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Fascinating Coventry….!

Guildhall, Coventry

Guildhall, Coventry

Coventry’s history and buildings are very well served and illustrated in this article. I think the city is very well worth visiting and has a lot to offer.

 

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Don’t they know Henry VII’s calendar went backwards….?

Henry and Bosworth

Well, well, here we have ten facts about Horrible Henry VII. Oh, dear, he won’t be pleased about one thing…the Express has mistakenly dated his reign from the 22nd. Oops. We ALL know it was from the 21st, because Henners told us it was! He was king before Richard was killed in battle. Richard was never king. Er, then what was all that royal ceremony that went on in Westminster Abbey in 1483? Scotch mist? Henry should have asked his mother to explain. She was there, carrying the queen’s train. Perhaps Margaret was just a hologram? No such luck, the scheming creature was only too real.

So bah, humbug to the Express for compiling this list. Better still, print it off and shove it where Henners’ sun don’t shine!

 

Henry Tudor, Merevale Abbey, St Armel…and dear old Thomas Stanley….

Artist impression of Merevale Abbey

Artist’s impression of Merevale Abbey, North Warwickshire

 

After a comment by David, about suns in splendour and white roses in the window glass above (see his comment here ) I decided to investigate more about the window at Merevale Abbey.

There is, of course, a boar in the window glass at Merevale. Well, more a pig than a boar, and it’s brown and doesn’t seem in the least like Richard III’s white boar.  So I think I can confine myself here to the image which started this article.

brown boar

My investigations unearthed a few things about Merevale I did not know before. For instance at https://henrytudorsociety.com/category/tudor-locations/, from which I have taken the following:

“…It is possible that it was at Merevale that Henry Tudor fatefully met with his stepfather Thomas Stanley. The Stanleys’ intervention the following day on the side of Tudor rather than Richard III is often seen as the decisive moment of the battle. Was a plan hatched by the men whilst they were in the abbey grounds? A later observer remarked ‘it was a goodly sight to see the meeting of them’ whilst Tudor’s biographer Polydore Vergil would later write that Tudor and Stanley took each other by the hand ‘and yielding mutual salutation’ entered into ‘counsel in what sort to arraigne battle with King Richard’.

“Later evidence has been used to support the theory that Henry’s army stayed at Merevale Abbey. As king Henry issued a warrant reimbursing the abbey with 100 marks having ‘sustained great hurts, charges and losses, by occasion of the great repair and resort that our people coming towards our late field made, as well unto the house of Merevale aforesaid as in going over his ground, to the destruction of his corns and pastures’. Payments were also made to other settlements in the region, including £24 20s 4d to Atherstone, £20 to Fenny Drayton and £13 to Witherley amongst other townships.

“Furthermore in September 1503 the king returned to Merevale whilst on progress and visited the abbey. He commemorated his great victory by sanctioning a new stained glass window depicting his favoured saint, Armel. The decision to use a saint that was very personal to him as opposed to a national symbol like George suggests Henry felt a deep connection with Merevale and wanted to convey his appreciation for the role the abbey played in his victory. The small figure of Armel can still be viewed in the South Aisle of the Gate Chapel, a rare depiction of this saint in England. Another place the saint can be viewed is in the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey where a statue of Armel is located close to the magnificent tomb of the king. On 30 October 1511 Henry Tudor’s son and successor Henry VIII paid a visit to the abbey with his wife Queen Katherine of Aragon…”

If the above is true, what a pair of snakes met up at Merevale on the eve of Bosworth! I can almost hear them slithering and hissing toward each other.

There is more about the abbey itself at https://henrytudorsociety.com/2015/08/20/merevale-abbey/ and http://www.richardiiiworcs.co.uk/atherstonethumbnails.html

Incidentally, I’m sure Henry VII would have been shocked to know what would happen to the abbey—indeed all abbeys—during the preposterous reign of his son, Henry VIII.

Anyway, this started off as a look at St Armel’s mitre in the Merevale window. I have not seen it myself, so resorted to Google. Sure enough there is a white rose, but not a sun in splendour. It is a rose en soleil, a rose in the sun. This was most certainly a widely known Yorkist badge. It seems a little strange that Henry VII would have wanted it displayed so prominently on his saint’s mitre. Except, of course, that it might have acknowledged the saint’s gift, to Henry, of not only Richard III’s stolen crown, but also Richard’s eldest niece, Elizabeth of York. Both prizes were tucked neatly under the Tudor belt. It was no justice.

