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The Richard III Society

Promoting research into the life and times of Richard III since 1924

Patron: HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO

     — 2016 —     

•  Saturday, 26 March


     — 2015 —     

•  Friday, 27 March

•  Thursday, 26 March

•  Wednesday, 25 March

•  Tuesday, 24 March

•  Monday, 23 March

•  Sunday, 22 March

•  Saturday 21 March

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Diary @ Reburial Week

Please also visit the Events page to view other articles about Society activities during March 2015's historic week in Leicester.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Richard Reburied Revisited

Procession to the Cathderal
On Saturday, 26 March, the first anniversary of the reburial of King Richard was remembered in and around the Cathedral in Leicester.

It began when books and a CD were launched in St Martin’s House.

Crowds gather around Richard III's statue in Leicester
This was followed in the Cathedral Gardens by a service - ‘Richard Reburied Revisited’. It began with a procession of civic, clerical and other dignitaries to the statue of Richard III, where, the City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby laid a wreath of white roses. As the service continued, the Dean of Leicester, the VR David Monteith, HM Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Jennifer, Lady Gretton, and the Society Chairman, Dr Phil Stone, scattered rose petals at the grave site.

The rest of the service took place by the ‘Key of Life’ water feature and included the laying of white roses on the lawn opposite. While this was taking place, Phil Stone, together with Sally Henshaw and Richard Smith, Secretary and Chairman of the Leicestershire Branch, who were carrying the banners, entered the Cathedral with Dr Johannes Arens, Canon Precentor, in order to lay white roses on the tomb of the king and to say a prayer.

Sally Henshaw and Richard Smith with the Standards
The Society thanks the Reverend Canon Alison Adams for organising and leading these events as we remembered the reburial of Richard III a year ago.

These photographs, collected from people who were there, are part of our commemoration and thanks. They form a memory of a damp afternoon during which events, both solemn and joyous, took place.

A Choirboy’s Perspective
This charming perspective has been sent to us by Lucy Wiles and her son Isaac. Isaac—now 10 years old—is a choirboy and sings at Leicester Cathedral where he was part of the reburial service in 2015. Isaac made this blog as part of his half term homework and during the process he interviewed one of our Canadian members, Mrs Elaine Duncanson, who was visiting Leicester for the reburial with her husband Robert. Mr and Mrs Duncanson are leading lights in the Society in Canada and they have been made aware of the vblog so that Elaine can see her 'starring' role.

All images shown below © The Richard III Society


Friday, 27 March 2015

A tomb revealed and a finale of fireworks

King Richard's tomb was revealed to the world today during a service held in Leicester Cathedral. The two-tonne block of pale Swaledale fossil limestone had been put into place above the plinth over night. It bears a deeply incised cross, while the plinth has the King's name, dates, motto and coat of arms.

The Service of Reveal comprised traditional hymns and prayers and also a dance performance by the local Curve theatre. From 3 pm until 7.30 pm members of the public were able to view the tomb. The final day of the Society's hospitality suite proved almost as busy as all the previous ones. Over the week it has certainly proved its worth by providing a convenient and comfortable venue for members to meet and rest. The provision of refreshments, especially the homemade cakes, was particularly popular.

Dominic Smee and Philippa Langley
at the hospitality suite.
Dominic Smee visited the suite today and spoke to members about his experience of scoliosis and his role as King Richard's 'body double' in the recent Channel Four documentary about the king. Dominic stayed for most of day which was much appreciated by all. Philippa Langley visited during the afternoon and also chatted to members present.

The end of the reburial week was marked in the evening by the lighting of 8,000 candles in the city's Jubilee Square and Cathedral Gardens followed by an impressive and colourful fireworks display on the cathedral roof. There were also fire sculptures, including a large horse in Jubilee Square. The event was entitled 'Leicester Glows' and culminated in the projection of a large 'RIII' onto the cathedral.

Queuing to view King Richard's tomb
and preparations for 'Leicester Glows'
Looking back over the week The Rt Rev. Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said: 'It has been a wonderful week for Leicester Cathedral but more importantly it has been a wonderful week for the city and county.'

