172km (107 miles) NW of London; 69km (43 miles) NE of Birmingham; 39km (24 miles) NE of Coventry; 42km (26 miles) S of Nottingham

Hang on to your hats because this county town is definitely no Sleepy Hollow. Leicester, pronounced Les-ter, one of the 10 largest cities in England, is by far the most cosmopolitan city in the East Midlands. Because of the scarcity of hotels in the area, many visitors stop in Leicester for the night on visits to Sulgrave Manor and Althorp.

Historically, Leicester was known as Ratae Coritanorum in Roman days. It was also the capital of Lear's kingdom and the seat of the East Mercian bishops back in the 8th century. Some of that past is still preserved today in Leicester's sightseeing attractions if you have 3 or 4 hours to explore the city itself and not just its environs, including Ashby Castle, Belvoir Castle, Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre and Country Park, and Melbourne Hall -- all previewed below. With Di's Althorp and George's Sulgrave Manor added on, you could spent 2 very busy days exploring the attractions of this shire, many of them A-list.