Archive for the ‘Society 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


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”


Souvenir Booklet

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , ,

Souvenir Booklet will be with us soon

The Richard III Society has published a 72- page record of the reinterment week of Richard III. This Souvenir Booklet is being dispatched to all Society members this week and should reach us soon. This will be invaluable to everyone.

Souvenir Booklet

Tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral (D Preis)

The September Ricardian Bulletin, with the Society annual report, is due to be dispatched in the first week of September.


Galloping to New Zealand for Richard

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

KiwiSince 1997, members from all the Australasian branches meet every second year for a convention. These usually last from a Friday evening to Sunday after lunch. As anyone who has attended one before knows, these RIII conventions present a wonderful opportunity to meet up with members of the Richard III Society from other Australasian branches. It is a time to rekindle old friendships and make new friends.

For the 2015 Australasian Convention, our friends from New Zealand have kindly volunteered to host this important event in the Ricardian calendar. The Convention will be taking place 23 to 25 October 2015, so there is plenty of time to plan your trip. The venue is the Angus Inn in Lower Hutt, which is just 30 minutes by bus from central Wellington. The cost should be $180 for the convention plus about $70 per person for the banquet on Saturday evening, which is the highlight of every convention. The banquet is optional to attend, but I highly recommend it as it is a great time to get to know others, dress up in medieval costumes and experience a delicious selection of food. Special accommodation rates have also been agreed with the hotel.

As our friends in New Zealand would like to get an idea of how many people they can expect, it would be appreciated if members of the NSW branch could let me know if they are thinking of going (webmaster “AT” Registration forms have not yet been finalised, but should be available shortly.

Please, also consider whether you would be interested in presenting a talk or entertainment item (either on your own or as a group). If there is a topic that you have always wanted to research in more detail, or know a lot about already, please let Annette of the NZ branch know (myotis-13 “AT”

The 2015 Convention promises to be another memorable event and what would make it even more enjoyable was if YOU were there!


Ricardian Bulletin

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis

The March 2014 Ricardian Bulletin has just arrived in my letter box.  If you haven’t received yours yet, it should get to you within the next days.

As always, the Bulletin contains a wide variety of fascinating articles.  I am especially looking forward to reading the Man Himself section, which investigates ‘The scoliosis of King Richard III’.  The article is by Dr Peter Stride from Queensland, who gave such an insightful talk on this topic at the Australasian Convention in 2013.

There is an interview with Philippa Langley and Wendy Moorhen looks at ‘The new Ricardian era:  the impact of the Greyfriars dig on the Society and its work’.  Another article looks at Richard III’s chapel at Towton and one at ‘How to rebury a medieval king:  a lost rite of reinterment’.   Other treats are an article on George, Duke of Clarence, one on William Hobbys, and so much more.

I have just put the kettle on and am looking forward to some serious reading!



On 22 August …

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , ,

While we commemorate Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth, today we are also waiting for the the completion of the Society Website to be launched later today (UK time).  Highlights include:

• The Wars of the Roses section which can be found under Richard’s World, a critical section which provides context for the life and times of King Richard;

• Further articles about Richard himself including a new contribution on his burial written specially for the site by John Ashdown-Hill. This will be complimented by an examination of his death from a member of the ‘Looking for Richard’ project when the research from the Greyfriars is completed;

• Revised bibliographies covering both King Richard and the Wars of the Roses and with links to book reviews that have been published in The Ricardian;

• A revised and extensive list of links to other sites which are complementary to our own;

• In response to requests for more online articles we are publishing all the articles, and a selection of the book reviews, from The Ricardian covering the years 2004 through to 2008. We hope to publish online earlier articles but the scanning and proofing is a slow process and we need more resource to complete this task;

• Similarly we are publishing back-copies of The Ricardian Bulletin from 2003 to 2011 though sadly, for technical reasons, we do have some missing issues;

• The Barton Librarians have been updating their catalogues and revised editions are now becoming available but in the interim the existing catalogues are available online.

• An online gallery, a section which initially showcases music, pictures, sculptures, and videos, which will be enhanced in the future.

