Monday, June 04, 2012

Richard III lies buried under Leicester's streets

After his death at Bosworth Field, Richard III's body was taken to Leicester, exhibited naked to the populace and then buried at the church of the Greyfriars monastery in the city.

There is a local tradition that, at the dissolution of the monasteries, Richard's body was thrown into the River Soar. But there is no contemporary source for that story and strong evidence that the site was still marked in the early 17th century.

According to a BBC article about Richard:
Here in 1612 Christopher Wren (future dean of Windsor and father of the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral) who was then tutor to Robert Herrick’s nephew, saw ‘a handsome stone pillar, three foot high’, bearing the inscription ‘Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of England’. This pillar had been erected by Robert Herrick when he redeveloped the site, in order to mark the location of Richard’s grave.
Today the site of Greyfriars monastery and Herrick's garden is occupied by Greyfriars, Friar Lane and New Street. Leicester Chronicler says:
very little survives of the medieval friary; just an archway in the basement of private property and some stones incorporated into the wall of an open air municipal car park.
I suspect that is the car park behind the social services building in Greyfriars, which was securely locked when I was there this afternoon. But I did find this plaque across the road on the side of the old Nat West bank.

And, somewhere under the paving stones, the body of Richard III may well be close by.

No comments: