About half way down one of the city’s oldest streets, Churchgate; You will come across a very oddly named street, Butt Close Lane.
The street is very nondescript, a small traditional public house (The Salmon) is the only feature on this narrow lane.
To the right of the this (looking down from Churchgate) is a carpark and a large clothing store. This car park and store is built on the land that gives the street its unusual name.
History of Butt Close Lane.
It is best described by local historian Thomas Combe who described the area in his book “A Walk Through Leicester”. First published in 1805.
“YOU WOULD PASS THROUGH AN AREA OF ABOUT AN ACRE AND A HALF. THE PROPERTY OF SIR NIGEL GRESLEY, NOW USED AS A WOOD YARD; BUT FORMERLY GIVEN BY QUEEN ELIZABETH I TO THE FREEMAN OF LEICESTER, FOR THE PRACTISE OF PUBLIC SPORT, AND ESPECIALLY ARCHERY; AND EVEN MORE SPECIFIC, THE LONG BOW. WHENCE, FROM THE BUTTS, OR SHOOTING MARKS ERECTED IN IT, IT IS CALLED BUTT-CLOSE.”
From approximately the fourteenth century to the seventeenth century frequent orders were issued from kings, and acts of parliament were passed, enforcing and regulating the use of the long bow.
Men and boys (from the age of 7) were required to turn up at pre arrange times with bows the same height as them.
Those who didn’t were forced to pay penalty fines. This was due to the long bow being an advanced weapon at the time. Some of the most important victories of the english owed it to the long bow.
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“This lavishly produced book brings together an impressive amount of new historical research which seeks to answer this question, providing fresh interpretations of Leicester’s history since 1800. The chapters analyse the events, changes and characteristics that have shaped the city and given it its distinctive identity. The sights, sounds and smells of the city in the twenty-first century are products of cumulative layers of history, layers which are peeled back by a specially assembled team of historians, all of whom have lived and worked in Leicester for many years. The result is an important book which helps us to understand the city’s past, so that we may better understand the present and know how to approach the future. Above all, this fascinating volume demonstrates that Leicester is a quietly confident city built on firm historical foundations of which Leicester citizens of today can feel very proud.”
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