This is King Richard III’s World, We Just Live In It

King Richard III is interred. Requiescat in pace.

This is my last blog post as I return to Canada early tomorrow afternoon and my Ricardian pilgrimage will be at an end.

Two days ago, I arrived back in London after two days in Suffolk for the last part of my trip. I turned up early to met up with two friends who I hadn’t seen in a couple of years and decided to check out the National Portrait Gallery‘s shop for a few minutes. There was a pillow with King Richard III’s head on it, among others. I could not resist, so I lugged that around with me for the rest of the day. I met up with my friends on the stairs of St. Martins-in-the-Fields Church (where apparently two of my ancestors married) and then we went into the National Portrait Gallery itself. It was jolly crowded as it was a Sunday and as my friends are new parents, they had a stroller with them, so it was a little hectic. Fortunately, after paying our respects to King Richard III’s two portraits (his well-known NPG one and the one that is part of a series that was on display), we retired to a pub for a lovely meal and wonderful conversation (with a well-behaved child).

097My mother had a mild shock later that evening when she discovered the King Richard III pillow in her bed (it’s good for her cardiovascular system to have the odd jump-start). Sweet dreams, mother dearest! (Yes, the symbolism of a pillow with King Richard III’s handsome mug on it is not lost on me.)

103Yesterday, we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum. We tackled the British galleries as well as the reproduction casts. I was delighted to suddenly realise that I was in front of the cast of Ralph Fitzherbert‘s effigy, which features a boar pendant on his chain underneath his hands clasped in prayer. (The original effigy has a clearer image of a boar, but one must make do.) Later, we went to the British galleries (1500 to 1760). There, in all his grumpiness was the bust of Henry Tudor. In front of him were two men chatting away about King Richard III and Leicester. I didn’t interrupt as I was with my mum and didn’t want her to get bored, so I just took satisfaction that instead of talking about Tudor, they were discussing Richard.

Last night, we went to see The Mousetrap. Because of the weather and general timing, we caught a cab and got a chatty cabbie, who said that in his 22 years, we were the first ever passengers he had taken to see The Mousetrap. He asked why we were over and I said that I had been in Leicester. Anyway, our London cabbie was very knowledgeable about King Richard III. My poor mother had to sit through yet another Richard III conversation. I jokingly said that the cabbie’s tip depended on his belief in King Richard III’s innocence concerning the disposal of his nephews.

Alas, there were very few Ricardian moments today. I went to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, which had nothing King Richard III related. However, I did spend the afternoon at St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was designed by the son of the man who recorded in the early 17th century that there was still a monument to King Richard III in a garden park in Leicester, meaning that his body had not been disinterred during the dissolution of the monasteries. A rather neat little coda. However, there was one more Ricardian moment, on the way back to our hotel I picked up a copy of the Evening Standard. Apparently, there will be a King Richard III musical in the autumn, RichardRocks. (Let’s just hope that it is not as bad as Viva Forever.)

As Dr. Phil Stone, Chair of the Richard III Society, said at the end of the Richard III Society’s Memorial Service for King Richard III last week, “Let me quote to you from a play by Shakespeare. No, not that play. ‘Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!'”

My work is done and so I must rest my own weary head.

– 30 –

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Interesting Facts about King Richard III — Part Five

King Richard III is interred. Requiescat in pace.

Conversation flagging at a cocktail party? Tense moment at the family dinner table? Run into someone at the office water cooler? Hoping to impress your true love with a tasty bit of trivia? Try one of these interesting facts about King Richard III — part of an on-going series — to start the conversation or return it to a more even keel. (You’re most welcome.)

  • In 1460, the future King Richard III, along with his brother George and his sister Margaret, lived in a London residence owned by the Paston Family for several months. Christophe Hausson, a servant of the Pastons, wrote on 12 October 1460 that, “Lord March [the future Edward IV] cometh every day to see them.”
  • n 1475, Edward IV, along with Richard, invaded France, in part to revive the English claim to the French throne. Louis XI offered the invaders a substantial bribe to return to England. Edward accepted it, while Richard refused, making Louis his enemy, and it was Louis who gave Henry Tudor protection and then supplies to mount his invasion of England ten years later.
  • King Richard III was crowned in Westminster Abbey on 6 July 1483, just 10 days after accepting the crown.
  • Edward of Middleham, King Richard III’s son, was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in York Minster on 8 September 1483.
  • King Henry VI was originally buried in Chertsey Abbey in Surrey, but was reinterred in 1484 by orders of King Richard III in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.
  • When Henry Tudor landed at Mitford Haven in August 1485 to fight King Richard III, he had been living abroad for half his life.
  • Henry VII backdated the start of his reign a day earlier to 21 August 1485 so that he could prosecute anyone who had fought under King Richard III. Although, a general pardon was later issued to those who had fought for Richard
  • Following the dismantling of Greyfriars during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, a number of materials from the buildings were used to repair nearby St Martin’s Church, now Leicester Cathedral, where King Richard III will be reinterred in March 2015.
  • Peter Cook portrayed King Richard III in The Black Adder. The character is kind towards the so-called Princes in the Tower and – spoiler alert – is killed in battle by Edmund Blackadder.
  • Sharon Kay Penman re-wrote the manuscript of The Sunne in Splendour after it was stolen from her car, eventually spending 12 years on her novel about King Richard III.
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Framlingham Castle

King Richard III is interred. Requiescat in pace.

