Bradgate Park, located about a fifteen minute drive from downtown Leicester and inhabited since at least the Bronze Age, was the home of the Grey family. It comprises an 800 acre deer park, six pheasant woods, and was the home of Lady Jane Grey (the 9 Days Queen) until her coronation in July 1553. Her paternal grandfather began construction of the house; he was the grandson of Elizabeth Woodville by her first husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, where their home still stands, lived in to this day. She went on to become the wife of Edward IV and was the mother of the Princes in the Tower – the two boys murdered, they say, by Richard III in the Tower of London. Lady Jane’s maternal grandmother was Mary, Henry VIII’s younger sister. Bradgate Park was home to a true Tudor Princess. When Mary I had Jane beheaded in February 1554, she took the lands and held them for some ten years until she returned them to the Grey family.
By 1784, when the Folly was built, the family had been the Earls of Stamford for well over 100 years and the park hadn’t housed the family in almost 70 years – it had become a sporting estate. The tower was perfectly located to allow the Earl and his guests to watch horse racing on a track in the flat lands below, and to watch the Hunt as it progressed through Bradgate Park. The story is told that when a local man was killed during a celebratory bonfire at the Folly, the Earl had the stonework altered so that the arch would resemble the handle of a tankard of beer, as the dead man was said to be known in the village for his love of ale.
The pheasant coverts were put in place in the early 19th century. In total there are six walled woods the function of which was to guarantee that there would be plenty of game birds available for hunting. Today, they are enchanting places; scope for tales of Pooh Bear and the 100 Acre Wood.
Bradgate was passed down through the Grey family until 1928 when it was sold to Mr Charles Grennion, a local industrialist. He turned around and gave it to the County of Leicestershire, in trust, to be cared for for the people to enjoy.
On the other side of Old John’s Wood, standing alone on the windswept ridge is the Leicestershire Yeomanry War Memorial. Standing on consecrated ground, it honours the men of the Leicestershire Yeomanry who died in the Boer, First and Second World Wars.
‘ Depth’ comes from the Old English and is linked with ‘length’ and ‘breadth’. One of its meanings is the depth of a subject; another, the depth of a photograph’s detail; still another, the depth of field in a view. My afternoon at Bradgate Park brought all three.
For more perspectives go to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth”.