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The BBC’s series The Hollow Crown features William Shakespeare's history plays from Richard II to Richard III; the first cycle ending with Henry V was shown in 2012 to critical acclaim. The BBC is now broadcasting in the UK the final cycle — The Wars of the Roses — from Henry VI Part 1 to Richard III.
The Shakespearean character ‘Richard III’ — played in the series by Benedict Cumberbatch — is apparently portrayed as a psychopath whose villainy comes about because of the violence he's seen as he is growing up. While it is not our role to interfere with artistic freedom, it needs to be strongly emphasised that these plays are fictional drama and not factual history.
Benedict Cumberbatch read the Poet Laureate’s poem ‘Richard’ at King Richard’s reburial service last year and he is a collateral descendant of the king. In light of this, the Chairman of the Richard III Society has written to ask if he could publicly re-iterate that his portrayal of the king in The Hollow Crown is fictional and not related to the historical facts.
Most people will know and understand that Shakespeare was a playwright not an historian, and that dramatic license often distorts facts and characters. For a full discussion about his play Richard III and its relation to the historical facts, click here.
Following the discovery of Richard III’s remains and their honourable reburial in 2015, there has been a greater focus on the positive aspects of his character and his real achievements as king of England during his short reign; facts viewers of the The Hollow Crown should bear in mind whilst watching this latest portrayal of the fictional ‘Richard III’.
Sue Wells' rebuttal to the Mail on Sunday regarding their article about the prosthetics used in the BBC's production of 'The Hollow Crown'.
'The short piece by Chris Hastings in today's Mail on Sunday about the prosthetics used by Benedict Cumberbatch for his performance as Shakespeare’s fictional ‘Richard III’ is misleading. It implies that the real Richard III also had a 'hunchback'. This is untrue. He suffered from scoliosis, not kyphosis which can result in a hunchback. The king led an active life as an effective administrator and military commander; if he had a disability he clearly overcame it. It is time to end the lazy acquiescence with the Tudor and Shakespearean myths about Richard III: he was no hunchback and if he suffered from scoliosis that is no reason to denigrate him. We celebrate the achievements of our Paralympians and others who overcome disabilities. Let us do the same for Richard III.'
The Richard III and Yorkist History Trust has just published the first in a series of research monographs of recently completed doctoral theses on topics related to late medieval English History. 'Margaret of York' by Harry Schnitker looks at all these aspects of Margaret’s life including the women who influenced her, her support for Mary of Burgundy’s crucial Habsburg marriage, and her attempt to influence English politics by encouraging Yorkist pretenders during the reign of Henry VII. Margaret of York was the sister of Edward IV and Richard III.
The Richard III and Yorkist History Trust is a charitable trust established by the Richard III Society in 1985 to further education and research related to the history of late-fifteenth-century England and to encourage the publication of such research.
For further information about 'Margaret of York' and details of how to purchase the book (there is a special offer for Richard III Society members) click here.
The auction of the Motcomb Collection English Groats, took place on the 17th March. We have been able to obtain information on the prices achieved for the items featured in the catalogue and the auction house was pleased to report that Richard III items 'fared well overall'. The sale prices of the individual items are included in the list here and the auctioneers have kindly offered us some clarification around the prices shown as follows:
'The hammer prices have 20% buyer’s premium added, which is why reports of auction sales sometimes seem inconsistent (£2,000 in one place, £2,400 in another!) There’s no right and wrong about this and we would normally report a price as either “hammer” or “incl. buyer’s premium” to make it clear. On the list attached the individual lots are all hammer prices while the sale total at the bottom is “including buyer’s premium'.
The sales relating to coins from the reign of Richard III are shown at items 144 – 159.
The reburial service was an historic and moving occasion presided over by both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Leicester with many distinguished guests including HRH the Countess of Wessex, the Society's Patron HRH the Duke of Gloucester and HRH the Duchess of Gloucester. In his sermon the Bishop emphasised that ‘we come to give this King, and these mortal remains the dignity and honour denied to them in death.' The message from HM the Queen noted that ‘the reburial of King Richard III is an event of great national and international significance.’
The reburial events in Leicester attracted worldwide interest with extensive media coverage. This, together with the sermons and eulogies given, invariably touched on positive aspects of King Richard III’s life and reign, emphasising his commitment to the fair administration of justice and the legal reforms of his only parliament. As a result, the public’s perceptions of the king have been changed for the better.
The discovery and reburial of King Richard III’s remains have raised his profile, provided new avenues for research and increased opportunities to advance the case for a reappraisal of his life and character. In this context, we again acknowledge the achievement of Philippa Langley MBE and the Looking for Richard Team, without whose efforts the King's remains would not have been found.
As we reflect on this first anniversary, we can all take comfort in the knowledge that after half a millennium this anointed king of England rests at last in peace and honour in consecrated ground in the heart of his kingdom.
The Richard III Society
26 March 2016
Photo-mosaic of Richard created with photographs sent inOn 26th March 2016 the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester unveiled a photo-mosaic of King Richard III to commemorate the first anniversary of his reinternment. The image was created using photographs sent to the Visitor Centre which were taken during the Reinternment Week of 2015. Contributions were received from members of the public, Leicester Cathedral, University of Leicester, Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council.
Close up of photo-mosaic, showing individual photographsThe photo-mosaic forms part of the Visitor Centre’s exhibition ‘Reinterment: One Year On’ and will be on display until 2nd May 2016. For more information please go to the King Richard III Vistor Centre site.
An update on the Fotheringhay Church Appeal from Phil Stone: 'There is great news on the matter of the repairs to Fotheringhay Church. The H B Allen Trust has made a grant of £700,000 to replace, rather than repair, the roof!
'As a result of the grant, the project has been enlarged by The Friends of Fotheringhay Church to accommodate this offer and the total amount needed has risen from £600,000 to £1.2m.
'As £1m has already been raised in cash and pledges — including the H B Allen grant — just £200,000 is still needed. Consequently, the appeal is most certainly NOT closed. Please continue to give if you can.
'The administrators of the Appeal wish to record their deep gratitude for the ongoing generous donations which they have received from members of the Richard lll Society, whose contributions have given them great encouragement!'
A collection of English groats — The Motcombe Collection — is due to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London on Thursday 17 March. The collection includes groats — designed to be worth four pennies each — dating from the reigns of Edward I (1272-1307) through to Queen Mary (1553-1554) encompassing the reign of Richard III and including those coins those struck in the name of Edward V.
The Press AssociationThe Richard III Society congratulates Philippa Langley and Dr John Ashdown-Hill on their investiture at Buckingham Palace on 9 October when they were awarded the MBE by HM The Queen.
Philippa said 'After discovering a king in a car park, it is almost as surreal to be at the Palace today to receive this award. It marks the end of a gruelling ten year journey and I would like to thank all those who put me forward for this recognition and honour. I'm delighted that the discovery of King Richard has ignited worldwide interest in his story. For the very first time, this historical figure is being read about widely to understand the facts surrounding his life and times and to question the received wisdom and ages-old mythology that has enveloped him for centuries.'
Society Chairman Phil Stone commented 'The Society congratulate Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill on their momentous day'.
Helen Ashburn, secretary of GMB
at the anniversary dinner2015 marks the 40th Anniversary of the foundation of the Greater Manchester Branch. The original meetings were held in the appropriately named Duke of York public house in Stockport and in the mid 1980s we moved to The Boars Head and finally to The Arden Arms, also both in Stockport. One of the highlights of the Branch in 1985 was the Quincentenary celebrations in Leicester which were very well attended.
In 1976 the first edition of the Branch journal Semper Fidelis was published and we still endeavour to produce new editions, although not as often as we would like. Our on-line newsletter Boaring News now keeps members up to date with meetings and interesting topics.
Over the years we have invited a diverse range of speakers to our meetings and have enjoyed numerous visits and weekend breaks to places of interest. Inevitably, membership has had its ups and downs, especially during the 1990s but I am pleased to say that since the discovery of Richard, membership has increased considerably and we now have an active and friendly Branch.
I have had the privilege of being Branch Secretary for 23 years and I was very proud that we were able to hold an Anniversary Dinner on 20th June this year to mark this important landmark in the Branch's history. In March we also planted two sapling oak trees in Leicestershire: one to celebrate our Anniversary and the other to mark and honour the reburial of King Richard III.