The following are examples of the Yorkist rose en soleil:-

I haven’t yet found a Tudor rose in splendour, but no doubt there is one somewhere. Perhaps they’ve all withered. That would be justice!

Father of a Queen: Thomas Boleyn

Two miles from Edenbridge in Kent  lies the small but attractive castle of Hever. Originally built in 1270, it was taken over 1462 by Geoffrey Bullen (or Boleyn) younger brother of Thomas Boleyn , Master of Gonville Hall, a constituent college of Cambridge. Geoffrey had a son called William and he in turn fathered Thomas Boleyn, who was probably born at Hever.

Thomas inherited the castle in 1505 and lived there with his wife, Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk and his wife, Elizabeth Tilney (making her the granddaughter of John Howard who fought for Richard III at Bosworth.) At  Hever,  Thomas and Elizabeth had five children, two daughters, Mary and Anne, and three sons, Thomas, Henry and George, although two sons died young, and the last was eventually executed by Henry VIII.

Thomas is sometimes seen a ruthless social climber willing to do anything to further his ambitions through his daughters (and so he might have been), but he was also quite a notable person before  his daughter Anne became involved with Henry VIII. He had escorted Mary Tudor to her wedding to James IV of Scotland and was created a Knight of the Bath at Henry VIII’s Coronation, long before Anne and Henry’s relationship. He also became Sheriff of Kent twice and served as an occasional foreign ambassador. He was made Lord Privy Seal during Henry’s marriage to Anne, but upon her fall and execution, this position was stripped from him, and he died in disgrace in 1538.

He was buried in St Peter’s church in Hever, in a Purbeck marble chest tomb which has upon it one of the finest Tudor era brasses in  existence. On the brass, still bright and unworn, Thomas wears his Garter robes and regalia, and a falcon, crest of the Boleyn family, is carved above his right shoulder. Near his tomb is the grave of one of his sons, Henry, who died in infancy—a humble brass cross on the floor marks the spot. Both lie in the Boleyn chantry, near an unusual feature for any church—a fireplace—which was added in sometime during the Tudor period.

(The church also contains another beautiful medieval brass well worth viewing, that of Margaret Cheyne, who died in 1419. It shows great detail of Margaret’s dress and headgear, and two winged angels hover at her shoulders.)

It is worth noting that the  pleasant old inn across the road from St Peters, now called The Henry VIII, was originally called The Bull, a play on the name Bullen/Boleyn. Later, local folklore says, it was changed to ‘The Bull and the Butcher’ in reference to Henry’s execution of Anne.

An interesting view on Thomas Boleyn, whose character has been increasing damned in fiction and TV/Film: https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/in-defence-of-thomas-boleyn-father-of-anne-boleyn/

thomas

THE WHITE ROSE: A POEM FOR RICHARD

Several years ago I was out at Bosworth to attend an author signing with one of my favourite Ricardian authors, Sharon Penman, who wrote the mighty epic The Sunne in Splendour. We were staying in the Royal Arms at Sutton Cheney, which has a public room filled with armour, memorabilia, paintings of the battle and of Richard and Tudor (I put the latter at my back!)

Our room was in an annexe that looked out over the fields. The light was grey, heavy; the soil of the field, newly ploughed, glistening after rain, looked red. Redemore. The Red Plain. In the distance the hedges wore little crowns of mist, and a single dark-winged crow sat on the fence, its shrill cry breaking a strange stillness. A haunting place.

We went to bed. In the night we heard rain drumming on the roof. We turned over,slept.  In the early hours of the morning,  I was woken by a ruckus overhead. There was crashes and bangs as if someone, or more like multiple someones, were streaming, charging over the roof of the building. I began to fancy them as hoofbeats and laughed at myself and my infamous imagination.  It must surely be the hotel staff doing something in a room above us…but why the heck were they doing it pre-dawn when they had guests?

The sounds clattered away into nothingess. I went back to sleep. Later, when  we got up and went to pack our things in the car, I looked back towards the building.

There was no upstairs room above ours.

This poem came out of that night….

THE WHITE ROSE

I walked upon Bosworth field,
the soil red beneath my feet
as rain pelted from a stormy sky
in a grey and stony sheet

Sutton Cheney’s stolid tower
was an upturned bucket in the mist
and the whole rolling landscape
a haunted vista twilight kissed.

Why do I feel such strangling sorrow
in that lonely, empty space
where amongst the bristling hedges
the small birds dart and race

soaring like souls into a sky
unchanged by the passing years,
still on this sullen summer’s day
pouring out its bitter tears.

