planned album.

From left to right Maryann is on the recorder, Andy Jenkinson is playing the Lute, then Tabatha Pegg singing lead, Michael on Lute and Alex on drums.

Musicians performing in Leicester Guidhall

On 8th December, a concert was held at Leicester Guildhall, including storytelling, music and carols. The musicians working with The Orpheus Project plan to release an album of music – The Last Plantagenet – from the era of King Richard III. Today’s programme included songs from the planned album.


Leicester Guildhall

See our other website – Arts in Leicester magazine archive project.

Also, on the same website, there is a series of articles about the history of Leicester’s music.