On a personal note, I would like to thank all our Branch members for their support and friendship and know that they all live up to our journal motto, Semper Fidelis 'Always Faithful'.
Helen Ashburn, Branch Secretary
image courtesy of Carl Vivian
Leicester UniversityOn Thursday, 10th September, Dr Turi King, Prof Caroline Wilkinson and Dr Phil Stone met at the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester to discuss King Richard's hair colour. Although the DNA analysis has suggested he had blond hair and blue eyes in childhood, the colour of the hair on the facial reconstruction needs to be what would have been seen in adulthood. Using the portrait in the Society of Antiquaries of London as a guide, the hair is now a mid brown with a slight wave. Prof Wilkinson, Dr King and Phil Stone hope that this will be "the definitive image of the reconstruction with both scientific and historical evidence to support the hair colour and style."
King Henry V at the Battle of AgincourtThe 600th Anniversary of The Battle of Agincourt Conference 2015 is being organised by the University of Southampton and will take place Friday 31 July – Monday 3 August 2015.
There are a number of prestigious keynote speakers including Professor Bertrand Schnerb (University of Lille III), Dr Andrew Ayton (University of Hull) , Dr Alexandra Hildred (Mary Rose Trust), and Dr Thom Richardson (Royal Armouries). Dr Ian Mortimer will be giving a special public lecture on Saturday 1 August on 'The Meaning of War', and in an after dinner speech at the conference dinner, Professor Anne Curry (University of Southampton) will be reflecting on 'Life with Agincourt'.
There will be a very special event on Sunday 2 August with privileged visits to the Mary Rose, Porchester Castle, Titchfield Barn (a building which Henry V would have seen in 1415 and which is now a theatre), and Titchfield Abbey, along with a conference dinner at the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson, which includes a private tour of the artillery collection. There will be a wide range of talks and papers and special events including visit to the defences of Southampton.
Book your ticket here.
The Richard III Society is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of its vice-Presidents, Moira Habberjam, on 25 June.
Moira receiving the Robert Hamblin Award for 2008Moira devoted many decades to the work of the Society both as secretary of the Yorkshire Branch and as a valued member of the Research Committee. Her skills as a palaeographer and Latinist were of immense value to the Society's research agenda, as evidenced by her vital contribution to the success of the Logge Wills Project. There will be an obituary and other tributes in September's Ricardian Bulletin. In the meantime, we offer our sincere condolences to her husband, Gerald, and the rest of her family.
Philippa Langley and Dr John Ashdown-Hill have been awarded the MBE in recognition of their services to 'the Exhumation and Identification of Richard III' (London Gazette) in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours. The Richard III Society congratulates them both for this public recognition of their hard work, research and determination. See our Press release.
The week of the reburial of King Richard III is now behind us and we can all take much solace from the knowledge that the king now lies in peace and honour reburied in the consecrated ground of Leicester Cathedral.
The eyes of the world were on Leicester that week and it was very satisfying to note that the media coverage, and the sermons and eulogies given, all included references to positive aspects of King Richard's life and reign. His commitment to the fair administration of justice and the legal reforms of his only parliament were cited by many commentators. It was also pleasing to hear actors such as Sir Anthony Sher and Robert Lindsay publicly stating that Shakespeare was great drama but bad history.
The question many are now posing is where do we go from here? How much has the discovery of King Richard's remains changed or challenged traditional accounts of the king? Clearly we have found out a great deal about his appearance and diet and also about the fatal wounds he suffered at Bosworth. Most importantly we know that he had the condition known as scoliosis, and this evidence allows us to dismiss the traditional story that the king was a hunchback. The Society intends to be particularly proactive in challenging misapprehensions about scoliosis and to champion a more informed and positive view of the condition and how Richard managed it in less sympathetic times than our own.
As we have done for the past ninety years, the Society will continue to seek a reassessment of King Richard's life and character. For this to have substance it must be based on the evidence that can only be found in the surviving contemporary records. To find, access, transcribe and interpret these records in the proper context of the time and circumstances in which they were written, requires a considerable range of skills. Foreign archives—aside from the language issues—present a considerable challenge in this regard, which means a focussed and skills-based approach will be essential to the success of any archival research.
The Society is delighted to learn that the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester has been shortlisted for one of the 2015 Museums and Heritage awards following a search led by the Guardian Cultural Professionals Network for the most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction of the past 12 months. There will now be a public vote to select the overall winner. Voting closes at midnight on Friday 20 March 2015, and the winner will be announced at the national Museums and Heritage Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 29 April. The Culture Pros Pick award went to the People's History Museum.
King Richard III featured as the 'Great Life' in the 6 January 2015 episode. For those not familiar with the programme, this is Radio 4's biography series first broadcast in 2001 and is currently presented by journalist Matthew Parris. A guest is asked to nominate a person they believe is deserving of the title and, together with an expert, often a biographer, the life is discussed during the 28-minute programme.
Society member Philippa Langley, who instigated and led the search for the king through the Looking for Richard Project, while Annette Carson, a fellow member of the Society and author of Richard III: The Maligned King, appeared as the expert witness to provide historical background. Philippa said 'It was a great honour to nominate Richard III as a 'Great Life' for BBC Radio 4's iconic programme. I hope that the topics Annette and I were able to cover in the time given may offer a glimpse of the man from the historic record, so that the listeners may be interested to discover more about the last Plantagenet'.
A podcast of the program is available here.
Towards the end of the programme, reference is made to the coffining of King Richard's remains. For further detail, please see the Leicester Cathedral statement.
We are pleased to announce that following on-going discussions the final details for the reburial of Richard lll have been agreed and a number of our concerns addressed.
These concerns were raised at a meeting with Leicester Cathedral and the reburial management team in late June. In some cases our view did not prevail, but in others we were more successful. In particular we were able to secure the support of the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England on a number of significant issues.
We can confirm that three key matters where we sought clarification have been successfully resolved as a result of our discussions. Firstly, the white rose of York will be engraved onto four tiles on the floor at strategic points around the tomb. Secondly, King Richard's mortal remains will be laid out in an articulated manner within the lead lining of the coffin. A rosary will also be placed within the coffin. Thirdly, the Roman Catholic Church is to have representation at significant points during the reburial week, including the presence and prayers of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster.
The funeral crown commissioned and donated by John Ashdown-HillThe funeral crown commissioned and donated by John Ashdown-Hill will feature during the reburial services. Details here are awaiting final confirmation.
Regrettably, one key issue for us did not reach a satisfactory conclusion. Our request that the king's remains be placed in their coffin in a place of sanctity was not agreed and we remain unconvinced by the argument that the bones are too fragile to be moved. This will be a disappointment to the many who feel that this would have been the proper ritual for a late-mediaeval king.
However given that many of our concerns have been addressed we will continue to work in a constructive manner with Leicester Cathedral. We look forward to working with and supporting all those involved with the events of next March to help ensure that King Richard is reinterred with the with dignity and honour due to an anointed king of England.
The Looking for Richard Project will be making a separate statement.
Two events took place in Leicestershire on Friday 22 August: In the morning there was a short service at Ambion Hill; and in the afternoon, a choral Evensong at Leicester Cathedral.
In a short, but moving service on Ambion Hill, the Bishop of Leicester welcomed those present:
Guard of Honour leading the party to the sundial on Ambion Hill.
Centre, carrying the crown, is Dominic Smee, who recently featured
in the Channel 4 programme 'Richard III: The New Evidence',
and who acted as the king's 'body double'.We meet in the presence of God to remember and commemorate those who died on this day in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth.
We remember in sorrow those lives ended at this place and those whose families were torn apart through death and suffering. We pray for our nation whose story was altered at this place; we repent of our continued need for armed conflict and war, and commit ourselves to work in penitence and faith for reconciliation between the nations, that all people may, together, live in freedom, justice and peace.
Richard Knox of Leicestershire County Council spoke of the events of 22 August and the response was made by Dr Phil Stone:
Jennifer, Baroness Gretton, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, followed by the
Revd Julia Hargreaves, Team Vicar of the Bosworth & Sheepy group of churches
and the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester.History was made near here that August morning in 1485. With the death of Richard III, the last English king to die in battle, the reign of the royal House of York came to an end.
