Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Rest in peace, John Ashdown-Hill

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis

The following statement was issued by the Executive Committee of the Richard III Society via Facebook earlier today.

It is with sadness that we announce the passing today (18th May 2018) of Dr John Ashdown-Hill. A prolific and popular author, John played an important, not to say critical, role in the Looking for Richard Project. It was he who tracked down Mike Ibsen, one of the two whose DNA helped to confirm that the remains in the car park were actually those of King Richard. When we first learnt of John’s illness, one could only wonder how long he had before he succumbed, Motor Neurone Disease coming in various forms, some worse than others. For John, his passing was probably a blessing though he will be much missed by his friends and members of the Society. Our thoughts and prayers go with them all at this time. The news comes too late for the June issue of the Ricardian Bulletin but there will be a full tribute in the September issue.

Executive Committee


Not Guilty – Again

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

Last Sunday, 29 April 2018, another trial was convened to establish whether Richard III was guilty of ordering the death of his two nephews in the Tower, as well as the death of his brother George, duke of Clarence.  This was a special fundraising event produced by the Shakespeare Schools Foundation.  It was the fourth of its kind, similar trials were staged before:  Romeo for the murder of Tybalt, Macbeth, and Hamlet for the murder of Polonius.

The idea of these productions is to bring together well-known actors and young people to perform in a one night only theatrical production.  In this trial, children from three London schools acted out scenes to form evidence, supported by actors Tony Gardner (Clarence), Kae Alexander (Lady Anne),  and David Oakes (Duke of Buckingham).

Add to this legal professionals as judge (Lady Justice Hallett), as well as for the prosecution (Ian Winter QC and Jonathan Laidlaw QC) and the defence (John Kelsey-Fry QC and Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC).  The jury was the audience, with comedian Hugh Dennis as the foreman, which was to decide whether Richard was guilty or not.

You may remember that Lady Justice Hallett had also presided over the judicial review hearings in 2014.  There the question was the legality of the exhumation licence granted by the Secretary of State before remains, which eventually were identified as Richard’s, were dug up in Leicester in 2012.  The result of this earlier court case ultimately decided that Richard was reburied in Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.  As all of us, who were in the city at the time, will agree, this was a very moving and memorable event, carried out with all the respect we could have wished for.

In Sunday’s performance, the storyline was told that Richard had been arrested at Bosworth in 1485 before being killed by Henry Tudor’s forces.  In the trial, two freelance assassins gave evidence that they had been hired by a middleman to kill the nephews, but could not state definitely whether the orders originally came from the king.

Richard’s queen, Anne, traditionally portrayed as rather mild and innocent, here came across as ambitious, who shifted her allegiance to whoever was in power.  Richard explained that he didn’t need to eliminate the princes, as they had been declared illegitimate by an Act of Parliament.  Neither did he need to kill his brother, who drowned in a butt of Malmsey.

Against all these arguments brought forward by the defence, the prosecution could only argue that he was a “deformed hunchback” and “nature is repulsed by him”.  This clearly did not seem to be sufficient for the jury, which found the king ‘Not Guilty”.


Further reading:

‘Trial of Richard III on 29 April 2018’, Shakespeare Schools Foundation.  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

Bowcott, O., ‘My naked villany: top judge to preside over West End trial of Richard III’, The Guardian (21 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

Sanderson, D., ‘Richard III cleared of murder (on a hunch)’, The Times (30 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]

‘Trial of Shakespeare’s Richard III – King Not Guilty’, The Richard III Society (29 April 2018).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018)

Information on the Judicial Review: 

Cranmer, F., ‘Richard III reburial: judicial review application fails’, Law & Religion UK (23 May 2014).  URL: [last accessed 1 May 2018]


April General Meeting of the NSW Branch

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley

The next general meeting of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society will be on Saturday, 14 April 2018, at 2pm at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000.

Our featured speakers for April will be Branch members Helen and Denise. Helen and Denise met in kindergarten and, instantly recognizing a mutual interest in history and fairness, forged a strong crusading bond. Reading Josephine Tey’s novel, Daughter of Time, in primary school fired up their fervour for a king maligned by history, but it was many years before they became aware of an actual group of people who held similar views.

Helen saw an article in the Sydney Morning Herald in the quincentenary year of the battle of Bosworth (1985) that mentioned a UK society with a branch in Sydney.  She has been a member ever since.  Denise has been less reliable but always in touch. Denise has lived for many years around and in Canberra.  Helen was able to attend meetings for some years while she lived in Mosman but with a move to the Southern Highlands found it hard to stay in touch with regular branch activities.

In recent times, they have both been able to attend quite a few Australasian conferences. They also organised a very successful mini-conference in Albury in 2016 and are busy organising another one to take place later this year.   A recent highlight for them was travelling to Leicester for the reinterment in 2015. The name of their talk is: A New Kingdom – Richard III in the Digital Age. It will be based on their presentation at the Perth Australasian Convention of October 2017, with reference to their presentation at the 2016 Albury mini-conference. They will look at various aspects of the King’s reputation in the new age of technology and social media.


