The Retirees go Abroad – Visiting Richard III – Leicester

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.

Retirees Go Abroad – Ordinary Lives living in the UK – A horse, my kingdom for a horse…….

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.

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.