I found a crooked, winding path
that crossed a farmer’s land…
so plain and oh so ordinary
you might dismiss it out of hand

But I knew that here was the place
where a banner once soared on high,
and a White Boar fighting rose and fell,
a betrayed man consigned to die

So history was written
and legends false and foul were born,
birthed out of blood and treachery
on a red-tinged summer’s morn

The victor writes the pages,
speechless dead cannot defend
but I swore I would speak for him
both now and till the end.

And when I returned later
to my little rented room
at midnight I heard thunder
like a banging drum of doom

or was it something greater
that tore across the brooding sky,
passing in flashes over Bosworth…
what does it really mean to die?

Westward like winter’s geese
I saw pale horsemen flying
while the echoes of ghostly horns,
drifted outward, fading, dying….

And on the rain-bright road
its petals teared with icy rain
lay a perfect snow-white rose…
King Richard rides again.

J.P. Reedman

 

Art by Frances Quinn

Stanley and the Stanley Knife

They are sharp and good for purposes both fair and foul, and might even be handy for some back-stabbing (should one be of that disposition!)

What am I talking about? The Stanley Knife.

Jokes abound on certain medieval groups about these multi purpose knives being something that should have been invented by the two side-shifting, game-playing Stanley Bros of the 15thc…so I thought I would endeavour to find out if there was indeed a connection.

Here is what I’ve found…

A WILLIAM Stanley invented the Stanley Knife. No, not the one who Henry Tudor executed when he suggested Perkin Warbeck might be the ‘real deal’ but William Stanley, born in Islington in 1829. He was the son of a mechanic called John Stanley and was a descendant of  Thomas Stanley–not THAT particular Thomas Stanley, but the one who wrote The History of Philosophy in the 17th c. Author-philosopher Stanley was the son of Sir Thomas Stanley of Cumberlow, who—and this is where it gets interesting—happened to be the grandson of  yet another Thomas Stanley (they loved the name Thomas, those Stanleys! Doubting Thomases?), an illegitimate son of Edward Stanley, third Earl of Derby. Edward Stanley was the son of Thomas Stanley (that name again!) the 2nd Earl, who was, in turn, the son of George Stanley…you might also know George as Lord Strange, who was held at Bosworth by  Richard for  the good behaviour of his father, THE Thomas Stanley.

(The story goes that Stanley said Richard could go ahead and execute poor old George  because he ‘had other sons’; this may be purely mythical, however. Other falsehoods about Lord Strange is that he was a hapless innocent child held hostage by the nasty ‘baddie’ Richard—he was at least 24-25 at the time of Bosworth, and some sources list him as older still. A further interesting fact is that his wife Joan’s  mother Jacquetta was sister to Elizabeth Woodville.)

And so this leads us to George Stanley’s father, who was, of course, was Thomas the Trimmer, first Earl of Derby, step-father to Henry Tudor and husband of Margaret Beaufort–so yes, one could indeed say the Stanley Knife is connected to that slippery lord and his kin.

I expect Lord Stanley would have approved.

stanleyknife

The Bedingfield turncoat of Oxburgh Hall….

Oxburgh Hall - picture by Art Fund

Oxburgh Hall – picture by Art Fund

In this 2014 post mention was made of Sir Edmund Bedingfield of Oxburgh Hall, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. He was a Yorkist-turned-Tudor supporter who, like the Stanleys and others, failed Richard III at Bosworth.

Sir Edmund was a Yorkist who benefited under Edward IV and Richard III (at the coronation of the latter, he was created a Knight of the Bath), but the ingrate signally withheld support at Bosworth. By 1487 Bedingfield was very cosy indeed with Henry Tudor, playing host to him—and Elizabeth of York, Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Oxford—at Oxburgh Hall at Easter 1487. I trust it stretched the Bedingfield finances to breaking point! The traitorous fellow then turned out for Henry at the Battle of Stoke Field, fighting under John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. After the battle, Bedingfield was made a knight banneret.

A rather handsome Henry VII

A rather handsome Henry VII from the Oxburgh Hall National Trust website

So, what conclusion are we to draw from all this? That Bedingfield was a staunch supporter of Edward IV, but did not agree with Richard III’s claim to the throne? He probably believed the rumours that Richard had done away with Edward IV’s two sons, and so went over the wall into the Tudor camp. One imagines he would subsequently have been very much under Henry’s eye, because that suspicious king very sensibly did not trust anyone who changed sides. Nevertheless Bedingfield prospered under the Tudors, as did his descendants, until their Catholicism got in the way under Elizabeth. Although that queen did honour Oxburgh with her presence in 1578.

