Posts Tagged ‘Bosworth’

29
Sep

Battle of Bosworth lost again

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Battle of Bosworth lost again

It doesn’t happen often that supporters of Richard III and those of Henry Tudor share the same view, but the latest battle of Bosworth, where Richard III lost his live and throne to Henry Tudor, achieved just that.

In the early evening (local time – thus in the middle of the night for us in Australia) of 25 September, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council’s planning committee had to decide whether to approve a planning application for a driverless vehicle testing track, which would intrude into part of Bosworth Battlefield.

The application had first been on the agenda a month ago, on 28 August, nearly exactly 533 years after the decisive battle. An automotive company, Horiba Mira, plans to build a “track [that] would include a 150 metre radius circle attached to a 350 metre long approach road”[i].  Part of the plan are also a two-storey control tower and communications masts.  The company has a technology park on adjacent land at Higham on the Hill.  At that meeting the decision was deferred for four weeks by 12 to 2.

The problem is that a part of this facility would be within the registered battlefield site.  According to Horiba Mira the test track only affects only 0.5% of the battlefield.  This may not sound like much, but as Mike Ingram[ii] points out, this is somewhat misleading.

There is the issue of this setting a precedent.  If building on this battlefield is okay, it would follow that building on any other is equally okay.  The same argument was made by others, among them Richard Mackinder, who had been closely involved with the research at Bosworth Battlefield.  He said “is this the thin end of the wedge for Bosworth and other battlefields?”[iii]

The measure of 0.5% is misleading.  The complete battlefield also includes outlying areas such as Sutton Cheney and Ambion Hill.  These are important to the story of the battle, but not the actual area, where the fighting took place.  However, the part which will be covered by the test track is potentially of much more importance.  As Ingram points out: “the site of the development could yet prove to be a key part of the actual battlefield, but it might not only be taken from public access, the development would also destroy any hope of further research as well.”   Indeed. cannonballs, a silver gilt boar badge probably worn by one of Richard III’s supporters and a leather bag were found nearby.[iv]

It is very disconcerting that Historic England – rather than opposing the plan – supported it.  And this although its own guidelines say “registered battlefields are designated heritage assets of the highest significance. They, and their setting, should be protected and enhanced, and the granting of permission for developments causing substantial harm should be wholly exceptional.”[v]

Unsurprisingly, those supporting the construction of the test track argued that it would create jobs.  This always seems to be the argument when debating any issue in the political sphere, when other – less measurable – interests speak against it, may it be historical significance like in this case, or for instance environmental concerns.

At the second meeting, only one person was allowed to speak against the development.  That person was only given three minutes to make his/her case.  From among various applicants, Richard Smith was selected.  He is the Education Officer of the Richard III Society as well as the chairperson of the Leicestershire Branch.  He did not just represent the Society though, but also other interested parties, from the Loyal Supporters of Richard III to the Battlefield Trust and even the Henry Tudor Society.  This shows once again that when it comes to the preservation of Bosworth Battlefield the supporters of Richard III and Henry Tudor are united.

Richard Smith stressed that the site was extremely important historically. He also disagreed with Historic England’s assertion that ‘less than substantial’ harm will be caused.  He reminded councillors that they are custodians of a rare asset and asked: “What will future generations think of the decision you make tonight if you are the officials who facilitate the vandalism of the site?”[vi]  We would like to thank Richard for fighting for preserving this important site.

One of the councillors asked the obvious question whether MIRA couldn’t buy a couple of fields on the other side of the A5 and build the track there.  Another councillor stated that 450 years of history where more important than short-term economic gain.

A petition against the proposed test track has got at the time of writing this post got 15,564 signatures, also from members of our branch here in NSW.   In addition, more than 450 letters of objection had been sent to the council, again some of the by members of the NSW Branch.

Unfortunately, in the end it all did not help and the council voted with 12 votes to 5 for the test track.  Horiba Mira plans to start building in December.

On a more positive note, the original plan included a new access road off Fenn Lane.  According to the company its main entrance off the A5 did not have the capacity to accommodate the volume of big trucks.  However, Leicestershire County Council objected to this plan because of potential damage to Fenn Lane and safety issues.