For Ricardians it was a week when King Richard finally received the honour, dignity and recognition that had for centuries been denied him.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

With Honour and Dignity: a king is reburied

The eyes of the world were again on Leicester today as King Richard III was reburied in the city's cathedral with pageantry, solemnity and honour.

The service was one of great dignity and beauty, presided over by both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Leicester. The Royal Family was represented by H.R.H The Countess of Wessex, the Society's Patron H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester and H.R.H The Duchess of Gloucester.

H.M. The Queen sent a message which noted: 'the reburial of King Richard III is an event of great national and international significance. Today we recognise a King who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death.'

The congregation included representatives of all those associated with the finding and identification of King Richard's remains, most especially Philippa Langley and the Looking for Richard Team, the Richard III Society and the University of Leicester. There were also descendants of those on both sides of the Wars of the Roses, together with representatives of organisations in Leicester and Leicestershire and members of the public.

The service was based on a pattern that in essence would have been used in Richard III's own lifetime, with adjustments to make it relevant to the present. This was reflected in the music which included beautifully sung plainsong psalms and more modern hymns. A particularly poignant moment was when the Duke of Gloucester placed King Richard's own Book of Hours on a cushion before his coffin.

In his sermon the Bishop of Leicester noted 'People have come in their thousands from around the world to this place of honour, not to judge or condemn but to stand humble and reverent … From car park to cathedral … Today we come to give this King, and these mortal remains the dignity and honour denied to them in death.' The Bishop also acknowledged the Richard III Society's key role in promoting a reappraisal of the King's posthumous reputation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury presided over the reburial and offered prayers, together with a representative of the Roman Catholic Church. King Richard's coffin was carried to his grave by a bearer party comprising members of the armed forces, whilst a specially commissioned anthemn 'Ghostly Grace' was sung. Earth from Fotheringhay, Middleham and Bosworth was then scattered over the coffin as it lay in the grave.

Following the reburial the actor Benedict Cumberbatch read a poem specially written by the Poet Laureate, which included the lines:
'or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found

It was an historic and very moving experience for all present, and now after 530 years an anointed King of England at last rests in peace, honour and dignity.

York commemorates King Richard

King Richard was remembered at evensong in York Minister today. There was also a commemoration in the city's Guildhall organised by those who had campaigned for the king to be reburied in York. In moving readings and music the memory of King Richard and his connections with York and the North were commemorated. The event saw the premiere of Paul Lewis's Fanfare for King Richard and his Lament for a King. Graham Keitch performed his beautiful motet In Memorium: Ricardus Rex, and soprano Nicola Fox provided stunning renditions of Dido's Lament and Bring Him Home. For those present it was an unforgettable occasion.

The Middleham Requiem

The fourth ever performance of the Middleham Requiem took place this evening in Leicester's church of St James the Greater in the presence of H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester. The church, with its almost perfect acoustics, was filled to capacity with Society members and invited guests.

Church of St James The Greater, LeicesterThe Requiem was conducted by its composer, Geoff Davidson, and narrated by Sir Timothy Ackroyd. The parts of King Richard and Anne Neville, were sung by Adam Tunnicliffe and Rosamund Walton. Their duet, 'Hollin, Green Hollin,' mourning the death of their son, Edward of Middleham, was particularly moving.

The Requiem moved to its dramatic conclusion with the defeat and death of King Richard at Bosworth and the lament of the City of York when they received the news.

Many members commented afterwards that the Requiem was a fitting and poignant conclusion to a day that had earlier seen the honourable reburial of King Richard in Leicester Cathedral.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

City of White Roses

… still queuing at the Cathedral …
Today was the final day for King Richard to lie in repose in the Cathedral. The doors opened at 7.30 am and we had it on a reliable authority that the queue began to form at 4.30 am. During the morning there was a performance by a group of gospel singers which added to the atmosphere and activity in the gardens. Once again white roses could be found all over the city; the statue of King Richard opposite the cathedral still being adorned with them. Indeed wherever you were in the Cathedral Quarter the flowers were in evidence. The doors were scheduled to close at 12.30 pm but we believe the authorities were trying to allow a few more members of the public to file past the coffin.
White Roses for sale.
Throughout the three days the stewards on duty were very helpful and those with mobility or other problems were fast tracked into the Cathedral. Indeed we were moved how the city and people of Leicester had taken, not only King Richard into their hearts, but the numerous visitors who had arrived to become a part of this unique week.

