Being obsessed with all the books related to Richard III, I discovered a very interesting story I totally ignored. I bought a book titled “The Crowned Boar” published in 1971 and I soon discovered (after buying both of them for a small fortune) that there was another book titled “The Son of York” that told the same story so eventually I had the two identical books with a different title. The story was intriguing but what caught my attention was the dedication in both editions. Margaret Abbey, the author, dedicated her work to “Audrey Strange A Good Friend and Fellow Ricardian”. But who was Audrey Strange anyway? Had she something to tell me? I started to investigate and I discovered a very compelling story.
Audrey Strange was a historian particularly interested in the life and events of King Richard III. Born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1926, Audrey Strange (née Pattison) married in 1952, and moved to Leicester in 1958 for her husband had found a new job there. The following year she joined the Fellowship of the White Boar as the current Richard III Society was then called. Audrey firmly believed that history was made not only by powerful and noble people but also by commoners, but Richard III certainly had a place of honour in her research for the many mysteries surrounding his controversial character. Determined to find her own truth about the maligned monarch, Audrey made her own investigations and she became convinced that the body of Richard III thrown in the river Soar by a savage mob was just a legend and if someone’s mortal remains were actually in the Soar, for sure they were not Richard’s.
In 1962 Audrey decided to apply for a dig. She wrote to the Leicester Museum asking to be able to conduct excavations where the convent of the Grey Friars once stood and that recently had become a private car park. Audrey’s proposal was rejected and Richard III still had to wait before anyone else could bring him back to light. Audrey also made a sculpture of the king’s face that does not differ too much from the current reconstruction. The upsetting should have been terrible. Audrey dropped researching Richard to start new investigation about her family history. Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see the excavations that took place decades after her request. She died in 2010 and his private investigations about the King and her own searches were never found. She possibly destroyed everything so the only surviving document of her attempt is the letter she received from the Leicester Museum.
Strangely, the year she applied for the dig was the same year another person was born, Philippa Langley who successfully led the search for the King’s grave exactly after 50 years.