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Leicester as you've never seen it before!

Strap yourself in, we’re going for a ride – through Leicester as you’ve never seen it before.

An extraordinary 3D film whisks viewers on a time-travelling tour through three ages of the city, giving a bird’s eye view of the Newarke area as it was in the Roman, medieval and Edwardian eras.



The animation – titled The Newarke Through the Ages - swoops through the painstakingly-recreated streets which once stood on the site of the modern-day campus of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

It’s the result of a year’s work by the Digital Building Heritage Group at DMU and was made with industry-standard software used by video game artists.

“This is not so much a celebration but a film which raises awareness of the grand antiquity of the DMU campus,” said architecture lecturer Dr Douglas Cawthorne, Reader in Digital Heritage at DMU, who led the project.

“It’s a historic site with links to the hospital and college from the 14th century which was founded by the House of Lancaster and had a very high status.

“We very pleased with the film, and there’s been a great deal of interest in it.”

The film opens in the skies over Roman Leicester in 210, when the Newarke was a patch of farmland beyond the defensive walls of Ratae Corieltauvorum, which was also home to brick- and tile-makers and a cemetery.

The action switches to the medieval era, and ‘the liberty of the Newarke’ in the era of Richard III, showing a familiar layout of St Mary de Castro church, the Great Hall and motte of Leicester Castle and the Chantry, before lunging into the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where the body of the dead king was triumphantly put on show after the Battle of Bosworth.

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Finally, the film reaches 1905, and an industrial landscape of tight;ly-packed streets of two-ups two-downs with smoke belching from the factory chimneys, as the camera zooms past the site of the forerunner of DMU, the Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School, based in what is now the Hawthorn Building.

The Digital Building Heritage Group studied historical documents and consulted leading academics before embarking on their virtual reconstruction of the Newarke area in 210AD, 1485 and 1908.

“What you see is based on expert opinion from a number of architects, archaeologists and historians,” said Dr Cawthorne. “We feel this is the best and most accurate picture of this area we can have at this point in time.”

The film, which has been screening to visitors in the DMU Heritage Centre, brings the rich history of the campus site vividly to life – and shows how buildings tell a story of the people who owned them.  

“The chantry chapel was where the dukes of Lancaster and their wives and associates were buried,” says. Dr Cawthorne. “It’s also where the body of Richard III was put on display after the Battle of Bosworth.

“Richard III was their enemy, on show in this great, beautiful building at the heart of the Lancastrian system, and then he was taken to the impoverished Greyfriars for a quiet, insignificant burial.

“By studying buildings, you can understand the motives of the historical figures associated with them.”

The Digital Building Heritage Group has previously created a 3D fly-through of the Greyfriars area of Leicester - where the remains of Richard III were discovered - as it was at the time of the Battle of Bosworth.

And the group used 3D technology to recreate Bradgate House, the 16th century Leicestershire home of England’s tragic nine-day queen, Lady Jane Grey.

Posted on: Monday 24 July 2017

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