Some musical notes in commemoration of Richard:  Graham Keitch’s beautiful ‘In Memoriam Ricardus Rex’, which those who attended the Australasian Convention will remember vividly, has also been posted on YouTube and you can listen to it here again.

This is not the only tribute to Richard on YouTube.  You might want also like to watch this moving tribute to our king.

The biennial convention of the Australasian branches was held on 12 to 14 July 2013 at the Novotel, Darling Harbour Sydney.  Hosted this year by the New South Wales branch, the convention attracted over 40 attendees from all the wide spread parts of Australasia. Representatives came from New Zealand across to Western Australia and all parts in between.
Registration was on Friday night followed by an informal meal at Pancakes on the Rocks (Darling Harbour branch), which was within easy walking distance from the venue.  Several tables of keen Richardians made a good start to the weekend, setting the scene with good talk and fellowship.

Saturday started with a warm and humorous greeting from weekend Master of Ceremonies Ann (NSW) who introduced the theme for the convention.  As a start to exploring “Richard III: the man behind the myth”, Ann declaimed a pair of clerihews specially written for Richard and I include a sample,

Clerihew 2
In Bosworth Field, did Richard fall
Without a horse, he was nought at all
But forget the nag, and Percy the cheater
My kingdom is for the parking meter.

She also invoked the modern poet Bob Dylan with a final piece of advice ‘don’t trust leaders and watch the parking meters.’ Despite recovering from surgery to an arm injury, Ann gently guided the convention with her special brand of persuasion and humour keeping all on track and informed.

The richly textured programme of speakers began with long term Richardian Peter  from Queensland presenting for the first time at an Australasian convention.  As a consulting physician for 35 years, Peter was very qualified to discuss the various kinds of deformities that Richard has been accused of having and then look at the actual new evidence from the recent discovery at Leicester.  Graphically illustrated with eye catching medical slides and clearly delivered interesting information, Peter’s talk was a fresh and interesting approach.  Though this was Peter’s first appearance at a convention we hope it will not be his last.

Karen (NSW), author and linguist, presented on the Fitzhughs of Ravensworth with a focus on Henry Fitzhugh, a prominent northern lord of a prominent northern family.  This detailed and interesting examination was enlivened with shots of humour.  Karen was an illuminating and knowledgeable guide to the turbulent events of the War of the Roses, following Henry whenever she could see him.  Bringing historic names to life as a good novelist can, Karen brought strong research and human details together to bring the historical figures to life.

Beautifully illustrated with photos from her research in Norfolk, Carole’s (WA) presentation on iconography in medieval churches was informed and revealing. As well as the beautiful carved images made for the main public sections of the churches, she also showed many of the small details tucked away in architectural nooks and crannies.  These ranged from amusing small animals like the singing pigs to fierce demons. This research is part of her doctoral thesis on the relationship between medieval devotional literature and iconography in medieval parish churches.

Chris (NSW) made an arresting comparison of what he identified as the four ‘invasions’ of England and their profound effect on the development of a distinctive English  democracy and parliamentary and governance conventions and the role of monarch.  These were 1. Roman 2. Norman at Hastings 3. Tudor at Bosworth and 4. Willaim and Mary the last of course not a military invasion but one with comparable effects on community and economy.  He drew compelling parallels between these various invasions all of which he contended marked a paradigm shift for English history and culture. The contribution of Richard III was explored with the range of enduring laws and statutes enacted in his short reign.  As a student of political institutions Chris has an enduring interest in how they develop and function.

NSW Branch webmaster and journal editor, Dorothea, looked at one of the lesser known characters of the period, Thomas Barowe, loyal servant to Richard III.  Tracing mentions of Thomas in primary documents, she followed his career under Richard and later under Henry VII.  Following some of the lesser-known characters gives a richer texture to the more mainstream stories adding to our sense of the period and how it was to live and survive and thrive in times so different to our time.

