watched the reinterment service at Leicester Cathedral
Benedict Cumberbatch, Actor, Born: July 19 (age 38)
Birgitte, Duchess of Gloucester, wife of the Duke of Gloucester, first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II
Bishop of Leicester, The Right Reverend Tim Stevens
Dame Carol Ann Duffy. The Poet Laureate, a member of the royal household, composes poems for state occasions. Carol Ann Duffy became the first woman in the position’s 341-year history when chosen for the post in 2009
Edward Stanley, 19th Earl of Derby
Jon Snow, Journalist
Peter Snow, television presenter
Professor Gordon Campbell, Fellow in Renaissance Studies and University Public Orator, University of Leicester
John Ashdown-Hill, historian, born 1949
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Michael Ibsen, descendant of Richard III
Philippa Langley, is the secretary of the Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society.
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II
Professor Kevin Schürer, University of Leicester
Robert Lindsay, Actor born December 13, 1949 (age 65)
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, GCVO is the wife of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Wendy Duldig, descendent of Richard III
The live broadcast on Channel four started at 10 am and was presented by Jon Snow.
The body of the dead king was buried in the Choir of the Priory church of the Gray Friars in 1485. This was done in a hurry as the victor, king Henry, was anxious to leave Leicester and be on his way to London as quickly as possible. The king would have had a simple but brief ceremony of rights for the burial of the dead but that would have not been different from anyone else who was being laid to rest. There was no elaborate service for the burial of a king there in Leicester in 1485. Today’s event was a way of rectifying the short-comings of the medieval interment by finally laying his remains to rest with honour and dignity. Because Richard was a catholic, a rosary was placed in his coffin by historian John Ashdown-Hill.
The re-interment service
Many of those who attended the service at the cathedral commented that it was emotionally moving and very beautiful. Several comments were made about the dual involvement of the Anglican and Catholic traditions in the conduct of the service. There was, however, no mention of purgatory in the service, one commentor pointed out. Purgatory was, in medieval times, a central tenet of the Catholic faith and Richard paid for one hundred priests to pray for him, hoping that the time he spent in purgatory would be shortened as a result. As a Christian service, this was a moment to dwell on life and death and of belief in resurrection. As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, as he threw the last handful of earth on to the coffin “Lord raise me up at the last day.”
Today’s guests reflected the complex protocols of status and hierarchy that are used to decide who should be invited to either attend or take part in a church service of this kind. The reinterment of a monarch has not taken place in living memory and the last royal public funeral was that of the Queen Mother in 2002. The funeral of Diana, the Princess of Wales, took place in 1997 but that was not a state funeral. It was a royal ceremonial funeral.
Faith and diversity
Leaders from many of the faiths represented in Leicester’s diverse community were present in the congregation. The service represented a confluence of the mediaeval and the modern. I noticed the new Cathedra – the throne of the Bishop of Leicester. The multi-coloured chair – looking like something that had just been delivered from Ikea – contrasted sharply with the more traditional wooden seats occupied by other members of the clergy.
Richard’s coffin was lowered into a tomb in the choir of the cathedral, to the left of the high alter. The king was placed in the choir of the church of the Grey Friars priory in 1485 during his hasty burial. The choir is one of the holiest and most scared parts of both Anglican and Catholic churches. In the churches and monasteries of mediaeval times, burial in the choir would have been reserved only for those of the high rank and status. Later today, the grave will be sealed with the tombstone made from Swaledale fossil stone, quarried in North Yorkshire. It was chosen not only because it will polish to a fine finish, but also because the fossils within it are long dead creatures immortalised now in stone. It will sit on a plinth of dark Kilkenny marble on which the king’s name is carved. King Richard III’s tomb has been designed by the architects van Heningen and Haward.
Over twenty thousand people came to see the king’s coffin while it lay in repose at the Cathedral. Many of those involved in the discovery of the king’s remains and in the research carried out on them were surprised at the size of the public response. People had journeyed to Leicester from all parts of the globe to be present in the city and to witness this internationally reported event.
Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex (who today represented our current Queen) were the principal royal family guests at the ceremony in Leicester cathedral. Also in the congregation was the Earl of Derby, who also appeared in the Channel 4 programme broadcast live as the service happened. The Queen was presented by her relative the Countess of Wessex but protocol did not allow her to attend in person. The guest list would have been governed by traditions going back a long way in time.
Even though Richard’s death took place 500 years ago, his descendants were present at his reinterment. Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig were descended from Richard’s sister, Anne; their blood line was researched by the team at the University of Leicester in order to match their mitochondrial DNA with that taken from the bones of the king. They will meet, with members of the families directly related to Richard (the Somersets, Ibsens and Wendy Duldig) and many are distant cousins, separated by generations.
Direct descendants of Richard III attended the service. Descendants of others who fought at the battle of Bosworth were also there, including some of those who trace their ancestry back to the key leaders of Richard’s allies and also to those from the Lancastrian camp. Those who can trace their ancestry back to Richard and people alive in his time included TV presenters Jon Snow and Peter Snow and actor Dominic Cumberbatch. It was pointed out, during the TV broadcast that the Plantaganets married English people rather than continental royals. For this reason, many people alive today can trace their ancestors back to his period of the middle ages.
The crown placed on the coffin of the king was commissioned by John Ashdown-Hill. It was a replica of the crown that Richard wore at the Battle of Bosworth, which was, after his death, placed on the head of the victor Henry Tudor as he was proclaimed king, at Bosworth Field.
According to the Royal Shakespeare Company, we owe it to Shakespeare for writing the play about Richard III. Had he not done this, the king might have been forgotten and might not be here today. Historians argued over the pros and cons of the Tudor representation of Richard and the extent to which the recent discoveries had changed the history books.
The reinterment of monarchs was common in mediaeval times. Today’s service was based on a document, found in the British Library, of a service carried out at the time of Richard III.
The Earl of Derby was interviewed by Jon Snow.
Actor Dominic Cumberbatch (38) read a poem written by poet laureate Carol Anne Duffy, as part of the service. Three actors, who had taken on the role of the king in plays, were present including Robert Lindsay. Asked if he would play Richard again, Lindsay replied that he was now old to do it (he is 65 and Richard was 33 when he was killed.) The Actor will be playing Richard lll in the BBC series The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses.
The coffin in which the king was interred was made by his descendant Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born cabinet maker now living in London. Researchers at the University of Leicester traced his ancestry back to the sister of Richard III, Anne of York and mitochondrial DNA from Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig was used to confirm that the bones found in the car park were in fact those of the king. Wood used by Ibsen to make the coffin was sourced from the Duchy of Cornwall. Ibsen designed the coffin to be very plain in style because, he thought, had Richard been placed in one in 1485, it would have been a very plain construction.
Michael Ibsen also designed and made the box in which three samples of soil were placed, from three key places of the king’s life – Fotheringhey, where he was born, Middleham, where Richard met his future wife Anne and Bosworth where he was killed. The soils were scattered onto the coffin by the Archbishop of Canterbury, once it had been lowered into the tomb.
The preparation of the service and the way in which it was conducted, represented a collaboration between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. Some commentators went so far as to suggest that the service represented in part a reconciliation of the Churches of England and Rome. Leaders of Leicester’s many faith communities were present at the service.
During the delivery of Richard’s coffin to the Cathedral, the procession was led by two horses mounted by knights in full mediaeval armour. In an earlier channel 4 programme about Richard, Dominic Smee, who also had the spinal condition adolescent-onset scoliosis which was indicated in the king’s skeletal remains. The programme, broadcast in August 2014, showed Smee being fitted with a tailor-made suit of armour. He took part in a series of exercises on horse back, including a cavalry charge. This suggested that the king’s condition would have been well hidden by his armour and that it need not have had any great effect on his ability to fight in battle.
The financial value
The financial value from the discovery and interment of King Richard was estimated to be some £50 million to the city and county between his remains being discovered in 2012 up to the present re-interment at Leicester Cathedral. In 2013, the City of Leicester failed in its big to become the City of Culture 2017, a prize that would have been worth £15 to £18 million. According to the BBC, Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture boosted the regional economy by £800m, attracting millions of new visitors to the city, figures showed.
What was the impact of the service?
Philippa Langley said, towards the end of the channel 4 broadcast, that the service had been emotional. “It represented the end of a journey”, she told Krishnan Guru-Murphie. Asked if the crowds would keep coming back to Leicester, Philippa believed that they would. Both the discovery of the bones and now their reinterment had stimulated public interest in Richard and in the history of the middle ages. John Ashdown-Hill complained, in his interview, that the Eulogy had got the wrong month for Richard’s birth; it was October, not May, he claimed.
Richard the person
One thing that stood out in the service was that we were witnessing the re-burial of a human being, a person, an individual and the prayers were for his soul as a man, as much as for him as a king of England. During Jon Snow’s presentation, from the commentary box overlooking the Cathedral’s south courtyard, the reconstructed head of the dead king was placed on the table in front of the chairs where the interviewees were seated. The whole period, between the discovery of his body and his laying to rest today, has brought him into peoples’ consciousness as a man; we have got to know him, more so than with any other monarch from the middle ages with the possible exception of Henry VIII. TV has played a key role in bringing history to life in the popular imagination, through programmes such as The Tudors and Wolfe Hall. There have been many reconstructions of heads and faces from skulls that have been dug up and a bevy of scientists have emerged, skilled in this kind of procedure. Facial reconstructions have been seen before on programmes such as Time Team.
What has the week been like?
As a resident of Leicester, I have followed the events closely, either being present at some of them myself or watching as they were broadcast on the television news programmes and reported in the press. I decided today to watch the whole of the live broadcast, by Channel 4, of the service at the cathedral (I did not get a ticket in the public ballot) rather than going there to cover the event from outside with the general public. Seeing Leicester become the focus of the world media this week gave me a sense of pride both as a resident of the city and as a journalist. Yesterday and today, the world news was somewhat eclipsed by the tragic crash of the Germanwings plane in the French Alps. All the media was a captivated by the re-interment just as the public were. My week was dominated by attending events and press conferences, writing new stories and articles and by delving deeper into the history of the king and his times. Being someone who has a passion for both history and for news, this was an exciting and commanding week.
I kept hearing references to Richard III being “England’s most controversial King.” This annoyed me; all of the mediaeval monarchs were controversial, for one reason or another. In fact, I cannot think of an English monarch at any time in history around whom controversy has not been waged, right up the present day. At the time of the death and funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, there was controversy about the present Queen and her failure to respond to what was happening in London. If we consider Henry VIII’s activities, whilst king of England, there is surely more there than we could lay at Richard’s feet. It is a question of degree; it is all relative. Channel 4 often referred to the death of the princes in the tower, during the programme today and during previous broadcasts, as though this was the defining issue that sticks to Richard. Admittedly, they also pulled in pro-Richard comments about his good and positive achievements, from commentators who offered a balanced viewpoint. Seeking to highlight the many myths surrounding Richard is as much modern media spin as that pumped out by the Tudor propagandists.
One factor that contributed to the public attendance was the weather. On Sunday, the sun was shining all day and the brilliance of a spring day helped to bring people into the streets in their thousands, all over the city and county. Today, the guests arrived at the Cathedral on an overcast morning, slight rain bringing out umbrellas but towards the conclusion of the event, the sun came out and the sky cleared.
As Richard’s coffin was lowered into his tomb, it felt like the wars of the roses has finally come to an end. Historically the wars ended at the conclusion of the battle of Bosworth, but their echoes have carried on to the present time. In a way what we also buried today was the remains of the conflict between the houses of York and Lancaster. It made me smile to hear Richard referred to as the “people’s Plantagenet.”
Trevor Locke reports on the transfer of the king’s remains from the University to the cathedral.
First edition, 23rd March
Today, the remains of the last Plantagenet king of England were brought to Leicester Cathedral in readiness for their re-burial on Thursday.
Crowds had gathered along the route of the funeral procession, not just in the Leicester but in the other places along the way: Market Bosworth, Dadlington, Sutton Cheney, Newbold Vernon, Desford and Leicester Forest East. Some estimated that the crowds in the city were in excess of 35,000; more than double that number were present in the county along the route taken by the procession.
It was bright afternoon, the sun shining down from a clear blue sky – which encouraged many people to turn out to view this historic moment in the life of the city and county.
At the Clock Tower, a large screen was showing the live broadcast to masses of people who had assembled behind crash barriers that extended up to the top of the High Street and beyond.
In Jubilee Square, another large screen was also broadcasting TV pictures to people who had assembled there.
People choose all kinds of places to get a view of the procession as its passed.
Around St. Nicholas church people had filled every available position, long before the procession was due to arrive.
The procession arrived at St. Nicholas Circle, led by the Mayors of Leicester and The Bishop of Leicester The Right Reverend Tim Stevens.
Various other representatives of the city followed.
In their red regalia, were the Guild of Freemen of the city.
A band of Dhol drummers reflected the multi-cultural nature of today’s event.
A large party of school children was carrying banners and flags that they had made.
The coffin was taken into St. Nicholas church, where a service was conducted.
The coffin was transferred to a horse-drawn gun carriage for the next leg of its journey around the city.
Overhead, helicopters hovered, high in the sky, their rumble troubling the otherwise fairly quiet scene below.
In the ground outside the south entrance to Leicester Cathedral, the media was setting up a large number of camera points. Media from 19 countries were here to cover the event.
Priests dressed in a variety of coloured vestments were getting ready for the service and officials scurried around attending to last-minute details.
An air of restless anticipation pervaded the grounds as people awaited the arrival of the king’s cortege.
As I was writing up my notes, a film crew from Channel 4 arrived in front of me. Philippa Langley, from the Richard III society was interviewed by news presenter Krishnan Guru-Murphie.
Philippa Langley was the driving-force behind the search for the remains of the king which result in the discovery of the bones in a car park in 2012.
Diocesan Press Officer Liz Hudson was busy organising the large corps of media representatives, talking on her radio and doing a great job keep the vast media machine rolling forward smoothly. Much of the work of organising this internationally televised event required minute attention to detail.
The slow-moving procession wound its way through the streets of the city before finally arriving outside the south gate of the Cathedral.
A single bell began to chime from the tower of the Cathedral. The procession arrived in Peacock Lane, two soldiers in full medieval armour leading the procession on horseback; they rode into the grounds and took up position in front of the south porch.
Various dignitaries took up their positions and the University of Leicester handed over the remains of the king to the Anglican Bishop of Leicester. Richard Buckley, the Project Director of the Richard III dig at the University of Leicester, formally handed the legal document transferring the custodianship of the remains to the Bishop of the Leicester and his diocesan colleagues.