069 078 079 080 082 083Today, I went to Framlingham Castle. The Ricardian connection to this lovely place is that Framlingham Castle was John Howard‘s seat and he was made duke of Norfolk by King Richard III just days after he himself was proclaimed king in July 1483. Howard’s descendants still hold the title and the Tudor Howards, who played such an important role in Henry VIII’s reign, are also descendants of John Howard.

My paternal grandparents had a home quite near Framlingham Castle and after my grandfather’s death, my uncle took over the house, so as we – as I have reunited with my mother – are visiting my uncle, I asked if we could go there (we tried to go yesterday, but it was closed as it was a Friday). I have been to Framlingham Castle probably a dozen times over the years. (I joking said that it was my home away from home to the ticket seller.)

There was a castle in Framlingham by 1148, but it was destroyed by Henry II in 1173-74. The present-day castle was rebuilt by Roger Bigod, but was captured by King John. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle became the property of the powerful Mowbray and Howard families. The Mowbray family married its daughter Anne to Richard, son of Edward IV, in 1481, when the bride was just five and the groom just four. Framlingham Castle reached the peak of its importance in 1553, when Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, announced from her castle in Framlingham that she was queen of England and collected her forces there and marched on London. Mary’s younger half-brother who had died only days earlier had given the throne to their first-cousin once-removed, Jane Grey, the fabled “nine-days queen.” By the end of the 16th century, Framlingham Castle had fallen into disrepair, which likely saved it from being used and thus totally destroyed during the Civil War.

Alas, I can’t tell if King Richard III visited Framlingham Castle before he became king, but I know that he did not visit it as king.

The present-day castle is unusual as it is a curtain castle with no central keep. Today, Framlingham Castle’s thirteen towers are in various states of disrepair, but it’s a lovely spot with some spectacular views of the surrounding Suffolk countryside.

Post script: We took my uncle out for his birthday tonight and I overheard the word “reinterment,” the two women at the table next to us were talking about King Richard III. I didn’t interrupt their conversation, but it was good to know that he has not been forgotten already in our 24-hour new cycle.

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Requiescat in pace

King Richard III is interred. Requiescat in pace.

Today, King Richard III, last of the Plantagenets and the last English king to die in battle, was buried in Leicester Cathedral in the presence of hundreds, including those who found him. King Richard III was given a dignified interment in 2015, one that was denied him 530 years ago.

I got up today at six and left my hotel by ten minutes to seven in order to secure a good spot for seeing the reinterment of King Richard III on the big screens. I should not have worried so much as I was the first to arrive at Jubilee Square by a long shot. Jubilee Square was just to the west of Leicester Cathedral and you could see its spire from where I was seated. I had paused on the way there in front of Leicester Cathedral to chat to the people already there, there was one man who had been there for twenty-four hours already. I was joined by several others in the early hours, but I was alone for at least fifteen minutes in the morning twilight and rain. One of the people to join me was one of the descendants of the former mayor of Leicester who once owned the land where Richard was discovered. Thank goodness her ancestor did not do any building on the site!

I was interviewed several times as I was for the first to arrive. I said having come from Canada meant that I couldn’t really sleep in on the day he was reinterred as I had come so far.

The fearless leader of the Richard III Society of Canada and her respected husband joined me for the screening — although I hadn’t saved them seats.

The service itself was rather nice. Although I saw one or two empty seats in the Cathedral and thought how nice it would have been to have been in that empty spot. When John Ashdown-Hill rolled his eyes at the mention of the University of Leicester’s research, a laugh rose from the crowd at Jubilee Square, so I hope it was because they knew the truth, not because Ashdown-Hill was so clear in his feelings on the issue. The service was not that long, but do reinterments usually pass by so quickly? For the most part, it was done well and I got a little misty-eyed at one point. All this plotting and planning had lead to this one moment in time, in history.

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped a smartly dress woman and asked if she had gone to the reinterment. We started chatting and she offered to get me a coffee as we were staying at the same hotel. She said how sad it was that Ashdown-Hill had not got the recognition that he deserved for his work on the project and I agreed as he had done so much and got so little credit in the end, but one might say that truth is the daughter of time.