There are several contemporary accounts of the battle we now call Bosworth and all agree that Richard III was no coward. Instead of calling for a horse, he fought with great courage to the very end and fell fighting on the field like 'a most spirited and courageous prince, after receiving many mortal wounds'.
We can imagine that others who fell, including John Howard, the duke of Norfolk, Richard Ratcliffe, Robert Brackenbury and Rob Percy, as well as others unnamed, also suffered terrible wounds, though it is to be hoped that, unlike King Richard, they weren't subjected to the humiliations that we learn were heaped upon him.
Richard Knox and Phil Stone at the sundial.War is never pretty, never noble, no matter how some might try to depict it. It's brutal, barbaric and inhuman. In a couple of hours, over a thousand were slain on that terrible summer's day. As we lay our roses, both the white and the red, let us remember them all. They were men like us. That August morning, as the sun shone, they suffered and they died, fighting for a cause, though some, perhaps, may not have understood what that cause was. For many, as we have just heard, their names are lost but they would have been fathers, husbands, brothers and, certainly, they were all somebody's son. They left loved-ones somewhere to mourn their passing and grieve for their loss.
Sir Peter Soulsby, Leicester's City Mayor (left) and archaeologist Richard Buckley (right).
This year, 2014, we also remember the start of the First World War. Let us pray that one day soon there will be an end to war, if not in our lifetime, perhaps, but in that of our children. We will lay our roses for the fallen of Bosworth, but, as we do, let us remember everyone, man, woman or child, who has ever died because of war or conflict.
At 3 pm on Friday afternoon, many of those at Bosworth in the morning, met again at Leicester Cathedral for a choral Evensong to mark the anniversary of the death of King Richard. Towards the end of the service, Richard Smith and Sally Henshaw, chairman and secretary respectively of the Leicestershire branch of the Society, presented the flags, designed by the College of Arms, to the Cathedral. As the presentation was being made, Society Secretary, Dave Wells, read to the congregation whilst his wife Susan, also Secretary, laid white roses:
On this day 529 years ago, Richard, monarch of this realm, yielded his crown, his kingdom and his life in battle at Bosworth Field.
We are gathered now to remember that day, to commend again to God's keeping both Richard and all who gave up their lives, and to commit ourselves to live peaceably, bound by all due loyalties.
Bequests by the late Margaret York, a Leicestershire teacher, who died in 2011, to both the local branch and the parent Society, together with an additional amount from the Society, funded the flags. Philippa Langley, founder of the Looking for Richard Project, whose campaign led to the discovery of the king's remains in 2012, suggested the idea of this gift to Leicester Cathedral as the most appropriate utilisation of Margaret's generosity.
At both services, although the emphasis was the commemoration of King Richard and all who fell at Bosworth, there were prayers for all those who have suffered, and who sadly, continue to suffer through military conflict.
Leicester Cathedral have confirmed the dates for King Richard's reburial in a week-long programme which will begin on Sunday 22 March when the king's body, duly coffined, leaves the University of Leicester for Bosworth 'remembering the life the King lost and his journey in 1485. Villages related to Richard III's last days will be included', remembering key moments of those days. The cortege will arrive at the Cathedral in the early evening and the king will be received into the care of the Church.
King Richard will lie in the Cathedral for three days for the public to pay its respects. The reburial will take place on the morning of Thursday, 26 March. The following day the tomb will be revealed and on Saturday a service will be held marking the end of Richard's journey.
The Cathedral have also announced that HRH The Duke of Gloucester will be patron of the Cathedral's Appeal in support of their plans to reinter King Richard.
The Society is also planning its own events in and around Leicester during the week. There will be brief details in the September Bulletin but we can confirm that there will be a special service held at the Cathedral for members on Monday 23 March 2015. You can also see the Society's Press Release.
The Society is not responsible for the organisation of the arrangements for the reburial of the remains of Richard III or the services taking place other than the service on the 23rd. Attendance at the other services will be by invitation of the Dean. At this stage, we do not know whether any places will be made available to the Society for any of these services. If places do become available to the Society we will advise all members worldwide via a special postal mailing and inviting applications which will be subject to a ballot. At the same time we will give details of our own programme and how to apply for places. Until such time, we are unable to take names for inclusion on any waiting list regarding allocation of tickets and would ask you to wait for our further communication.
If you are not a member of the Society, we regret that we are unable to assist you but suggest that your enquiry could be redirected to the authorities at Leicester Cathedral.
Read the Leicester Cathedral announcement.
A meeting took place on Monday 23rd June at the request of the Richard III Society and the Looking for Richard Project, with members of the King Richard III Reburial Project Team. The meeting was constructive and conducted in a spirit of mutual goodwill, co-operation and reconciliation. The Reburial Project Team undertook to look in further detail at a number of the points raised and to respond back in due course.
It can, however, be confirmed that the design of the Swaledale fossil stone tomb with the incised cross on will go ahead as stated by the Cathedral on 16 June and as approved by the Cathedral Fabrics Commission. Discussions about the design did reveal that the lettering around the plinth, King Richard's name, dates, and motto Loyaltie me lie, together with four small boars, will be cut out of the Kilkenny marble stone and will appear white, not black as shown on the CGI image. Of course the incised cross will remain a disappointment to some but it was emphasised that the deep cut of the cross will allow light to flood through it, achieved through specially designed lighting in the newly created ambulatory. This is an interesting concept, which does require some imagination to visualise, but we are assured it will work.
Phil Stone and Wendy Moorhen
17 June 2014: We are pleased that plans for the honourable reburial of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral next spring are progressing.
We also note the latest design for the planned tomb, which shows the replacement of the large white rose motif inlay with a dark Kilkenny stone plinth. Some of our members will have reservations about the design, and whilst we understand the rationale behind the tomb's design its starkness will not appeal to all. There is a particular need for clearly identifiable white roses within its design. However we welcome the fact that King Richard's coffin will be made by Michael Ibsen, a direct collateral descendent of the king.
We hope that some of the issues we have with the latest tomb design can be resolved amicably, and a meeting with the cathedral authorities to discuss these matters is scheduled.
It is inevitable that there will be conflicting views about the design of the tomb, but it is important these do not detract from the solemnity and dignity of the reburial. To this end we will continue to work positively with Leicester Cathedral. The announcement by Leicester Cathedral …
• The BBC News website quotes Marion Hare, who is the vice chairman of the Leicester Branch of the Society—not the vice chairman of the Society as a whole—and therefore her views are personal and should not necessarily be attributed to the Society.
Marion Hare has recently been distressed by being misquoted on the BBC website. Marion made it very clear to the interviewer that she is the Vice Chair of the Leicestershire Branch, not of the Society as a whole. Her views on the tomb have also been misrepresented. She liked the design of the tomb that the cathedral first put forward with a simple cross on the top, feeling that the modern design reflected the era in which Richard was discovered. She would rather that design had been used than the tomb with the deeply cut cross.
At 10 am this morning (23 May) in Court 3, Royal Courts of Justice, London, Lady Justice Hallett handed down the Judgement of the Judicial Review held on 13 and 14 March this year before herself, Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave.
The application by the Plantagenet Alliance challenged
The judgement reads 'there are no public law grounds for the Court interfering with the decisions in question. In the result, therefore, the Claimant's application for Judicial Review is dismissed'.
A postscript was added:
'Since Richard III's exhumation on 5 September 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been split. Issues relating to his life and death and place of reburial 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 as dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.'
This judgement upholding the original licence granted to the University of Leicester by the Ministry of Justice now means that it is the hands of the university to follow through the requirements of that licence and they confirm that the reburial of King Richard III will go ahead as planned in Leicester Cathedral. The Society will work constructively with the cathedral to help bring this about. Consideration, however, should also now be given to the need for his remains to be removed to an appropriate place of sanctity before their re-burial.
The full judgement is available online.
The Richard III Society's Chairman, Phil Stone, commented 'I am very pleased that there has been a clear cut decision. It means that we can now move forward and reinter King Richard with the dignity and sanctity that is due to an anointed king of England. Understandably, the judgement will be a disappointment to the Plantagenet Alliance and its supporters, and indeed to many of our own members, but I hope that we can now all put the disagreements behind us and join together to honour King Richard when he is laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral.'