The coffin has been brought from St. Nicholas church by a horse-drawn gun carriage. The procession of was led by two horsemen dressed in 14th century armour, representing the pageantry of the occasion.
The gun carriage, pulled by four horses, stopped outside the gate. Along the processional route, many members of the public had thrown white roses on to it, as it passed them by.
The coffin was brought into the grounds and taken into the Cathedral. The plain casket was made from English oak by Michael Ibsen, a cabinet-maker from Canada and one of the descendents of the King, whose mDNA helped to prove the authenticity of the bones.
Inside the Cathedral many people had gathered, representing a wide cross-section of the many faiths of Leicester and its various communities. After almost 523 years the last remains of Richard III were brought to the Church of St. Martin, which was standing at the time he was buried in the chancel of Greyfriars Monastery. After his death at the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485, Richard was given a hasty burial in a small grave, where he remained until 2012 when a team of Archaeologists from Leicester University discovered his bones, underneath a car park in the nearby buildings of the social services department.
The gun carriage was pulled by four horses.
Although he reigned for only two years, Richard III’s time as king of England was marked by unrest and conflict between opposing factions. The Tudor dynasty, whose king – Henry – vilified the deceased monarch. Shakespeare (the favoured playwright of Elizabeth I) was instrumental in creating the myth that surrounded Richard, through his play Richard III.
The coffin of the king will be buried in a specially constructed tomb on Thursday 26th March.
Background to the Richard III Processional Route in the City
Based on information provided by The Diocese of Leicester.
1) Bow Bridge
This bridge, built in 1863, replaces the original Bow Bridge that existed in medieval times.
The Bow Bridge and the Richard III Story
For the people of Leicester, the Bow Bridge has always had great significance to the Richard III story. King Richard crossed the bridge when leaving Leicester on his way to do battle at Bosworth and his corpse was brought back by the same route following his defeat. There was also a story that, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Richard III´s body was dug up by an angry mob and thrown into the River Soar. This story, now disproved, is recalled on the plaque near the bridge erected by Benjamin Broadbent, a local builder, in 1856.
When the old bridge was demolished in 1861, the new bridge was designed by the city as a memorial to Richard III, its ironwork depicting the white rose of York, the Tudor rose, Richard´s White Boar emblem and Richard´s motto “Loyaulte me Lie” (Loyalty Binds Me). English place-names ending in -cester, often indicates that the place is the site of a Roman castra (a military camp or fort, but it can also apply to the site of a pre-historic fort.)
The Legend of the Old Woman and the Prophesy
According to folklore, King Richard´s spur struck part of the bridge as he rode out to Bosworth. An old woman watching his departure then predicted that when he returned to the town, his head would strike the same point on the bridge. It is said the prophesy came true when the king´s corpse was brought back to Leicester slung over a horse. This legend is recalled on plaques on the bridge.
2) Jewry Wall
Following the Roman Conquest of AD 43, Leicester or Ratae Corieltauvorum, as it was known, developed into an important Roman town. Many great public buildings were constructed including the baths in AD150. Today, the only visible reminder of Leicester´s Roman past is the remaining wall (of the baths complex) inaccurately known as ‘Jewry Wall.’ The wall is one of the largest pieces of Roman masonry still standing in Britain.
Roman life and the baths complex
Bathing was an important part of cultural and social life in Roman towns. Bath-houses were places to exercise, relax, eat, socialise and make business transactions as well as getting clean. Access to the baths complex is thought to have been through the arches in Jewry Wall. You can discover more about the baths and Roman Leicester at Jewry Wall Museum.
The discovery of the Roman baths in the 1930s
Until the 1930s people believed Jewry Wall was part of a temple to Janus. It wasn´t until 1936 when a factory was demolished to make way for new swimming baths that the Roman baths complex was discovered. Pioneering archaeologist Dame Kathleen Kenyon led the excavations that were the first large-scale archaeological investigations of Roman Leicester.
3) St Nicholas Church
Leicester´s oldest place of worship
St Nicholas’ church is Leicester´s oldest surviving place of worship. Built originally in Saxon times around the 9th or 10th centuries, it has been remodelled since but the original walls of the nave (main central hall) still remain. Other early features that can still be seen include Norman arches and the tower (added around the 11th century).
The church was built next to the surviving wall of the Roman baths, probably in use until the 4th century AD. Those who built the church clearly made use of Roman building materials as Roman tiles can be seen incorporated into Saxon windows on the north side and into the church´s facade. There are also Roman columns in the churchyard.
The changing fortunes of St Nicholas church
In the later Middle Ages St Nicholas was a poor church. With no money for repairs, parts of the building were demolished after1600 and the spire was removed in 1805. In the 1950s and 60s slum clearance and new road schemes resulted in the parish losing most of its residents. After a brief spell as the Chaplaincy Church for both universities in the city, St Nicholas is now home to a congregation that values its membership of “The Inclusive Church Network”.
4) Jubilee Square
Was named Jubilee Square to mark the Queen’s 2012 visit to Leicester, the first stop on Her Majesty’s tour of Britain.
a. High Cross
The heart of medieval Leicester. Markets were held here on Wednesdays and Fridays. In 1577 the High Cross was built. It provided shelter for traders, consisting of eight pillars in a circle holding up a dome.
The structure gradually fell into disrepair as the town developed and by 1773 most of it was pulled down to allow room for carriages to pass by. Just a single pillar remained and a cross of granite set into the roadway now marks the spot where it once stood
b. Roman Forum and Basilica
Back in the 3rd century AD this area would have been the administrative and bustling commercial heart of Roman Leicester. Beneath your feet lies what remains of the forum and basilica. To the west was the Jewry Wall public bathhouse and temple, to the north a macellum or market hall.
The forum was a large open square surrounded on three sides by colonnades containing shops. What remains of the colonnade can be seen at Jewry Wall Museum. It would have acted as a market place as well as a centre for religious, social and political gatherings. It is likely the forum would have taken over 50 years to build.
On the fourth side of the forum was the basilica, a large aisled building which contained offices and would have served as Roman Leicester’s administrative and judicial centre.
It is thanks to the 21st century renaissance of Leicester and its new commercial and residential developments that we know so much about its ancient past. As old industrial buildings are demolished, archaeologists can move in to uncover evidence that gives us clues to what the city looked like over 2,000 years ago.
c. Wygston’s House
Built around 1490, this medieval house is now the oldest dwelling in the city.
Who was Roger Wygston?
The initials RW appear several times on the painted glass panels belonging to this house, so we believe it was the home of Roger Wigston (1430 -1507), one of Leicester´s leading wool merchants. He was Mayor of Leicester three times as well as a Member of Parliament for the town.
The Story of the House
What you can see from the outside is a medieval timber hall overlooking a small courtyard. The front of the house (on Applegate) was rebuilt in 1796 in a more fashionable brick whilst the rear wing was added later in Victorian times over what was the medieval kitchen.
Why is the house important?
The Wigstons were a rich and important local family. William Wigston, Roger´s father, made the family fortune from the wool trade in the early 15th century. Roger´s nephew, also William, was a great benefactor of the town and founded Wyggeston Hospital in 1513 and later the Wyggeston schools.
5) Medieval Streets
Leicester´s medieval streets
Medieval Leicester lay within the old Roman walls. The town walls followed the lines of what are now Soar Lane, Sanvey Gate, Church Gate, Gallowtree Gate, Horsefair Street and Bath Lane in the West. Four fortress-like gates provided the main entrances into the town known as North Gate, East Gate, South Gate and West Gate.
Today the area around Guildhall Lane, Loseby Lane and St Martins East and West gives a good impression of what medieval Leicester might have looked like with its densely built-up narrow streets.
The medieval High Street (now Highcross Street and Applegate) was the town´s main trading area and was lined with the houses of the wealthy and the more important inns.
What´s in a name?
Sanvey Gate – This is thought to be a corruption of Sancta Via (the Holy Way) and may have been a route for religious processions to St Margaret´s Church.
Loseby Lane – This is named after Henry de Loseby, a local 14th century landowner. The cattle market was held here in the middle ages.
Gallowtree Gate – This derives from the road (“gata”) that leads to the gallows at the top of London Road
Cank Street – It is thought this is named after the public well that lay there
Butt Close Lane – The site of the town´s archery butts (a shooting field, with mounds of earth used for the target.)
Holy Bones – This name could be derived either from the discarded animal bones from the butchers trading close to St Nicholas Church or from the path leading to St Nicholas´churchyard. The 17th century scholar Edmund Gibson claimed the Romans built a temple here, dedicated to the god Janus. “An argument whereof is the great store of bones of beasts (which were sacrificed) that have been digged up,” he wrote. “On this account, that place in town is still called Holy Bones.”
Friar Lane – The lane runs alongside the site of a Franciscan friary, occupied by friars known as the “Grey Friars”. The Franciscan Friars (Orders of Friars Minor, often called the Grey Friars from the colour of their garments) came to England in 1224, around a year before the death of St Francis of Assisi, their founder. Friars differ from monks in that they are not a secluded community but work among the local people, on whose charity they are dependant. The nave of the friary church would have been accessible to the public, while the rest of the buildings were private. Medieval Leicester supported two other friaries, one Dominican and one Augustinian.
6) Highcross Street
a. Free Grammar School
One of the oldest schoolhouses in England
The school was built around 1573 using stone, timber and lead from St Peter´s church that had been demolished following an appeal to Queen Elizabeth I. The Royal coat of arms is displayed over the entrance.
What do we know of the pupils?
Remarkably, details of the school curriculum have survived. Pupils attended lessons six days a week with a half-day on Thursdays. Summer hours were 5am – 5pm with a two-hour break and in winter 7am-5pm. Subjects included English, Latin and Greek grammar and older boys were expected to speak Latin to each other. At its height around 130 boys studied here but by the 1830s attendance had fallen dramatically as rival schools opened in the town. It closed in 1841.
Why is it important to the story of Leicester?
Thomas Wigston founded the school using money from his brother William´s estate. You can see the name “Sir William Wigston” on the benefactors’ plaque on the Highcross Street side of the building. The Wigston family were great Leicester benefactors.
In later years the building was a carpet warehouse and a booking office for Barton Transport of Nottingham. It is now a bar and restaurant
b. The Blue Boar Inn (near to the site of the Travelodge)
On 20th August 1485 King Richard III spent his final night in Leicester at the Blue Boar Inn before riding out towards Bosworth to engage the forces of Henry Tudor in battle. He brought his own bed with him from Nottingham Castle, allegedly because he “slept ill in strange beds.” His bed was supposedly left at the inn, perhaps the intention being the king would return there after the battle. The room he stayed in was described as a “large gloomy chamber” whose beams were decorated with representations of vine-tendrils.
What do we know of the Blue Boar Inn?
Built in the mid-15th century, the Blue Boar was one of Leicester´s principal coaching inns, a place where aristocrats and wealthy merchants would stay when moving around the county. Previously King Richard had stayed at Leicester Castle on his visits to the city but by 1485 the building was falling into disrepair.
Legend has it that the inn was originally called the White Boar, which was Richard´s emblem. After the battle it is alleged that the landlord hastily painted the sign blue, a blue boar being the emblem of the Earl of Oxford, Henry Tudor´s chief supporter.
What remains of the Inn today?
Nothing remains of the Inn today however the University of Leicester have reconstructed a 3D model of what the Inn would have looked like from detailed plans found in a 19th century notebook.
7) High Street
a) The High Cross Coffee House, High Street (1895) now the Highcross pub
The High Cross Coffee House was designed by Leicester architect Edward Burgess, a Quaker. The exteriors of the coffee houses were deliberately ornate to attract customers.
Thomas Cook was a lifelong supporter of the “Temperance Movement” that encouraged people to give up drinking alcohol, believing drunkenness was the cause of many problems. Cook, a devout Christian, was a founder member, in 1877, of the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Ltd. which set up 14 coffee and cocoa houses. Designed to keep people away from public houses, they provided affordable food and “nutritious, comforting and healthful beverages at the easy price of a penny a pint”.
The coffee houses, which were open to both sexes, were airy and comfortable with dining, reading and billiard rooms.
b) Coronation Buildings
Once described as a “jolly piece of commercial vulgarity”, the Coronation Buildings marked both the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and Britain´s continuing strong ties to its Victorian Empire. The Leicester architect and philanthropist Arthur Wakerley, Mayor of Leicester in 1897, designed this Art Nouveau style building. He also designed the Turkey Cafe on Granby Street.
A celebration of the British Empire
Look up and you can see some panels with a Union Jack centre and animals representing parts of the Empire. These are:
Africa – an ostrich, Australia – a kangaroo, Burma – an elephant, Canada – a mountain lion or cougar, Egypt – a camel, India – a tiger.
How were the buildings used?
From their opening in 1904 until the mid 1960s the greater part of the Coronation Buildings was occupied by the main showroom and Midland head office of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. It soon became popularly known as the “Singer Building”.
8) Gallowtree Gate
a) Clock Tower
Meet me at the Clock Tower!
Generations of local people have met at Leicester´s Clock Tower, one of the city´s best known and most iconic landmarks.
The first traffic island in Britain
The Clock Tower was built originally as a solution to traffic congestion on the site of the town´s former hay and straw market. Horse drawn vehicles all converged on the area known as the Haymarket from six streets, causing chaos. It was decided that “The Haymarket Memorial Clock Tower” would be constructed as the first traffic island in the kingdom. The competition to design it was won by local architect Joseph Goddard. A bottle containing coins, newspapers and the names of the town´s Corporation was placed beneath the topmost stone when construction finished in 1868. In 1903 tramlines were laid round the Clock Tower and the system of junctions was the most complicated in Britain.
A memorial to Leicester´s benefactors
The Clock Tower was intended as a memorial to four of Leicester´s benefactors, carved by the stonemason Samuel Barfield.
Simon De Montfort was Earl of Leicester in 1239 and is remembered locally for giving townsfolk grazing rights on common land and for lifting certain taxes.
William Wigston was a wealthy wool merchant. In 1513 he founded Wigston´s Hospital for the poor. Money from his estate was used to found a Free Grammar School (still standing on Highcross Street).
Sir Thomas White established a trust fund in 1542 known as the “Town Hundred” which helped many local young men start up in business.
Alderman Gabriel Newton set up a trust for the education, clothing and apprenticing of boys. The former Alderman Newton School is now the Richard III Visitor Centre.
b) East Gates Coffee House, Church Gate (1885) Now Cruise Clothing
The East Gates, opened by the duchess of Rutland in 1885, was described as “built in the domestic style of the 15th century, and both internally and externally much admired”.