Notes:

[i] Martin, D., ‘What happened when councillors met to debate £26m MIRA track plan at Bosworth Battlefield’, Leicester Mercury (29 Aug. 2018).  URL:  https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/leicester-news/live-councillors-meet-debate-26m-1945400 [last accessed 31 Aug. 2018]

[ii] Mike Ingram, ‘Bosworth planners quote misleading percentages & unenforceable promises says battlefield author’, The Pipeline (31 Aug. 2018).  URL:  http://thepipeline.info/blog/2018/08/31/bosworth-planners-quote-meaningless-percentages-unenforceable-promises-says-battlefield-author/ [last accessed 1 Sept. 2018]

[iii] Quoted in Martin, D., ‘Live: Councillors decide whether to permit £26m testing track on Richard III’s Bosworth Battlefield’, Leicester Mercury (25 Sept. 2018).  URL:  https://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/news/local-news/live-councillors-debate-whether-permit-2042715 [last accessed 26 Sept. 2018]

[iv] Neil Johnston, ‘My kingdom for a car? Bosworth track approved’, The Times (26 Sept. 2018).  URL:  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/my-kingdom-for-a-car-bosworth-track-approved-hx63sx3rw [last accessed 27 Sept. 2018]

[v] Quoted in Ingram

[vi] Quoted in Martin, ‘Live: Councillors decide whether to permit £26m testing track on Richard III’s Bosworth Battlefield’

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22
Aug

22 AUGUST 1485

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn    in Events in History

Remember before God

Richard III

King of England

and those who fell at Bosworth Field

having kept faith.

22 August 1485

Loyaulte me lie.

(Text:  Richard III memorial plaque in the Church of St James, Sutton Cheney

Illustration on the left:  King Richard III,  © Andrew Jamieson, http://www.jamiesongallery.com/

On the right:  The Church of St James, Sutton Cheney, where the Richard III Society commemorates King Richard III in its annual memorial service in August. It is said that Richard III heard his last Mass at this church.)


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3
Sep

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?Thanks to Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill the phrase “Looking for Richard” became part of our lives and enthralled us through the search, discovery and final result. Then came the pride and emotion as we witnessed the re-interment – and acknowledgement of King Richard’s life in Leicester.

But what happens if you aren’t looking for Richard and he – and some historical connections – suddenly turn up when you least expect them, usually through a brief reference is a totally unexpected book.

I changed my mind about Richard’s character at the ripe old age of ten. I’d read the junior history books, seen the Millais’ portrait of those innocent little boys and even accepted the fact that in a pantomime The Babes in the Wood (at the Bournemouth Pavilion for the Dorset Group’s info) the wicked uncle wore black and had a hunchback. Hmm.

Then my sister and I saw a production of The Black Arrow at London’s Old Vic theatre and this was the cue for a major switch. This novel is subtitled A Tale of Two Roses and is set during the Cousin’s War. The young hero, Richard Shelton fighting for the Yorkists, becomes aware of a fierce encounter taking place. One of a small group of fighters is “so active and dexterous … so desperately did he charge and scatter his opponents … but so icy was the ground, one slip and his life would be forfeit.”

Young Richard of course comes to this man’s aid, the fight is won and he is “surprised to find in one who had displayed such strength skill and energy [was] a lad no older than himself – slightly deformed, with one shoulder higher than the other … The eyes, however, were very clear and bold.”

This is his first meeting with the young Duke of Gloucester, and after more fighting, Richard is knighted by the Duke for his valour, and finally, with the Duke’s royal consent, marries his love Joanna. RLS may well have been an early Ricardian …

A few years later, when reading one of English author Angela Thirkell’s delightful novels in which she picks up the descendants and places of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, and sets them in the mid-1900s, I rejoiced to find Mrs Morland praising The Black Arrow.

“Why Stevenson thought so poorly of that book I shall never understand. All my boys loved it … And it was the only thing that made me really interested in Richard Crookback, until I read that book by that clever woman with three names, who proved that Richard didn’t murder the little Princes in the Tower and was a hero all the time and not a villain.”

Well, we all know the name of that book, don’t we? It’s probably on everyone’s bookshelves even after all the years since it was published in 1951.

Another book I loved at about the same age was Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown. Twelve-year-old Maddy, an aspiring actress, learns about a film being made about a castle near her home. The kindly Bishop who is a family friend, takes her for lunch (with meringues) to soothe her misery at being left behind while her sister and older friends start at drama academy. Afterwards they go for a walk near the castle and he tells her that the film is about the daughter of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon. He has just found some old papers that reveal that “at twelve years old away she fledde, forsook her crown but saved her hedde”. Apparently there was a plan to put her on the throne after Henry VII died, but naturally Henry VIII would have none of it.