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Veni, Vidi, Vici

Countdown: 1 day to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.

Before I got out of bed this morning, I thought to myself that tomorrow is the day that King Richard III is reinterred and I am here in Leicester to bear witness.

Anyway, I was on form before I even left the hotel today. I went into the breakfast area and was eating my eggs and bacon when I overheard one of the two women next to me say, “Toronto.” I grabbed the moment and politely interrupted their conversation and said that I had overheard them and that I was from Toronto. Apparently they had been chatting to a couple from Toronto only moments earlier and they pointed them out to me in the restaurant. I went up and introduced myself and chatted to them for a few moments. They didn’t know about the Canadian branch of the Richard III Society, so I invited them to attend a meeting and gave them my contact information.

After that I decided to try to do as much as I could on my last full day in Leicester — on this trip, I have decided that I simply must come back. I went to St. Margaret’s, but it was unfortunately not open. I then went over to St. Nicholas and spent a lovely few minutes there. Both churches are reputed to have had King Richard III worship there or have his body lay there after the Battle of Bosworth.

I then ran into the fearless leader of the Richard III Society of Canada and she said that she was on her way to be interviewed by Macleans and that the reporter was asking to speak to a number of Ricardians, so she asked me to come along. I took part in the interview and just hope that I didn’t sound like a twit or not as much of a twit as usual.

I then went to the Wygston House for its Stained Glass tour, I was five minutes late, but was able to join. Despite asking one of the other people on the tour if I was on the right one, it turned out to be a tour of the house, which was much better as the house didn’t have any of its stained glass left.

Afterward, I went to the Jewry Wall Museum, but it was crawling with children and all about the Romans (sorry, more time for Romans next time). However, it did have several panes of the Wygston House stained glass, so I got to see that and find a nice gift for the long-suffering man in my life.

After that I went over to the King Richard III Visitor Centre for my timed tour. The upstairs had a tonne of information about the archaeological dig as well as the research into the confirmation that the body was indeed King Richard III. They also had the facial reconstruction on display. I bent down a little to look him in the eyes and he didn’t seem as cross-eyed as before. Then I got to go into the chamber which has the archaeological dig visible through glass floors. It was so poignant to see the small place where he was so hastily buried all those centuries ago.

I tried St. Margaret’s once more and it was still closed. I then took out to do my King Richard III walking tour print-out and saw that I had basically done everything already as I didn’t really want to go to the Ricardian-related places that had been torn down. After that, I realised I had no more worlds to conquer. So I back to the hotel to have a well-deserved nap.

Fortunately, I woke up in time to go to my Leicester and King Richard III talk this evening, which was very interesting, in part because a gaggle of teenage girls was walking behind me part of the way and I could overhear their conversation, which was about King Richard III! Water on a stone! I also got to see several more panes of the Wygston House stained glass at the Museum where the talk was held. After the talk, I wandered over to Castle Park and walked through the ancient gateway, which King Richard III almost certainly went through as he visited Leicester several times as king.

I came, I saw, I conquered Leicester.

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Another Day, Another Delight

Countdown: 2 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.

My face is starting to hurt a little from all the smiling I am doing. I got up before seven today to queue to see King Richard III lying in repose. I had meant to get up at six, but that was just not possible. I managed to get to the line-up before eight and chatted to a lovely man while waiting who apparently “parked on top of Richard for 30 years.” I asked if he was coming to apologise! The Cathedral was opened an hour earlier than planned as the line-up was so long and I heard that the Cathedral was staying open to nine tonight to accommodate the crowds. This early opening meant that I only had to wait in line for about 45 minutes, although I had been prepared to wait an hour and a half or more.

The coffin is covered with a lovely embroidered pall featuring the key figures of the dig for Richard on one side and historical figures on the other side. This will go on permanent display in the Cathedral. However, once again, we were barked at like errant children as we filed pass the coffin. “Move along!” What a lovely way to treat people after they have lined up for hours and about to donate money!

Anyway, I went to the Guild Hall next to meet my fellow Canadian Ricardians, but as it was not open yet, some of us waited outside and were interviewed by the BBC. (My voice was ruined from the day before with all my chatting, so I doubt my part will make it to air.) After the Guild Hall opened, we went inside and had a quick meet-and-greet with the other Canadians who had turned up. I then went for lunch with my favourite Ricardians.

After lunch, I went back to the hotel to drop off the books I’d bought for the Buyers Library. As Librarian of the Richard III Society of Canada, I have been allowed to purchase $300 of books, so I have been buying the ones that I don’t think we might get in Canada as easily or cheaply as here in the U.K. However, I am starting to worry about how to get these all back home as I have so many.