Thomas Cook was a lifelong supporter of the “Temperance Movement” that encouraged people to give up drinking alcohol, believing drunkenness was the cause of many problems. Cook, a devout Christian, was a founder member in 1877 of the Leicester Coffee and Cocoa Company Ltd. which set up 14 coffee and cocoa houses. Designed to keep people away from public houses, they provided affordable food and “nutritious, comforting and healthful beverages at the easy price of a penny a pint”.
The coffee houses, which were open to both sexes, were airy and comfortable with dining, reading and billiard rooms.
c) Thomas Cook Building
Who was Thomas Cook?
Thomas Cook was the pioneer of popular tourism and founder of the international travel company Thomas Cook and Son. He was also a devout Baptist and Temperance (anti-alcohol) campaigner who died in Leicester in 1892. He is buried in Welford Road Cemetery.
How did the travel business start?
In 1841 Cook organised a Temperance excursion from Leicester to Loughborough on the recently opened Midland Counties Railway. More excursions followed and thanks to him in 1851 over 160,000 people went by train to see the Great Exhibition in London. European tours began in the 1850s and in the early 1870s Cook himself conducted the first “round the world” tour. Panels on the exterior of this building show scenes from the history of the business including the Nile expedition of 1884 when Cook steamers assisted in the relief of Khartoum.
What do we know about the building itself?
The building was commissioned by Thomas Cook´s son, John Mason Cook, who took over from his father and was responsible for much of its success. The ground floor housed the excursion, tourist and shipping office alongside the foreign banking and exchange department. It was designed by local architects Goddard, Paget and Goddard and opened in 1894.
9) Leicester Markets
a) The Corn Exchange
A touch of Italy in Leicester
The Corn Exchange, now a distinctive city landmark, was originally built as a place for dealing in grain in 1850. The ground floor was designed by William Flint whilst the upper floor, bridge and clock tower were added by F.W. Ordish five years later. Ordish´s design was criticised at the time but today the Corn Exchange is a source of civic pride. Its distinctive venetian-style bridge or exterior staircase is often referred to as the “Bridge of Sighs”.
A building for trade, civic and judicial functions
Many Victorian towns built corn exchanges in market places for farmers and merchants to trade corn and grain to meet the demand for food created by the expanding urban population. They were often unsuccessful as traders preferred to use local inns and the importation of grain from America reduced usage still further. Leicester´s Corn Exchange continued to be used for civic and judicial functions however.
A stage for Leicester´s great civic events
The Corn Exchange provided a distinctive central point in Leicester. Due to its size, and the fact its external staircase could act as a podium, it was used for a range of important meetings and occasions. Ramsay Macdonald used it for canvassing in the election of 1906 and a service to mark the coronation of George V was held there in 1911. In 1931/2 the hosiery union used the Corn Exchange to broker a solution to the strike by Wolsey hosiery workers.
10) Silver Arcade – Silver Street
An arcade for Victorian shoppers
During the 19th century, shopping arcades became fashionable. Hoping to capitalise on their popularity, J.E. Hodding, a solicitor, commissioned local architect Amos Hall in 1899 to design one for him.
What is special about the Silver Arcade?
Silver Arcade has some unusual features, for example it is one of only two surviving Victorian arcades in Britain with four storeys. Whilst shops lined the ground floor, the arcade is also unusual for its time in providing showrooms and offices, rather than apartments, on the upper floors. According to the original plans, WCs for women were provided at ground level only, as it was “not anticipated females will be employed above the ground floor”. This assumption was soon proved wrong as tenants on the upper floors in 1906 included two tailoresses.
Who were the tenants of the Silver Arcade?
Local trades directories show that over the years units were occupied by haberdashers, drapers, tailors, boot manufacturers, confectioners, newsagents, tea and refreshment rooms, book sellers, singing teachers, hairdressers and rope makers as well as commercial travellers, estate agents, debt collectors and even a trades union.
Its future in doubt, Silver Arcade closed in 2000, but was able to re-open again in 2013 following an award-winning refurbishment that included two new lifts. It is now occupied by a range of independent retailers, specialist craft firms and a restaurant.
11) Granby Street – top end
a) Turkey Café – Granby Street
Turkey – country or bird?
The charming Art Nouveau-style Turkey Cafe was designed by local architect and former mayor Arthur Wakerley. People at this time were fascinated by “orientalism” and the building reflects Wakerley´s interpretation of Turkish architecture. Turkey the country and turkey the bird are both themes woven into his design. The frontage of the building was covered in matt-glazed Carraraware made by the Royal Doulton company.
“A place to give rest to the body and pleasure to the eye”
Once finished, the Turkey Cafe was leased to the restaurateur John Winn, opening in 1901. The family continued to run it until the 1960s. Cafes were popular in Edwardian times as they provided respectable meeting places for women and were promoted by anti-alcohol campaigners as an alternative to pubs
Advertisements from 1911 show that Winn´s had its own bakery and roasted its coffee each day “by the Most Efficient Mechanical Process Invented”. They claimed to serve “the finest coffee the world produces, roasted hourly, ground hourly, and retaining all its delicious aroma”
Changes to the Cafe
In 1911 the cafe was extended to provide a Smoke Room for gentlemen and extra tearooms. A “Ladies´ Orchestra” gave performances twice daily. The cafe regularly hosted social events and the meetings of local clubs and societies. The building has been frequently remodelled, both inside and out, but in the 1980s Rayners (Opticians) restored the exterior using original architect drawings.
12) Cultural Quarter
The emerging Cultural Quarter has transformed the St. Georges area of Leicester from the city’s former textile and shoes hub into a thriving area for creative industries, artists, designers and crafts people.
At the heart of the Cultural Quarter is the ultra-modern Curve Theatre, designed by international architect Rafael Vinoly. Curve has a growing reputation and one of the country’s leading producing theatres, including world premieres alongside shows direct from the West End.
Phoenix cinema, digital arts centre and café bar brings inspirational film and art through its varied events programme, exhibitions and educational activities. Phoenix is part of the Phoenix Square development, home to architects and designers in creative workspace units, creating a unique cultural environment. Phoenix have developed 2 apps to help reveal the hidden history of the Cultural Quarter – find out more about these apps on the Story of Leicester website.
The Leicester Creative Business Depot (LCB Depot) on Rutland Street provides incubator units for new and emerging creative businesses with the Fuel café for visitors.
Makers Yard, Leicester’s newest studio space for professional artists and designer-makers. Located in the oldest surviving hosiery factory in the East Midlands, the factory has been lovingly restored into a charming and purpose-built complex, ideal for practices such as fashion, textiles, ceramics and wood-working.
For art lovers there’s a developing connection of gallery spaces, with independent artist studios and gallery space, Two Queens, showcasing leading contemporary art in a converted factory space. There are also digital art exhibitions on show at Phoenix Square, and exhibition spaces at LCB Depot, including Pedestrian Arts and Fabrika, both independent arts centres in Humberstone Gate.
Curve is a spectacular state-of-the-art theatre based in the heart of the Leicester’s vibrant Cultural Quarter.
Opened in 2008 by Her Majesty The Queen, our award-winning building, designed by acclaimed architect Rafael Viñoly, offers a completely unique visitor experience.
Unlike any other theatre in the UK, we have no traditional backstage area. Audiences can enjoy the full theatre making process, peek behind the scenes and maybe even spot an actor or two dashing from the stage to their dressing room or enjoying a coffee in our Café. Our curved façade is made from 1,192 tonnes of steel and 46000m² of glass.
Managed by Leicester Theatre Trust, Curve is a registered charity providing engaging world- class theatrical experiences for our local communities. We enable people of all ages and backgrounds to access, participate in and learn from the arts, nurturing new and emerging talent, and creating world-class theatrical experiences.
b) Orton Square
John Kingsley Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 and from the age of two, lived on the Saffron Lane council estate. After winning a scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met Kenneth Halliwell, an actor and writer seven years his senior. Halliwell would become Orton’s friend, mentor, lover and, eventually his murderer.
Between 1964-1967, Joe Orton contributed to an exciting working class culture that swept through the nation. A promiscuous and openly gay man at a time when homosexuality was actively persecuted by the police, Orton was the rising star of an ‘alternative British intelligentsia’.
His first stage play, Entertaining Mr Sloane, was a huge success while his second, Loot, won the coveted Evening Standard award for Best Play. However, Orton’s success as a playwright and celebrity put a distance between himself and Kenneth Halliwell that the latter found increasingly difficult to cope with.
In August 1967, Halliwell, by now suffering from severe depression, murdered Orton before killing himself. His suicide note referred to the contents of Orton’s diary as an explanation for his actions.
c) Makers Yard
Part of Leicester´s hosiery story
The buildings at 82-86 Rutland Street, now Makers Yard, are the earliest surviving example of an unpowered hosiery factory in Britain. They were originally built between 1854 and 1863 for J. Brown and Sons, a hosiery manufacturer specialising in gloves.
Home working to factory mass production
The buildings of Makers Yard show how the hosiery trade changed from a home-based to a factory-based industry. The door and two windows to the right of the building were part of the original warehouse built in the mid 1850s This was used for storage and distribution of items made by outworkers in their own homes. Knitters left their homes and came to work in the factory at the rear of the site when it was completed in 1860. The factory has larger windows to let in the light needed for the knitters to see their work. A second warehouse, with carriage access to the left, was added in 1862-3.
By the 1890s J. Brown and Sons had left Rutland Street and the building was shared by smaller firms, mainly related to the leather industry. Hosiery manufacture returned to the building in the 1980s with the last firm, Charnwood Hosiery, making military socks for the Falklands War and sports socks for football clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool.
Makers Yard today
The building was refurbished in 2013 and now provides workspace units for creative entrepreneurs. Many original features have been retained.
For details of the creative businesses operating from Makers Yard and details of public events held here visit http://www.makersyard.com
d) Alexandra House
A bootlace warehouse
This remarkable building, described as “one of the finest warehouses in the country”, was built originally to store bootlaces. It was designed by Leicester architect Edward Burgess in 1897 for Faire Bros. Ltd, one of the largest boot and shoe lace manufacturers and exporters in the world. By the 1920s the building housed 2,000 employees, was illuminated throughout by electric light, had six hydraulic lifts and even a private telephone exchange for 100 telephones.
Faire Bros. & Co. Ltd
Many of the Faire Bros. & Co. bootlace brands, such as “Jumbo” and “Old England” could be purchased throughout the world. The company also made suspenders, braces, garters and belts in ten factories around the country.
During World War II the company supplied products for the war effort including 21,500,000 yards of parachute cords and 9,000,000 boot and shoelaces. In response to the wartime rubber shortage they invented the “Natty Grip” suspender fitting. The company even presented a Spitfire to the RAF Fighter Command, naming it “St George” after the company´s main trademark.
Alexandra House and Faire Bros today
Another invention linked to this building is the treasury tag, still made by Faire Bros today and used in offices around the world. Alexandra House has now been converted into apartments.
e) Pfister & Vogel Warehouse
Leather warehouse and offices
Built in 1923, this striking building was originally constructed as a leather warehouse and offices for the American-based Pfister & Vogel Leather Company. Designed by local architects Fosbrooke and Bedingfield, this four storey, three bay building was designed for the efficient handling of different types of leather and features an unusual mix of architectural styles.
Pfister & Vogel Leather Company
Pfister & Vogel was a worldwide company based in Milwaukee. By the late 19th century Milwaukee was the largest tanning centre in the world and Pfister & Vogel owned the first and largest tannery there. The investment the company made in such a distinctive building demonstrates the level of confidence foreign companies had in Leicester´s footwear industry during the interwar period.
The building today
Pfister & Vogel were sole occupants of the building until the late 1930s after which time they shared it with other leather merchants and textile related companies. In recent times the building has undergone a 1.2m award-winning restoration to convert it into apartments and a bar/restaurant. It was renamed Leather Factors in 2009 in recognition of its origins.
13) Rutland Street
a) The Grand Hotel
b) The Leicestershire Banking Company
Banks played a crucial role in the growth of trade and industry in 19th Century Leicester. The Leicestershire Banking Company (formed 1829), was owned by shareholders, most of whom were businessmen from Leicestershire. By the early 1870s the company had outgrown their existing premises and commissioned the prominent Leicester architect Joseph Goddard to design new ones. Built in the French Gothic Revival style, the new bank features many carved exterior details by local stonemason Samuel Barfield who created the figures on the Clock Tower.
What does the building tell us about banking in the 19th Century?
Local banks like the Leicestershire had limited assets and were vulnerable to the collapse of businesses to which they had loaned money or to large numbers of investors suddenly withdrawing their funds. The elaborate design of the bank, both inside and out, was therefore designed to inspire confidence in depositors, while fire-proof corridors and rooms with safes in the basement ensured the physical safety of valuables.
What happened to the building later?
The turn of the century saw the Leicestershire Bank merge with the London City and Midland Bank. The building became a branch of the Midland Bank and then HSBC. More recently it was acquired by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna Movement, who extend a warm welcome to all visitors on Sundays. For more information about the building visit http://www.friendsofgoddard.org
14) Belvoir Street & Town Hall Square
a) The Town Hall
Guildhall to Town Hall
Leicester was still using the medieval Guildhall as its Town Hall right until the mid-19th century. By the 1870s however it was no longer adequate to support a rapidly growing industrial town. The old cattle market site was chosen for a new Town Hall and a competition held to design it. Leicester born architect Frances J. Hames won the commission with his modern Queen Anne style design. The new Town Hall housed the Council offices and Council Chamber, law courts, Sanitary Department, School Board and 30 lamplighters. The Borough Police moved into the basement (where there were 13 cells) whilst the Fire Brigade had a station behind the building.
What is unusual about the Town Hall?
Look carefully and you can see it has been built on a sloping site with an extra storey levelling it up at the Horsefair Street end. The construction period is reflected in the different dates on the front gable (1875, the intended date of opening) and wrought iron gates at the main entrance (1876).
A modest but elegant square
Frances J. Hames also designed Town Hall Square with its fountain, the gift of Alderman Israel Hart, the first Jewish Mayor of Leicester. Alderman Hart was a pioneer of readymade men’s’ suits. There is an identical fountain in Oporto, Portugal.
b) Women´s Social and Political Union Shop
What was the Women’s Social and Political Union?
