“I’ve Never Seen the Streets of Leicester So Clean Before”

Countdown: 4 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

So after having a “cheeky pint” at the Last Plantagenet pub this afternoon, I thought that I might write as I waited for the funeral cortege of King Richard III to pass by. I have to admit that I got rather misty-eyed seeing all the planning that Leicester has done for this long dead king. I know it’s silly, but fortunately I’m at the stage in life where I now shed more tears of happiness and laughter than of sorrow.

Anyway, instead of typing away and passing the time with my thoughts, I managed to find a seat and sat beside a lovely woman who I chatted with for two and a half hours as we waited for the casket to pass by. She knew loads about the planning that had been done for King Richard III’s reinterment as she and her late husband had been involved with the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre for decades. She was at the unveiling of King Richard III’s statue in its original location, knew several of the big-wigs in the dig, and was a fount of knowledge about Leicester as she had lived in the city all her life. Interestingly, the funeral directors used for King Richard III’s reinterment was the same company she used for her late husband.

027031I’ve seen a number of crowds watching parades over the years, I’m not usually keen to be part of the gathering, but it was almost electric as the helicopters flew overhead, the officials looked about grimly, and the crowd pressed together. A number of people had white roses to throw at the passing casket, I didn’t have one, but I did bring along the little Canadian flag my mum lent me and I got that out for a little wave as the casket went by.

The lady I was with said to me at one point, and she had a lovely sense of humour, “I’ve never seen the streets of Leicester so clean before.”

It was amazing to witness history!


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On My Way

Countdown: 4 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

The East Midlands train just pulled out of St. Pancras Station and I am vibrating with excitement. If I switch to a higher pitch, I might split into two. I have a feeling that there are other Ricardians on this train, after a while you are able to find your kind. I actually stopped a lady with an Indigo shopping bag who was walking down the platform and asked her if she was a Canadian and if she was on her way to the funeral. She looked a little confused. I have to keep reminding myself that no everyone is on a Ricardian pilgrimage.

I have nothing planned for today except for viewing the funeral cortege (and getting the winkles out of my dress and hat). If I can. I am a little worried that Leicester is going to be teeming with people, Ricardians and non-Ricardians alike. When was the last time I got to be part of a medieval king’s reinterment? I can’t remember off the top of my head. When was anyone of my acquaintance part of a medieval monarch’s reinterment?

As I said to my friend this morning as he was dropping me off at the station at the start of my journey, I will likely remember the next four days for the rest of my life.

(On a lighter note, people keep saying to me, “You must be looking forward to this funeral”. They then catch themselves and say what a nasty thing that is to say. I just respond that you haven’t met some of my in-laws.)

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A Love Letter to The Daughter of Time

Countdown: 5 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

Sometimes called the book that launched a thousand Ricardians, Josephine Tey’s classic, The Daughter of Time, is still one of my favourites after rereading it at least half a dozen, maybe as many as 10 times, over the last three decades.

A long-winded essay on my relationship with The Daughter of Time:

I first picked The Daughter of Time up in grade 10 — I think — after spending a lonely few minutes in the library. I’d read a book called The Pigman by Paul Zindel for English class and was looking for something else with an interesting title, so I started from the bottom of the alphabet in terms of author surnames and read a couple of John Wyndhams along the way. Then, browsing the Ts, I saw the title, The Daughter of Time. I took down the book and recognised that it had a British monarch on the cover, but I didn’t know which one. I turned it over and saw the book was about Richard III and the mystery of the Princes in Tower. I knew the story, although not well as my English history education was a touch spotty after moving to Canada at the age of nine and a half.

Knowing me, I likely devoured The Daughter of Time (I think I once read it in one day) in a few short days and I was hooked. It was as though everything I had been taught in school was open to debate or reinterpretation. The following year, I went full-tilt into teenage rebellion. (Perhaps Ms. Tey is more to blame than sex — I never did drugs — and rock and rock.) I remember discussing King Richard III with a friend in high school and in my last year, I wrote a paper on why William Shakespeare was a terrible playwright based mainly on his awful research on King Richard III. I was saddened to learn that my English teacher did not share my sentiments and that she was also rather parsimonious with marks. Perhaps if I had written the same paper for one of my history teachers (I took as much history in high school as I could), I might have got a better mark? Anyway, I took history at university because I didn’t really know what else to take. I don’t recall having to defend King Richard III’s character in any class, but I was surprised later to find that I had crossed out a paragraph in one of my texts that blamed King Richard III for the death of the Princes, defacing a book is most unlike me so I must have been rather passionate that day.

I am currently on my third copy of The Daughter of Time. I know I once gave someone my copy in the hopes that they would come over to the right side and I might have done the same with the other copy.

Rereading The Daughter of Time reminds me of how much it influenced me in subtle ways. Inspector Grant’s belief that there should be a literary moratorium for a generation as there is too much drivel printed (as an editor and as an innocent reader I must reluctantly agree as I have read some twaddle in my time, in fact, you, dear reader, might be thinking that you are suffering through it right now).

The Daughter of Time does have its faults. As someone who has done historical research, the locating of needed facts are rather too easy, but then again, I have never done research at the British Library.

I am re-reading The Daughter of Time now as I am preparing to go to Leicester for King Richard III’s reinterment and once again savouring each plot turn. Of course I will be sad to finish the book, but I know that I will re-read it again soon.

