St Martins House – more than just a Conference Centre
St Martins House Conference Centre
At the Heart of Leicester's Historic Quarter
More to St Martins House
The Conference Centre and Events facilities may be the main focus of interest for many visitors, but what makes St Martins House so fascinating is the wide range of other activities that go on here.
It is not only next door to, but integrally supports, the life of Leicester Cathedral, providing an office base for Cathedral staff, form the Dean downwards, and also the Song School where the choir practice. Indeed one of the joys of Reception is the occasional procession of a robed choir and clergy to and from the Cathedral for the choral services.
Alongside that, the north end of the building also provides a base for the staff who keep the Diocese of Leicester’s central services going – and the conference rooms also frequently in use for training events and meetings in connection with the life of the church generally.
The Shop in Reception , as you might expect, specialises in Christian resources and is widely used by churches and others for that purpose, but any visitor is wleocme to browse, and pick up cards, jewellery or chocolate (fairly traded, of course) to enhance your visit. You can also buy online – just visit us at www.christianresourcesleicester.com
The Grade II listed building that is now St Martins House was for over 130 years a place where the youth of Leicester were educated. It began its life in 1877 as Wyggeston Hospital Boys School - itself on the site of the much older Wyggeston Hospital (founded in 1513) - which then moved out to the west of the city. During this time it was put to use and adapted by Alderman Newton and Leicester Grammar Schools. In 2008 it was acquired by the Diocese of Leicester so this historic Leicester landmark could be preserved.
In January 2011, after considerable investment and a major refurbishment, St Martins House Conference Centre was launched to service the business community of the East Midlands and beyond, with a unique offer tailored to suit today’s business needs. This offer was created by, and is delivered by, a team of hospitality, conference and event specialists.
St Martins House Conference Centre stands in the heart of the historic quarter of the city of Leicester. Beneath it are the foundations of the fort that was the basis for Roman Leicester, and on top of that lie medieval and more contemporary remains. It sits right next to the Guildhall and St Martin’s Cathedral and within a few minutes’ walk are some of the hidden gems of Leicester’s heritage – from the Jewry Wall to the Magazine, and from St Nicholas Church to the Castle.
St Martins House contains 1,000 sq m of superb fully refurbished office space, in the heart of the historic quarter of Leicester, at a very competitive cost.
All offices come fully equipped with temperature control, data cabling and BT ‘phone lines installed. Every office has its own drinking water point.
A reception and premises management service is included in the service charge, as is the provision and cleaning of toilets. Tenants also have privileged access to the Conferencing and Catering facilities of St Martins House.
St Martins Cathedral Properties Ltd (SMCPL)
SMCPL is the charitable company which owns St Martins House, and whose objectives are to support the work of the Church of England and to relieve need locally. The founder trustees / directors are the Bishop and Dean of Leicester, and the Chair of the diocesan board of finance.
Central to the vision of St Martins House is being of service to the city – especially the more vulnerable amongst our population. This is focussed especially in the David Wilson Foundation Centre – named in recognition of one of our major donors – which has its own independent access and provides a base for a wide range of activities.
All the following voluntary and charitable groups operate from our Donaldson Centre and Booth Hall, serving different sectors of the wider community in partnership with St Martins House.
Leicester Welcome Project
- gives immediate practical support to asylum seekers living in and near Leicester, with gifts of food, clothes and toiletries.
City of Sanctuary (Leicester)
- give social and educational support to asylum seekers and refugees, offering friendship, learning opportunities, English language classes, casework support and much more.
Family Contact Centre
- offers supervised or supported contact between children and a parent or family member they are not living with, for reasons of family breakdown.
Street Pastors (city centre)
- work on the streets of the city centre, mainly during weekend night-times, supporting young people and others in need of counsel, friendship or practical support.
The Zinthiya Trust – "here to listen, not to judge"
- supports women from all sorts of disadvantaged backgrounds, including crime, sex work, long-term unemployment or domestic abuse, with a drop-in service and one-to-one mentoring.
Hospitality on a grand scale
Every year on Maundy Thursday Bishop Tim invites all clergy to a service of rededication in the Catehdral – and in a new tradition, that’s now followed by lunch in St Martins House. This year, again it was a moving service – and afterwards the Bishop spoke with all clergy who had attended, as they gathered in the Reception area.
Bishop Tim speaks with the clergy in St Martins House reception
Together with a colleague, I shared in the service from the vantage point of the musicians’ gallery at the west end of the Cathedral – a perk of slipping in at the back, having seen the processions off, and enabling us to slip back first as well, ready to welcome them all back.
The renewal of ministry was also moving, as first the bishop, then all priests and deacons, and finally all the baptised in the place stood in turn to promise our service to God. Which in the case of St Martins house is definitely that of ‘deacon’ – serving others, so that they can get on with their ministries.
Meanwhile the queues continued outside for the Richard III exhibition in the Guildhall…
lunch in the Grand Hall for some 300 guests
Afterwards, at a very busy lunchtime some 300 people were served, not just the clergy but many others who has been at the service in the Cathedral.
A good preparaiton for the Easter weekend to follow, when the place would again be full, this time of young people, keeping vigil until Easter morning, when the dawn was greeted with a fire and baptisms. But you can read about all of that here.