The Women’s Social and Political Union, led by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and better known as the Suffragettes, was formed in 1903 to campaign for votes for women. Frustrated at the lack of progress by existing organisations campaigning for the female vote, the WSPU promised, “Deeds not Words”. One of its most prominent members was Mrs Alice Hawkins, a shoe machinist at the Equity co-operative shoe factory in Western Road.
Deeds not Words
The campaign tactics of the WSPU were more militant than those of the “suffrage societies”. Rather than write letters they would hold open-air meetings, disrupt political gatherings and take part in national demonstrations. Window-breaking, cutting telephone wires, vandalising golf courses and arson were among their tactics, actions for which many suffragettes were imprisoned. Alice Hawkins herself served five prison terms.
Why was the WSPU shop important?
The WSPU shop at 14 Bowling Green Street opened in 1910. It sold postcards, pamphlets, badges and other “Votes for Women” merchandise as part of the propaganda campaign and to raise funds for the cause. It also provided a base for the local branch organisation – and a place for women to spend the night of the 1911 Census, refusing to be counted in protest at their continuing lack of a parliamentary vote. They had to wait for this until 1918, when the vote was extended to women over 30.
c) Belvoir Street Chapel
Joseph Hansom and the “Pork Pie Chapel”
Affectionately known as the “Pork Pie Chapel”, Belvoir Street Chapel was designed by Joseph Hansom, inventor of the horse–drawn cab.
Built in 1845 to accommodate a growing Baptist congregation, it was designed for up to 1,500 people and included lecture and schoolrooms. Its circular interior was lit by gas presenting a “brilliant appearance”.
Special trains brought people to its inauguration in 1845 and the guest speaker, Dr Harris, remarked that “he never saw a chapel so beautiful; never met with one so easy to speak in; nor one in which the congregation presented so beautiful a prospect as this did, from its architectural arrangements”.
Why is it important to the Story of Leicester?
Non-conformists were Christians who refused to “conform” to the Church of England and so set up their own churches. They held considerable political and economic power in Victorian Leicester. Baptists were a particularly large and influential group and included the likes of Thomas Cook, prominent manufacturers and civic dignitaries.
By the 1940s the congregation had united with the Baptists of Charles Street Chapel and in 1947 the building was sold. Today it forms part of Leicester College and is referred to as Hansom Hall, after its architect.
15) New Walk
Welcome to New Walk
New Walk is a rare example of a Georgian pedestrian promenade. Laid out by the Corporation of Leicester in 1785, the walkway was intended to connect Welford Place with the racecourse (now Victoria Park) and followed the line of a Roman trackway, the Via Devana. Originally named Queen’s Walk, after Queen Charlotte, consort of George III, it was eventually the popular name of the “New Walk” that survived. Almost a mile long, New Walk has been a Conservation Area since 1969, ensuring its unique character is protected.
16) Greyfriars Friary
This panel marks the location of the former Greyfriars Friary complex.
Greyfriars Friary and the Richard III Story
Following his death at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, King Richard´s naked corpse was brought back to Leicester slung over horse. His body was put on public display to prove he was dead and then removed by the Franciscan friars of Leicester to be given a simple Christian burial in the choir of their church in the Friary complex.
What do we know of the Greyfriars Friary?
Established in Leicester in the 12th century, the Friary was home to the Franciscan order, also known as Grey Friars after the colour of their habits. The friars would have spent their days going out into the community to preach, beg and hear confessions. The Friary itself would have consisted of cloisters, a chapter house, a church and accommodation for the friars.
Finding King Richard III´s grave
Although archaeologists from the University of Leicester knew King Richard had been buried in the Greyfriars Friary when they started their dig, locating his actual grave site was very difficult. Henry VIII had ordered the demolition of the Friary in 1538 and over the following centuries the land had been redeveloped and built over many times. By the 21st century, what had once been a religious friary had become a site for office conversions and a car park. The excavation that took place here in August 2012 not only advanced our knowledge of the Greyfriars site but was to reveal the final resting place of a king.
What remains of the Friary today?
A small piece of grey stone wall is all that remains of the Friary today. This can be found in a car park near to the Cathedral end of New Street next to an attendant´s hut.
17) Herrick’s House – Friar Lane
Robert Herrick (Heyrick), three-times mayor of Leicester. Herrick built a mansion fronting onto Friar Lane, with extensive gardens over the east end of the Friary grounds. These gardens were visited by Christopher Wren Sr. (1589–1658) in 1611, who recorded being shown a handsome stone pillar with an inscription, “Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of England”. The Herrick family, who also owned the country estate of Beaumanor, near Loughborough, sold the mansion to Thomas Noble in 1711, who, like Herrick 130 years before him, represented Leicester in Parliament.
18) King Richard III Visitor Centre – Dynasty, Death and Discovery
Following the discovery of King Richard III remains in autumn 2012 the City Mayor announced the development of a King Richard III Visitor Centre. The Centre was developed by the council working in partnership with a range of organisations including Leicester University, Richard III Society, Leicester Cathedral and Demontfort University. As part of the development we set up a Trust to manage the ongoing delivery of the Centre.
On the ground floor of the Visitor Centre, Dynasty tells the much debated story of the king’s life and times in a medieval England racked by decades of fighting in the Wars Of The Roses. Visitors will be able to discover the story behind Richard’s rise to power as the last king from the great house of Plantagenet and the reforms he made during his short reign.
Death gives visitors the chance to learn about the Battle of Bosworth and how betrayal led to the king being cut down in the thick of battle while defending his crown and his return to Leicester.
On the first floor, Discovery unearths the astonishing story of the research, archaeology, science and painstaking analysis that led to the discovery and identification of the long-lost remains of the king.
Exhibits include both a partial and the full facial reconstruction, giving visitors the chance to see the work in progress and the final reconstruction of Richard. There is also a replica of Richard’s skeleton, printed using 3D technology. The skeleton clearly shows his curved spine, as well as his battle injuries, including the fatal blow.
Through interactive displays, visitors will be able to match up DNA and discover the process used to identify the remains. A suit of armour is also on display and those visiting the exhibition will be able to learn how it protected the wearer.
Visitors return to the ground floor to complete their experience with a visit to the site of King Richard’s burial, preserved in a quiet, respectful setting and with a contemplative atmosphere, fitting for the last resting place of a slain warrior and anointed monarch.
20) Leicester Cathedral
Situated in Peacock Lane, the construction of the original St Martin’s Church was started in the 12th century by the Normans. It was rebuilt in the 13th and 15th century. Being so close to the Guild Hall meant that the church had strong links to the merchants and gilds and it became the ‘Civic Church’. As the principal church where all civic services were held it was therefore the natural choice to become the cathedral for Leicester in 1927 when the Leicester diocese was re-created. After a period of over 1,000 years, when the last Saxon Bishop had fled from the Danes, Leicester again had its own bishop
Although the core of the church is 13th century, Leicester Cathedral today is predominantly a Victorian building as the outer walls were heavily restored in the 19th century. The tower and spire, designed by the architect Raphael Brandon, were rebuilt in the 1860s. The porch, designed by J.L. Pearson, the architect of Truro Cathedral, was constructed as a memorial to four vicars of St Martin’s, who were all members of the Vaughan family.
The church has two south aisles and the outer aisle was once the chapel of the Gild of Corpus Christi. St George’s Chapel can be found to the left of the south door. This was originally dedicated to the Gild of St George and at one time displayed a life-size figure of St George on horseback near the altar. This was taken out and borne through the streets on a wheeled stage on the Gild’s feast day until the custom was abolished in 1547. Today the chapel houses memorials and colours of the Leicestershire Regiment from 1688.
A large memorial stone slab commemorating Richard III was laid in the Cathedral in 1980 and can be found in the Chancel floor. The announcement on 4th February 2013 that the remains found in the Greyfriars car park were indeed those of Richard III was a momentous day for the City of Leicester. The subsequent announcement, that the remains would be interred in Leicester Cathedral means that preparations are now underway to prepare a suitable resting place for the former King.
21) The Guild Hall
The Guild Hall dates back to medieval times and would have been a building of importance during the time of Richard III. The Great Hall, built in 1390, was a meeting place for the Guild of Corpus Christi, a select group of influential businessmen and gentry founded in 1343. This Guild was the richest in the town and a powerful force in medieval Leicester. The emblem of the Guild, the Host and Chalice, is featured in a 15th century stained glass window in the Mayor´s Parlour. The Guild had their own altar in the Church of St Martin (now Leicester Cathedral) and used the Great Hall for banquets at times of high festivals.
Many of the Guild´s members were associated with the Corporation of Leicester so they began using the Guildhall as a place of assembly. By 1563 the building had become Leicester´s Town Hall and the ground floor of the west wing became known as the Mayor´s Parlour.
The Medieval Guild Hall today
This impressive and important medieval building narrowly escaped demolition in 1876. At the time people considered it old-fashioned, gloomy and unsuitable for its purpose as a civic building. In 1922 the building was completely restored and opened to the public.
Visitors to Leicester Cathedral will now be able to discover for themselves the history and legacy of Richard III’s life and death, thanks to a new programme of events and activities, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The programme includes:
– New information panels telling Richard III’s story;
– Guided tours led by well-trained and professionally supported volunteer guides;
– A new guide book;
– On-line information;
– Workshops and resources for schools, supported by an Education Officer and;
– Display of the Coffin Pall, processional banners and the ceremonial crown from the reinterment service.
Alongside the King Richard III Visitor Centre and Bosworth Battlefield heritage site, Leicester Cathedral is now a nationally important location for visitors to explore and enjoy this unique heritage, understanding better the life, faith, legacy and significance of Richard III’s final resting place. HLF has provided £94,100 towards the total project costs of £189,000.
The Bones of a King: Richard III Rediscovered
The only book written by the full team of experts who uncovered the king.
Written specifically for the general reader, The Bones of a King: Richard III Rediscovered will publish on 26th March, the day of the king’s reburial at Leicester Cathedral.
The dramatic story of Richard III, England’s last medieval king, captured the world’s attention when an archaeological team led by the University of Leicester identified his remains in February 2013. The Bones of a King presents the official behind-the-scenes story of the Grey Friars dig based on the research of the specialists directly involved in the discovery.
As the re-interment of the last of the English Plantaganet kings approaches, we look at the story so far and at what is coming up, as the world’s media prepares for a trip to our city.
Roads and travel
Leicester City Council told us:
VISITORS coming to Leicester to watch the final journey of King Richard III are being offered advice on how best to travel into the city.
Thousands of people are expected to come into the city on Sunday, March 22, as a procession carrying the king’s remains makes its way from the Leicestershire countryside into the city on its way to Leicester Cathedral. An influx of spectators and well-wishers are expected to line the route, which includes the A47 Hinckley Road, Bow Bridge, St Nicholas Church, and a short tour of the city centre before the coffin is handed over to the cathedral. Detailed information for visitors is now available, explaining the best routes to get into the city, the Park and Ride service, parking availability on the day, cycling and walking routes and vantage points for people to view the cortege.
Artwork inspired by King Richard III’s prayer book and produced by pupils of 81 Leicester and Leicestershire schools appears in a new book published today, Thursday 5th February, called “Our Book of Hours”. King Richard’s own illustrated Book of Hours was found in his tent by the victorious soldiers of Henry VI, after the Battle of Bosworth. As Leicester Cathedral prepares to rebury King Richard’s mortal remains on 26th March, the new Book of Hours will be launched by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd. Tim Stevens and many of the young artists at the King Richard III Visitor’s Centre at 11.30am. The book features 91 full colour plates of stunning, creative pieces of art. Students at local schools were invited to interpret passages from the Bible and their vibrant artwork is presented in a 188 page hard cover book printed by local company, Gartree Press. A leather bound presentation version of “Our Book of Hours” is being prepared. It will be on display in Leicester Cathedral from the week of King Richard’s reinterment. King Richard’s Prayer Book will be in the Cathedral for the period of reinterment, on loan from Lambeth Palace. Copies of “Our Book of Hours” can be reserved from Christian Resources in St Martins House and the King Richard III Visitor’s Centre and costs £20.00.
Leicester Funeral Directors appointed for Richard III’s final journey
King Richard III’s final journey will be overseen by Funeral Directors A J Adkinson & Son of Oadby.
On Sunday 22 March the King’s mortal remains will be transported by the company from the University of Leicester, via the battlefield villages of Dadlington and Sutton Cheney to the Bosworth Battlefield Centre. After a short ceremony, the cortège will move to Leicester, where the King’s coffin will be transferred to a horse drawn hearse for the final leg of the journey around the City Centre arriving at Leicester Cathedral at 5.45pm. “We’re tremendously excited to be involved in such a landmark event for Leicester,” says Company Director Jenny Gilbert. “It is always a privilege to be given the responsibility of providing funeral services for anyone, but to be involved with the interment of a former King of England really is a huge honour for us. As one of the oldest independent and family run Funeral firms in Leicester we are taking great pride in our role in the day’s events. It promises to be a truly once in a lifetime occasion not just for us but for everybody who will witness it.” Miranda Cannon Project Director of the Leicester Cathedral Quarter Partnership Board says, “A J Adkinson & Son made an excellent bid to play a key role in this historic occasion. They were able to clearly show to us a real understanding of what was needed and demonstrate a real depth of experience and expertise that is already proving invaluable to us in planning the reinterment events. We are of course especially pleased that a local firm was successful and shows what great talent and expertise we have in our county.”
Leicester Cathedral ready to receive King Richard III
The first phase of the internal reordering of Leicester Cathedral has been completed in readiness for the reinterment of King Richard III at the end of March. For the last 26 weeks, builders Fairhurst Ward Abbotts (FWA) have been working in the Cathedral while it remained open to the public. The stunning conversion includes a new Sanctuary under the tower for the main altar, the creation of Christ the King Chapel at the east end of the building and the construction of an Ambulatory (a walking space) in which the King Richard III’s tomb will be built. “The transformation of our Cathedral is so striking and more than we even hoped,” says the Very Revd. David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester.
“Suddenly we have become aware of the soaring arches and spacious beauty of our building. The craftsmanship is fantastic. All will be ready for March and the re-interment of Richard III.” The project overcome several challenges, including discovering a number of underground crypts during the excavation works. Working closely the archaeological team which discovered the remains of King Richard III, the builders lowered the height of these crypts and covered the voids. “We’re proud to have played a role in such an important project and feel very privileged to have created a resting place for a King,” says Matt Webster Conservation Director of FWA. The mortal remains of King Richard III will be received by the Cathedral on 22nd March and will lie in repose for three days before being reburied on the 26th March 2015.
