The weekend before last I visited Bradgate Park in Leicestershire. Whether or not Lady Jane Grey was born there, it was her childhood home.
‘Go Leicestershire’ website states that it is ‘Leicestershire’s largest and most popular country park. It comprises of 840 acres of land with grass, heath, bracken, rocky outcrops, small woods, herds of deer and the River Lin.’
John Leland visited Bradgate in the 1530s and wrote:
‘At Bradgate is a fair park and a lodge lately built there by the Lord Thomas Grey, marquess of Dorset, father of Henry that is now marquess…The park of Bradgate is a six miles compance’ (p27, Stevenson & Squires). Stevenson and Squires note that the length of the perimeter ‘is now nearer four miles.'(p 22)
A map of the park is available at the National Forest website.
There are three car parks at Bradgate (the one at Newton Linford seems to be the nearest to the ruins of the house). We didn’t know that and parked at Hunt’s Hill. This meant that we entered the park behind Old John’s Tower.
The tower (built in 1784) is the highest point in the park and the view from the hill is amazing. With no aeroplanes or vapour trails (it was the first weekend that flights were grounded), it was easy to imagine the park as it had been in Lady Jane’s time.
We then walked to the War Memorial (on the right hand side of Photo 1) that commemorates those who died in the Boer and two World Wars. From here you get your first (distant) view of the ruins of the house.
It is luckily all downhill to the house (although the walk back up was quite tiring!)
Following the path across the park to the ruins, all I could think about was walking in the foot steps of Lady Jane.
Selected Chronology of Bradgate House
‘1490s – Thomas Grey, 1st marquess of Dorset makes a start with a new mansion in his expanded deer park at Bradgate.
1501 – Thomas dies with Bradgate only just begun.
His son Thomas, the 2nd marquewss begins serious work on Bradgate House.
1520’s – Thomas completes the mansion.
1540s – Lady Jane and her sisters grow up at Bradgate.
1554 – Bradgate is confiscated following the failed attempt of Henry Grey to put Jane on the
1560s – Bradgate is re-granted to the Greys by the crown but under severe conditions.
1603 – Bradgate House is re-occupied.
Mid to late 1700s – Bradgate House falls into increasing disrepair finally becoming derelict.
1928 – Cecily Grey sells Bradgate to Charles Bennion, who presents it to the City and County
(p 25, Stevenson & Squires)
The ruins of the house are not open on a friday, so we had to pay another visit.
Ruins Opening Times
Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday – 2-5
Sunday – 10-12.30 & 2-5
April – October