Next General Meeting 10 Feb. 2018

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley Tags: , ,

We would like to invite you to our first meeting of the new year, on 10 Feb. 2018 at 2pm at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts.

Our speaker will be our own Dorothea, who has spoken to us often on many different Ricardian topics. Her chosen topic will be “William & Alice de la Pole’s God’s House at Ewelme”.

The cloister of God’s House at Ewelme

As many of us know, Dorothea came originally from Germany. After living for 5 years in the UK, she came to Australia in 1998. Dorothea joined the Richard III Society in 2004 and has since served in a variety of positions on the committee of the NSW Branch, at present as Membership Secretary. In addition, she is a member of the Bulletin Committee of the Society as a whole.

Dorothea has always been fascinated by things relating to Richard’s time in our world today, be it places or items or even ideas. Another area of interest is the lives of medieval people. Therefore, God’s House was an obvious choice: it is a place you can visit today, it hasn’t changed much since the 15th century and it involves the de la Pole family, who were anything but boring.

Dorothea decided to be a bit like the story of ‘Muhammad and the mountain’, if we can’t pop over to Oxfordshire to the real God’s House, God’s House will have to come here. We look forward to hearing her presentation!


The next meeting of the NSW Branch

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley

meetingThe last general meeting of the year will take place on Saturday, 9 December 2017, at 2:00 PM.

We are very pleased to welcome back long-time member Julia as featured speaker, to bring us her insight on the topic of “Midsummer Murders”, her well-received presentation at the Albury mini-conference last year. Julia has been a passionate presenter about Richard III at civic and educational groups for many years.

Julia was Secretary of the New South Wales Branch for nine years, until she retired to far-flung Fingal Bay in 2013. A repeat offender attending all the conventions of the Australasian Richard III Society Branches since 1997, she has also been dogsbody for two NSW Branch conventions and three mini conferences (four if you count Albury in 2016). Her interest in Richard III started, aged 10 – before the publication of “The Daughter of Time”! – at a performance of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Black Arrow” at London’s Old Vic, when she discovered that the history books were wrong. On stage there was no Wicked Uncle. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was brave, kindly and decisive, rewarding the young hero Dick Sheldon who had saved his life, with a knighthood, and enabling Dick’s marriage with his true love. Instant conversion!

A family and absorbing career finally let her join the NSW Branch in l984 and she was on the committee in various guises before an emergency led to volunteering to be Secretary in 2004. She was presented with the Robert Hamblin Award in 2009, still framed and close to a map of historic York and the portrait of the last Plantagenet king in her study. Although distance and uncooperative timetables stop her from attending meetings in Sydney, interest in Richard is still found on the mid-north coast.  Her talk on “What happened to the Princes?” still holds the attendance record at a local library.  It could be the coffee and biscuits provided, but one group revealed they had missed their bridge club meeting that morning so as to specifically find out more about Richard III. Ricardians of course never stop doing this.

We hope that many of you will be able to join Julia and other members on 9 December, not only to find out more about “Midsummer Murders”, but also to meet up with friends and make new friends, who share your interest.


Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

   Posted by: Julia Redlich

Review of the Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth, WA,

October 2017

Sunshine, spring flowers and the Swan River before us augured well for the biennial convention of the Australasian Branches of the Richard III Society in October 2017, this time hosted by the Western Australia Branch at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Water, Ascot.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

The Swan River near the convention venue

The usual suspects from New Zealand, Victoria and New South Wales gathered on Friday 13th – lucky for all of us! – for a meet and greet evening, chatting with new friends and catching up with old ones. And all of us marvelling at the beautifully decorated folders filled with information and goodies presented to all delegates.

Saturday morning meant an early start, some first aid for equipment, and more welcoming words from WA chairman Terry Johnson before Mark Porter from Queensland presented an extract from his memorable four-part programme “The Search for Richard III: One Man’s Journey”. This was followed by a comprehensive survey of Thomas St Leger and his family (Jenny Gee, WA).

After a morning tea break, we learned about the foundation and purpose of William and Alice de la Pole’s God’s House at Ewelme (Dorothea Preis, NSW). The charm and serenity from her photos placed this on many “must see” lists for UK visits. Anne Maslin (Vic) followed with a report on Chancellor Russell’s draft speech to the Parliament that never sat in 1483 before a coronation of a king that never was (Edward V). A copy should probably be essential reading for present and potential politicians! Louise Carson (WA) gave a summary of the Popes during Richard’s lifetime that was enlightening and occasionally alarming. Who could have realised there were so many of them?

A light lunch in the spectacular Watermark restaurant was followed by a slightly re-adjusted programme after a presenter was held up by business commitments. The Loving Brother? was a subject considered by Carole Carson (WA), and we then had a brilliant introduction to Medieval Heraldry to inspire us in identifying all those colours and designs and their significance. The nine Dukes of Gloucester were presented by Julia Redlich (NSW) as mere historical footnotes (with two notable exceptions!) but whose mismarriages and too early deaths brought unexpected changes to history.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

Denise Rawling (NSW) and the banner

Afternoon tea (more delicious scones, jam, cream and pastries) was followed by a skilful presentation by Helen Portus and Denise Rawling (NSW) on “A New Kingdom: Richard and the Digital Age” that showed how recent events have changed the way the public can change their attitude to him. Entertaining and enlightening.

