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.
Svein has returned to Brugges and life has returned to normal. We are planning for our next wave of visitors, our visit to London for Move It, and ANZAC Day at Villers Brettoneux. We decide to take a break and decide we will go to Thornton Reservoir. This is a man – made reservoir operated by the Severn Trent Water Company but it has a recreational walk and picnic areas on its banks. After a short drive down the M1 we exit at the Leicester turn off but go west instead of east to Leicester. The Reservoir is located outside a small village which I expect would be jumping in summer. But this is winter and we have rugged up for a walk around the lake. One thing I have not got used to is the wetness of the UK. There always seems to be a puddle or slippery ground or black ice to catch you out. There are quite a few other amblers wandering around the lake including ducks and swans begging from picnickers. There are some groves of pine that have been planted and some of the runts that should have been weeded out have grown into weird shapes. We passed an overturned boat which in fact was the roof covering for the public toilets and the fishing lodge. After over an hour of walking we finally returned to the car and had our picnic lunch.
Upside down boat
There was still plenty of daylight so we decided to visit Bosworth Field where Richard III was killed in the last War of the Roses. The visitor centre was only half an hour from our picnic stop at Thornton’s Reservoir but the sun sets very quickly in winter and the wind gets very chill so by the time we arrived there was only time to visit the centre and look at the fields. Even so the visitors centre is extremely interesting although it is not set on the battle field itself.
The centre was placed at the top of the hill based on oral accounts passed down over the ages. It was only after archaeological research by the University of Nottingham that it was found the centre was in the wrong location and the battle actually took place in the fields to the north and below the centre. You can now walk the battle field but it takes over an hour to do so, so our next visitors are in for a hike.
Somehow or other I found on the internet that Loughborough hosted a French Market on Fridays so on a whim we jumped in Thistle and went to Loughborough.
Loughborough is to the south of Long Eaton within the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. It is the seat of Charnwood Borough Council and is home to Loughborough University. In fact when visiting the town it is hard to know which came first the University or the town. It is second in size to the city of Leicester. Before going I checked Wikipedia and found that the town has the world’s largest bell foundry — John Taylor Bellfounders, which made the bells for the Carillon war memorial, a landmark within the Queens Park in the town, Great Paul for St. Paul’s Cathedral, and York Minster. Loughborough has for more than a century been the home of John Taylor & Co bell founders and the firm has a museum—the Bellfoundry Museum—located on two floors telling the story of bell making over the centuries. The River Soar passes by to the east of the town.
The sun was shining promising a glorious English day. We found a parking station and made our way to the markets. Loughborough has developed the main St Cattle Street into a mall and here we got more than we bargained for. There is an antiques market every Friday and the French market is once per month and they both set up in the mall. Well like most antiques markets the word “antiques” is used very loosely. But there were many stalls with curiosities. We browsed through the stalls and when we got to the end there were the French market stalls operated by French people living in the area. Well Kerry found the nut shop then the Turkish delight shop and so we had nuts and Turkish delight for the next week. There were a number of stalls cooking in what looked like paella dishes and the aroma was wonderful. I found a stall cooking a cheesy potato dish and what appeared to be a prawn stir fry. It was 10.30am too earlier for lunch so we agreed we would return for lunch. I cannot say too much more because we did some Xmas shopping and it is a secret.
The town has gone to a lot of effort to turn its alley ways into shopping precincts so we had fun finding our way through it all. Indirectly we were looking for a particular shop providing all the bits and pieces for making jewellery. I cannot say anything more about that either except to say we ultimately fell into the shop. Our exploration also uncovered a new ultramodern shopping precinct. You have to wonder how all these shops survive. I was salivating waiting for lunch so all I could think about was tucking into the garlic prawns and the cheesy potato. Time seemed to be crawling but of course lunchtime arrived and I scurried back to the stall in the French sector of the markets to purchase lunch. With one bowl of prawns and one of potato we sat on the benches in the mall and tucked into the hot delights. The sunny morning was becoming grey, windy, cold, and wet. And the hot delights left me a little disappointed. The prawns were in fact a fish composite moulded to look like prawns. Ah well it wasn’t too bad and the potato was lovely and creamy with bacon pieces through it.
We then strolled a little more passing the Fireworks store. Guy Fawkes Night was fast approaching and the Brits celebrate the day with bon fire, guys and lots of fireworks (like we used to before the authorities decided we are too stupid to handle fireworks and banned the retail sale of them).
The weather had turned distinctly unwelcoming so we found a coffee shop where we hoped to let it pass over us. After about an hour of supping coffee and reading the newspaper things were not getting better so we cut the day short and headed home.