Leicestershire is a Midland county, famed as a foxhunting shire but also as an industrial one. Leicester, the county town is a historic city with Roman, Viking and Mediæval roots under a substantial modern city undergoing great social transformation.
Leicestershire has a wealth of coal seams, although they are no longer worked. Northern Leicestershire was greatly transformed by coal mining: Coalville, northwest of Leicester, was founded on and sustained by the mines, a centre among other mining centres.
The rest of the county is famed for its scenery, including the hilly Charnwood Forest, rising above 900 feet and the Wolds in the northeast. In this unindustrial part of Leicestershire are many charming villages and rich farmland. Melton Mowbray, at the heart of fox-hunting country in the east of the shire, is the home of the eponymous pork pie. (Stilton cheese is also from Leicestershire, though named for a village in Huntingdonshire.) Even in Melton though one cannot escape industrial history; the coal canal has been filled in but its gates stick up incongruously in the town’s public park.
Watling Street, once the border of the Danelaw, forms the border with Warwickshire to the south-west.
County Town: Leicester
Main Towns: Ashby-de-La-Zouch, Coalville, Hinckley, Leicester, Loughborough, Lutterworth, Market Bosworth, Market Harborough, Melton Mowbray.
Main Rivers: Soar, Wreake.
Highlights: Belvoir Castle; Bosworth battlefield; Burrough Hill iron age fort; Castle Donnington; Charnwood Forest; Stanford Hall.
Highest Point: Bardon Hill, 912 feet.
Area: 800 sq miles
County Flower: Foxglove