The lead lining to be placed inside the coffin of King Richard III has been created by Leicester firm Norman and Underwood and Dr Jon Castleman, chairman of the company, will be the man with the last glimpse of the King as he welds shut the lead lid.
Jon said: “It will be my privilege to lead weld the lid once the king is placed in there.” He added that it was an honour to be chosen to make the ossuary.” Read more about this
Film footage reveals potential ‘Killer Blow’
University of Leicester video shows injury on inside of skull – Injury to interior surface of cranium revealed, Injury consistent with a sword or the top spike of a bill or halberd. The film is among 26 video sequences being made available to media by the University of Leicester.
“It was one of those eureka moments which Carl Vivian happened to capture on film which we will all remember.”- Professor Guy Rutty, University of Leicester/Home Office forensic pathologist
New film footage revealing for the first time details of the potential killer blow that claimed the life of King Richard III has been released by the University of Leicester. Find out more
The Dean of Leicester is delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex is to attend the reinterment Service for King Richard lll on Thursday March 26 at Leicester Cathedral. She will be joined by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. In his capacity as Patron of the Richard III Society, The Duke of Gloucester will also be attending Compline, the Service of Reception on Sunday 22 March at Leicester Cathedral.
The Very Revd. David Monteith, Dean of Leicester says: ‘We are highly delighted and honoured to receive three members of the Royal Family to the reinterment of King Richard. I know that our city and county will offer a very warm welcome to our principal guests’.
[from King Richard in Leicester website]
Bosworth reinterment event
Leicestershire County Council will be making 2,000 tickets available next week for an event to mark King Richard III’s final journey. The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre event, which includes an afternoon service led by the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester, takes place on Sunday, 22 March.
The county council has already announced a series of events to take place at Bosworth from Monday, 23 March to Sunday 29 March. The programme, which supports the permanent battlefield exhibition, includes:
Series of daytime and early-evening talks, including ‘Arming King Richard III for battle’ with Dominic Smee, the King’s ‘body double’ in a TV documentary;
Battlefield tours to the likely site of King Richard III’s demise in battle;
What Remains of Richard III? – a play about King Richard III’s reputation;
Book launch by historian John Ashdown-Hill;
Hawkwise falconry displays and guided walks
Channel 4 announces reburial coverage plans
The programmes: Richard III: The Return of the King – Evening of Sunday 22nd March
This programme will capture the climax of the procession of the King’s mortal remains back to the site of his death at Bosworth Battlefield through the streets of Leicester and the service that marks the king’s reception into Leicester Cathedral with a sermon given by Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. Channel 4 will also assemble leading historians, actors, politicians, descendants of the King and key participants in his rediscovery, to ask who Richard really was and what his place in British history should now be. Richard III: The Burial of the King – Morning of Thursday 26th March
Live coverage of the reburial service, attended by members of the Royal Family, as the King is formally reinterred at the east end of the Cathedral. Guests at the service and key players in the King’s story will join Jon in the studio beforehand and afterwards, and a series of short films will offer glimpses of the preparations for this unique event and explore the debates surrounding it. Richard III: The King Laid to Rest – Thursday evening
A final programme showing highlights of the reburial service from earlier in the day and – live – a last moment of intimate ceremonial, in which those who led the campaign to find Richard and his descendants, gather to bid the King a final farewell.
The Bosworth beacon, lit when Richard’s remains arrived back at the site of his death on Sunday morning, will be extinguished as the massive tombstone is revealed for the first time. Find out more from King Richard in Leicester web site
Richard III videos made available to public
Historic collection chronicles dig, discovery and identification of the last Plantagenet monarch. The University of Leicester is making a suite of documentary footage available to media and the public ahead of the reburial of King Richard III.
Hours of video footage captured by documentary maker Carl Vivian is available via the University’s YouTube site and extracts are being provided to media crews for their own news and feature outputs.
In total, 20+ videos are being made freely accessible on the University of Leicester YouTube Channel and 26 sequences from these videos are being made available to the media. The videos include the historic very first moment University of Leicester archaeologist Mat Morris discovered human remains- on the first day of the dig. In it, Mat can be seen looking at a human leg bone uncovered within hours of the 2012 Grey Friars archaeological dig starting. He confirms it is an articulated skeleton, records it as Skeleton One and covers it over so it is protected until more is known about its context within the site. Eleven days later Skeleton One was uncovered and displayed staggering circumstantial evidence for it being the remains of King Richard III. You can view that clip here
Mat said: “Finding the skeleton’s leg on Day 1 was the first significant medieval discovery of the project, although at the time we had no idea how significant it would prove to be. The skeleton was the first material evidence that we were digging in the right area and that the friary must be in the vicinity but at this point on the first day the person could have been buried anywhere, inside the church, outside in the graveyard, in one of the other friary buildings. It took another eleven days to establish that the grave was in the right area of the church to investigate further, with spectacular results.”
The videos made during this project are all available on the University of Leicester YouTube channel and include a pre-dig interview with lead archaeologist Richard Buckley in which he describes the chances of finding Richard as a long shot; the dig and the burial; identifying the remains; the fatal blow; injuries to the remains; DNA analysis and conclusion.
Also included are the Judicial Review decision, the tomb design and much more.
Carl Vivian, from the University’s Creative Services team, said: “It’s been an incredible adventure and an enormous privilege to be able to follow the story of the search, discovery and identification of King Richard III. From the outset it seemed so unlikely that his remains would be found and then he turns up in trench one on the very first day of the dig – you just couldn’t make it up.”
“I’m extremely proud of the record that I’ve made of this project and hope people enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed recording these truly historic moments.”
Members of the public can view the videos using the following links: Richard III videos on-line Pre-dig Interview with Richard Buckley The Archaeological Dig The Burial Removing a Tooth for DNA Analysis Discovering the Fatal Blow Identifying the Remains Injuries to the Remains The Scientific Outcome The DNA Analysis & Conclusion Hair and Eye Colour The Break in the Male Line Is the Skeleton Found in Leicester Richard III? Uncovering the Church of the Friars Minor Leicester Opening the Medieval Stone Coffin Found at the Richard III Burial Site The Judicial Review Decision The Tomb Design The Date of the Re-interment
Cathedral Memorial Stone Lifted King Richard III Visitor Centre
[University of Leicester Press Office]
…the man who’s made the tomb for King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral. James is one of the more remarkable of the many fascinating people I’ve met in the course of this unparalleled journey that the discovery of King Richard III’s remains has brought about. I’ve mentioned him before, but having just returned form another visit to his workshop
James is one of the more remarkable of the many fascinating people I’ve met in the course of this unparalleled journey that the discovery of King Richard III’s remains has brought about. I’ve mentioned him before, but having just returned form another visit to his workshop in Rutland I’m filled again with admiration for his craftsmanship, attention to detail – and just plain old-fashioned stubborn determination to get the job done!
The tomb’s design was, as is well known, not without controversy, being developed by Josh Mccsh, our architect, in collaboration with Chapter, the fabric group, and subject to the overall approval of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England. But once it was settled last March most people will have given little thought to how it would actually be made. It’s just one bit of stone on top of another, after all, isn’t it? Wrong! Granted the top stone – the swaledale fossil – is one large piece. But finding the right stone, for both size and orientation, transporting it to the workshop, and then beginning the painstaking task of slicing, polishing and finishing it is a specialist task above all specialisms. For a starter, how do you turn a 3 tonne block of fragile stone over to cut the other face without risking it breaking? (There’s not another one on the shelf you can reach for.) And there’s the cross to cut into it – without damaging it – and the internal facets to fix and polish. Just one of the tasks where James has invented a tool which didn’t exist, to smooth down those tricky internal faces. Find out more
New film footage provides unique insight…
The University of Leicester has released a unique insight into the archaeological dig that has captured the imagination of the world, with new film footage of a second excavation at the site where the remains of King Richard III were discovered in 2012.
The sequence – an 11 minute time-lapse video – documents the month-long dig undertaken by archaeologists at the University of Leicester in July 2013. This is the first time such a behind-the-scenes insight has been revealed into the archaeological process. Mathew Morris, the Grey Friars Site Director from the University of Leicester’s Archaeological Services (ULAS) narrates the video to describe the archaeological process of excavating the car park. He said: “This is a bit of the excavation that you don’t often get a chance to see. The video shows all aspects of the dig. This was a much bigger excavation than our first on this site when we discovered Richard III, and was our last chance to document the archaeology before the Visitor Centre was built on top of the car park. “This second dig was key to providing us with more information about the relationship of Richard III’s grave to the rest of the church. We were able to excavate the additional graves we had identified during the first dig and also found evidence of a new friary building. This film footage is a great way to capture all of the aspects of the dig.”
The footage was taken from a camera positioned looking down onto the dig from the old school building which is now the Richard III Visitor Centre. At the time the building had no electrical power so the camera was run from a car battery which was changed every four days. Over the 28 day period, the camera took more than 50,000 individual still images which were then rendered into the final clip, a process that took over 40 hours.
Carl Vivian, Video Producer explained: “The University of Leicester has always been keen to record and make all aspects of the Richard III project freely available, and when the second dig was announced, it was suggested immediately that a time-lapse recording should be made to allow for the whole process to be viewed. This is another fascinating insight into the hard work that has underpinned the search and discovery of the remains of Richard III.”
The University is releasing 26 video sequences to illustrate the key events in the discovery, science and reburial of the last Plantagenet King.
Carl added: “The search and discovery of Richard III has been an extraordinary adventure and part of why it has been so unique is the fact that the archaeologists and scientists have allowed every step of the journey to be recorded, so everyone can see and share the moments of each discovery being made. I’m really proud of the recordings we’ve made and the part they play in telling the story.”
You can see the time-lapse sequence here:
· Time-lapse Recording at the Richard III Burial Site
For more information about the 2013 Grey Friars excavation, please visit the ULAS news blog
[University of Leicester Press Office]
University of Leicester archaeologists identify ingredients for medieval dishes served during King Richard III’s reign
Museum volunteers recreate medieval recipes using University research for an event at Jewry Wall Museum on Sunday 22 March
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have lent their expertise towards a series of medieval recipes designed to provide insight into the culinary dishes that may have been served up during the reign of King Richard III.
Margaret Adamson, a volunteer with the Friends of Jewry Wall Museum, has come up with a series of recipes based on archaeological finds and documentary research on ingredients found in Leicester by ULAS.
A selection of these dishes, including a medieval vegetable soup called pottage and Bosworth jumbles – or biscuits – will be available to taste during a free public event at the Jewry Wall Museum on Sunday 22 March to coincide with the first day of the reinterment of King Richard III.
Margaret said: “These foods are examples of what may have been available at a local inn, such as the Blue Boar Inn, for ordinary people.
“There are some medieval recipe books and written accounts which tell us about food mainly for the rich and a display of replicas showing examples of these will also be on show and will remain at the museum until Sunday 29 March.”
Angela Monckton, Consultant in Environmental Archaeology for ULAS, said: “Specialists at ULAS have identified a number of ingredients and food types available in Medieval Leicester, mainly from environmental archaeology which involves sieving soil samples from excavated sites to examine for microscopic plant and animal remains. “The plant remains include cereal grains and seeds which can be identified to find the crops, herbs and vegetables present at different periods of time.
“Animal remains include fish bones and scales of freshwater and sea fish, and bird bones together with animal bones as food remains. These results have been collected from a number of sites over the years, particularly from the Highcross excavations in Leicester.
“Seeds and cereal grains can be preserved by charring if burnt accidently, while organic remains can become mineralised by the sewage in cesspits – a sure way of finding out what was eaten – both of which are common in Leicester.”
Following previous success with a recipe booklet entitled ‘A Taste of Roman Leicester’, Angela and Margaret are working on a follow up booklet called ‘A Taste of Medieval Leicester: Food fit for a King?’ which should be available to visitors of the museum in the summer.
Margaret added: “I have used what is known about local ingredients and old recipes to imagine what food may have been served at a local inn to visitors to the town. Food history is very important because without food there would be no history.”
Margaret’s Medieval tasting will take place from 11.30am to 3.30pm on Sunday 22 March at Jewry Wall Museum, the same day King Richard III’s coffin will leave the University and begin its journey to Leicester Cathedral.
The free public event ‘Medieval Leicester and King Richard III’ will also feature a demonstration of a knight dressing for battle, the history of the Battle of Bosworth, medieval music, craft activities for children and much more.
The food display will remain at the museum until Sunday 29 March to mark the end of the reinterment week.
[University of Leicester Press Office]
What do we really know about King Richard III?
Factual and fictional portrayals of the last Plantagenet King explored at public open day on Saturday 21 March
Public open day on Saturday 21 March from 10am to 4pm on University of Leicester campus. The event will take visitors on a journey of Discovery, Knowledge and Identification
Takes place in the week of the reinterment of King Richard III
Experts will share insights into the portrayals of Richard III throughout history, from Shakespeare’s ‘hunch-backed toad’ to the modern-day examinations of his dialect, at a public open day at the University of Leicester. At the exclusive event on Saturday 21 March, the general public will also have the opportunity to hear from modern-day relations of the last Plantagenet King who were involved in the identification of the remains and learn about the legal process surrounding his reinterment in Leicester.
A full schedule of free interactive and hands-on workshops and talks will take place on the University campus from 10am to 4pm, including:
David Baldwin: ‘Leicester’s Lost King’ An analysis of King Richard’s reign and character by the historian who first identified the likely location of the grave.
Tracey Elliot: ‘A Moot Point’ and Sean Thomas: ‘Burial Rights’An exploration of the legalities around the discovery of Richard III, followed by an explanation of the subsequent judicial review into the issuing of the exhumation license.
Dominic Smee: ‘Body of Evidence’ How one man’s journey into the role of Richard III has altered our understanding and perceptions of the man and the warrior.
Michael & Jeff Ibsen and Wendy Duldig: ‘Bloodline’ How does it feel to discover you’re related to Richard III? The descendants share their stories in this facilitated discussion
Philip Shaw: ‘The King’s Speech’ How documentary evidence gives us clues to the dialect and written practices of Richard III.
Mary Ann Lund and Sarah Knight: ‘A Rose By Any Other Name’? Exploring the ‘real’ King Richard by comparing and contrasting historical and literary accounts of Richard III.
Nicole Fayard: ‘The ‘Other’ Richards’ Without the constraints of the need for historical ‘accuracy’, discover how King Richard III is portrayed in performances of Shakespeare’s play across Europe.
The event will take visitors on three journeys, starting with The Discovery Journey – which looks at the excavation and post excavation work carried out by archaeologists. Then there is the science behind the find.