Let us return to Easter 1487 (in April that year) and the royal visit to Oxburgh, which house, incidentally had been built after Edward IV granted Bedingfield a licence in 1482. Unusually, the chosen material was red brick, a very costly option at that time. Bedingfield’s gratitude can be seen in the numerous Yorkist falcon-and-fetterlock badges throughout the house, where Edward’s licence is on display. No doubt Bedingfield was especially honoured to have Elizabeth of York beneath his roof, because (in the absence of her brothers) he undoubtedly regarded her as the true heir of Edward IV.

falcon and fetterlock

According to Bedingfield family tradition, the king and queen did not lodge in the main house, but in the noble gatehouse, which has remained virtually unchanged since it was first built. Henry and his Yorkist queen would recognized everything about it were they to return now, and so would Elizabeth I.

Oxburgh Hall - 1482

According to a very detailed description in Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, 1300-1500 by Anthony Emery:

“The gatehouse is a tall, three-storeyed block with dominating half octagonal frontal towers. The latter are divided by seven tiers of sunk panels decorated with triplets of cusped arches surmounted by a battlemented head on blind machiolations. The four-centred entry arch with double relieving arches is closed by the original pair of oak doors. The four-light window above has a stepped transom with a three-light transomed window at second-floor level. The whole is spanned by an open-machiolated arch supporting a line of blind cusped arcading and crow-stepped parapet.

“The gatehouse is a subtly modulated composition. Ashlar stonework was chosen for the central windows but brick for those in the towers with open cinquefoil lights in the stair tower and uncusped single lights with brick labels to the closets in the east tower. Contrasting chevron brickwork is used over the principal window but a single line of yellow brick surmounts that above. Though blind arcading was a common enough tower decoration at the time—as at Buckden, Gainsborough Old Hall and Hadleigh Deanery—the height of the Oxburgh towers is emphasized by the diminishing elevation of the embracing panels of brickwork. The east tower has loopholes at ground level with two quatrefoils above set in blind recesses withy two-centred heads, whereas the side faces of the stair tower at all stages have quatrefoils set in square frames. The entrance position is curious, for its hood is cut by the west tower and the head stop has had to be turned as though it was purposed to be in line with the hall porch on the opposite side of the courtyard, though this still lay a little to the right as the gatehouse does to the whole north frontage.”

Yes, a very detailed description, and (to the likes of me) somewhat confusing, so here are two photographs of the gatehouse, which will perhaps make Emery’s words easier to follow. The first one is of the external approach, while the one below it is a view of the gatehouse from within the courtyard.

Gatehouse at Oxburgh - approach from outside

Gatehouse at Oxburgh from courtyard - from Tour Norfolk

In the illustration below, of the gatehouse chamber known as the King’s Room, I fear that according to the National Trust, it is something of a misnomer. It is not the room in which Henry slept, nor is it the bed, which is 1675. I have not been able to find anything to identify the actual room. All we know is that the bed in which Henry rested his head was described in the 1533 will of Edmund’s son and heir, another Edmund, as being covered with “…a fustian [wool or cotton fabric] covering or red and green sarsnet [silk] unicorns and scallop shells.”

The King's Room at Oxburgh Hall

The illustration below is of the Queen’s Room, which does appear to be the one in which Elizabeth of York slept. The two figures represent Henry and Elizabeth. Not sure about the accuracy if the 15th-century television.

Queen's Room - with Henry and Elizabeth

Oxburgh Hall is a very beautiful old house set in a moat, and is a great testament to the taste of Sir Edmund Bedingfield. But for those who believe Richard III was rightly the King of England, it is necessary to overlook the fellow’s Judas tendencies.

Bedingfield arms

Bedingfield

 

 

 

Richard III and a hansom cab….?

Atkins Building

The following is taken from the site to which there is a link below. I am posting it because among the exhibits will be items concerning Richard III and Bosworth:-

The iconic Hansom Cab will return to its ‘hometown’ as part of the National Heritage Open Days celebration.

The two-passenger horse-drawn carriage will be back in action on Saturday September 9 with town dignitaries being taken for a spin and the public invited to admire its restored splendour.

Developed and tested by Joseph Hansom in Hinckley and patented in 1834, the Hansom cab went on to become one of the most popular forms of transport during the 1800s.

hansom cab

This example, which once graced the entrance to the Hinckley Island Hotel, has been fully restored and remains in the custody of the restorer until a suitable site to house it can be found in the town.