© Wendy Moorhen, 2014
The Judicial Review, postponed from 26 November 2013, was again heard before Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave. The proceedings were not about where King Richard III should be buried but whether the defendants, the Secretary of State for Justice and the University of Leicester, had a duty at common law to consult about where and how the King's remains should be reinterred. The action had been brought by the Plantagenet Alliance, a group of fifteen collateral descendants of the king, who believed they should have been consulted and in August 2013 Mr Justice Haddon-Cave judged their case was arguable and granted permission for the proceedings.
The Alliance specifically challenged the decision of the Secretary of State for Justice who, on 3 September 2012, granted the Exhumation Licence without any consultation, their subsequent decision on 4 February 2013 not to re-visit the grant of the Licence after the identification of King Richard and the decision of the University on 4 February 2014 to begin making arrangements for the reburial of the remains of the King in Leicester Cathedral. Counsel for the Claimant, Gerard Clarke, spent Thursday morning making his submissions and outlined his thoughts on the type of consultation that could be undertaken and emphasised his client was only asking for the right to be consulted. Lady Justice Hallett and Mr Justice Ouseley frequently questioned Mr Clarke and in some instances pressed him for specific answers. Unfortunately some of Mr Clarke's statements were considered dubious and which provoked a protest from the public gallery by Philippa Langley. Lady Justice Hallett asked for a written statement from Philippa and the Judges retired for a short interval and on their return announced they would accept the statement but no further submissions would be allowed. Lady Justice Hallett graciously acknowledged that the Court was only sitting because of Philippa's endeavours.
After lunch it was the turn of James Eadie QC on behalf of the Secretary of State for Justice. Mr Eadie dealt with five legal principals of common law and whether or not there was a duty for his client to consult. For an hour he cited case after case, precedent after precedent, point of law after point of law and appeared to demolish the Claimant's case. He concluded that there was no statutory duty to consult, no promise to consult and no established practice to consult.
The final submission of the day was from Anya Proops on behalf of the University of Leicester. Ms Proops stated that the University should not have been named as a defendant and had no duty whatsoever to consult. She allowed that if there was a duty to consult it rested with the Secretary of State for Justice.
The final submission was made on Friday morning by Andrew Sharland QC on behalf of Leicester City Council. The Council had, as reported in the December Bulletin, applied to be an interested party in the Judicial Review and during the proceedings on 26 November they were made a third defendant and the Review was subsequently adjourned to await the new submissions but not before the City Council undertook to hold a consultation. In a surprise move a few weeks later the Council abandoned their undertaking to consult. This was frustrating as the whole matter could have been concluded by a judgement after the November hearing and without the considerable extra costs of the present hearing. Lady Justice Hallett commented there would be monetary repercussions! Mr Sharland's submission was that the City Council had no role in the reburial of King Richard. They had no statutory right to consult. The University of Leicester had the Licence and rights and they had been charged to keep the remains safely, privately and decently, which they had done.
As Counsel for the Claimant, Mr Clarke concluded the hearing with his response to the Defendants' submissions and there was discussion with the Judges regarding who could be consulted and it was recorded, in no particular order, HM The Queen, the collateral descendants of King Richard, the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the citizens of Leicester and York, and those members of the public who were interested. The proceedings were closed with the announcement by Lady Justice Hallett that they would consider the submissions and would hope to reach a judgement in the next four to six weeks. This is not an enviable task, especially considering the several hundred, if not thousands of pages of documents, contained in the lever arch files which sat in front of the several legal teams.
What might that judgement be? It would be wrong to speculate but perhaps just the observation that Mr Eadie's defence was awesome in terms of legal precedent and point of law but at the end of the day the Judges are faced with an absolutely unprecedented, and probably unique occurrence, how and where do you reinter the remains of an anointed king of England? Perhaps you just throw out the rule book!
I would like to share one personal reflection after listening to the submissions and arguments. The Counsels' for the Secretary of State for Justice, the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council all denied their clients' duty to consult and yet, at one stage or another, they had all considered consultation!
I should perhaps mention that it would be challenging to provide a more in-depth summary of the Judicial Review due to the difficulties of hearing the speakers from the public area, the incessant and disruptive arrivals and departures of visitors to the public areas (although the opportunity to wander in and out of sitting courts is a wonderful facet of our heritage) and the fact that many of the submissions and arguments related to documents in the 'bundles' which the Counsels frequently referred to and which were, of course, not available to the general public.
Where does this leave the Society? In limbo for a while? However, we are no further behind than we were before the review resumed and we can now look forward to a possible conclusion to the legal arguments. After that, who knows? We continue to wait and see.
Earlier this year, the University of Leicester announced that it plans to sequence the genome of Richard III's DNA. In time, this will mean that we can all know a lot more about the man—his eye and hair colour, the nature of his scoliosis, and something about his family.
Inevitably, members of the Society are divided on the issue of further testing on the remains of King Richard. Messages have been received expressing both concern and approval. Whether one approves or disagrees, it must be remembered that, once the excavation began and the subsequent events were started, the Society no longer had any control. The Richard III Society is not the custodian of the remains and Society funds paid only for the dig and the facial reconstruction. The scientific testing has been paid for by others, including Leicester University.
The chairman has now spoken with the team from the University and been assured that the amount of material required for the genome testing was 'very small'.
An analogy can be made with the bones in an urn in Westminster Abbey, the alleged Princes, and the fact that further testing has not been available. Many people have been asking for them to be the subject of modern analysis on the basis that it is owed to future generations to discover as much as possible. It hasn't been allowed for the Abbey bones, but it can be done for King Richard.
Understandable concern has been expressed about the ethics of the project because it involves the remains of an anointed king, but whether king or a peasant, it makes no difference provided the remains are treated in a serious and respectful way.
Michael Ibsen, the named living collateral descendant who gave one of the samples of DNA used to confirm the remains as being those of Richard III, has not objected to this further testing on his late sixteen times great uncle. Indeed, he is participating in the project.
For those who are against the further testing, there are at least two on-line petitions which can be accessed for you to express your choice.
There are many arguments for and against further testing but it should be remembered that, according to its aims, the Richard III Society is "to promote in every possible way research into the life and times of Richard III". It is our responsibility to uphold this aim and to secure a reassessment of his life and reputation.
Courtesy of Simon FogdenA lot has happened since the last report, though we're still not the owners of the Gastons! The bid date has been and gone, though we don't know what happened as there's been silence. This isn't a bad sign. The Governors have to abide by the Charity Commission rules, and they have to demonstrate that they've achieved best value in the sale. An independent surveyor has to audit what they've done and confirm this. We're hoping that the Governors will agree that there is sufficient common ground between their objectives and ours for a different set of rules to apply, and that we can jointly apply to the Charity Commission to agree an independent valuation for sale to Tewkesbury Battlefield Society.
We've had lots of local coverage, in the press, radio and television. We've also had national coverage on the BBC news on Sunday 2 February. The latter has produced a number of quite significant, and potentially very useful contacts, plus a great deal of support. We're hoping that all this translates into donations! We've set up a Just Giving site, with two options: to donate to the purchase fund, where money will be returned if we're unsuccessful, or the fighting fund (the photo half way down the page) for funds to help with expenses in making the bid. You can also donate by cheque: Cheques should be made out to 'Tewkesbury Battlefield Society', with either 'Fighting Fund' or 'Gastons Fund' written on the back, with your name and address. We have collecting boxes in premises all over Tewkesbury, or send your cheque to The Tewkesbury Battlefield Society, PO Box 147, Tewkesbury, GL20 9AP. Alternatively, people will be setting up fundraising events, and making use of the generous offers we've had. Matching dates and venues is taking a bit of time!
It must be stressed that to date we've spent nothing. Everything has been done by volunteers or donated. And thanks to supporters, we've got quite a few leads to grant-giving bodies which we'll be sifting through shortly and deciding which to apply for, for what purpose and when. Some of these will be for work after the purchase, and some to support the purchase. Big among these is the potential to get a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, who we're in contact with. As the six months moratorium is ticking away, this is work we need to get on with quickly. We desperately need an experienced fund-raiser to co-ordinate all the fund-raising activities, and to decide where our efforts are best directed. The use of the fields once they're in the hands of the community is something else we're working on. This will be important for grant applications. Uses fall into four main categories; historical, ecological and the creative arts. There are lots of possibilities in all these areas. We intend to establish a representative management committee to co-ordinate both the work needed to restore and maintain the fields and make sure that the various informal and formal uses don't conflict. An appropriate lowintensity agricultural use has to be the principle use, and this can easily be made compatible with other things.
