RICHARD III IN EXETER–A PAINTING DISCOVERED
After Buckingham’s rebellion, Richard III rode west from Salisbury, where he’d ordered the faithless Duke executed (interestingly, IMO, on the birthday of the elder ‘Prince in the Tower’ which may well be significant–who knows!) and eventually reached the town of Exeter, after mopping up the last of the rebellion…and the rebels.
Although Exeter is not generally known for its Ricardian connections, it would seem there are more than one might think, not just in the way of medieval buildings Richard would have seen but in later artworks that commemorated his brief stay. For instance, there is Victorian stained glass window found in the Mercure Hotel, originally called the Rougemont after the castle where Richard supposedly misheard the name as ‘Richmond’ and became very sorrowful since he knew he would not live long after seeing Richmond. (A tale that is without a doubt apocryphal!) The window was prized enough to be removed and hidden during WWII in case of bomb damage to the hotel.
It had also come to my attention that a Victorian era a painting also exists showing Richard’s arrival in the city through the East Gate. Both the painting and the stained glass show a young, upright King Richard–no Shakespearean limping monster here, despite the time in which both pieces were created! The painting is particularly interesting in its use of colour and the depiction of motifs such as Richard’s boar–being quite bright and airy, it has an almost modern feel as opposed to the more usual darkly-hued, melodramatic Victorian art on historical subjects.
The artist was George Townsend and the picture called ‘The East Gate , Exeter, and the Arrival of King Richard, 1483.’
Details about various Ricardian places and items of interest in Exeter have been published in a booklet by Ann Brightmore-Armour; further research is ongoing.
A sampler showing some of the events of 1483 in Exeter
Thanks to Ian Churchward of Richard The Third Records for his information on the Exeter painting, window and booklet.