Bradgate Park image

Bradgate Park

The heritage and beauty of the Heart of the Midlands brings visitors from the world over

Bradgate Park, heritage, beauty and the Heart of the Midlands

Originally Bradgate Park was first mentioned circa 1241, as a medieval deer park. Laid out as a hunting land either side of the banks of the River Lin, it was rather smaller than the current boundary. Today it covers 850 acres of publicly accessible countryside in Charnwood Forest.


It features one of the most prominent landmarks in Leicestershire, Old John, built in 1784, the folly that stands some 690 feet above sea level on top of the highest hill in Bradgate Park. Bradgate Park is the only remaining Medieval deer park in Leicestershire.


The dramatic rocky outcrops and gnarled old oak trees

The Parks' wild and rugged landscape offers some of the regions most scenic views which dramatically change throughout the seasons. The dramatic rocky outcrops and gnarled old oak trees, perfectly complement the tranquil beauty of the banks of the River Lin. The Lin is Leicestershire's shortest river, and it runs through the Lower Park before it joins the River Soar in Quorn. Bradgate Park is a popular visitor destination, whether you sit and picnic, watch the deer or take on one of the many walks. The River Lin is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is rich in wildlife. The Victorians created the shallow waterfalls to clear the silt from the water, as the river feeds Cropston Reservoir.


The History of Bradgate Park

Bradgate Park has been part of the Manor of Groby since medieval times. The name Bradgate is thought to derive from Norse or Anglo-Saxon, meaning "broad road" or "broad gate". It was awarded to Hugh de Grandmesnil in the eleventh century as reward for his assistance in battle to William I. It was subsequently acquired by the Beaumont family, passing to the de Quincy family and on to William de Ferrers of Groby. It remained in the de Ferrers family until 1445, when it passed to the Grey family after William's only surviving daughter married Edward Grey. Bradgate House, was built in around 1520 by Thomas Grey. Edward Grey's son Sir John Grey of Groby married Elizabeth Woodville, who after John's death married King Edward IV. Their son Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset prepared for building Bradgate House in the late fifteenth century but died before he was able to begin. It was his son Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset who actually built Bradgate House within the Park.


Bradgate Park was home to the nine day Queen of England

Lady Jane Grey was born in Bradgate House, October 1537, she grew up at the park, which was owned by her family, before moving to London when she was 10. The remains of the 16th-century ruin in Bradgate Park can still be seen to this day. Lady Jane's great-grandfather was Henry VII; Henry VIII (known for starting the Protestant Reformation and marrying six wives) was her great uncle. Before his death, Henry VIII named Jane as an heiress to the English throne, but said she could become queen only if his three children — Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth — died first without issue. Edward ruled after his father's death, for just six years until he died at age 15. His advisor, John Dudley, recoiled at the thought of the Roman Catholic Mary taking the throne, and he persuaded Edward to instead leave the throne to Jane, a pious Protestant.

Jane married Dudley's son and was crowned queen on July 10, 1553. But her reign was short; on July 19, it ended with her imprisonment in the Tower of London (essentially because Mary wanted the throne). Lady Jane Grey was executed on Feb. 12, 1554, at the age of 16.

In 1928 Bradgate Park was bought by Charles Bennion and given, as a plaque in the park describes, 'to be preserved in its natural state for the quiet enjoyment of the people of Leicestershire'.

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