Every organisation we've spoken to has been enthusiastic about the potential for the Gastons. This is reassuring, but we've a lot to do yet to find the money and to buy the site!
© Annette Carson, 2013
Important Note: The following summary is a personal impression of the events in the High Court which the writer attended as a member of the public. They are by no means a verbatim transcription, and indeed from my seat at the back it was quite difficult to hear the arguments. Please accept my apologies for any inaccuracies, and do not quote this account as authoritative.
Lady Justice Hallett
Mr Justice Ouseley
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave
For the Plantagenet Alliance (claimant): Gerard Clarke
For the Secretary of State for Justice (first defendant): James Eadie, QC
For the University of Leicester (second defendant): Anya Proops
For Leicester City Council: Norman Palmer, QC
The proceedings opened, to our surprise, not with arguments for the Plantagenet Alliance's case but with a wholly unexpected application by Mr Clarke, acting on their behalf, seeking the Court's permission to join Leicester City Council to the existing two defendants in the case. It was only later in the course of the morning that Mr Clarke spoke the words which he had doubtless originally prepared as his opening remarks: that this was the most extraordinary Judicial Review in modern times, and practically unrepeatable. As such it was probably non-precedential. The Court was being asked to decide whether the defendants had failed to conduct the due consultation that was called for in the case of the reburial of the human remains of a King of England.
The first business of the day, however, concerned itself with the request by the Plantagenet Alliance (PA) to have Leicester City Council (LCC) joined as co-defendant. The Council had very recently made a written submission to the effect that it considered itself to be the custodian of the remains. Mr Clarke said that the LCC had a reasonable case to claim custody, but had been persuaded by the University of Leicester (UoL) to take a background role. The Council now says it merely suspended its decision-making process, and proposes to return to it after the conclusion of the Judicial Review.
John Ashdown-Hill, Annette Carson and Philippa Langley
outside the Royal Courts of Justice following
the adjournment of the Judicial ReivewThe PA's concern was that in returning to its decision-making role once the Court had given judgment, there was no reason to suppose that the Council would then carry out the consultation sought by the claimants. What if, after the judicial process, the LCC simply maintains that it has legal control of the disposal of the remains? This was the PA's main argument for not leaving the LCC merely as an interested party, but for wishing to have it joined as a co-defendant – so that it, too, would be bound by the ruling of the Court. [There are already two named interested parties in the case: Leicester Cathedral and York Minster.]
Interestingly, at this point the LCC was observed to have clearly broken ranks with the University, in that it disputes the UoL's role and claims to have overall direction of the matter, in its capacity both as the land-owner and as a public authority.
Given that this submission was received only on 19 November, the PA needed to hear the LCC's arguments in full in order to determine whether the target of the Judicial Review should rather be (or should include) the LCC. Asked why this was not considered at the outset, Mr Clarke stated that they could not have known of the LCC's role because the public position on the remains was adopted by the UoL in February 2013.
Lady Justice Hallett sought for other remedies as she was well aware that to consider the joining proposal now would almost certainly prevent the conclusion of the hearing, for which only this one day had been set aside. She added that there was now further disagreement relating to how the remains should be laid out – whether they should be placed in their anatomical position in the coffin.
There was considerable discussion as to the LCC's history in the matter and its stated willingness to conduct consultations with various parties, some of whom were mentioned. Mr Justice Ouseley evinced an ongoing interest in what consideration it had given to other reburial locations: he had noticed that the LCC's early intentions to consult on them had been dropped. In the end Mr Palmer, acting for the LCC, stated that the Council was firmly committed to a policy of consultation in respect of the remains.
Discussion also centred on the exhumation licence issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The PA was surprised that an expedition order had been made, i.e. an order to expedite compliance with the terms of the licence. For readers who are unaware, the licence, issued in September 2012, permits the exhumation of remains and gives the licensee responsibility to arrange for their reburial within two years. It was applied for by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) but issued to the UoL as licensee.
The question was asked whether the Secretary of State had the power to amend the order as to the two-year deadline. Mr Eadie, acting for the Ministry of Justice, replied that the MoJ does not assert the power to do anything other than to issue such a licence in the proper form.
Mr Clarke envisaged that in the event that the PA succeeded, the Secretary of State would probably issue a fresh licence. The problem facing the Court was: what if the LCC then objected to it? The PA wanted to avoid any further legal challenges in the future. The LCC's statement said that it had ceased its own consultations because they were not required by the MoJ's licence. It had also made its position clear that it was in favour of reburying Richard III in Leicester.
The Justices then decided to take a brief adjournment, the issue to be determined being whether the LCC has a role to play in the case and whether it is appropriate to join them as co-defendants. On returning they ruled that the LCC would now be co-defendants, which meant that the hearing must be adjourned to await new submissions. Lady Justice Hallett wanted to schedule the hearing for as early as possible in the new year, but they were looking at two days in the Court calendar as well as time to prepare, so they could not predict how soon this would be.
It was established that there would be no problem amending the original exhumation licence to provide a slightly longer time. Mr Eadie did not appear to have been briefed as to several aspects relating to the licence, and answered "Pass" when asked by Mr Justice Ouseley whether the phrase 'burial ground' had any geographical limits, and whether it signified an exterior burial site or one within a building.
Meanwhile Mr Palmer had taken new instructions from the LCC and gave the Court an undertaking that the Council was prepared to embark on consultations – now. Ms Proops, for the UoL, said the University was bound by the terms of the licence as issued and had no room for manoeuvre, otherwise they would be in breach of the law. Mr Palmer for the Council disagreed on this point of law.
Philippa and Mike's book, The Search for Richard III: The King's Grave, was published on 2 October. They have concluded an extremely successful country-wide book tour with packed audiences who were interested to learn more about the real Richard III.
Philippa gave an interview to the Daily Mail which appeared in their You Magazine on 22 September.
The Richard III Society acknowledges the decision handed down in the Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court) by The Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave to grant permission for the Plantagenet Alliance to bring a Judicial Review hearing against the Secretary of State for Justice and the University of Leicester—and others—over the decision to reinter King Richard in Leicester Cathedral.
The matter must now be left to the due process of law, but we hope it will be resolved amicably and quickly so that King Richard's remains can be reinterred with honour and dignity and without controversy. The Judicial Review hearing will take place on 26 November 2013.
Detail of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth
© Graham Turner.On Saturday, 29th June, in the Heritage Room at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre as part of an exhibition of his work and in front of a group of invited friends, Graham Turner, the acclaimed historical artist - and member of the Society - unveiled his latest painting of King Richard III. For once, Graham had not been showing progress reports on his website, so his audience had only a vague idea as to what to expect. They were not to be disappointed! This depiction of Richard is quite stunning.
The king is fully armoured, mounted on his horse just before the Battle of Bosworth. Alongside him is his friend, Sir Robert Percy, while other knights of the household can be seen in the background. Richard's armour is gilded and he wears the jewelled circlet crown, with fleur-de-lys upon its helm. He is every bit the king about to do battle for his throne.
Although Graham had started the painting before the finding of the remains of the king, he was able to incorporate the findings into the final picture. King Richard's face is based upon the reconstruction commissioned by the Society.
Prints on paper or canvas are available from Graham's website at www.studio88.co.uk
Richard III by Andrew Jamieson,
© Richard III Society.The Society has commissioned this artwork by the Queen's Scribe, Andrew Jamieson, depicting Richard III mounted on his horse, armoured as a warrior, but holding a sceptre denoting his kingship. Richard's armorial bearings are shown on the horse trappings and in his banner, while his crowned shield is surrounded by the Garter. Alongside him runs his white boar, while the grass is powdered with forget-me-nots, white roses for York and broom flowers and pods for the Plantagenets.
A new range of merchandise featuring the design is now available:
Please e-mail our Sales Liaison Officer to order.
Find out more about Andrew Jamieson.
