Saturday, February 09, 2013

The memorial to Richard III in Leicester Cathedral

Despite the best efforts of a few Yorkshire politicians, the "Where should Richard III be buried?" question was always a bit of a non-issue.

The Leicester Mercury quotes a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice:
"When applying for an archaeological exhumation licence, the applicant must state that the remains will be laid to rest at a suitable location. 
"The licence we issued states that the applicant (the University of Leicester) would, no later than August 31, 2014, deposit the remains at Jewry Wall Museum or have them reinterred at St Martin's Cathedral or in a burial ground in which interments may legally take place. 
"The precise location of reburial is now for the University of Leicester. 
"This means that no one except the licence holder, i.e. the University of Leicester, can decide where the remains end up."
Not only that. As a magnanimous statement from the Chapter of York, published on the York Minster site, says:
the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.
That statement goes on to declare:
The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. The Chapter of York commends Richard to Leicester's care and to the cathedral community's prayers.
The photograph above shows the memorial to Richard (complete with white roses) you will currently find in the choir of Leicester Cathedral. I hope that when he is laid to rest there his tomb or stone will be similarly tasteful, and someone I spoke to there today who has seen some of the suggested designs was confident it would be.

Finding the bones of a saint used to be a good way of bringing pilgrims to an abbey, and Leicester is quietly cashing in on Richard in the same way.

There is an exhibition - Richard III: Leicester's Search for a King - at the Guildhall and many other events besides. I had to queue for around 20 minutes to get into the exhibition today. Thanks to Daniele Taverna on Twitter you can see me doing it. I am the one towards the back of the queue in the rather dashing flat cap.

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