Early in the day the hospitality suite at the Guildhall continued to be popular but in the afternoon members took advantage of the Society's private viewing at the King Richard III Visitor Centre which included seeing the ledger stone—donated by the Society to the Cathedral in 1982—in its new home. After the tour they met in the King's Suite for refreshments and mingled with special guests Philippa Langley who led the search for Richard III, Richard Buckley and Matthew Morris the archaeoloigsts, and Bob Woosnam-Savage of the Royal Armouries who worked with the University of Leicester to analyse the wounds King Richard had received at Bosworth.
Ricardians in the hospitality suite.
It was a busy and pleasurable afternoon.

A lively and stimulating debate at the Central Library took place in the early evening, entitled 'King Richard III in Fact and Fiction – Who should we believe?' and which was chaired by our own chairman, Dr Phil Stone. The panellists representing the 'facts' were Society President Peter Hammond and David Baldwin. Represeting the novelists were Joanna Hickson and Toby Clements. There was a brisk exchange of views before questions were taken from the floor. The panelists concluded there was a role for both as long as readers were conscious that a novel is a work of the imagination and that non-fiction is an interpretation of the available evidence.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

More queues, white roses and a poem

The queues of people wishing to pay their respects to King Richard III as he lay in repose in Leicester Cathedral continued today, at one point there was a five hour wait before the cathedral was reached.
The start of the queue.
By 3pm the numbers had already exceed the 5000 achieved on Monday.

The Society's statue of King Richard, now located in the gardens between the cathedral and the visitors centre, was festooned with white roses.

King Richard's statue festooned
with white roses.
Over in the Guildhall the Society's hospitality suite enjoyed another busy day, sales have been so good that both the silk ties and funeral badges are now out of stock. We should have a fresh supply of the badges for Friday. Also on Friday we hope Dominic Smee will be able to join us in the suite; he will be happy to speak to members about his experience of being King Richard's 'body double' in last year's Channel Four documentary 'Richard III: the new evidence'.

During the evening in the Holy Cross Priory the Ricardian Music Guild, in association with the Society's American Branch, held a concert of music from the time of Richard III. Both sacred and secular music was played and sung, including an instrumental rendition of the famous 'Agincourt Carol'. We also heard a political carol from the late fifteenth century, 'This gentile day dawes', thought to be about Elizabeth Woodville or Elizabeth of York, but textual evidence now strongly suggests it may have been about Anne Neville.

The Holy Cross Priory 'tree'.
As part of its commemoration of the reburial week the priory has a 'tree' made of 2000 white roses and 'genista' yellow broom; the white roses for the House of York and the broom for the Plantagenets—together symbolising King Richard.

It was announced today that the actor Benedict Cumberbatch will read a poem specially written by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, at the reburial service on Thursday. Cumberbatch is a collateral descendant of King Richard and will be portraying the king in a forthcoming BBC production of Shakespeare's play.

Monday, 23 March 2015

King Richard continues to rule in Leicester

Early morning queue at Leicester Cathedral.
Over five thousand people viewed King Richard's coffin today as it rested in repose in Leicester Cathedral. At times the queue snaked through the streets of the city with some having to wait up to three hours before reaching the cathedral.

Earlier in the day, the Society's deputy chairman, Wendy Moorhen, had been interviewed together with actor, Sir Antony Sher, on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme. The subject was Shakespeare's Richard III, with Sir Antony readily agreeing the play was great drama but bad history.

It was also a special day for the Richard III Society, with our members' buffet at the Holiday Inn and our own memorial service in Leicester Cathedral in the presence of King Richard's mortal remains.

Hundreds of members attended the buffet, which was held in two sittings during the afternoon. Members from all over the world and throughout the UK were able to mingle and meet each other and enjoy an excellent range of food. Many conversations centred on the privilege of being in Leicester for this unique historic occasion.

Ricardians at the Society's buffet.
Our Hospitality Suite in the Guildhall was very busy throughout day, with sales of the new Society tie and funerary badge being very brisk. It was an opportunity for members to rest, meet and catch up with old friends between visiting the various sites of interest in the city. The provision of refreshments was welcome, with the home-made cakes proving very popular.

