Travels with Richard Armitage: Let’s start in Leicestershire

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Daniel Lambert (1770-1809), oil on canvas, art...

University of Leicester

University of Leicester (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daniel Lambert, who holds the title of England’s fattest man,
hailed from Leicester. Lambert weighed in at 52 stone.

(Photo of young Armitage courtesy of RANet, map courtesy of http://www.beautifulpicturesofengland.com, all other images Wikipedia)

Leicester Priory Memorial window

Richard III in action at the Battle of Boswort...

Richard III in action at the Battle of Bosworth Field. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently received a post from the Anglotopia website, indicating that their sister site Londontopia was giving away two copies of Christopher Winn’s newest book, I Never Knew That About London. I signed up, of course, as I never turn down the opportunity to obtain a free read that sounds interesting. So I went and investigated more of Mr. Winn’s books at amazon.com.

The lad from Leicestershire with the very wide mouth he would get to put to good use one day as a bellowing Sir Guy.

Turns out he has a whole series of books filled with fun, fascinating and often little-known facts about various parts of the United Kingdom. I am a sucker for trivia about places that intrigue me. I found his I Never Knew That About England for a cheap price through the Amazon Marketplace and bought it.

Last night I enjoyed browsing through it and an idea came to me today as we rode to town earlier this afternoon.
Why not visit the places, via blog posts, from whence RA’s ChaRActers hail and share some of the trivia Mr. Winn has collected about each one?
To kick things off, let’s visit Leicestershire, where our lad himself grew up, shall we?

Leicestershire is called the Heart of England, a perfect place for the TDHBEW who stole our hearts to claim as home.

Genetic fingerprinting was first discovered at Leicester University in 1985 and the Leicestershire Constabulary was the first police department to use genetic fingerprints in the criminal prosecution of Colin Pitchfork. He became the first murderer in the world to be convicted on the basis of genetic fingerprinting.

Did you know Joseph Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man, was born in Leicester, as was England’s Fattest Man? Daniel Lambert, born in 1770,  weighed 52 stone and had a waist circumference of 9 feet 4 inches when he passed away at age 36. I believe that is 728 pounds . . . Mr. Lambert was so fat, he couldn’t sink, and could often be seen floating down the River Soar with some of the local children riding on his stomach. That had to be both an interesting sight and experience!

Familiar with Cook’s Tours? Thomas Cook actually put together the first package tour back in 1841 from Leicester to a temperance meeting in Loughborough.

Richard III, the king whom Richard Armitage dreams of bringing to life on the screen, spent the night before the fateful Battle of Bosworth Field at the Blue Boar Inn in Leicester. As he rode out to battle, his spur got caught on a stone whilst crossing Bow Bridge, and an old woman predicted the king would soon have his lifeless head dashed against the same stones. His body was, in fact, dragged back over the parapet where it hung for two days before burial at Greyfriars Church.

(Oh, Richard–another role where your character comes to a terrible end. But it’s your dream . . . and I want it to come true for you.)

Elsewhere in lovely Leicestershire, a definite Guy of Gisborne-ish connection: Ashby-De-La-Zouche was featured in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe as the place where Richard the Lion-Hearted, disguised as the Black Knight, jousts with Ivanhoe and Robin Hood wins the archery competition.

John Wycliffe, the first man to translate the Bible into English, was the Rector of Lutterworth in the southern part of the county. Joseph Hansom invented the hansom cab at his workshop in Hinckley in 1835. The Luddite Movement was born in Ainsley, near Leicester, in 1811. Little Dalby is the birthplace of Stilton cheese; Market Harborough is the home of the largest battery maker in the world. And the best thing to come out of Leicestershire? Richard Armitage, of course.

Richard Armitage at the 2010 Television BAFTAs.

Richard Armitage at the 2010 Television BAFTAs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia

40 responses »

  1. Our dear boy has to be the bestest thing that ever came out of Leicestershire alright…. along with Stilton! I haven’t actually tried it as yet but I’m sure I will as I love a good strong cheese.