A raft of book reviews of some classic and not so classic offerings and some new additions to Richardian fiction followed.  Gillian (Vic) offered a clear and warm analysis of Rosemary Hawley Jarman’s We Speak No Treason (1971), which she described as a beautifully written book and though detailed, the meshing of the fictional and historical characters was masterly and believable.  A classic, which stood the test of time.  Not so impressed with the new offering of Phillipa Gregory The Kingmaker’s Daughter (2012), Gillian found this novel careless and historically inaccurate, with wooden unengaging characters.  Despite quite enjoying some past novels from this author she could not recommend this one at all.

Hazel (Vic) also picked a classic Richardian text with The Betrayal of Richard III (1959) by V. B. Lamb.  Hazel enjoyed the clear presentation of the case for a reassessment of Richard III reputation, liking Mrs Lamb’s often dry humour and witty style, one which Hazel herself used to make this entertaining talk a reminder of this excellent classic which can be revisited with pleasure.

Margaret (NZ) looked at some contemporary local writers of Ricardian and historical fiction.  The New Zealand branch journal, The Ricardian Times that Margaret has edited since 1985, has a history of supporting fiction writing with the publication of various kinds of original work from an historical Agony Aunt column to stories and poetry. Members Lorraine McArthur and Jane Orwin-Higgs have now had full length works published.  A booklet of short stories from these writers was generously handed out to participants and eagerly taken up.

Moving to a slightly lighter pace, Helen and Denise (NSW) challenged attendees to identify unnamed quotes from a variety of sources on Richard III that they handed out on scrolls. This experimental game, Outrageous Fortune, looks at the changing face of opinion, conjecture and rumour peddled as history on Richard over the centuries.  From well known through malicious to balanced and laudatory, the quotes had the audience on their feet reading out quotes and guessing or naming the authors. After a well earned afternoon tea for all, Helen and Denise moved on to examine the reputation of Richard in light of the Greyfriars find, looking at tweets, humour, worldwide headlines and controversy as the momentous events unfold in a very different world of communications. The hope was expressed that the exciting contemporary story of the finding of the King’s lost bones will take root in popular consciousness providing a counterbalance to the age-old image of the deformed Wicked Uncle.

The formal dinner on Saturday night celebrating the 530th anniversary of the coronation of Richard III was well attended with many in historic costume.  A candle light ceremony opened proceedings accompanied by delightful evocative choral music composed by Graham Keitch who had given special permission for its use on this special night. The crowd was entertained with original songs and theatre presented by NSW members (thanks to Julia, David, Kevin and Philip) in between enjoying more delicious catering.

As the loyal toasts drew to a close, diners were stunned by a magnificent fireworks display that burst over the nearby harbour.  Even discovering that this was a regular event and not another example of the immaculate timing and organization of the NSW branch committee did not lessen the enjoyment of catching a breath of fresh air on the terrace and watching the spectacle.

Watching the fireworks (Photograph by Helen Portus)

Sunday morning provided more contrasts in topics with Chris briefly introducing a new release of a very early film version of Richard III.  This silent film from 1913 is the earliest surviving feature film made in America and features Shakespearean actor Frederick Ward and his company.

Louise (WA) then took attendees on a journey through the wild and turbulent world of 15th century Scotland.  She proved a deft guide to the sometimes complex and often bloody politics and events of this most unsettled times as nobles clashed with monarchs and power shifted frequently.  Invasions, armed encounters, skirmishes and full scale battles followed thick and fast interlaced with treaties and negotiations, in a time when being the Scottish king was a risky career move.  It was a fascinating time with many colourful and vivid characters.

Andrew in full armour (Photograph by Dorothea Preis)

A real life vivid character next strode into the room clothed in full 15th century battle armour.  Following a quick medieval striptease, the next speaker was revealed, slightly sweaty but ready to talk. Andrew (NSW) is an active historical jouster at an international level. Involvement with historical martial combat has given him a good working knowledge of the design, construction and function of medieval armour and for the next hour he spoke and answered a stream of questions from his audience.  During this time he covered the history, function, making and different styles of armour as well as discussing war horses, knight training, knights on horse and foot and then bringing it all together into what happens in actual battle. As well as giving an overview of the knight in his world it was also an introduction into the world of trade and innovation that was generated by the making and selling of this tool of war.  The 15th century is considered the peak of technical development of armour and weapons.  Andrew’s suit was in the English style, so plainer than some continental makes but with wonderfully engineered articulated joints and protection, so it provided a great deal of movement and flexibility.