English Wills proved in the
Prerogative Court of York, 1477-1499English Wills proved in the Prerogative Court of York, 1477-1499 edited by Heather Falvey, Lesley Boatwright and Peter Hammond. The Richard III Society's latest contribution to fifteenth century research and scholarship, 'The York Wills', has now been published. This book, the product of a group project organised by the Research Committee of the Richard III Society, contains the 89 wills written wholly or mostly in English, providing full transcripts and also translations of any Latin sections.
The Introduction discusses the form of a medieval will and uses examples from these wills to illustrate the points being made. Appendix I is a list of all of entries in York Probate Register, Volume V, in the order in which they appear. Appendix II summarises the burial requests of the 89 testators. There is a comprehensive glossary and also indexes of persons, places and subjects.
For further information and purchase details download the attached information sheet.
When a skeleton was found under a Leicester car park in September 2012, the news broke around the world. Research began, involving dozens of specialists in the fields of archaeology, osteology, history, forensic pathology, genealogy and DNA analysis; could this skeleton be the remains, lost for 500 years, of England's most infamous king? Philippa Langley, an Edinburgh based screenwriter and secretary of the Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society, was the main advocator of the project, and together with the University of Leicester they embarked on a journey to discover the medieval monarch's lost bones. Presented by Simon Farnaby, 'Richard III: The king In the car park' tells every step, twist and turn of the story. It unveils a brand new facial reconstruction made from the skull and reveals the results of the final tests that confirm or deny the body's identity. Additionally. 'The unseen story' features exclusive footage of the dig, forensic tests and fresh interviews with the lead scientists, piecing together the critical steps in the archaeological excavation. We see how the Greyfriars Church was uncovered and witness the painstaking exhumation of the lost King's grave from the first indications of human remains to the exposure of the body's twisted spine revealing a new dimension to the hunt for England's long-lost king.
The Channel 4 documentary on the discovery of King Richard's remains will be available on DVD from Monday 27 May. Total running time is 150 minutes. The DVD will be available from all good DVD retailers and from Amazon.
Robert Draper, composerThe Society is delighted to host a new composition, Richard III, by Robert Draper who has been inspired by the remarkable discovery of the remains of King Richard III in Leicester last year.
This orchestral piece is scored for two flutes, two oboes, english horn, two bassoons, 4 french horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, pipe organ and strings. The opening oboe theme has a tinge of sadness, but this fuses to connect with the drama of Bosworth Field as the music develops.
Robert Draper is a refreshing and individual sounding modern day English classical composer. He writes engaging music which is dramatic, passionate and direct. A composer and pianist, he read music at the University of London Goldsmiths' College, where he studied composition. He studied piano with Russian virtuoso Evgenia Chudinovich. He has written major works for orchestra, choir, piano, string quartet and other instruments. He is 49 and lives in the East Sussex countryside of southern England.
Images shown during the presentation are courtesy of Geoffrey Wheeler, Studio88, Gerry Hitch, Osprey Publishing Ltd and Peter Hammond. Click the 'Play' button below to listen to the music.
Find out more about Robert.
An Adjournment Debate was held in Westminster Hall beginning at 11 am on 12 March 2013. In his opening remarks, the MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley, paid tribute to the leading archaeologist Richard Buckley for his work and the Richard III Society for proposing the project.
Mr Bayley then asked that a fair and independent process be created for arbitrating when, how and where King Richard III should be reinterred. He felt it was the responsibility of the State to make the decision and it should not be delegated to a group of academics and archaeologists from Leicester University.
David Trendinnick , MP for Bosworth, pointed out that the majority of people in Leicestershire wanted the King's remains to stay in Leicester, and Mr Bayley confirmed that 7,500 signatories had been collected to this end, but that 24,000 had signed a petition in favour of York. The member for Selby, Nigel Adams, contributed that the views of the 'descendants' of the late king's family should be taken into consideration.
Jon Ashworth, MP for Leicester South, quoted from the application for the Exhumation Licence which is explicit in that in the unlikely event that the remains of Richard III are located, 'the intention is for these to be reinterred at St Martins Cathedral Leicester which is good archaeological practice'.
Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood, suggested a compromise that King Richard lay in state in York for a week before reburial in Leicester, and pointed out that a tomb proposed by the Richard III Society had been privately funded and that £30,000 had been raised and, therefore, there would be no cost to the State.
Westminster HallMr Bayley continued that the terms of Exhumation Licence should be reviewed as the remains had been confirmed as those of King Richard, and that such licences had been amended in recent years. He referred to a letter he had received from the chair of the Advisory Panel for Burial Archaeology, Professor Holger Schutkowski, who wrote that the final decision lay with the Ministry of Justice who can vary the terms of the Licence. Mr Bayley proposed to the MoJ that an independent committee of experts should examine the historical record, scientific analysis, good archaeological practice, ethical and religious issues, and then advise how, where and when the reburial takes place. He continued that notice should be given to the University of Leicester that the Government could amend the licence and therefore plans for the reburial should temporarily cease. He also felt that this proposed advisory committee should, in the national interest, wait for the full scientific results. He commented on the split public opinion and called for the matter to be discussed in a dignified and sober way and that the Wars of the Roses should not be re-ignited. He concluded with remarks that history is written by the victors, referred to Richard's 'reputation being trashed by that pesky playwright from Stratford-upon-Avon' and that the king was 'Good King Richard' and who in his lifetime requested to be buried in York.
Julian Sturdy, the MP for York Outer, supported Mr Bayley saying the call was strong for Richard to be buried where he had been loved. He suggested that the Government and the University of Leicester had come to an agreement behind closed doors and there had been no public consultation. His statement that King Richard wanted to be buried in York was challenged by Jon Ashworth who said that there was no evidence that King Richard wanted to be buried there.
Finally Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Prisons, responded to the proposals and arguments and began by saying it was a matter of national pride and excitement that the remains of King Richard had been found and referred to the joint venture between the University, Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society as an outstanding research project.
He continued by stating the MOJ's jurisdiction covered burial law and policy. He confirmed that there was wide discretion in the conditions of the Exhumation Licence but also confirmed that the responsibility for carrying out the terms of the Licence rested with the University of Leicester – that was the law. He stated that York Minster supported the reburial of King Richard at Leicester Cathedral. He continued that conditions of an exhumation licence can be changed but that it is unusual and that the University of Leicester could make such a request. He concluded that the University is happy to receive representations to take into account what Mr Bayley had said and that the MoJ could facilitate a meeting of these interested parties.
The Chairman of the debate, Edward Leigh, concluded with the statement that 'King Richard III was as controversial in death as he was in life'.
Read the Daily Hansard record.
An adjournment debate is simply a way in the Commons of having a general debate without requiring the House to vote. There are several different types of Adjournment debates. Some allow the Commons to hold a general open-ended debate on a subject or a government policy without reaching a formal decision about it. Others provide an opportunity for backbench MPs to raise constituency issues or other matters relating to government administration or policy - and to obtain a response from a government minister. This debate fell in to the latter category.
During the debate there were several references to King Richard's desire to be buried in York Minster. The Society thought it might be useful to publish online an article written by the historian Peter Hammond, its President, and published in the December 2012 issue of the Ricardian Bulletin, which details the basis for the speculation/interpretation of the known facts.
The design of a new tomb for King Richard III presents a number of interesting yet problematic challenges. Firstly, we are confronted by the inescapable fact that this will be the second time Richard has been buried, and that the two occasions are separated by more than five hundred years. So how can we produce a design that reconciles the funerary requirements of a fifteenth century English monarch with reburial in the twenty first century? How can we bridge the gap of half a millennium in a single monument that encapsulates both the distant past and the present day? And secondly, to what extent are the tombs of medieval kings – strictly contemporary with the deaths of their respective monarchs – an appropriate precedent for the modern reburial of King Richard?
We have to accept that had Richard had any control over his own funeral he would almost certainly have been commemorated with a substantial tomb chest surmounted by a recumbent effigy in the robes and regalia of state. But as we are all painfully aware, Richard's burial was placed in the hands of monks who were probably acting under duress, compelled to dispose of the king as quickly as possible once it had been decided that the corpse had been displayed for long enough. The treatment meted out to Richard in 1485 fully justifies the recovery and honourable reburial of his remains.