  2. Do you have a map showing where exactly Leicestershire fits into the map of England, please? I haven’t found a good one as yet but I’m sure such a map must exist on the net somewhere

        • No problem. 😀 I thought I should perhaps run that map with each post in the series. If I were further along with my Photoshop Elements class, I would know how to color-code it, etc. Yes, I would said Leicestershire is very much right smack in the center of the country. The lad who captured our hearts is from the heart of England. 😀

          • Angie…have you become an honourary Australian? We often say “No worries” or “No problem” in response to a “Thank you”.

            The only time I ever use the American “You’re welcome” is in response to my 2 darling half-American, half-Australian grandbabies, Bailey and Kaitlyn. Their American Daddy even gets the good old “No worries/no problem”!

  3. Ah…my home county and where I still live! As kids we were taken to a museum in Leicester that exhibit’s Daniel Lambert’s specially made chair. We had to see how many children could sit side by side in it. I think it was 4!

    I hope you don’t mind…thought I’d mention a little more Leicestershire trivia:

    For all you Tudor buffs – Lady Jane Grey (the Nine Days Queen) was born and bred in Bradgate Hall, the ruins of which can be visited today in Bradgate Park just north of the city.

    The remains of a large Roman building still stand in the city centre – known as the Jewry Wall. Apparently it’s the 2nd largest piece of surviving civil Roman building in Britain….it does make an impressive site.

    Leicester is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK. Current estimates show that ethnic groups make up about 40% of the population. The city is held up as a shining example of racial tolerance and each year holds the biggest Divali (Hindu Festival of Light) celebrations outside of India – people travel to the city from all over the world to attend the festivities.

    Finally – Melton Mowbray pork pies…along with Stilton are one of the counties delicacies and were recently awarded Protected Designation of Origin status meaning that you can’t make a pork pie elsewhere and call it a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie! They are delicious 🙂

    There…apologies for the long comment. Anyone wants to know anything else about the county…give me a shout!

    • Thank you, Kathryn…I’d forgotten you were from Leicestershire, too. I must go read some more of your poems- lovely BTW. Best wishes from another Kathryn.

    • No problem at all! I am delighted you shared kathrynruthd. After all, you have first hand knowledge. 😀 I am hoping as we move around England–Yorkshire for John S., Durham for Ricky Deeming, Nottinghamshire for Guy, etc. we will discover more readers out there with inside info on the locales. 😉 My dream is to one day return to England and visit more of it (I’ve been to London, Canterbury and some of the surrounding countryside but there is so much more I want to see).

      • If you’re interested in Bradgate Park…there are pics on my Flickr…links to it can be found in the sidebar on my blog. I’m just sorry I never met RA when I was growing up…we grew up within 8 miles of each other and he’s less than a year older than me! Major opportunity missed I think! Lol! 😉

        • Oh Kathryn, you should have been dating him in high school. 8 miles away! What ifs? What ifs? Can you provide a link to your bog? Is it at wattpad?

          I was in the UK for the first time this past fall, hence the beginning of my RAddiction. I have not been the same since.

          Fedoralady, great idea to revist the places that gave rise to RA characters. I am looking forward to touring England together.

  4. I’ve now spent hours this afternoon looking up so much about Leicester and Leicestershire! I enjoyed listening to these tiny audio clips of the names being pronounced, i.e. Loughborough!! With the guy’s accent it sounds like loofburra and I thought it was luffburra!! Always good to learn something new.

    A little OT but I found this website for Quarry Bank Mill which is one of the wonderful working mill museums that they have in England.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarry_Bank_Mill and also http://www.sonicwonders.org/?p=461

    If you scroll down on the first one you will see that there is a little video of one of the machines working! On the second site there is a longer video with a nice commentary. It’s just like stepping into a scene from N&S!! Now where is that TDHCMO?? 😉 I also found out that an uncle of Elizabeth Gaskell’s was the first doctor ever hired specifically to look after the health of the employees of one of the mills!