Following a business session with Rob (Australasian Vice President, NZ), which will be reported separately, the convention closed with an original piece written by Michael (Vic).  Michael has invented the English Broadcasting Guild and written 3 radio style plays that have been ‘broadcast’ by the Guild at different Ricardian events.  In this one, an Interview with Richard III, reporter Reginald Peacock (played by the author) is supported by Hazel delivering a delightful rich BBC accent, Kevin as Francis Lovell speaking about his life with Richard and Rob as Richard himself moving and very human with a well sustained and very real Yorkshire accent. This provided a very suitable ending to a weekend rich with new ideas and information, offering insights and a different angle on the facts and mysteries of Richard’s life and reign.

The closing formalities paid tribute to the NSW branch committee who organised the convention, with Rob proposing a vote of thanks and applause on behalf of the attendees.  Thanks also went to Lynne for her invaluable work on the merchandise stall and to the many others who helped with the raffles and books sales and donated goods and time and energy to this most successful event.

In closing Master of Ceremonies, Ann, commented on the varied and detailed presentations that informed, instructed and entertained in turn and thanked all the speakers for their contributions.

All look forward to the next meeting in 2015 in New Zealand.

Denise Rawling and Helen Portus



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags:

The Ricardian and June Ricardian Bulletin should find their way into your letter box these days – if you are a member of the Society that is.

This Bulletin is a bumper issue with 88 pages of fascinating information.  It has all the regular features, an extended research section with the first regular update about the Ricardian Chronicle project, plus in depth press and media coverage.

There is a feature on scoliosis and what it means for people living with the condition. Some of these questions are addressed, with contributions from the Scoliosis Association UK and from members sharing their own experience of scoliosis.

For ‘The Man Himself’ Peter Hammond writes about Richard III’s diet in light of the examination of the king’s remains. There’s also a contribution from Annette Carson reflecting on the impact and outcome of the Greyfriars dig and Stephen York takes a look at Kingmaker, a board game with a Wars of the Roses theme.

The Ricardian offers  a variety of research articles and book reviews.  Seeing how volatile the weather has become with climate change, the examination of “Richard III, Bridges and Floods” sounds very interesting.  Other articles looks at the Order of the Garter, Bosworth, Scottish women and a friar.

Happy  reading!



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

The March Ricardian Bulletin was this year a bit delayed, which was understandable and even welcome, as the editors wanted to include information on the outcome of the Greyfriars Dig.  However, the wait in nearly over and your Ricardian Bulletin should land in your letter box soon.

On 80 pages with a colour insert you will of course find all the regular features, but what makes this edition special are background reports of the evidence from  the Dig, showing on which basis the remains found in August were identified as those of Richard III.

In ‘The Man Himself’ section Prof Mark Lansdale and Julia Boon with present their psychological portrait of Richard III.  This was one of the highlights at the unforgettable conference in Leicester in the beginning of this month and has also been mentioned in the media.

Remember though only members of the Richard III Society will receive the Ricardian Bulletin.  If you are not a member, why not?  There is never a time like the here and now to put those long considered ideas into practice.  Read up on the advantages of membership here.



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

Undoubtedly, once the test results of the human remains found during the Greyfriars Dig in Leicester have been announced, a renewed discussion of Richard III’s reign will break out.

In preparation for this, the Richard III Society has issued a Press Release on Richard’s ‘Achievements as King of England’.  It offers an interesting insight into how many of the legal issues we take for granted today go back to Richard’s short reign.  An example for this is shown in an article on ‘Richard III’s Effect on US Laws’.

If only all of our politicians were as genuinely interest in the law and a committed to the fair administration of justice for all!

You can find the Press Release here.

And the article on his effect on US Laws here (and thank you, Renate, for reminding me of this article!).