Long-term plans are likely to see it put on show at Hinckley and District Museum but fundraising to create an extension to accommodate it needs to be completed first.

The cab is not the only historical attraction to command attention on the day. Several listed buildings not usually operating a full-time ‘open door’ policy will be available for the public to tour.

These include the Atkins Building, Hinckley and District Museum, Hinckley Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel, St Peter’s Church in Thornton as well as the Hinckley Masonic Hall.

A special history display will be mounted in Hinckley Market Place, with information from the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, local history group Hinckley District Past and Present and also historian Greg Drozdz. Greg will also be leading a walk dedicated to Hinckley’s literary heritage.

The celebration also coincides with the 50th anniversary of conservation areas and a special display will be held within the Market Place.

Borough Councillor Stan Rooney, said: “Having a Hansom cab return to the streets of Hinckley will be a wonderful sight and showcase the heritage that this town has to offer.

“The Hansom cab is an asset to the town and long may we continue to celebrate the fact it was developed here. I am very excited to see the cab in action.”

Hinckley Masonic Hall on St Mary’s Road, will be open on Saturday September 9 from 10am to 3pm to allow visitors access to the Masonic Lodge rooms and lean about the 300th anniversary of Freemasonry and the history of the Hinckley lodges.

Greg Drozdz’s literary themed walk takes place at 2.30pm on Saturday September 9.

Grade I-listed medieval church, St Peter’s at Thornton will be open from 10am to 6pm on Saturday September 9 and from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday September 10.

The museum, Atkins Building and Unitarian Chapel form the focus of a guided walk which starts at 10.30am on Saturday September 9.

Beginning at the museum on Lower Bond Street the tour moves across the road to what was once one of the largest hosiery factories in the world then turns up Baines Lane to visit the Great Meeting Chapel with its links to the Atkins family revealed.

Refreshments will be available at all three venues. The Atkins Building offers full wheelchair access and there is partial wheelchair access available at the other two sites. To book a place email info@atkinsbuilding.co.uk or call Hinckley 247070.

■ For further heritage insight Hinckley and District Museum will be free to visitors on Friday and Saturday September 8 and 9 from 10am to 4pm and Sunday September 10 from 2pm to 5pm.

The thatched former frame-work knitters cottages date from the 1680s and feature exhibits on early stoking making, Romans, local brewing, both the First and the Second World War and of course Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth.

The 1722 Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel will be open for visitors on Saturday September 9 from 10am to 4pm.

“The iconic Hansom Cab will return to its ‘hometown’ as part of the National Heritage Open Days celebration.

“The two-passenger horse-drawn carriage will be back in action on Saturday September 9 with town dignitaries being taken for a spin and the public invited to admire its restored splendour.”

http://www.hinckleytimes.net/news/local-news/heritage-delights-hansom-cab-returns-13549184

The Real Treasures of Harewood

Harewood House is known as one of Britain’s treasure houses, but for some of us, the older history of the estate is more interesting than the 17th c stately pile. There is a ruined castle, encroached upon by the wildwood, and a stunning medieval church, All Saints, containing the effigies of members of several important families in the area—the Redmans, the Rythers and the Gascoignes.  All of these tombs are skilfully carved in alabaster and are extremely beautiful; one of the finest collection of late medieval alabaster tombs in the country.

Edward Redman (also spelt Redeman, Redmayne and in several 1700’s sources Reedman), lies beside his wife Elizabeth Huddlestone  with a peaceful smile on his carven face; his effigy is said to be one of the first to bear a true likeness to its owner.  Redman was a supporter of Richard III and is said to have fought for him at Bosworth. He was a lawyer and Esquire of the Body to the King by 1484.  He was made sheriff of Dorset and Devon, and served on commissions to arrest and imprison Buckingham’s rebels in the west in late 1483. Richard granted him lands in Somerset and Wiltshire in 1484.

After Bosworth, Edward Redman kept a low profile but his collar with Tudor roses and ‘esses’ shows that he eventually became reconciled to Henry Tudor’s reign, although it  seems he lived quietly and never held high office again.

Edward’s elder brother was William Redman, who also served Richard when he was Duke of Gloucester.  William assisted the Duke in removing the troublesome fishgarths from various rivers, and he was made a Knight Banneret by Richard in 1482,  while on the Scottish Campaign. Unfortunately, he seems to have died suddenly later that year and is buried at Heversham.