    • Loughborough is pronounced LuffBurra…but comes out more as Luffbre. If you’re local and you want to be silly…and trust me, we frequently are…then you might call it Looga-Burooga :)) And I assume all readers know that Leicester is pronounced Lester and never Lie-Cester 😉

      • Yes, I knew that about the “odd” English pronounciations 😉 “Wooster” for Worchester, “Glouster” for Gloucester, etc. Nothing wrong with silliness now and again.

        • Hehe…your writing “Wooster” reminds me of my childhood! I still mostly say “Black sauce”…. because I was determined as a young child not to say “War cess ta sheer sauce” until it was spelled that way!

          I can also remember having a discussion with my mother about “why isn’t “Vicks” spelled “Vix” like “six”?” when I was six!

          My mother’s answer to all my questions about odd English spelling or pronunciation….”It’s just the vagaries of the English language”!!! I have to admit to using that excuse with my own children, too, when the time came.

    • I am glad you had such a good time learning about Leicestershire, Teuchter! 😀 Thanks for the link about Quarry Bank Mill. I also thought for Thornton, even though Milton was fictional, we could visit Manchester, the inspiration for Milton. Cool bit of info about Gaskell’s uncle, too.

      • A visit to Edinburgh (pronounced Edinburra NOT Edinburg for those unfamiliar with Scotland’s capital city!) might also be nice, seeing that a lot of N&S was filmed there!!

        • Good idea. 😀 Of course, I knew it was Edinburra, as I once worked with a lovely lady who hailed from there (the one whose sister once dated a pre-Bond Sean Connery). 😉

          • If all goes well I hope to travel back to Scotland next year for the first time since 1996 with one of my sons and his wife so hopefully we can manage to see a bit of Edinburgh and I’ll try to imagine that I might bump into a certain HCMO!! A girl can dream, can’t she?? 😀 If I do go there I’ll be sure to send you some pictures so that everyone will feel they have been there too!:) I’ll keep you posted!

  5. This is a great idea angie! I look forward to the following places.
    After two trips to England I would dearly love to return, there is so much more to see, but it is such a long way from here, and the long-haul flight is getting harder as we get older!

    • Even just a transAtlantic flight is quite an undertaking. So I can see where you are coming from. And it’s been more than a decade since I took that long flight and I was in much better physical shape back then.

      • Yeah,,,for us, it’s more like 24 hours! It’s 15 years next month since my trip to England and continental Europe but I’d do it if I could see Richard on stage! Bugger the pain and discomfort – It would eventually die down to a slightly more bearable level!

        The things we do for love!!!!!!!! (or would do…in our dreams!)

        • I remember a couple of my students had never flown before that flight to Europe. Talk about jumping in the deep end! Yes, in order to see RA live on stage I would go through all sorts of hellish experiences so I could taste that bit of heaven . . . *sigh*

  6. I have such fond memories of two years of living in Leicester with hubby and three kids. There was so much to discover and love, both in the city and the surrounding area. How was I to know that this place would become even dearer to me through making the acquaintance of, and thrilling to the inumerable talents of Richard Crispin Armitage?!

    Not strange at all, really, considering the many paths along which my Richard mania have taken me, the latest being an exceedingly hot dwarf! Oh,Thorin, the wait is almost unbearable!

    • I had forgotten about you living in Leicester, Millyme. 😀 Glad to help bring back those happy memories. Perhaps one day I shall get to take a Richard Pilgrimage 😉 and visit his old haunts/shooting locales in jolly old England . . . and then visit Budapest, and South Africa and New Zealand . . . The Armitage World Tour! 😀

  7. The Inspector Lynley episode with RA was closest to me some of it was filmed in Suffolk I think he mentions it in some article but not sure which one. Please remember to visit Seil Island not a film site but a place he referred to as stunning in the old Red magazine from ages ago.

    • To Suffolk we shall be going, then. I saw something about Seil Island when thumbing through Winn’s book. 😀 Speaking of Red Magazine, I just threw up a post that features some of those photos. I love a wet Ra. 😉

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