The old 'High Street'
Wygston's House stands in Applegate but this is a recent name for the street. In medieval times it formed part of the 'High Street' the widest and busiest thoroughfare in Leicester. This part of Leicester declined after the Middle Ages as the commercial centre of the town shifted towards Gallowtree Gate. The modern High Street was known as the Swinesmarket (pig market) in the Middle Ages.
A Merchants Dwelling
Wygston's Houses is the best preserved medieval house in Leicester. It was probably built in the 15th century. One of the windows in the house had the initials RW painted on it and it is thought that Roger Wygston may have lived here. Roger was a leading wool merchant who died in 1507. He was three times elected mayor and also represented Leicester in the Parliaments held in 1472 and 1489. However, the initials RW could also have belonged to another rich merchant, William Rowlat who was twice mayor of Leicester. We can not be sure therefore if Roger Wygston or William Rowlat lived in the house.
Understanding the House
Only part of the medieval merchants houses now survives. It was made from a timber frame filled in with wattle (twigs) and plaster.
- The whole ground floor of the surviving timber port once formed the hall of the house.
- The hall was used for eating meals and entertaining guests.
- The first floor would have been occupied by one or more 'chambers'.
- Medieval chambers served not only as bedrooms but as all purpose places for storage and private activities.
- The front of the house probably had a shop on the ground floor with a chamber above and may even have had a third storey. It was rebuilt in 1796 using brick in the fashionable Georgian style.
- The rear of Wygston's House dates to the 19th century and probably stands on the site of the medieval kitchen.
The front of the half timbered hall has a long range of windows. These ground-floor windows once housed twenty-eight panels of painted glass which were removed in 1824 . Several of these panels are now on display in the Jewry Wall and Newarke Houses museums. Most of them show biblical scenes such as Christ and the Saints. Two panels show the arms of the town of Leicester, the five leafed cinquefoil.
For further details, contact The Guildhall.
c/o The Guildhall
Tel: 0116 253 2569
Tel: 0116 253 2569
For more information
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