I have been trying to fit in a visit to the tomb of Richard III after having visited Bosworth Field where Richard was killed and Henry Lancaster acquired the throne of England by conquest. Leicester is only 55 minutes from Keresley in the Cotswolds so it was important that I take the time to visit.
The visitors centre is in part attached to the carpark in which Richard’s remains were excavated and alongside the Cathedral. The entrance is part of a new square developed because of the reburial of the remains. After paying the entrance fee, we sat through a video presenting the early life of Richard and the last days of Edward IV. After that there was a series of picture boards starting with the capture of the Woodvilles transporting the young Edward V and his brother Richard to London to be crowned (the lost boys in the Tower). Then Richard was crowned and he placed the boys in the Tower from whence they did not return (a mystery to this day) and from which Richard earned the reputation of a cruel king. The display had a computer programme which gave various facts around the missing boys and what may have actually have happened to them. It also identified those most likely to have killed the boys (motive, means and opportunity). No definite conclusion but interestingly a public voting system on the most likely villain for the missing boys acquitted Richard and accused the mother of Henry (Henry was hiding out in Brittany at this time).
The display then gave the story of the Battle of Bosworth Field and the achievements of Richard during his short reign (about 5 years). The display continues on the next floor where a guide shows you from a viewing platform the carpark where the excavation took place. The place where the remains were found is under cover and can be viewed through a glass floor. The rest of the display described the investigation and discovery of his remains. Interestingly and coincidentally there was an “R” painted on the bitumen in the carpark and the remains were found under the letter “R”. The “R” stood for reserved. The display included a scan of the bones showing the injuries he suffered in the battle (the wound that killed him and the wounds that were inflicted during the battle and one after he was dead), there was a suit of armour that is like the one worn by him, the facial reconstruction, his disfigured spine, and how they found his maternal relations to test the DNA. Fascinating!
We then went across to the Cathedral (St Martins at the time of Richard) where the Presbytery has been converted into a tomb room to hold the royal remains. We returned to the car passing the Guildhall which according to the historic information on the building claimed the hall had been constructed in 1390AD.
Despite some anxious moments over Kerry’s lost purse and my lost cap I am so glad I made the effort to go there. We have been living in that part of England where English history has been made everywhere we turn. Whether it be battle between Kings or the creation of the industrial revolution, it is all here.