On the opposite side of All Saints church lies William Gascoigne (there are actually 3 William Gascoignes buried in All Saints, this William being the youngest of the three. His wife  was Margaret Percy, the daughter of the 3rd earl of Northumberland. He lived in Gawthorpe Hall, now just a series of large earthworks on the edge of the Harewood estate. He served the 4th earl for a while but later served the Duke of Gloucester in Scotland in 1482, and when Richard became King,  Gascoigne was made a Knight of the Body. He also fought at Bosworth but survived, though he died just two years later.

William’s daughter Agnes (also known in some sources as Anne) married Thomas  Fairfax and had twin boys, whose descendants are rather notable today—Nicholas is an ancestor of Prince William (though his mother, Princess Diana) and William is an ancestor of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge

If visiting All Saints Church, there is no need to pay to get on to the Harewood Estate. Park in Harewood village at the community hall and walk up the bridleway; the church will be found on the left after a short walk. The earthworks of Gawthorpe Hall are in the field on the right; pass over the cattle grid and you will see them on the horizon. Returning to the village hall, have a rest if you need one, then, if you wish, set out to find Harewood Castle’s haunting ruins. Go behind the community hall, walk past the picnic tables and go between 4 wooden posts. It looks like you are entering someone’s back garden but is a right of way. After a few minutes, you’ll come onto a paved cul-de-sac with houses; look left and you’ll see a green sign saying public footpath. Follow it into the woods. You should see a tunnel; go through it and you are on a direct route to Harewood Castle, founded by Sir William Aldeburgh in 1366. (Aldeburgh only had two daughters who married into the Ryther and Redman families.)

Below: Edward Redman and wife Elizabeth Huddlestone

P1300992

Below: William Gascoigne and wife Margaret Percy

P1320003

Below: Harewood Castle

P1320017P1320013

 

 

There was room at the Blue Boar for Richard III….

Blue Boar, Highcross Street, Leicester - c.1826

Here is an article from the Leicester Mercury:

“Apart from a recent council explanatory information panel tucked on its side wall above a litter bin, few passers-by would know that the modern brick box building housing a hotel and casino was the site of Leicester’s most famous inn, that once was the penultimate stop of a king of England. For this is the spot on which the famous Blue Boar Inn was sighted.

“It’s a name known to everyone with an interest in historic Leicester. It owes its fame to a watershed in England’s history and, of course, to a monarch whose name has recently made Leicester known worldwide.

“Today’s bland building, out of scale and style with the rest of Highcross Street, is the site of the old Blue Boar Inn, from where King Richard III and his nobles led his army into the Battle of Bosworth, which ended the Wars of the Roses – it also ended the king’s life and the Plantagenet dynasty.

“On August 20, 1485, Richard came to stay at the Blue Boar – probably then known as the White Boar – because, it seems, Leicester Castle was by then in a state of decline and was considered unfit and unprepared for the monarch. So, Richard went to what was then the town’s best inn. It was situated in Highcross Street, then Leicester’s main thoroughfare.

“Although the inn has been immortalised by great Leicester artist John Flower (see above) it is thought that what is seen in his drawing was just one wing of what would have been, in Richard III’s time, a much larger building. The king is thought to have occupied the large room on the first floor of the portion of the inn we see in Flower’s drawing.

“After this historic event, the story is that the bed, which it is said the king brought with him, was from then on known as the King’s Bed and that many years later, a hidden treasure of coins was found in the bedstead. In 1605, the inn’s landlady, Mrs Clarke, was murdered “through connivance of her female servants, in order to obtain possession of the gold”.

“Since the discovery of Richard III’s remains, Leicester has become a place of pilgrimage with visitors from all over the world coming to the Cathedral and the visitors’ centre. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if the Blue Boar had been preserved, so that, too, could have been included on the pilgrims’ schedule?

“However, before we begin to blame 20th century planners for the inn’s destruction, we have to go back much further – to the early Victorian period, in fact, as it was 1836 when the Blue Boar was felled, having “passed into the hands of a speculative builder who waved aside all protests and tore the place down”. Sounds familiar, 200 years on. This act was described by Professor Jack Simmons as “a hateful act of vandalism”.

“In its place a terrace of houses was built. In the 1960s, these houses were demolished and a similar sort of box building built, housing the Exquisite Knitwear company.

“This area is once again becoming a focal point of Leicester’s commercial life.

“Today’s replacement for the Blue Boar Inn is a Travelodge – which is rather appropriate, when you think about it.”

The Blue Boar site today

 

 

 

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