Two hours after this session ended we met for pre-dinner drinks before a banquet that was a splendid affair, the majority of delegates in medieval costume. We were entertained by a lively and seemingly inexhaustible Jester, but naturally, the highlights were the traditional toasts that included Her Majesty the Queen of Australia and New Zealand, The Richard III Society, our patron, HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester and King Richard III.
Our final day began with the results of the two quizzes included in the delegate folders. These had been assessed overnight but only the winners were announced. Many longed to know the answers to know where they failed dismally! Maybe we’ll learn in a future WA newsletter…

Raffle winning tickets were drawn to win the fantastic supply of prizes, and certificates of appreciated handed to the various presenters.

The Victoria Branch then took centre stage with a brilliant performance of The Battle of Towton. Michael Iliffe’s inspired idea (with a little help from his friends) followed the progress of this pivotal battle in the Cousins’ War in modern mode – with switches from newsrooms in media headquarters to reporters on the ground and viewing the progress of the Yorkists through the snow from a helicopter. Maps, photos and music added to the two-part presentation that was warmly applauded.

Australasian Ricardians’ Convention in Perth

The present author (NSW) and Rob Smith, Vice President of the Richard III Society (NZ) at the convention banquet

A suitable follow-up was a final talk on medieval fighting and battlefield medical assistance given by Terry Johnson before he handed over to Australasian Vice President Rob Smith for Business and time to cover continuing financial and relevant matters with the Executive Committee in the UK. He also congratulated the Western Australia Branch of hosting such a memorable few days for us all, and thanked the Victoria Branch for offering to hold the next Convention in 2019.

A last lunch before a few delegates made reluctant farewells while others spent a restful or exploratory afternoon before meeting for an informal dinner in the evening. As always, it had been a memorable time for us all linked by our loyalty to the last Plantagenet king that has made us friends with so many others around the world


A Look Back in Pleasure

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , , , ,

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to attend the Australasian Convention of the Richard III Society in Perth, WA.  I think I can speak for all who attended when I say that we had a great time.  Our thanks go to the WA Branch for hosting this convention.  I am sure we will be able to post a more detailed review of this wonderful weekend here shortly.

A Look Back in Pleasure

Richard III’s banner was flying at the Convention

For me personally, the highlight was Mark Porter’s talk about making the video “Searching for Richard III – One Man’s Journey”.  He gave us the tantalising hint that we would have to watch the video to find out why he thinks that Richard III was innocent of being involved in the death of his nephews, the two sons of Edward IV.  However, there is much more to the video.  For those of us, who have been to the places shown, seeing the sights and events of Ricardian significance will bring back many happy memories.  And for those who haven’t visited them (yet), they give a much better understanding than any book can.

You can watch the video in four parts on YouTube:

Episode 1:  “Bosworth” –

Episode 2:  “Leicester” –

Episode 3:  “York” –

Episode 4:  “The Man” –

At the convention, Mark also talked in quite a bit of detail about the significance of Richard owning a Wycliffe Bible, which I found especially interesting.  I would have liked to find out more about this topic, but I suppose it is something which can be looked at more extensively in future.

Watching the video was definitely a pleasure, a pleasure of remembering good times.


General Meeting 12 August 2017

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley


We are looking forward to seeing many of you at our next general meeting on 12 August. Our speaker will be HSC student, and Society member, Christopher, who will be presenting his research on Richard III, entitled “The Changing Perceptions of Richard III over Time.”

We will also have a ‘Bring and Buy’ table to pass on Ricardian related books, memorabilia and other interesting items. Please be sure to take home what does not sell, as we have no storage space onsite.

There will also be a Scrabble letter draw by those members willing to prepare and give a presentation on an apt topic at the first meeting of 2018.

As per usual, the meeting will be held at the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, CBD, at 2 pm.


Farewell to John Shaw

   Posted by: Julia Redlich

Members of the New South Wales branch of the Richard III Society will be sad to hear of the passing of John Shaw, the husband of long-time member Margaret Shaw.

John Eric Shaw was an Antarctic Researcher and a scientist with CSIRO. He was not a member of our Society, but a welcome attendee at many of our occasions celebrating events in the life and times of Richard III. John’s knowledge and humour made his company such a pleasure. How we missed him when his health prevented him from joining us.

Many of us have partners, family, and friends who, even when if not members of the Richard III Society, give us interested support that is beyond value. Our love and thoughts are with Margaret (“Maggie”) and her and John’s large and loving family.

Julia Redlich


Searching for Richard III – One Man’s Journey

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn

We are pleased to announce the World Premiere of 4th episode of Searching for Richard III – One Man’s Journey by documentary film maker Mark Porter
Sunday 20 November 2016 6pm
Valley Kitchen, 290 Wellington Bundock Drive, Kooralbyn Qld
$20 including film and dinner
Contact: Mark Porter on 0412 231 902

You can see the first three episodes of the mini-series online:

EP1 “Bosworth”

EP2 “Leicester”

EP3 “York”