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Leicestershire home welcomes royals back after 500 years

Leicestershire museum welcomes The Duke of Gloucester

HRH The Duke of Gloucester and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire Rosemary Conley CBE are shown the 1620s House by Richard Knox, Access and Interpretations Manager at Leicestershire County Council

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester visited north Leicestershire last week (Thursday 23 September) and was given a tour of a house which has unusual links to The Royal Family

The 1620s House and Garden at Donington Le Heath, a Leicestershire County Council owned museum, welcomed The Duke of Gloucester as part of his visit to Leicestershire. The medieval building is home to a bed reputed to have been slept in by Richard III, once himself The Duke of Gloucester, while in Leicestershire just before the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

In 1536, after closing Ulverscroft Priory which owned the house at Donington, King Henry VIII sold the house to his Battle of Bosworth companion, Sir John Digby. The Catholic Digby family came to be one of the most infamous owners of the house after Sir Everard Digby was hung drawn and quartered in 1606 for his part in the Gunpowder Plot.

Councillor Christine Radford, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for heritage, leisure and arts, accompanied The Duke of Gloucester. 

It was an honour to welcome his Royal Highness to one of Leicestershire’s fantastic museums, especially one which has links to his family’s history.

The house really takes you back in time, there are so many interesting things to see and learn here. We have just launched an interactive escape game which helps teach visitors about the 17th century superstitions and witch trials that the residents of this house would have been living through during that time – the whole experience, complete with volunteer guides, gives you a real sense of what life was like back then.

The house is believed to be one of the oldest houses in Leicestershire and was restored in the seventies for future generations to enjoy.

The 1620s House and Garden is a rare example of a family home built in the 13th century and modernised in 1618. The Duke of Gloucester also saw the beautiful 17th century style gardens with labelled plants and flowers, an orchard, herb gardens and a maze, which are managed by volunteers, and took lunch at the tearoom.

His Royal Highness then visited Loughborough based charity, Canine Partners, who partners specially trained assistance dogs with people who have physical disabilities.

Previously the charity had used temporary accommodation and volunteer homes for the dogs before support and donations allowed them to open the new site near Osgathorpe which can house 40 dogs at one time.

The Duke of Gloucester is Patron for Canine Partners and officially opened their new facility and unveiled a plaque.

Councillor Virge Richichi, Chairman of North West Leicestershire District Council, helped welcome the Duke. He said: “I’d like to thank His Royal Highness for visiting the 1620s Manor House in Donington le Heath and reminding us of the fascinating heritage we have here in the district.

“The Duke of Gloucester’s visit will give North West Leicestershire an interesting story to tell and help visitors learn more about the history of the local area.

“It was also an honour to share a personal interest with The Duke of Gloucester with a visit to the Canine Partners facility in Osgathorpe – another great attribute to our district – and supporting their efforts to change the lives of individuals with physical disabilities.”

Rosemary Conley, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, said: “It was such a privilege to welcome HRH The Duke of Gloucester to Leicestershire on a visit to the 1620s Manor House in Donington le Heath; enabling him to witness its fascinating history and to experience the beautiful gardens.

“His Royal Highness then went on to visit Canine Partners in Osgathorpe where he unveiled a commemorative plaque and enjoyed watching dogs being trained to help people living with disabilities to live more independent lives.”

To find out more about visiting the 1620s House or to play their interactive escape game for free online visit: www.doningtonleheath.org.uk/

To find out more about Canine Partners or to make a donation to help transform the lives of disabled people, please visit: www.caninepartners.org.uk

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