Monday, April 05, 2021

The Reunion: Finding Richard III

In June 2012 I wrote:

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.

Three months later it was found.

The latest edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme The Reunion tells the story of the dig and the research that proved the identity of the skeleton they unearthed on the first day of the dig.

There is no participant from the Richard III Society: they seem to be like that.

I paid my respects to Richard when his coffin was displayed in Leicester Cathedral and got rather carried away:

It has been a remarkable week for Leicester and Leicestershire. 

When the plans for taking Richard's bones around the Bosworth battlefield and the villages associated with it were announced, I wondered if it was a good idea. But it turned out to be an act of genius and I found myself ridiculously moved.

This, I think, had less to do with Richard III and more to do with the community involvement. Councillors, ex-servicemen, Scouts and Brownies... 

What we saw on BBC News and heard on BBC Radio Leicester was the sort of civic England you fear had been lost to modernisation and the turbo-capitalism.

Because the day was not about celebrating Richard III or the monarchy: it was about celebrating our pride in Leicester and Leicestershire. In the end, the day was about ourselves.

And then Richard's returned to Leicester in triumph, rather than naked over the back of a horse.

Let no one tell you that history cannot be rewritten.

I recommend this programme, though Kirsty Wark neglects to mention that when this story was first covered by Newsnight she asked one :participant:

"Where will Richard be buried? Presumably not Leicester.

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