The memorial stone to Richard III,
located in the chancel floor of
Leicester CathedralThus a dark past suddenly becomes a much brighter future. Richard is rescued from the darkness of his original resting place and reburied in the light of Leicester Cathedral. Of course Richard was initially interred in consecrated ground, but the dissolution of the monasteries, followed by the redevelopment and reuse of the former Greyfriars site, means that since the mid sixteenth century the spiritual environment in which Richard was laid to rest has been totally destroyed. A grave beneath a local authority car park sharing contaminated ground with the leaking foundations of a Victorian toilet is no place for anyone – let alone an anointed king.
Consequently Richard's spiritual and physical transition from darkness to light is an important consideration in the design of a new tomb. The first challenge surrounded the material in which the tomb would be constructed, for it had to symbolise this dark to light transformation. But it was also felt that the chosen material should reflect something of Richard's personal history.
It was therefore decided that the new tomb should be constructed of Magnesian Limestone, not only because its smooth, bright, honey-coloured appearance enshrines the light and optimism of Richard's future, but also because it is the stone in which York Minster is built, and is still used to this very day for repairs, maintenance, and rebuilding. Thus Magnesian Limestone represents Richard's journey from darkness to light and also his important connections with Yorkshire and the City of York.
Having selected an appropriate building material the next challenge was to create a design that incorporated both the medieval past and the present day, something that would acknowledge Richard's life as a fifteenth century nobleman and king without imprisoning him in a medieval style tomb in the twenty-first century. Thus, as the detailed description presented below will make clear, the design incorporates features representing Richard's family (White Rose of the House of York), Richard's devotion to the Christian faith (Cross of St. Cuthbert), and Richard's personal emblem (White Boar). These personally significant motifs are depicted in medieval style, decorating the sides and end of the monument, and creating the impression of a fifteenth century tomb in both feel and appearance.
However, a more modern aspect has been attempted with the upper surface of the monument; for it is here that the design departs radically from what one might expect of a royal medieval tomb. Instead of a recumbent effigy the design presents a smooth open plane of bright honey-coloured stone, punctuated by a royal coat of arms inlaid in gold metal at the head, and a gold metal plaque and carved motto at the foot. The resulting effect is one of harmonious and peaceful repose, a symbol of kingship in the form of a royal coat of arms, and a representation of Richard himself in his personal inscribed motto. In addition the gold metal plaque serves to bridge the gap between the king and the man by including Richard's full name and his title as duke of Gloucester, thereby telling the story of a human being, and not merely recording the final resting place of one who later in life became Richard III.
What we have tried to achieve is a tomb that firstly encapsulates Richard's physical and spiritual elevation to a brighter and more optimistic future, and secondly emphasises that the remains which will lie beneath it are those of a man who lived a different life before becoming king. This, of course, is not to disparage Richard's kingship or his right and title to that high office ordained by God. It is merely to state that he was also a heart-broken son, a loyal brother, a loving husband, and a devoted father. He was a family man who found his true place in life as a duke in the north of England, before being compelled to abandon all that made him happy in the constitutional crisis of 1483 and subsequent acceptance of the crown.
I hope we have made clear that the design of this tomb has set itself a demanding agenda. The result is a sincere and deeply genuine attempt to commemorate a man who finally has a chance to truly Rest In Peace.
The relative simplicity of the design is intended to reflect important surviving evidence concerning King Richard's personal religious preferences.
Richard's Book of Hours, dated to the 1420s, may have been sixty years old by the time it came into his possession (A. F. Sutton & L. Visser-Fuchs, The Hours of Richard III, p. 39). As a reigning monarch Richard could have commissioned the finest artists in Europe to illustrate a new and magnificent Book of Hours, yet he chose to use a second hand volume lacking the lavish illuminations known to have been in circulation at the courts of France and Burgundy.
As an example of the king's private and personal piety, this relatively modest and understated book can reasonably be assumed to reflect the king's wider religious tastes.
The proposed tomb is therefore similarly modest in scale and decoration, consisting of a plinth supporting a chest surmounted by a rectangular slab (length 7ft, width 3ft 6ins, height 2ft 3ins). The original design has been extended by the addition a plinth following concerns over the low height of the tomb chest. The intention has always been to permit an easy appreciation of the upper surface of the tomb as well as the sides, hence the elevation of the monument to approximately desk height.
The rectangular slab surmounting the chest has been carefully designed to incorporate three important features, each personally significant to the king:
At the head of the slab the Royal Coat of Arms of King Richard III is inlaid into the stone in gold coloured metal.
The coat of arms depicted here is based on a drawing in Thomas Willement's Regal Heraldry of an illuminated initial letter taken from Richard's manuscript version of Vegetius' De Re Militari (On the Art of War), which, it has been suggested, was commissioned for Richard's son Edward of Middleham (Hammond & Sutton, Road to Bosworth, p. 163; Jones, Psychology of a Battle, plate 12).
Then, beneath the coat of arms, in the lower half of the slab, an inlaid gold-coloured plaque inscribed in simple capital lettering:
1452 - 1485
DUKE OF GLOUCESTER
KING OF ENGLAND
And finally, at the foot of the slab, Richard's personal motto cut into the stone in unembellished capital lettering:
LOYAULTE ME LIE
The significance of inscribing the king's motto directly into the stone is vitally important. It is a physical representation of the fact that loyalty was deeply ingrained into Richard's personality and was an intrinsic part of his character.
The plaque and motto are intentionally placed in close proximity, one above the other, following the example of Richard's signature and motto as evidenced by a surviving document dated to May 1483 (Hammond & Sutton, Road to Bosworth, p. 98).
The careful positioning of the coat of arms, plaque and carved inscription are intended to leave an expanse of plain smooth stone, thereby ensuring that the final effect is one of proportion and harmony, conveying a sense of dignity, serenity, and tasteful simplicity. Similarly the side and end panels of the tomb chest are delicately adorned with personally important commemorative imagery that has been carefully researched and chosen: a three-motif sequence consisting of a rose, a cross, and a boar.
The rose depicts Richard's family, the House of York.
The medieval heraldic rose used here, consisting of an inner and outer circle of petals, is taken from Julian Rowe's illustration of King Richard's battle standard (P. W. Hammond & A. F. Sutton, The Road to Bosworth, p. 216). The white rose of York as used in the middle ages had various orientations, with the single point sometimes at the top (as in the rose in the arms of Edward IV's illegitimate daughter Isabella, Henry Bedingfield and Peter Gwynn-Jones, Heraldry, p.62) and sometimes at the bottom of the drawing. Examples of each can be found, as well as some where the rose has been given only four petals instead of five so that there is no top or bottom point as in Writhe's Garter Book, (Richard Marks and Anne Payne, p.38). Richard's standard as flown at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre on Ambion Hill has a white rose with the point uppermost.
In addition there are numerous examples of mid-fifteenth century Yorkist roses orientated in precisely the same fashion as the tomb. Our intention from the outset has been to assemble a selection of motifs which can be clearly shown to be personally associated with Richard.
The cross symbolises the king's devotion to the Christian faith.
The example represented here is based on the pectoral cross of St. Cuthbert housed in Durham Cathedral. Richard's statutes bestowing collegiate status on the church of Middleham in Wensleydale demonstrate that St Cuthbert was particularly venerated by the king. (J. M. Melhuish, The College of King Richard III Middleham, p. 7; A. J. Pollard, Richard III, p. 178).
And the boar is Richard's personal heraldic emblem.
The example depicted here is very loosely based on a carved white boar taken from the pulpit of Fotheringhay Church in Northamptonshire, the family mausoleum of the House of York. Appropriately, the ornate pulpit was a gift to the church made by Richard's elder brother King Edward IV in the mid 1470s (M. K. Jones, Bosworth: Psychology of a Battle, plate 10; J. Wilkinson, Richard, the Young King to be, plate 21). The rampant beast shown on the tomb is intended to represent Richard fighting back against Tudor propaganda.
Finally the plinth upon which the decorative panels stand is adorned with capital lettering and two crosses:
+ RICHARD III +
Richard's regnal number is given here so that the gold metal plaque on the surface of the tomb (described above) can stand as a more personal tribute.
Before the design was extended to include a plinth two local specialists submitted quotes for construction and placement of the tomb ranging from £15,000 to £20,000. An up-to-date quote from award-winning sculptor and stonemason, Graeme Mitcheson (see details below), and which includes the plinth, is £28,000 - £30,000 (incl VAT). However, quotes could also be obtained from local master craftsmen who have previously worked with the cathedral. It is anticipated that the tomb will take approximately four months to construct.
In September 2010, at the very beginning of the Looking For Richard project, Philippa Langley, originator of the Looking for Richard project, commissioned historian David Johnson and artist Wendy Johnson to design a tomb for Richard III. Together David and Wendy have been members of the Richard III Society for more than forty years and have contributed letters and articles to the Ricardian Bulletin. The design and CGI images of the tomb have taken over two years to complete.
• Wendy Johnson specialises in portraits of people and animals. She has exhibited and sold her artwork, and has also received commissions. Wendy has held a deep interest in Richard III since childhood, and has been a member of the Richard III Society since 1986.
• David Johnson, BA Hons, MA, received a PhD in History from the University of York in 2012. His Adwalton Moor 1643: The Battle that Changed a War (2003) is regarded as the definitive work on this pivotal English Civil War battle. David has been a member of the Richard III Society since 1995, and is in the process of preparing a new book exploring the political controversy surrounding Richard's accession to the throne in 1483.
• CGI Images of the Tomb Design Produced by Joseph Fox of Lost in Castles.
Lost in Castles specialises in historical computer reconstructions. Joe Fox, graphics specialist, worked with the designers of King Richard's tomb to realise their vision in CGI form. A family business, their previous reconstructions available on DVD include: Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, Sandal Castle in Wakefield, and Houdan and Etampes in France. The current project is Conwy Castle in North Wales. For further information, visit their website.
• Award-winning Sculptor and Stonemason: Graeme Mitcheson ARBS.
Special mention is made here of Graeme Mitcheson. Graeme is an award-winning sculptor and stonemason from Northumberland in northern England. Graduating from Loughborough College of Art, he lives in Castle Donington, Leicestershire, and thus represents both the northern and local people. Over 20 years, Graeme has created many large scale public artworks all over the UK and has several sited in Leicestershire. Graeme is an elected member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. For further information, visit Graeme's website.
Since the discovery of Richard III's remains there has been some rather odd use in the press and elsewhere of the words 'ancestor' and 'descendant', which indicate family relationships over what is usually a long time gap.
There are no living ancestors of Richard III - despite claims which have been made to this effect!
An ancestor is someone further back in the family tree (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on backwards) of the person named.
As far as we know there are no living descendants of Richard III.
A descendant is a child, grandchild, great-grandchild, and so on forwards in a direct line from the person named.
Richard III had only three recognised children, all of whom died childless.
There are many living collateral descendants of Richard III.
A collateral descendant is the descendant of a brother or sister of the person named.
Boar Crest on the proposed tombNow that Richard III has been found and his remains identified, the Society would like to see him reinterred with honour in a tomb befitting his noble status.
The design commissioned for the Society is for a free-standing table tomb and features Richard's boar, the white rose for the House of York and the cross of St Cuthbert, this being a symbol of Richard's piety.
If built, the tomb will be made in a pale honey-coloured stone, the colour representing Richard's emergence from the obscurity of the unknown grave into the light of recognition and honour.
If you would like to make a donation towards the cost of the tomb and its installation, there are a numbers of ways to do so:
Richard III's tomb — proposed designFollowing confirmation that the human remains of King Richard III are to be reinterred in Leicester, the Richard III Society today reveals plans for how it would like his tomb to look.
The tomb design was commissioned by Philippa Langley in September 2010 at the very beginning of the Looking For Richard III project. It is based on Richard’s life, and what was important and meaningful to him, and the design was undertaken by a team of specialists with over 40 years of research into Richard III.
The Richard III Society is working in partnership with Philippa Langley, the Originator of the search for King Richard III, together with Sally Henshaw (secretary) and Richard Smith (chairman) of the East Midlands Branch, under the leadership of the Society’s chairman Dr Phil Stone.
The objective of the proposed tomb is to honour the king’s mortal remains with a memorial in keeping with the cathedral’s interior space and ambience, while reflecting mediaeval royal tomb designs.
The proposal includes the following:
Leicester Cathedral have issued a press release
All images shown below © The Richard III Society
Leicester CathedralAt the opening of Leicester City Council's new exhibition in the Guildhall, Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King on the evening of 7 February, Sir Robert Burgess, Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester and the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, confirmed that King Richard III would be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.
Sir Robert quoted from a letter he had just received from the Ministry of Justice confirming the terms of the Exhumation Licence which had stipulated that the remains, if proved to be King Richard's, should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. They also confirmed that their role was limited to ensuring the correct procedures were followed with regard to burials. Sir Robert confirmed that it was the wish of the University that Richard be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.
The Bishop spoke of a message he had received from York Minster which confirmed the Dean and Chapter supported the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and accordingly they commend 'Richard to Leicester's care and to the cathedral community's prayers'.
In respect of the nature of the service, the Bishop acknowledged the changes in the church in the 16th century, but confirmed that the form of service would follow that of the established church; however he was in consultation with the Roman Catholic Church through the Bishop of Nottingham who was willing to take part in the service. Bishop Stevens also spoke of his intention to work with the Richard III Society with regard to an appropriate memorial for King Richard. Finally he indicated the timing of the ceremony would be in the spring of 2014.
The choice of Leicester Cathedral will disappoint some and that is understandable. However it is important that the burial of King Richard III is not surrounded by controversy, his posthumous reputation has had more than enough of that over the past five hundred years. We should all be grateful that his remains have been found and are now to receive the honour and dignity that is due to an anointed English king. We might also take comfort from the fact that King Richard will now lie in peace and honour in the very heart of his kingdom, almost equidistant between York and Westminster.
At Prime Minister's Question Time Michael McCann MP asked David Cameron if he could confirm that Atos, the private contractor used by the government to assess whether people claiming benefits are eligible for a job, had declared Richard III fit for work. The House laughed and the Prime Minister replied that the case had not come his way.
Despite his passing 528 years ago this is not the first time King Richard has been mentioned in the British Parliament. In November 1980 the Broadcasting Bill became law; it had originally contained a clause that allowed for complaints to be made on behalf of those who were already dead, on unfair treatment in TV and radio.
As the Bill was debated in the House of Lords, it became clear that the clause was in conflict with the laws of libel that do not permit such action to be taken on behalf of the dead. The example of adherents of Richard III objecting to his characterisation by William Shakespeare in his much performed play was quickly established.
As a result an amendment was tabled by the government which stipulated that such complaints, on behalf of the deceased person, could only be made within five years of their death. The Chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation, shortly after the Bill had received royal assent, referred to the amendment as the Richard III clause.
©GettyThe Richard III Society today unveiled the world's only facial reconstruction of the human remains found at the Greyfriars in Leicester, yesterday confirmed as belonging to Richard III. The reconstruction project, led by Professor Caroline Wilkinson, Professor of Craniofacial Identification at the University of Dundee, was commissioned and funded by the Richard III Society.
To those who have seen so many portrayals of Richard III with contorted body and facial features, this calm and apparently thoughtful face could be a shock. After his death, many portraits deliberately added narrowed eyes and mean lines. We have already discovered he had no kyphosis or withered arm - now we know he had a warm face, young, earnest and rather serious. How many scales will drop from how many eyes! This likeness is so real, it is a remarkable tribute to Professor Wilkinson and her reconstruction team. Congratulations and thanks are in order, but these words somehow don't seem adequate to recognise such art, skill and loving craftsmanship.
Dr. Phil Stone, Richard III Society Chairman, said: "It's an interesting face, younger and fuller than we have been used to seeing, less careworn, and with the hint of a smile. When I first saw it, I thought there is enough of the portraits about it for it to be King Richard but not enough to suggest they have been copied. I think people will like it. He's a man who lived. Indeed, when I looked him in the eye, 'Good King Richard' seemed alive and about to speak. At last, it seems, we have the true image of Richard III - is this the face that launched a thousand myths?"
Human remains found in trench one of the Grey Friars dig.
The complete skeleton showing the curve of the spine.
© University of LeicesterAt an historic press conference on the morning of 4 February, the University of Leicester revealed evidence from The Greyfriars dig and confirmed that the human remains of King Richard III had been positively identified. They revealed a range of supporting evidence, including DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and skeletal examination - proving the identity of the skeleton. Key points are:
Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist for the Search for Richard III project said: 'It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at The Greyfriars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England.'
For more information visit the University's website.