Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke

Last updated

The Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke in Leicester, was a collegiate church founded by Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster, in 1353. [1] The name "Newarke" is a translation of the Latin "novum opus" i.e. "new work" and was used to distinguish the church from the older collegiate church of Leicester Castle, the Church of St Mary de Castro. [2] Duke Henry enlarged his father's hospital foundation in the southern extension to the castle bailey and built the new church to house a holy relic, part of the Crown of Thorns given him by John II of France. The church became a place of pilgrimage. [3] Leland visited it around 1540, shortly before its destruction during the Suppression of the Chantries. He described the church as "not very great...but exceeding fair." [4]


Use as a burial place

The church became an important burial place of notable members of the Lancastrian dynasty. [5] [6] Those buried here included:

Early sources (the Frowyk Chronicle and the Ballad of Bosworth Field ) strongly suggest that the church was where the naked corpse of Richard III of England was displayed after his death at Bosworth Field and prior to his burial in the Greyfriars priory. [8]

Current state

Newarke church arches, within the DMU heritage centre, Leicester Newarke church arches DMU heritage centre, Leicester.JPG
Newarke church arches, within the DMU heritage centre, Leicester

Only two arches survive from the original building, preserved in situ under what is now the Hawthorn Building of De Montfort University, where the public can see them in what is now the university's heritage centre.

See also

[Interactive fullscreen map]
Leicester Castle and The Newarke precinct, showing the Motte and bailey (green), boundary walls of The Newarke (blue), and the southern side of the town wall (red).
The historic sites include:-
Leicester Castle
Castle gateway
Church of St Mary de Castro
Turret gateway
Trinity House - former Trinity Hospital
Newarke Houses Museum
site of Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady of the Newarke, now includes DMU heritage centre
Magazine Gateway
South gates

Related Research Articles

John of Gaunt 14th-century English prince, Duke of Lancaster

John of Gaunt was an English prince, military leader, and statesman. He was the third of the five sons of King Edward III of England who survived to adulthood. Due to his royal origin, advantageous marriages, and some generous land grants, Gaunt was one of the richest men of his era, and was an influential figure during the reigns of both his father, Edward, and his nephew, Richard II. As Duke of Lancaster, he is the founder of the royal House of Lancaster, whose members would ascend to the throne after his death. His birthplace, Ghent, corrupted into English as Gaunt, was the origin for his name. When he became unpopular later in life, a scurrilous rumour circulated, along with lampoons, claiming that he was actually the son of a Ghent butcher. This rumour, which infuriated him, may have been inspired by the fact that Edward III had not been present at his birth.

Katherine Swynford Duchess of Lancaster

Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster, also spelled Katharine or Catherine, was the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a son of King Edward III. She had been the Duke's lover for many years before their marriage. The couple's children, born before the marriage, were later legitimised during the reign of the Duke's nephew, Richard II. When the Duke's son from his first marriage overthrew Richard, becoming Henry IV, he introduced a provision that neither they nor their descendants could ever claim the throne of England; however, the legitimacy for all rights was a parliamentary statute that Henry IV lacked the authority to amend.

Duke of Lancaster Titular owner of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster and head of the County Palatine of Lancaster

The Dukedom of Lancaster is an extinct English peerage. It was created three times during the Middle Ages but finally merged in the Crown when Henry V succeeded to the throne in 1413. Despite the extinction of the dukedom the title has continued to be used to refer to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom in relation to Lancashire and the Duchy of Lancaster, an estate held separately from the Crown Estate for the benefit of the sovereign.

Mary de Bohun 14th-century English noblewoman

Mary de Bohun was the first wife of King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V. Mary was never queen, as she died before her husband came to the throne.

The position of Lord High Steward is the first of the Great Officers of State in England, nominally ranking above the Lord Chancellor and the Prime Minister.

Earl of Leicester

Earl of Leicester is a title that has been created seven times. The first title was granted during the 12th century in the Peerage of England. The current title is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom and was created in 1837.

Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster

Henry, 3rd Earl of Leicester and Lancaster was a grandson of King Henry III (1216–1272) of England and was one of the principals behind the deposition of King Edward II (1307–1327), his first cousin.

Earl of Lancaster

The title of Earl of Lancaster was created in the Peerage of England in 1267. It was succeeded by the title Duke of Lancaster in 1351, which expired in 1361.

Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster 14th-century English duke

Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster was an English statesman, diplomat, soldier, and Christian writer. The owner of Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, Grosmont was a member of the House of Plantagenet, which was ruling over England at that time. He was the wealthiest and most powerful peer of the realm.