The highlight of the day was most certainly the very moving and dignified Society service during the evening. The cathedral was filled to capacity with members, with all eyes focussed on the coffin. The coffin was surrounded by large lit candles and covered with the beautiful specially embroidered pall depicting aspects of King Richard's life. Atop the coffin sat the crown, specially commissioned by John Ashdown-Hill.

The service followed the Anglican Liturgy of Evensong, and the sermon was given by The Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester. Bible readings and contemporary accounts of King Richard were read by Society members, and the Chairman, Phil Stone delivered a reflection on King Richard's prayer, ending with a quote from Hamlet:
'Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest
. '

At the service's end the congregation mingled around the coffin, savouring every last lingering moment of such an unforgettable occasion.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Peoples' King

The people of Leicestershire turned out in their thousands today to pay their respects to King Richard III as the cortège carrying his coffin was taken from the University of Leicester back to Bosworth via the surrounding villages, returning to Leicester and St Martin's Cathedral late afternoon.

Service in the memory of King Richard and all who died at Bosworth.
The day began with the departure from the university, which involved a simple and dignified ceremony with both religious and secular readings before selected guests and a large gathering of on-lookers. The crowds gathered along roadsides and in the villages the cortège passed through were also large, with many people carrying white roses and Yorkist flags.

Even bigger crowds were present at the battlefield centre where a service in the memory of King Richard and all who died at Bosworth was conducted by The Rt. Rev. Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester in the presence of the Society's patron, H.R.H The Duke of Gloucester. The service culminated in a 21 gun salute and the placing of white roses around the sundial memorial by both the invited guests and members of the public.

The streets of Leicester were lined with people for the return of the cortège into the city; this time King Richard's return was one of respect for a slain king, in contrast to the disrespect of August 1485.
Richard's coffin on an open carriage, returning to Leicester.
The coffin, now travelling on an open carriage, was strewn with white roses thrown by the crowd.

The service of Compline for the Reception of the Remains of King Richard, also held in the presence of the Duke of Gloucester was poignant and moving for all who witnessed it. The sermon was preached by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who reminded us that some of the stones from the demolished Grey Friars had been incorporated into St Martin's when it was rebuilt, a fitting use given the cathedral's new role as the final resting place of King Richard.

As the service of Compline ended, 'RIII' was projected onto the spire of the cathedral, a symbolic end to a day that had seen King Richard and his memory treated with much dignity and honour; in Leicester today he truly became the peoples' king.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Although the various ceremonies and services do not begin until Sunday, many Ricardians have already arrived in Leicester on a very chilly and dull day. Walking around the city you can spot a familiar face. In the city centre, but particularly in the Cathedral Quarter, there are film crews or groups of people wearing the large media accreditation badges.
St Nicholas Church
It is rumoured there are over 600 journalist and media personnel in the city.

The extensive programme provided by the City Council, by the two universities (Leicester and De Montfort) and by the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre has now started and many sites not usually accessible are open to the public. De Montfort University has tours of Trinity House Chapel, the Chantry building (though sadly not inside the building itself) and the remains of the Church of the Annunciation in the Hawthorn Building, all in the part of the city known as Newarke. The church remains consist of just two arches and until recently had stood in a 'break' area for the students but the whole room has been revamped with storyboards, glass panels and sympathetic lighting.

The Great Hall—the only remaining building of Leicester Castle—is available for drop-in visits or guided tours. The exterior of the Hall was faced with brick in the Victorian era and used to house the Magistrates' Courts until 1992.
St Nicholas Church
The Blue Badge guide provided a fascinating and appropriate story of the case of Colin Pitchfork which was heard in 1985. He was accused of two murders that took place in Enderby and his conviction was secured by the use of a then recent scientific discovery—DNA. In fact it was the first time DNA had been used as evidence in a court of law.

Tomorrow, when King Richard's cortege returns to Leicester it will halt at St Nicholas, the oldest church in Leicester. This afternoon the church was open—quite a rare occurrence according to one city guide—and it proved to be an absolute gem as you can see from the photographs. Hopefuly the church will remain open for the remainder of the week, though Sunday's brief service for King Richard is a ticketed event.