The Identification Journey will look at the DNA and genealogy research which linked Richard III to his modern day relations and proved beyond doubt that the skeleton was that of the former Plantagenet king.
Finally, The Knowledge Journey looks at the ongoing research and what academics have learned as a result of the one of the most important archaeological finds of all time.
Organiser Jim Butler, Events and Engagement Manager for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law, said: “For the first time since his discovery we are giving the public access to both the key people and the spaces that were crucial to the discovery and identification of Richard III.
“In addition to the first-hand accounts of the team that searched for and discovered King Richard’s remains, the public will be able to engage with the historic research and the science in a uniquely hands-on way to gain a real sense of the huge scale of the work undertaken across the University.
“In addition to the thirteen expert talks there will also be 27 hands-on activities which include opportunities to extract DNA from organic matter, witness the awesome power of an arrow fired at plate steel, have their own DNA profiled, examine real skeletal remains and sample a medieval banquet.”
Dr Richard Buckley said: “Like other members of the team, I’ve given many talks on the discovery – we have been to venues in most English counties, not to mention a few abroad as well.
“What continues to surprise me is the excitement the project generates.
“It’s done so much for the profile of archaeology and even after two years people are still fascinated with the story – and why wouldn’t they be, I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.”
Visitors do not need to book to attend any of the events. However, if spaces are limited it will be organised on a first-come-first-served basis.
Richard day at Leicester University
A free day of family-friendly activities celebrating the University of Leicester’s research, discovery and identification of Richard III will be held on Saturday 21 March. Free interactive and hands-on workshops and talks take place from 10am – 4pm at the University of Leicester campus and the experts involved in the discovery and identification of the remains will be available to speak to media about their work.
The first thing you notice about Leicester Castle is that it does not look anything like a castle. There used to be a castle on the site, adjacent to the banks of the River Soar, but very little of it remains visible. The castle occupied the south-west corner of the town that still had a similar layout to when the Romans left in the fourth century and commanded a position overlooking the River Soar, which would have been an important transportation route in medieval times and earlier.
It is possible that there has been a castle or fortification on the site since at least Roman times, in all probability even earlier. It is known that the Romans erected their forts on sites that had been used earlier by Bronze-age or Iron-age peoples.
The original castle was constructed by the Normans as a motte and bailey (around 1070.) The motte was mound of earth below which there was a bailey (a kind of keep.) The motte is now about ten metres high but would originally have been much higher. About five metres were removed to make way for a bowling green, in 1840.
Surrounding this was a moat filled with water over which ran a bridge, leading to the main entrance of the Bailey. The original mott and bailey would have had a stockade made of wood. Within the Bailey the church of St, Mary was built (now called St. Mary de Castro, meaning Saint Mary of the Castle.) The Church dates from around 1107.1
In 920, Queen Aethelflaed liberated Leicester from the occupying Danes; her fame was such that when she arrived at the gates of the town, the Vikings capitulated without a fight. In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles it says
This year Ethelfleda got into her power, with God’s assistance, in the early part of the year, without loss, the town of Leicester; and the greater part of the army that belonged thereto submitted to her.
In 1068, The Normans built a castle in Leicester, soon after their conquest of the country in 1066. They built over the Roman remains of the original south wall. It was the centre of power for the first Norman overlord of the town, Hugh de Grentnesnil (1032 to 1094.) Robert de Beaumont, first Earl of Leicester, rebuilt the castle’s defensive walls in 1107.
Leicester appears in the Domesday Book; the entry (in 1086) states that it was a large town with 71 households, consisting of 3 villagers. 12 smallholders. 1 priest. 17 burgesses. At that time it had two churches. The lord was Hugh of Grandmesnil (sic) who died in Leicester but was buried in France. Robert de Beaumont, third earl of Leicester (to 1190), in 1173 attempted to relieve the siege of Leicester Castle, then in the hands of the king (Henry II) but was defeated at the battle of Fornham, and was taken prisoner. He was restored to favour by Richard I.
It is said that the castle was once under the ownership of Henry Bolinbroke, 1366 to 1413. (later Henry IV from 1399). Several other castles were built on the sites of ancient forts, such as motte and bailey castle in Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire.
In medieval times Leicester was a walled city, the castle forming the south-west corner of the walls. The castle’s timber structure began to be replaced by stone in the early twelfth century. Castles were hubs of activity in medieval times, with an important impact on the surrounding area, and acted as a spur to the local economy. The construction and maintenance of the building would have provided employment for local craftsmen, masons, carpenters and blacksmiths.
Leicester Castle was formerly a royal castle and the residence of the head of the house of Lancaster. It has been visited by several monarchs and parliaments have been there. It is a place of national significance and interest. Its great hall has been described as second only in importance to Westminster Hall, in the Houses of Parliament.
It was the hall of a Norman baron and would have seen many royal festivities and assemblies, including those of the English parliament. The kitchens would have required a frequent supply of food for feasts and often very large numbers of people would have stayed there when very important people visited, with their often considerable retinues.
What we see today is the much later exterior of a building that once served as a courthouse, and was in use right up to 1990. The front of the building was constructed in 1790. During the 19th century, the Great Hall of the castle was divided into separate court rooms, in which now can be seen the wood work of the Victorian courts.
The castle is now a Grade I listed building. The building was used as the Assize Courts. In Victorian times when the castle was held by the Crown and placed under the control of a constable. Below the court rooms are the police cells that once held the prisoners awaiting their trials.
Below the courts there are many cells and rooms for the police whose job it was to hold prisoners before their trials in the criminal court above.
The cells were added in 1858, after the great hall was converted to accommodate the court rooms, in the early 1820s.
The Great Hall
Robert de Beaumont (sometimes referred to as Robert leBossu), built a great hall within the Bailey of the castle. Robert was the second Earl of Leicester from 1118 and died in that year. He was of Norman-French ancestry and was brother to Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester, 1104–1168 (distinguishing between the various members of the Beaumont family becomes difficult. Four generations were all called Robert and were all earls of Leicester.) It was Robert, the second earl who built the great hall in 1150.
The Great Hall was enlarged with an aisle and bays. The walls were constructed of sandstone and its central nave had two aisles, each of which was divided into arcades made of timber. Oak columns supported the roof. The hall was the third biggest aisle-and-bay hall in the country (the other two being Westminster Hall in London and the the so called ‘Pilgrims’ Hall’ at Winchester, built around 1380.)
Each column had a scalloped capital, one of which is exhibited in the castle building, close to the lobby. A new roof was added after 1523. The timbers of the roof have been dated to around 1500 and are thought to be similar to their Norman originals.
Leading from the Hall was a building that served as the kitchens. At the north end of the hall was a large window with its norman-style curved arch.
Below this was the raised dias on which was set the Lord’s table. The earl would have sat here and dispensed justice. In the nave there was an open fire, the smoke from which escaped through louvres set in the roof.
It was in the Great Hall that the Earls of Leicester sat in judgement. It was also used for feasting. In the 16th to 18th centuries The Hall was used by the Mayors of Leicester.
Leicester as the birth place of ‘parliament.’
The Earls of Leicester used the castle as their headquarters. From there they administered thier lands, which were quite considerable. Courts were held here and human remains have been unearthed, in the area of the castle motte, which could be those of convicts that were executed after being tried in the court.
The Barons and nobles met in the castle in 1349, 1414 and 1425 and these gatherings became known as the first parliaments. Parliament met in Leicester on three occasions – 1414, 1426 and 1450. The session of 1414 was held in the hall of the Grey Friars priory and was known as the ‘fire and faggot’ parliament because Beaufort delivered a sermon at this session which was about the rise of heresy.
The Parliament of Bats was held in the Great Hall at the castle in 1426. It was so-called because members were not allowed to wear swords and hence armed themselves with clubs and bats (bludgeons.) Parliament was called in Leicester because it was though to be unsafe to hold it at Westminster, owing to feuds taking place between Beaufort and Gloucester. This was during the reign of Henry IV; Beaufort, as chancellor, opened the session in the great hall of Leicester castle in the presence of the four-year-old king. The origins of the term are explained by history writer Mrs Fielding Johnson:
“In consequence of the angry feud then existing between the Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of King Henry V and the fiery-tempered Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, the wearing of weapons by the members was strictly forbidden as likely to lead to bloodshed. To carry clubs or ‘bats’, however, and to load their hanging, pouch-like sleeves with stones and lead, appeared to the partisan barons to be an honest and suitable evasion of the letter of this prohibition; and serious mischief was averted only by the strenuous efforts of the neutral members, who succeeded in arranging the quarrel before a general melee took place.”
The parliament assembled in February and disbanded in June. No actual violence took place during this session of parliament. During the session, the infant king (Henry VI) was knighted in the nearby church of St. Mary de Castro. 2
John of Gaunt visited the castle in 1313 and spent large amounts of money entertaining his substantial retinue. John of Gaunt, who died at the castle in 1394, has a cellar in the castle named after him. King Edward I stayed there in 1300 and Edward II in 1310 and 1311. He died at the castle in 1399. Many of the kings of the middle ages would have visited the church of St. Mary de Castro.
Richard III stayed at the castle in 1483 and wrote to the King of France, signing the letter ‘from my castle of Leicester.’ 3 Richard arrived in Leicester two days before the battle of Bosworth and it is said that he stayed at an Inn, then called The White Boar Inn. Richard’s battle emblem was a white boar and it might have been that he thought that staying at an Inn called The White Boar would give him good luck. In any case, Leicester Castle was then in a poor state of repair, even more so than on his last visit there. In previous visits to Leicester, in 1483, two years before his death, Richard had stayed at Leicester Castle but, even then, the building had not been in a good state of repair. We know that Richard stayed there (on his journey between London and York) because he wrote letters with the Castle’s address at the top. Richard stayed at Leicester Castle again on the return journey to London in August. Richard would have feasted in the great hall or at least held court there.
In 1523 a survey of the buildings found much decay and disrepair and a new roof was installed. The royal connections of the castle came to an end in 1888 when the Leicestershire county justices purchased the building from the Crown Estates.
The Castle as a court-house.
The great hall of the castle was converted into law courts in 1821.
When the Great Hall was divided into separate courtrooms, in 1821, Assizes were held and criminal courts continued to held until 1972. The Great Hall was partitioned into the two courts in 1830. The Crown Court continued to sit there until 1992. A cell block was added in 1858. Cells below the court have a staircase leading up to the dock in which prisoners sat during their trial. Part of the police cells is underground, but because of the slope of the land, the rest is actually above ground level. One of the courts was a criminal court and the other tried civil cases.
On the upper floor there was a jury room. Judges had a retiring rooms behind each court and there were rooms for barristers. The fittings that we can see today in the court rooms are Victorian. The judges sat under a wooden canopy displaying the royal coat of arms.
In the Castle’s entrance lobby there is a tiled floor.
I do not know the date of these tiles but they are likely to be Victorian; they are similar in design to tiles typical of medieval times.
Several features from the Victorian period are still on display in the lobby.
This article is the first draft of a chapter from my forthcoming book The History of Leicester.
Tours of Leicester Castle take place on the last Sunday of each month. They are given by the Blue Badge guides who share their details knowledge of the buildings and sometimes take visitors into parts of the Castle that are normally restricted to public access. Find out more from Go Leicestershire.
Notes added later
1 The Norman south entrance to St. Mary de Casto can be seen today. It had a typically Norman arch with zig-zag mouldings. The ground level in those days was much lower than it is today.
Starring Colin Baker and David Knight Directed by Rhys Davies
Producer Doug Cubin
Playing time: 20 minutes (approx)
This short film, shot in Leicester, was premièred at the Cannes Film Festival 2014 and shown at Leicester Guildhall in May this year.
The film was inspired by the discovery of the remains of King Richard III. It tells the story of a young boy called Gull (played by David Knight) who has an interest in history.
Director Rhys Davies said: “The film is an homage to dreamers everywhere. Stay true to yourself, follow your own path and you will succeed. To work with a legend such as Colin Baker was fantastic, and together with rising star David Knight I believe they have made the film a special prospect.”
Gull is helped by his grand father (played by Colin Baker) to start an archaeological dig. A bit of a loner at school, Gull is picked on by others for his strange interests. He stays true to himself, the central moral of the film, and pursues his love of history. Following the dig Gull sets up an exhibition of the artefacts he discovered, on a table outside his house, where he is joined by a girl from his school. This life changes at that moment. Gull find something he was not expecting.
Not a proper dig but the exploration of a field in which the young boy find a piece of metal that he believes to have been left there as part of the Battle of Bosworth.
Mr Davies said the film was about “staying true to yourself and following your own path”. The story line of Finding Richard is told in a way that is very tight, the scenes and content being focused on only the elements that were necessary to tell the story.
Producer Doug Cubin said: “This film being destined for Cannes and having such a great cast means we will do everything possible to create a wonderful experience for the audience.”
The film cost a mere £1,500 to produce, the money being raised through crowd-funding. Colin Baker played the sixth Doctor Who.
Phoenix is planning to hold a festival of short films later this year.
As part of our contribution to celebrating the history, culture and heritage of Leicester, this page looks at the art and music of the 15th century, and especially that which was prominent at the time of King Richard III.
Leicester has a rich and varied cultural history. This is due largely to the successive waves of people who settled here over the two thousand years of the area’s time as a place of residence, industry and commerce.
The art and culture of the area changed as people came to live here from mainland Europe – the Romans, the Saxons, the Normans, right up the contemporary migrations of those from the Asian and African continents.
Leicester today is a melting pot of cultural traditions and a rich diversity of people currently contribute to the amazing variety of our city’s music, dance, visual arts and theatre.
Our magazine does it best to find and document the arts and culture of the city today but of no less fascination is our heritage and history.
When we started this section, we had only to walk through the city and look up to see several centuries of the built environment.
The life that went on in those buildings is much more difficult to curate but there are clues that can fuel our imagination as to what entertained our ancestors – the music, painting and drama that would be have been going on in these buildings for several centuries.
This article begins that journey, probing back into medieval times to ask about what people were listening to then and what part art played in their lives.
We want to understand what our ancestors ate, listened to and looked at and what clothes they wore, what books they read.
A great deal of that cultural heritage has evaporated into the past but enough clues have survived to give us some kind of sense of what their cultural was likely to have been like.
18th August 2013
Project launched to trace musical history
Today saw the launch of this magazine’s project to trace the History of Music in Leicester.
28th July 2013
Music from the time of Richard III
A concert was given at Leicester Guildhall today. The musicians performed songs from the time of Richard III. On stage were singers, lute players and percussionists. It was this that gave us the idea of filling in some of the cultural background to the life and times of Richard the third.