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Here a Ricardian connection, there a Ricardian connection

Countdown: 6 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

Yesterday, I went into London to go the Museum of London and then to see a dear friend who I haven’t seen since 2008 (a number of friends have either moved or returned to the British Isles since I’ve met them. Coincidence? I hope so.)

Ricardian badge Museum of LondonWhile at the Museum of London, which was teeming with children on school trips, I came across a boar badge worn by a supporter of King Richard III in the medieval galleries. I knew about the badge having seen it on my trip in 2008.

After conquering the Museum of London gift shop, which is one of the best for books and for general London delights, I decided to walk along the Strand and Fleet Street to Waterloo where I was meeting my friend. As I passed St. Paul’s Cathedral on the way south I remembered that the Millennium Bridge offers a lovely view of St. Paul’s from the Thames, so I walked to the middle of the bridge and took a couple of photographs and then walked back to the north bank.

018I looked to my left at one point and noticed that I was walking by the College of Arms. The College of Arms was founded by King Richard III in 1484. Unfortunately, the building the College in is recent, but I wasn’t going to pass up this moment of coincidence.

With a song in my heart and a skip in my step I set off for a wonderful evening with my dear friend. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Here’s a Google Maps link to show you where I went.

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A Ricardian’s Visit to Hampton Court Palace

Countdown: 7 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment. 

In keeping with the theme of this trip, I decided to visit Hampton Court Palace as a Ricardian, keeping my eyes open for any mentions of King Richard III. No surprisingly, given that Henry VIII was Richard’s great-nephew and that the Palace was built some 40 years after Richard’s death, there were hardly any. However, I found a few during my visit yesterday:

Hampton Court Palace is divided into various self-guided tours on Henry VIII, William III, and the Georgians. For the Young Henry tour, it began with a family rose bush diagram, instead of a family tree, showing important characters of the Houses of York and Lancaster with white or red roses by their names. Richard was there.

In the Chapel Court, there is a re-imagined garden laid out in the Tudor style with low chain fences and gravel pathways around the tiny flower beds. Four of the garden beds are for roses, white and red. It being March, there are only bare bushes, but if you looked closely you could see that the rose bushes were starting to grow after their winter sleep. You could tell which was which because of the little markers. 

York rose marker -- Hampton Court

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The Natives seem Friendly

Countdown: 8 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.  

I’ve totally ruined my sleeping cycle. Unfortunately, the night before I left I only got about three hours of sleep and only an hour on the trublent night flight plane and then I didn’t sleep when I arrived, so I was a mess.

Anyway, the wonderful news is that the Ricardian adventure has now officially started. The maternal unit and I landed in England yesterday. My last day in Canada was spent waiting for a second credit card — just in case — that never arrived and for a library book that also failed to appear. I should have ordered both earlier. Fortunately, my mother and I got a three-seat set on the flight to ourselves, so we could spread out and relax. The one item, so far, I have realised I forgot is my shower cap.

On Sunday, March 15, King Richard III’s remains were coffined in the presence of John Ashdown-Hill and other notables. It’s good to see that Ashdown-Hill has finally got a special nod. Without him…

Today, my mother and I will go to Hampton Court Palace. Alas, it has no Ricardian connection as it was built in 1514 by Cardinal Wolsey, and acquired, shall we charitably say, by Henry VIII a few years later when Wolsey’s fortunes began to wane. Hampton Court was a royal residence for a number of centuries. Today, it’s also home of the Royal School of Needlework. (In addition to the Richard III Society, I belong to the Toronto Guild of Stitchery, so a visit to the Shop of said establishment will be absolutely necessary.)

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Interesting Facts about King Richard III — Part Four

Countdown: 9 days to go to King Richard III’s reinterment.

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.)

  • Isabella of Castile was once considered a possible match for the future King Richard III, as well as for his older brother Edward IV.
  • The future King Richard III’s first major military engagement was the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471 when he was 18 years old.
  • King Richard III’s elevated his supporter, John Howard, to the title of Duke of Norfolk on 28 June 1483, just two days after accepting the crown. Howard’s family became powerful during the reign of Henry VIII and one of his great-great-granddaughters was Elizabeth I and Howard’s senior descendants still hold the title today.
  • William Hastings is the earliest known person to have been beheaded at Tower Green within the Tower of London. The other people beheaded at Tower Green are Queen Anne Boleyn in 1536; King Richard’s niece Margaret, Countess of Salisbury in 1541; Queen Catherine Howard in 1542; Jane Boleyn, Viscountess Rochford in 1542; Lady Jane Grey in 1554; and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex in 1601.
  • Ralph Fitzherbert‘s effigy shows a Yorkist livery collar of alternating suns and roses, with the White Boar livery badge of King Richard III as a pendant and is the only surviving representation of a boar pendant on an effigy.
  • King Richard III founded the College of Arms in 1484.
  • King Richard III’s wife, Anne, died during a solar eclipse on 16 March 1485.
  • Contemporaries called the Battle of Bosworth the Battle of Redemore, meaning place of reeds, now drained, due to where the battle was fought. It only became known as the Battle of Bosworth a quarter of a century after it was fought.
  • Thomas More’s influential History of King Richard III was left unfinished and published posthumously.
  • In 1957, Laurence Olivier was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, one of his nine nominations, for his portrayal of King Richard III in the film of the same name, but lost to Yurl Brynner who played another king, Mongkut of Siam, in The King and I.
  • In 1990, Josephine Tey’s 1951 book, The Daughter of Time, about the modern-day investigation of the crimes of King Richard III, was voted number one in The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time list by the UK Crime Writers’ Association.
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