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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.’

http://rammcollections.org.uk/object/drawing-220/

exeterng-220

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.

r3-in-exeter

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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.

 

 

 

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Richard III stained glass window in Exeter (by Ian Churchward)

exetercathedralI thought I was very well acquainted with the local history of Exeter where I was born and where I have been working on and off for the last seventeen or so years. I also thought I had found out everything I could about the places of interest relating to Richard III in Exeter. I was therefore amazed and exceedingly pleased to discover earlier this year that there is a beautiful stained glass window of Richard III in a hotel in Exeter that is only a few minutes walk from my office where I work. I recently mentioned this window to one of the founding members of the Devon & Cornwall branch of the Richard III society who also had not known about this Ricardian item of interest.

 

I happened to find out about this window by accident when I stumbled across a reference to it on an obscure web page which had been posted by the USA branch of the Richard III society. The window is located in the Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel and depicts Richard III visiting Rougemont Castle in Exeter in November 1483. The hotel was originally the Rougemont Hotel and the window was designed by Frederick Drake. There is an inscription under the window which recalls a scene from Shakespeare’s Act 4, Scene 2 which reads as follows “When last I was at Exeter the mayor in courtesy show’d me the castle and call’d it Rougemont at which name I started because a bard of Ireland told me once I should not live long after I saw Richmond”

 

During the Second World War the window was removed and placed in a cellar for safety. This was a wise precaution because the centre of Exeter suffered considerable damage due to German air raids in the 1940’s. It can be found on the first floor level at the top of a central staircase. The hotel is in Queen Street just off the main shopping high street and opposite Exeter Central railway station.

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