The group performed songs in English and French. Two types of lute were being played; these were modern versions of the type of instruments that would have been common at that time. One musician played a recorder and others played a variety of small hand drums.
The musicians working with The Orpheus Project (see web site link below) plan to release an album of music – The Last Plantagenet – from the era of King Richard III. Today’s programme included songs from the planned album.
From left to right Maryann is on recorder, Andy Jenkinson is playing Lute, then Tabatha Pegg singing lead, Michael on Lute and Alex on drums.
From left to right Maryann is on recorder, Andy Jenkinson is playing Lute, then Tabatha Pegg singing lead, Michael on Lute and Alex on drums.
On 8th December, a concert was held at Leicester Guildhall, including story telling, music and carols. The musicians working with The Orpheus Project plan to release an album of music – The Last Plantagenet – from the era of King Richard III. Today’s programme included songs from the planned album.
On 8th December, a concert – A King Richard III – will be held at Leicester Guildhall, including story telling, music and carols
This page is about the discovery of the remains of King Richard III, here in Leicester.
Who was Richard III?
Richard was the last King of the Plantagenet dynasty and the last king of the House of York. He lived in the fifteenth century, from 1452 to 1485, in what we call the Middle Ages. He reigned for only two years, being killed at the Battle of Bosworth, the final battle in the Wars of the Roses, a date regarded as being the end of the Middle Ages. Richard reigned as King of England for only two years (from 1483 to 1485.)
The Battle of Bosworth took place on the 22nd August 1485
He is also known as Richard Plantagenet and was a member of the House of York. The Wars of the Roses, as we now call it, was fought between the two dynastic houses of Lancaster and York. Those of Richard’s time would have called it the ‘Cousins Wars’ because it was fought between members of the York and Lancaster families.
Richard’s brother was King Edward the fourth. When Edward died in 1483, Richard was named Lord Protector. His role was to protect Edward, 12 year old son of the late king. Richard placed Edward and his brother Richard (who was 9) in lodgings the Tower of London, as was the custom for kings prior to their coronation.
In 1483, Richard of Gloucester was crowed King of England, becoming Richard III, instead of the young Prince Edward.
The Princes in the Tower.
The two young princes – Edward and Richard – were not seen again after 1483. It was rumoured that the young princes had been murdered, some accusing Richard of being behind this. It is not clear that the two boys in the Tower of London (a royal residence) were in fact both the sons of Edward IV. Some claim that one of them was switched with a boy of similar age.
The young Prince Edward is referred to as Edward V (the fifth), and his brother as The Duke of York, the sons of King Edward IV (the fourth.) There is no historic evidence that the princes were in fact murdered and their bones have never been found, conclusively. There is no record of a funeral. Some historians claim that the Princes posed a threat to Richard III’s claim to the throne. No formal accusation was ever made against Richard III for the (assumed) death of the two Princes. The fate of the boys remains a mystery.
When their uncle Richard, the Yorkist King was killed at Bosworth, Henry Tudor, the Lancastrian, claimed the throne of England and became Henry the Seventh.
Richard III’s life
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was born in 1452, in Northamptonshire. His father was Richard Plantagenet, the third Duke of York, a contender to the throne taken by King Henry VI. His mother was Cecily Neville, daughter of Richard Neville and Alice Montacute. She was a cousin of Richard of Gloucester.
The young Richard spent some of his childhood at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire, being tutored by the Earl of Warwick (known as ‘the kingmaker’). Also living at the Castle Living was Anne Neville, the Earl of Warwick’s daughter, who would later marry Richard.
Richard’s wife Lady Anne Neville was crowned with him at his coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1483. Their son, Edward, was made Prince of Wales in a ceremony held at York; the only son of Richard III, he died at the age of ten in 1484.
Richard III’s death
Richard III died in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, just south of the presentday town of Market Bosworth in Leicestershire.
The battle was fought between the Yorkist army (whose emblem was the white rose) led by Richard and that led by Henry Tudor (whose emblem was the red rose.) It was the last battle in the Wars of the Roses and led to the rise of the Tudor Dynasty that included Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth the First. Followuing his victory at Bosworth, Henry became King Henry VII, the first monarch of the Tudor dynasty.
Henry Tudor, who has been exiled to France, gathered an army and he and his men landed in Milford Haven in Wales in August, 1485. Richard gathered his army together and they assembled in Leicester on August 20th. Richard arrived in Leicester shoertly before the battle and it is said that he stayed at an Inn, then called The white Boar. Richard’s battle emblem depicted a white boar. In previous visits to Leicester, he had stayed at Leicester Castle but at the time the building had not been in a good state of repair.
After the Yorkist’s defeat, the story goes, the landlord of the White Boar repainted the sign to show a blue boar and renamed the building The Blue Boar Inn, also changing the name of the street in which it stood to Blue Boar Lane. Blue was a colour associated with the House of Lancaster.The building stood in Highcross Street, near to where the Travel Lodge hotel now stands. The Blue Boar Inn, once the principal Inn of Leicester in the 16th century, was demolished in 1836.
The two armies met near to Market Bosworth. The Yorkists were defeated and their king was killed. Richard’s corpse was stripped naked and taken, strapped on a horse, back to Leicester, where the king’s body was exhibited for two days to prove to people that he had died, before being buried in the Church of the Greyfriars in a plain, unmarked tomb. The location of the tomb was eventually lost. The Church was destroyed during the reformation and the masonry plundered by local builders, so that it was lost for over five hundred years.
The discovery of Richard’s bones
Richard’s bones were discovered, buried beneath the car park of the Social Services building in the centre of Leicester. The archaeological dig that unearthed the bones was said to be the biggest archaeological discovery of recent times.
On 4 February 2013, it was announced that DNA testing had conclusively identified (“beyond reasonable doubt”) that the bones unearthed in the Leicester car park were in fact those of Richard.
After his death, the King’s body was brought to Leicester, so that the victor of the battle, who became Henry VII, could allow the people to see that the king was in fact dead. Richard had been crowned King of England in 1483 but his claim to the throne was seen as contentious by many powerful barons. Henry Tudor organised a rebellion against the king and it was this that led to the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard’s was killed and his army defeated.
Eventually, Richard (sometimes called ‘the warrior king’) was buried in the church of the Greyfriars Monastery, which is where his bones were found in 2013, 528 years later. He was the last English King to die in battle. During his life he was said to be a skilled military commander.
In 1471 Richard claimed the Dukedom of York. It was because he was the Duke of York that the city made a claim to become the rightful resting place of Richard’s remains, rather than Leicester.
25th April 2014
New director takes over at King Richard III visitor centre
A MAN who was part of the team responsible for marketing Alton Towers’ world-famous theme park is bringing his tourism expertise to Leicester’s new King Richard III Visitor Centre.
Iain Gordon, who previously spent eight years in marketing and operations at the hugely-popular Staffordshire theme park, has been appointed as the director of the King Richard III Visitor Centre Trust.
The trust is responsible for the new exhibition, entitled Dynasty, Death and Discovery, which will tell King Richard III’s fascinating story when it opens its doors this summer.
The visitor centre is currently being developed in the dramatic former Alderman Newton’s School building, opposite Leicester Cathedral and overlooking the grave where King Richard’s remains were discovered in August 2012.
Former Leicester University graduate Iain has also previously worked for two years as general manager of Snibston Discovery Park in Coalville, and eight years managing outdoor education centres for young people including one at Alton Castle, near the Alton Towers theme park.
The King Richard III Visitor Centre will tell the story of the king’s life and times, his reign and his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, using a stunning array of interactive exhibits and displays.
Visitors will also be taken through the extraordinary story of the science, forensics and archaeology behind his rediscovery, while a quieter, contemplative area will allow visitors to see the gravesite at the long-gone medieval Greyfriars church. The visitor centre is due to open in summer 2014, as a key part in the wider Cathedral Quarter, facing onto the new Cathedral. [Souce: Leicester City Council]
23rd January 2014
Stained glass window will commemorate King Richard III
A LIFE-sized stained glass window depicting King Richard III and his family is being created by a local artist for the forthcoming new visitor centre telling the story of the king’s life and death.
The dramatic stained glass window, by Leicester artist Brad Cooke, will portay the king along with his wife Anne Neville and their son Edward. It will be one of the centrepieces at the King Richard III visitor centre in St Martin’s Place, which is due to open in July 2014.
Knighton-based Brad, who runs a specialist stained glass and glazing firm, is currently in the process of designing the stunning window, followed by about six to eight weeks of painstaking work to turn the sketches into the finished product.
The completed window, which will be about 2.8m high and 2.3m wide, is likely to be lit from behind and will feature prominently as part of a display telling the story of the king’s life and the Plantagenet royal dynasty.
The commission came about after Brad contacted Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby offering his services to create a suitable item of artwork. Brad said: “I do a lot of work around the area restoring Victorian front doors, as well as restoration work on some stained glass at Leicester Cathedral, but a big commission like this isn’t something that comes along every day. The window is expected to be completed in May. [Source: LCC]
3rd September 2013
New boards will highlight city’s historic links to King Richard III
Leicester’s historic links with King Richard III will be brought to life by a series of new interpretation boards. The boards, placed at 10 city locations including the Guildhall, Leicester Castle and the Magazine Gateway, will be officially unveiled by city mayor Peter Soulsby on September 4th.
They will accompany a new Richard III walking trail, launched this week. It guides visitors on a circular route around Leicester, taking in all of the new interpretation boards and pointing out further sites of interest such as Leicester Cathedral, the site of the new Richard III visitor centre and the Richard III statue.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I’m delighted to be unveiling these new boards, which represent another step in our ambitious campaign to tell the story of Leicester. From the historic Bow Bridge to the dig site at Greyfriars, these panels are a rich source of information which I am sure will capture the interest of visitors and locals alike.
“Combined with the new walking trail, these interpretation boards help us to re-imagine Richard III’s final days while highlighting some of Leicester’s fantastic heritage buildings and pointing out locations of historical interest that might otherwise remain hidden.”
The boards will be located at the Magazine Gateway, in the Newarke; the Guildhall, the church of St Mary De Castro, Trinity Hospital and the Turret Gateway, which is also in the Newarke. They will also be at the site of the Blue Boar Inn, in Highcross Street – now Leicester Travelodge – and at the Bow Bridge, Leicester Castle, the site of Greyfriars Friary and the site of the Church of the Annunciation, which is now the Hawthorn Building at De Montfort University. The first board will be unveiled at the Magazine Gateway on September 4th, with the others put into place on September 5th and 6th. The walking trail brochure will be available from the Guildhall and the Visit Leicester centre in Gallowtree Gate. The brochure costs 50p. More information and a free downloadable version of the walking trail can be found at http://www.visitleicester.info/richardIII – to download the trail, click on ‘Leicester’s search for a King’. [Source: Leicester City Council]
Challenge to burial location
The BBC TV news reported today that distant relatives of Richard II have been granted a judicial review over where his remains should be interred.
The Mayor of Leicester hopes that they will be buried in Leicester Cathedral and plans have already been drawn up for a tomb to be constructed there following a government decision in May.
The Plantagenet Alliance are campaigning for the city of York to be the king’s final resting place.
A judge today decided that there is a duty to consult widely about where the remains should be finally laid to rest.
Season of events heralds anniversary of King Richard’s death
A SEASON of historical events is due to take place this month [August] to commemorate the anniversary of the death in battle of King Richard III.
The king – known as the Last Plantagenet – was slain at Bosworth Field in Leicestershire on August 22, 1485, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses and marking the start of the Tudor era.
His body was brought back to Leicester, where it lay buried and lost for over 500 years before being dramatically rediscovered in 2012 in a project involving the University of Leicester, Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society.
Now, as the first joint anniversaries of both his death and his rediscovery approach, a series of events will take place at key sites across the city and county. The commemorations will combine colourful celebrations of King Richard’s life and times, with solemn remembrance of his death and burial.
Young visitors to Leicester’s Guildhall can take part in a medieval fun day, featuring knights, castles and princesses, on Thursday, August 15, from 11am to 3pm. Visitors can make swords, shields and medieval princesses’ hats, taking inspiration from the Richard III exhibition which is on display at the same venue.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre will host the 528th anniversary re-enactment weekend, bringing to life the sights and sounds of the tumultuous clash between the Lancastrian and Yorkist forces which cost King Richard his life and the crown of England. It takes place on August 17 and 18, from 10am to 5pm daily, and also includes guided walks, displays and activities. Pre-booking is recommended, and can be done by calling 01455 290429.
Leicester’s Newarke Houses Museum will host a talk by Robert Gregory exploring King Richard III’s connections to Leicester, both in life and death. It takes place on Sunday, August 18, from 2pm.
Commemorations will take place on the actual anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth itself. On Thursday, August 22, a rose-laying ceremony in memory of the those killed at Bosworth will take place at Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre’s sundial, at 11am. It will give an opportunity for visitors to remember those who lost their lives on the battlefield and to reflect on the impact of war and battles throughout history.
In the afternoon, Leicester Cathedral Precincts will host a family afternoon of events from 3pm to 5pm, including entertainment by puppeteer Bill Brookman and medieval recorder players. The event is free to attend. Later that evening, the cathedral will host a commemorative choral evensong, from 5.30pm, marking the anniversary of King Richard’s death.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “This year’s commemorations of the Battle of Bosworth have taken on an extra significance given the extraordinary work over the last 12 months which has discovered and identified the remains of the Last Plantagenet king here in the city. “While visitors are rightly fascinated by the story of his life and times, the details we now know about his death and burial are worthy of more solemn reflection, and the tone of these commemorations strikes the correct balance.” According to tradition, King Richard’s body was brought back to Leicester where it was put on public display before being buried in the Greyfriars church on August 25, 1485.
Last year, the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) excavations at the site of the lost church first uncovered remains, which later were identified as those of King Richard III, on August 25 – the 527th anniversary of his burial. The dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society. The originator of the search was Phillipa Langley of the Richard III Society. [Source: Leicester City Council]
8th August 2013
King Richard III visitor centre plans approved
PLANS have been approved for the creation of a new King Richard III visitor centre in the heart of Leicester’s Old Town.
Proposals to transform the former Alderman Newton’s School building at St Martin’s Place into a stunning new permanent exhibition and visitor experience telling the story of King Richard’s life, death and rediscovery, were approved at a meeting of Leicester City Council’s planning and development and control committee on Wednesday, August 7.
