Stories and Histories.

Whenever I pass empty buildings I always stop and take a look at their form, their architecture. What stories these buildings can tell us, the years these places have lived through. Of course with the UK economy being what it is, there are many more empty buildings than there perhaps have been in several decades. Some have simply closed because the people using them can no longer afford to, some because local councils have decided, in their infinite wisdom, that to close them is cheaper than maintaining them.

Despite their lack function, and in some cases obvious neglect, there’s no getting away from the tales these places have to tell, if you spend time getting to know them. I’ve always been facinated by these empty, but still beautiful, houses and public buildings that somebody so obviously went to a lot of trouble to design and build.One such house that has always featured in my facinations is just a short walk from my house.

Braunstone Hall.

This place has seen so many things since it was built in the mid 18th century. The family gatherings, parties and everyday lives of the Winstanley’s who owned it. The elbow grease of their servants and the growing and thriving of their children. Even after the last Winstanley gave up possession of the hall in 1926, its stories didn’t end there.

In 1932 it became a school and the halls and stately rooms echoed to sounds of the joy of learning which continued right into the mid 1990’s. Between those times, it saw the troops stationed just a stones throw away, within the grounds of the park in which it sits, during World War 2. Overseeing the nissen huts that were erected to house troops and families alike once the war had finished.

Just a few decades later in 1971, the hall was to be the back drop of one of the most talked about murders in the whole of the South of Leicester. Little Diana Morris was discovered stabbed to death, her tiny body stuffed into a tea chest and abandoned in the small stream that borders the rear of Braunstone Hall’s walled garden. Families who have lived in the area for generations still remember the dramatic way in which, seemingly, the whole of Braunstone descended on the culprits home, seeking revenge. And all the while the magnificent hall looked on.

Fast forward to 1996 and the last pupil to play under the watchful eye of the hall and it’s gardens says a tearful goodbye as the Junior school is closed. Windows are shuttered, the frontdoor boarded over and the netball court left to overgrow. The local council declaring that lack of funding meant that part of our cities history was being laid to waste by vandals and the ravages of time.

Nearly twenty years later the hall has been taken over by a businessman, not for the good of the community, but for commercial purposes. While not ideal, there is at least the relief that we should feel, that now the beauty that has so many stories stored within it will once again be brought to life. Indeed, the new owner has promised not only to refurbish Braunstone Hall to it’s former glory but to also install a permanent exhibition of memorabilia from the Winstanely family. So, for this gentle architectural giant that has overseen our history for so long, there is a happy ending; one where new stories and histories will be created and remembered.

We can only hope that other historical dwellings that are currently without use are saved from neglect as this one has been. These places are our legacy, our link to the past, like a beloved Grandparent who regales us with tales from long ago. They deserve our respect. They deserved to be cherished and brought back to life, bringing their stories with them for future generations to learn, enjoy and live by.

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Tatterhood says:

    I have an interesting personal experience at Braunstone Hall…
    … Mind if I share it and link it to your blog?

    Like

    1. That would awesome xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tatterhood says:

        Hope you don’t mind me piggy-backing your blog?

        Like

      2. Not at all it might get me a few more followers I’ve only got three so far 😞

        Like

      3. Tatterhood says:

        You are tagged and linked…
        … Thanks Sweetie x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Caroline Taylor says:

    Diane Morris was, I was led to believed she was strangled or suffocated not stabbed,and her tiny body stuffed in a tea chest the pond at the rear of St. Peter’s church, not on Braunstone park near the hall. At the time of her finding the fair was on Braunstone park. Local children sadly remember being on the fair when diane was found.
    Diane’s family lived in corfield close (now Edale close) My grandmother lived at number one and her sister lived two doors away.
    When my dad took us on the park on Sunday mornings to watch the local football and the boats on the lake, we would cut through St. Peter’s church to go to the Shakespeare, and always went to Diane’s grave. I still go there.
    Diane’s death effected all of Braunstone close nit community, she will always be remembered for the little girl Braunstone lost.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the correct info, I was mostly going on the stories my family told me about Braunstone when it was still a young community. My Great Grandad had one of the first houses on Cort Crescent and I was really young when he first told me the story. The thing that I remember most is him saying that the man suspected of the crime had to be dressed up to look like some one else just to get him out of the house and past the rest of the community who were baying for his blood. Is that bit of the story true? I looked up the story in the Leicester Mercury archives for some of the details and their story said that poor Diane had been stabbed, my Great Grandad had told me she had been strangled but I thought I’d remembered it wrong. From old maps I’ve seen the pond and the over flow that goes around the park were once connected but thinking back you’re right, it was near St Peters but the hall itself would’ve been in the eye line of the church at that time so technically it did see what went on. I do remember how much sadness my Great Grandad felt about it though, everyone who had moved there had considered it a new start and a new life, I know he did, and the loss of one the community’s children shocked everyone.

      Like

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