Hugh Aston was an English composer of the early Tudor period. While little of his music survives, he is notable for his innovative keyboard and church music writing. He was also politically active, a mayor, Member of Parliament, and Alderman.

Constance of Castile, Duchess of Lancaster Castilian-born English noblewoman

Constance of Castile was a claimant to the Crown of Castile. She was the daughter of King Peter, who was deposed and killed by his half-brother, King Henry II. She married the English prince John of Gaunt, who fought to obtain the throne of Castile in her name, but ultimately failed.

Blanche of Lancaster 14th-century English noblewoman

Blanche of Lancaster was a member of the English royal House of Plantagenet and the daughter of the kingdom's wealthiest and most powerful peer, Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. She was the first wife of John of Gaunt, the mother of King Henry IV, and the grandmother of King Henry V of England.

Leicester Castle Grade I listed archaeological site in Leicester, United Kingdom

Leicester Castle is in the city of the same name in the English county of Leicestershire. The complex is situated in the west of Leicester City Centre, between Saint Nicholas Circle to the north and De Montfort University to the south. A large motte and the Great Hall are the two substantial remains of what was once a large defensive structure. The hall is now encased in a Queen Anne style frontage. The Castle and the Magazine Gateway is a scheduled monument.

Church of St Mary de Castro, Leicester Church

St Mary de Castro is an ancient, Grade I listed church in Leicester, England, located within the former bailey of Leicester Castle. Today it acts as a parish church in the Church of England's diocese of Leicester. "St Mary de Castro" is Latin for "St Mary of the Castle"; a name chosen to differentiate from nearby "St Mary de Pratis": "St. Mary of the Meadows".

Joan of Lancaster Baroness de Mowbray

Joan of Lancaster sometimes called Joan Plantagenet after her dynasty's name, was the third daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Maud Chaworth.

Issue of Edward III of England

King Edward III of England and his wife, Philippa of Hainault, had eight sons and five daughters. The Wars of the Roses were fought between the different factions of Edward III's descendants. The following list outlines the genealogy supporting male heirs ascendant to the throne during the conflict, and the roles of their cousins. However to mobilise arms and wealth, significant major protagonists were Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, Edmund Beaufort, 4th Duke of Somerset and Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland and their families. A less powerful but determining role was played by Humphrey Stafford, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Elizabeth Woodville and their families.

Isabel de Beaumont, Duchess of Lancaster, of the House of Brienne was an English noblewoman, being the youngest daughter and child of Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Buchan and Alice Comyn.

Magazine Gateway

The Magazine Gateway is a Grade I listed building in Leicester. Now a solitary landmark alongside Leicester ringroad, it was originally the main gateway of a walled enclosure built around 1400, giving access to the religious precinct of The Newarke. The vaulted archway was open to traffic until 1905. The gatehouse rooms were variously used as a porter's lodge, guest accommodation, prison, militia building, and regimental museum. It is now a building managed by the Leicester Museum Service, and is generally only open to the public by arrangement.

Newarke Houses Museum Military Museum in Leicester

The Newarke Houses Museum is a public museum in Leicester, England. It incorporates the museum of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment, and has a range of exhibits illustrating post-medieval and contemporary Leicester. The museum is close to the 15th century Magazine Gateway and within the precincts of the medieval 'Newarke', the 'New Work' of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. The museum stands in the middle of the De Montfort University campus.

Sir Walter Blount, was a soldier and supporter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. He later supported John's son and heir Henry Bolingbroke in his bid to become King Henry IV and in later battles against his enemies. At the Battle of Shrewsbury he served as the royal standard-bearer, was mistaken for the king and killed in combat.


  1. "Colleges: College of the Annunciation of St Mary in the Newarke, Leicester | British History Online".
  2. "Colleges: St Mary de Castro | British History Online".
  3. S. N. Skillington; Colin Ellis (1933). Historical Guide to Leicester. Leicester.
  4. Charles Billson, Mediaeval Leicester, (Leicester, 1920)
  5. Kenneth Fowler, The King's Lieutenant: Henry of Grosmont (London, 1969)
  6. Anthony Goodman, John of Gaunt, (London, 1992)
  7. Cocks, Terence Y. (2013). Trinity Hospital: Leicester's Royal Foundation. Leicester: Kairos Press. ISBN   9781871344332.
  8. Annette Carson, John Ashdown-Hill et al, Finding Richard III (Imprimis Imprimatur, 2014)