I then met a friend who’d journeyed down from Scotland for the day to see King Richard III. I lined up once again at the Cathedral, but as she’d already been in the line for a while, I said that I would not go in with her as I didn’t think it was fair to cut in and see King Richard III once more (one must play fair). My friend and I chatted for the hour and a half it took to get into the Cathedral and had a lovely time catching up.

I then went back to the hotel again and changed for a cocktail reception for the Looking for Richard Project hosted by the American branch. I was lucky to be invited as I am a member of the Canadian Branch’s executive. I got to met Philippa Langley, who was very nice and I thanked her for what she had done. I also met Phil Stone, Chair of the Richard III Society, who was also delightful, the Hammonds, who have done so much for the Society, shake Richard Buckley’s hand, and enjoy myself immensely. I remember sitting there in the midst of Ricardian royalty wondering if I would ever come back to reality. Leicester, my city of dreams…

My final stop of the day was a concert of Ricardian music at a local church, which was lovely and relaxing.

I must admit I am yearning for a quiet moment as my solitary time is spent mainly on this blog, but I don’t want to miss a moment of Ricardian adventure! (I am almost out of origami boars as so many people have been so good to me!)

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One Could Easily Never Go Back Home…

Countdown: 3 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.

I hardly sleep last night as I was so excited. Perhaps the night before Christmas was once something like this for me.

Anyway, after writing the cards for the single white roses (I was getting one for myself, one for my friend and fellow Richard III Society of Canada member Ray, one for my Ricardian friend Amber who died in 2013, and one for those who could not be there) I picked up the Richard III Society of Canada’s dozen white roses at nine-thirty and there was a line-up for the Cathedral around the block. Apparently people had been there since six in the morning and even then the line-up didn’t let up as people were waiting two hours in the afternoon.

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I went up to the front of the Cathedral and asked one of the volunteers if she could tell me what to do with the flowers. She said to drop them off inside as I wasn’t staying for the viewing and I got a chance to met the woman who was so helpful with the flowers over Facebook. (The Cathedral never answered my email about flowers, so I was glad she was so helpful.)

I then left as I had offered to volunteer for the Richard III Society. I caught the eye of a man watching the crowds and I asked him what he thought of the event. We started chatting and then I asked him where the Holiday Inn was as he was a Leicester man and that I was due there at ten-thirty. Another man overheard me and said that he was meeting someone at the Holiday Inn at ten-thirty and that he was one of the Secretaries of the Society, who turned out to be the man I was meeting. Even though it was not yet a quarter to ten, I offered to start then. As I was helping set up, I bought a Richard III funeral badge, apparently they were sold out later that day, so I am glad I got one despite being so busy.

I was assigned to give out the tickets and invitations to international members as both had been issued too late for the post and there was a danger they would not arrive in time. I had a lovely time chatting with people from the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and, of course, Canada. For the overwhelming majority, everyone was happy and excited! I was also rather pleased that some big-wigs in the Society knew who I was. It’s nice to be remembered!

After lunch with my dear friends, I joined two fellow Canadians to check out St Mary de Castro, where King Richard III might have once worshipped. The door we tried was locked, so we went over the Great Hall of Leicester Castle. We were offered the chance to join a tour, but I was suddenly tired, so I begged off and left my companions. However, as I was walking away, I discovered that St Mary was open as the entrance was to the north! I went in and have a lovely nose about and quite forgot about my nap. I then realised that I was only steps from the Castle Magazine, so I popped along there and was able to join a tour that had just started.

I finally got back to my hotel at four-thirty and began the labourous process of getting ready for the Memorial Service at seven. The hat had survived its transatlantic voyage and my dress was wrinkle-free. Even though the Service started at seven, we had been told be there for six, I went along for six and once more there was already a huge line-up, but again I got chatting with the people next to me and the time flew.

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The Memorial Service was lovely, both Phil Stone and Philippa Langley spoke, along with other Ricardian celebrities and there was a lovely bit of choral music. I must admit that I shed a tear; not because I was sad, but because it was the culmination of so many plans. My parents offered to send me over for the reinterment more than two years ago, so I have been looking forward to this trip ever since. Afterwards, we were 055allowed to file by the coffin, but by the time I was at the front of the queue, we were getting barked at to only take one picture and not dawdle. I know it was a long day, but if it wasn’t for the Richard III Society, the Cathedral  would be short one king. (I think the Cathedral needs to work on its public relations a bit.)

I asked about the white roses that I had bought earlier as I couldn’t see any and apparently all the flowers are being made into various large displays for the reinterment.

I then walked back to my hotel with two of my new Ricardian pals and had a lovely post-Memorial Service chat.

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