The £4million project will transform both the inside and outside of the Victorian Gothic building to create two floors of exhibition space and a new covered area allowing visitors access to the grave in which Richard’s remains were discovered last summer.
Designs also include a new courtyard garden, glass entrance hall, viewing balcony, cafe and visitor entry from Peacock Lane. The stunning 150-year-old former Alderman Newton School building, which is right next to the Greyfriars grave site, was purchased by the city council last year with a view to breathing new life into the building as a King Richard III visitor experience.
Architects Maber and design company Studio MB were appointed to the project to turn the derelict former grammar school into the dazzling visitor centre. Three new creative specialists with extensive backgrounds in heritage and tourism projects were also appointed. The completed visitor centre is scheduled to be opened in time for the planned re interment of King Richard’s remains at Leicester Cathedral, just across the road in Peacock Lane, in spring 2014. Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am very pleased that these stunning designs to bring new life to this beautiful old building has been approved, and work can now progress on creating a very fitting visitor experience telling the story of King Richard.” [Source: Leicester City Council]
10th July 2013
Play explores Richard’s reputation
A NEW play taking to the stage in Leicester will examine whether or not King Richard III deserves his dastardly reputation. The production, entitled ‘R-3: Hunchback or Hero?’ delves into the history books to try to understand the mind of the man, whom history portrays as a scheming, deformed villain responsible for the murder of his two young nephews in the Tower of London. Inspired by the new evidence unearthed by the discovery of King Richard’s remains in 2012, the play will re-examine the man and the myths surrounding him.
The performance is a one-man show, using some of Shakespeare’s text but also challenging the traditional Tudor view of the much maligned monarch, as well as bringing Richard to life to answer his accusers and re-write his reputation for the history books. R-3: Hunchback or Hero? will run at the Mayor’s Parlors in Leicester Guildhall from from July 15 to August 4.
The play, by Centre Five Productions, is coming to Leicester following a highly-successful run in London year. Historian and writer John Ashdown-Hill, whose book The Last Days of Richard III inspired last year’s dig for the last Plantagenet’s grave, said: “If you should get the chance to see it, I would strongly recommend doing so. It is certain to inspire both thoughts and feelings.”
4th February 2013
Bones set to tell story of royal remains
Archaeologists are set to tell the world the results of their tests on the bones found under a car park in Leicester, in a programme to be broadcast this evening by Channel Four. The programme will include a reconstruction of the king’s face, allowing comparison to portraits.
Many experts appear to be confident that the bones are those of the king who was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. This is based on a preliminary examination of the bones.
Today the results of DNA tests might give us the final proof that many people are hoping for that these bones are in fact those of the last of the Plantagenet kings, whose death saw the end to the war of the roses.
DNA testing was developed by researchers at the University of Leicester.
Interest in this story is world wide, placing Leicester on the International map in many western countries. Images of the skull found in the excavations has been released. The archaeology is being lead by a team at the University of Leicester.
Part of the process by which the bones are to be verified involved obtaining DNA samples from a current day descendent, a man who lives in Canada.
Commenting in History Extra, Tracy Borman said ‘Richard III is one of the most controversial figures in history. Demonised by the Tudors (and Shakespeare in particular) as a crook-backed murderer, he has since been at least partially rehabilitated by the likes of the Richard III Society. But the debate continues to rage amongst historians today.’
If the find is confirmed, it will finally put to rest the legend that the bones were dug up in the Middle Ages and thrown into the river Soar.
A press conference is being held at 10 am and is being broadcast live by BBC Radio Leicester.
Once the remains have been fully examined, they are to be interred in Leicester Cathedral. A plaque commemorating the king has been in place in the church for many years.
The press conference has attracted media from all over the world, reports Radio Leicester.
Tourist chiefs foresee a Richard III experience offering a “whole day out for the family”, turning both county and city into a money-earning theme park.
Vice Chancellor says this is a “research adventure”, bringing together a wide range of disciplines.
Richard was buried in the Greyfriars Monastery, which is where the car park now stands. The bones that were found showed signs that suggested they were those of Richard III. The skeleton was in good condition and showed curvature of the spine. It was been buried in a shroud rather than a coffin.
The bones were subject to radio carbon dating that suggested that they could be traced back to around 1485.
The skeleton confirmed to be those of a male, late 20s to late 30s and with a slender build. There was curvature of the spine. These findings are consistent with what is known about the dead king.
The skull shows a wound at the base of the skull, made with a bladed weapon. Most likely cause of death.
Other wounds are consistent with warfare injuries or by attacks that took place after death – post-mortem defilement.
Richard’s naked body is reputed to have been thrown on a horse before being taken back to Leicester.
“Taken as a whole the skeletal evidence confirms that this is likely to be Richard III” said Dr. Jo Appleby.
Prof. Kevin Shurer looked into the genealogical work that lead to the discovery of the king’s living descendents including Michael Ibsen.
This allowed DNA from the skeleton to be compared with that of living descendents.
Dr. Turi King, the project’s geneticist, said that DNA had been extracted from the remains but it is too early to confirm a match.
There is a DNA match between the family of RichardIII and the bones from the excavation, pointing to these being indeed the remains of the king.
About this page
The story of Richard III and the discovery of his bones under a Leicester Park was featured in Arts in Leicester magazine from 2013 onwards.
Originally on the Historic Buildings page, we developed so much copy on this subject that we decided to devote a whole page to this subject, as part of the Architecture section of the old magazine.
LEICESTER Cathedral will be the final resting place for King Richard lll, it was confirmed today.
The Royal Courts of Justice announced this morning that there are no public law grounds for the court to interfere with the reburial of the king, and for that reason the application for judicial review put forward by the Plantagenet Alliance has been dismissed.
The decision was reached by three High Court judges who had reviewed whether the exhumation licence obtained by the University of Leicester was lawful.
The Plantagenet Alliance had called for the judicial review, arguing that consultation should have taken place on the king’s reburial place, once it was confirmed that the bones exhumed by the University of Leicester were those of Richard lll.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am delighted that Leicester Cathedral can now proceed with its plans to give King Richard lll a dignified reburial here in the city.
“With the support of the city council and the University of Leicester, the cathedral is now planning for the king’s reinterment to take place in the spring of next year.
“This will be a momentous event for the city and county, and an opportunity to show the rest of the world that Leicester is the rightful resting place for the last Plantagenet King of England.
“I have always said that Leicester needs to be more self-confident if it is to thrive, and this news gives us yet another reason to celebrate all that is good about our city, and to look forward with confidence and pride.”
King Richard’s remains were discovered in August 2012 during a project involving the University of Leicester, Leicester City Council and The Richard III Society. In February 2013, the University of Leicester announced overwhelming scientific evidence that the remains were those of the last Plantagenet king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
LEICESTER’S statue of King Richard III will be delivered to its new home in Cathedral Gardens tomorrow (Thursday, June 26).
The bronze statue – which was removed from its former location at Castle Gardens in May – has been meticulously cleaned, restored and polished by specialists Hirst Conservation at the company’s Lincolnshire studios.
It will be delivered to Cathedral Gardens as work on the £2million project nears completion.
The reinstated statue will be armed with a new, full-length sword cast in bronze by Lockbund Sculpture from the original designs by sculptor James Butler MBE RA.
It will stand on a low slab of polished granite chosen to match materials used in Cathedral Gardens.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The arrival of the statue in Cathedral Gardens is a very poignant moment.
“In the few weeks since the statue was taken away for restoration, we have learned that Leicester will rightly be the final resting place for the remains of Richard III.
“The statue will now stand between the new King Richard III Visitor Centre on the site where his remains were discovered, and the king’s final resting place at Leicester Cathedral.
“We could not wish for a more fitting memorial to this extraordinary chapter in the city’s history.”
Pete Hobson, acting Canon Missioner at Leicester Cathedral, said: “James Butler’s iconic statue, relocated in one corner of the gardens, will be linked to the other new installation, Towards Stillness, in the opposite corner, by a new sweeping pathway, St Martins Walk.
“The two works of modern art taken together will frame this new space – itself a gift to the city – which will provide a fitting setting for our Cathedral for many years to come.”
The relocation of the statue has been managed by P Casey (Land Reclamation) Ltd, lead contractors on the Cathedral Gardens project.
The statue was donated to the city by the Richard III Society in 1980.
Artist James Butler will be giving a public talk about the King Richard III statue on Saturday, 5 July, at St Martins House. He will be joined by Juliet Quintero, the lead artist on Towards Stillness, the new artwork commissioned by Leicestershire County Council.
The event is taking place as part of a weekend celebration to mark the public opening of Cathedral Gardens.
The £2.5million Cathedral Quarter regeneration project, which also includes resurfacing and other improvements along Peacock Lane, is being funded by the Diocese of Leicester, Leicester City Council and private donations, with support from Leicestershire County Council.
Leicester City Council successfully bid for up to £1milllion from the European Regional Development Fund towards the project.
The new King Richard III Visitor Centre, on Peacock Lane, will open on 26 July. For more information, or to book tickets in advance, visit www.kriii.com
[Source: Leicester City Council]
28th May 2014
Richard III display extended
A HUGELY popular temporary exhibition telling the story of King Richard III will remain open for an extra week because of a surge in interest in it.
The temporary exhibition at Leicester’s Guildhall Museum – Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King – was due to close its doors for the final time on Sunday, June 1.
However, following the announcement last week that the king’s remains will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral, there has been renewed interest in the exhibition about the king’s death and remarkable rediscovery.
It will now remain open until Sunday, June 8.
The exhibition opened in February 2013 just days after researchers and archaeologists from the University of Leicester confirmed that human remains discovered beneath the city’s Greyfriars car park were those of the Last Plantagenet, who was brought to the city after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Nearly 190,000 visitors flocked through the doors of the exhibition in less than 18 months, and it was shortlisted for a prestigious national Museums and Heritage Award, losing out to the Victoria and Albert’s stunning David Bowie exhibition, “Bowie Is”.
Richard III: Leicester’s Search for a King, tells the story of the painstaking work involved in discovering, analysing and identifying the battle-scarred bones of the king, as well as giving visitors an insight into medieval Leicester.
Centrepieces of the exhibition include an interactive image of the king’s skeleton and a detailed 3-D recreation of his skull.
A new, much larger exhibition, entitled King Richard III – Dynasty, Death and Discovery, is due to open later this summer a stone’s throw away at the former Alderman Newton’s School in St Martins Place, near the site of King Richard’s grave.
Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Following last week’s fantastic news that Leicester can indeed proceed with re-burying King Richard III with dignity, it seemed right to keep the exhibition open to allow as many visitors as possible to experience it.
“It has proved an enormous success, and now with the king’s story once again making national headlines, we want to enable people to continue visiting this wonderful exhibition.”
Once the Richard III exhibition closes, the Guildhall will become the home of a new installation focusing on medieval Leicester, funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and charity the Wolfson Foundation.
[Source: Leicester City Council]
Friday 23rd May 2014
King Richard III to be buried in Leicester
The remains of King Richard III are to be interred in Leicester cathedral, it was announced today, following a judgement by The High Court.
Having discovered the remains of the last of the Plantagenet Kings under a Council Car Park in Leicester, plans were made to re-bury the bones inside Leicester Cathedral.
Present day Yorkists took their case to the High Court claiming that the rightful place for the King’s remains should be York Minster, in their view.
Judges ruled today in favour of the case for Leicester Cathedral to be the final resting place of English monarch, who died over 500 years ago. Announcing the publication of the Court’s ruling, a panel of experts and representatives of the City and the Church gathered with members of the media in the Nave of Leicester Cathedral. Chairing the event, the Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, led the distinguished panel into the Nave to tell the waiting press of the result, moments after it had been published on the Judiciary website.
The panel included Nick Rushton (Leader of Leicestershire County Council), Professor Mark Thompson (University of Leicester), Sir Peter Soulsby (Mayor of Leicester), the Bishop of Leicester, The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, The Very Reverend David Monteith (Dean of Leicester) and Richard Buckley OBE (University of Leicester).
The event was filmed by over a dozen TV film crews with many reporters and journalists in the audience; not quite as many as had been present when the results were announced confirming that the bones were in fact those of Richard III, when the world’s media gathered in vast numbers to hear the results of the archaeological find of the century.
Wearing a white rose, the emblem of the dead king, The Bishop’s announcement was greeted with sustained applause from those present in the Church. He said that the King’s remains would be given a dignified funeral when they are finally laid to rest. Professor Mark Thompson said that the team from the University of Leicester, who had discovered and unearthed the remains, had done something that had been a stunning success both for the City and for the University of Leicester. The City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, said that the remains had been found in the shadow of the Cathedral, where they had lain for over five hundred years and so it was fitting that they should be re-buried there.
A tomb has already been designed to mark the spot where the King will lie in the Cathedral. The Dean of Leicester, The Very Revd David Monteith, said that the discovery of the bones and their scientific identification as being those of the King had been an extraordinary story. The re-burial is likely to take place in the spring of 2015. Coverage of the funeral is to be covered by Channel 4, the TV station that broadcast several documentaries about the discovery of the remains and their examination by archaeologists and scientists from the University.
Asked if the Plantagenet Alliance would appeal against today’s finding, members of the panel commented that they would have three weeks to think about it but that any appeal would have to be on a point of law, not a move to re-open the whole question.
Sir Peter Soulsby said that he could understanding where the Yorkists were coming from but their case was tenuous. Richard was the Duke of Gloucester and was born at Fotheringhay Castle, in Northamptonshire. Whilst he was from the House of York – a family name and dynasty – he never actually spent much time there. He was killed at the Battle of Bosworth and his body was brought to Leicester, where it was buried in the monastery of the Greyfriars. Sir Peter commented that the Plantagenet Alliance were “not clear what they wanted at the hearing and were pressed several times by the judges to make clear what they wanted.”
In a statement issued by the Plantagenet Alliance, they claim that Richard III would have wanted to have been buried at York, although they did admit that this wish was “inferred”.
A statement from The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester:
The delays are over. The law is clear and unequivocally set forth in today’s judgement. Richard III fought here, fell here, died here, has lain here and was rediscovered here. He will now be finally led to rest with the prayers of God’s people in a manner fitting to his story and with dignity as befits a child of God and an anointed King of England.
In a postscript to their decision, the Judges wrote
Since Richard III’s exhumation on 5th September 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt. Issues relating to his life and death and place of re-interment have been exhaustively examined and debated. The Very Reverend David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, has explained the considerable efforts and expenditure invested by the Cathedral in order to create a lasting burial-place “as befits an anointed King”. We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.