John Woolman was a famous Quaker in the 18th Century. He lived in New Jersey and was a strong abolitionist. In 1772 Woolman sailed to Britain to speak out against slavery. Instead of taking a passenger’s cabin, he showed his egalitarian spirit by lodging with the crew. When he arrived in London, the Quakers were rather taken aback by his shabby clothing, but when he spoke condemning the injustice of slavery, he was accepted.
To spread the word, he set off to travel north to York but declined to travel by stagecoach because he felt it was cruel to drive the horses so hard. Instead, he walked, preaching against slavery en route. Sadly, he picked up smallpox along the way and died just after reaching York. He is commemorated by the establishment of John Woolman House. This is a Quaker residential home for older people, close to New Walk. The doors facing New Walk are painted in bright colours.
The Belmont Hotel is situated on New Walk where it meets De Montfort Square. The building used to be the home of Ernest Gimson, described by the art critic Nikolaus Pevsner as “the greatest of the English architect-designers” (according to Wikipedia). Through the dining room window, you can see a table set for afternoon tea. Hopefully we will be able to eat at restaurants soon.
The next few houses are neighbours, from 104 to
This door is slightly different, a modern attachment to the main house.
Across the bridge over Waterloo Way, the houses change character. I like the wrought iron work on the first floor balconies.
New Walk is a Georgian promenade, set out by Leicester City Corporation in 1785 to connect Welford Place in the city centre with the racecourse (now Victoria Park) to the south. This walkway follows the Roman road, the Via Devana. Originally, it was called “Queen’s Walk” (after Queen Charlotte) but it is know referred to as “New Walk”. For over 50 years, it has been protected as a conservation area.
The fine houses of New Walk are now offices occupied by accountants, lawyers, dentists. My own dentist’s premises are just out of shot in the photograph above. However, 200 years ago, rather than working here, professional people had their homes here.
One of the gatehouses is now the premises of the Leicester Counselling Centre.
Many years ago, a counsellor asked me to take charge of one of my patients as she was expressing suicidal thoughts during a counselling session. I drove to the centre and as I escorted my patient out of the door, I tripped over a grid (not present in the above picture) and fell. My patient said, “That would be a first, ME taking YOU to the Accident and Emergency Department!”
The walkway has several pleasant parks and open squares along its length. The Oval is oval-shaped, popular in the past with children’s nannies. De Montfort Square is larger and has a statue of the Minister, Robert Hall, who supported efforts to improve the working conditions of hosiery workers in Leicester. One of his sermons is entitled, “On the Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes“(1810).
Leicester is in the heart of England. We get snow most years, but usually it is a light dusting that often melts away after 24 hours. This week, 15 centimetres (six inches) of white stuff floated down overnight. In the morning, the sky was clear and blue. The sun lit up the scene magically.
I walked the streets with my camera, trying not to appear like a burglar, casing the joint. I have enough pictures to show you for the next two weeks.
With lock down and tier 3 restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus, I have had little opportunity to photograph doors. But on a shopping trip to the open market in the city I managed to snap a few pictures with my mobile phone.