Bradgate Park will be well-known to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire. An almost perfectly preserved medieval landscape of 350 acres, this is where the city comes to walk, picnic, fly kites, kick footballs and exercise rotweilers. I was brought here many times on a Midland Red bus as a child, eating Spam sandwiches on the igneous rocks, snapping away with a box Brownie and once having an unfortunate accident in my trousers because I refused to enter the evil smelling lavatories. At the heart of the park is Bradgate House, a spectacular orange brick ruin that is one of England's earliest fortified manor houses. Started in 1490, it later became the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, nine days Queen of England before being summarily beheaded at the behest of Mary I. They say all the oaks in the park were pollarded out of respect for her, and by the look of the oldest trees this would seem to be the case. Walking up to the ruins, I realised just what a major part of my life they'd been, and I will bring my boys here again very soon, armed with sandwiches wrapped in greaseproof paper and their new digital cameras. But I'll make sure they 'go' before marching out under the oaks.
2 days ago