There are some pretty valid comments about the undesirability of this particular Tudor and his propensity for an axe and a block to dispense with those he no longer needed in his life!

Richard isn’t mentioned, but I liked the Tudor reference. And, of course, our 12-year-old finds out that the daughter of Arthur is being played by a well-known and glamorous actress and chaos inevitably ensues. Now guess who plays the role at the right age …

Ricardians who are also die-hard fans of detective novels will be familiar with the Inspector Lynley novels, by the American author Elizabeth George, a self-confessed supporter of the last Plantagenet king. Her references to him in many of her books give us enormous pleasure – as does the investigation through to pages to find his name! These are some of my favourites.

The Evidence Exposed:

This is a collection of three novellas, in one of which – I Richard – an interesting theory as to what happened to the Princes and, indeed, whodunit, is presented. With Philippa Langley’s new quest to discover an answer to the age-old mystery, you could appreciate the idea.

Well-Schooled in Murder

Sergeant Barbara Havers asks Lynley why the statue of Henry VII outside a school faces north, not south, towards the school entry.

“He wants us to remember his moment of glory. So he’s looking to the north, in the direction of Bosworth Field.”

“‘Ah. Death and treachery. The end of Richard III. Why does it always slip my mind that you’re a Yorkist… Do you spit on Henry’s tomb whenever you get the chance to slip down to the Abbey?”

He smiled. “Religiously. It’s one of my rare pleasures.”

Missing Joseph:

Lynley speaks to Deborah and Simon St James about the power of tourism: “Don’t people pay to see the Queen of Scots death mask?”

“Not to mention some of the grimmer spots of the Tower London,” St James said. “The Chapel Royal, Wakefield Tower.”

“Why bother with the Crown Jewels when you can see a chopping block?” Lynley added. “Crime doesn’t pay, but death brings them running with a few quid.”

“Is this irony from the man who’s made at least five personal pilgrimages to Bosworth Field on the twenty-second of August?” Deborah asked blithely. “… where you drink from the well and swear to Richard’s ghost that you would have fought for the Yorks?”

“That’s not death,” Lynley said with some dignity, lifting his glass to salute her. “That’s history, my girl. Someone’s got to be willing to set the record straight.”

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, is a recent publication I enjoyed. Set in an old, crumbling English manor, the heroine, living a lonely life there, is convinced that one night the resident ghost is around. The sound of footsteps, drifts of perfume and so on. According to local legend this is none other than Margaret of Anjou who stayed there on her way to join young Edouard, Lancaster Prince of Wales, at Tewkesbury, unaware that his death is imminent. It seems that the author assumed her readers would know exactly who Margaret was as there is no further reference to her back story, the Cousins’ War, or the fact that her companion would have been Anne Neville , the future queen and wife of Richard III.

The uncertainly and mystery about Richard has obviously struck a chord with many authors. One of those in the Golden Age of English Crime Writing was Dorothy L. Sayers who, in Have His Carcase has her noble detective Lord Peter Wimsey on the hunt for the killer of a young man whose body was found stranded on a rock off the Cornish coast. His quest takes him to the offices of theatrical agents where the photograph of the victim reminds one agent of someone who would have made “a good Judas”. “Or a Richard III,” says the other.

Then follows an interesting discussion of the guises Richard portrays in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The man who plots, the man who flies into tempers that, according these two, are as artificial as his love-making to Anne. As he leaves, Wimsey asks the Inspector who is with him what made them think of Richard III.

“Wasn’t he the fellow who made up his mind to be a villain?” to which Lord Peter confesses that he has “something on his mind and can’t seem get it out”. A nice cue to let you read on!

A further visit to a theatrical connection occurs in one of the other-authored sequels to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In Sally Beauman’s Rebecca’s Tale we meet one of those seeking to find the secrets of Rebecca’s life, and an obscure reference leads him to the memoirs of legendary actor manager Sir Frank McKendrick, who recalls the charming young actress Isabel Devlin who had died shortly after leaving his company.

“I grieved for her. I should add that Miss Devlin’s daughter was also at this time a member of our little “band of brothers” … she was a most unusual and wicked Puck at a very early age and was of great use to us in boys’ roles. I remember her as a swaggering but subtle young Princeling to my Richard III … but we heard no more of her after her mother died.”

Unusual, wicked, swaggering and subtle could all apply to the later mistress of Manderley.

And Shakespeare’s Edward V recalls another childhood book, Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes in which young Pauline’s portrayal of the role leads her on to the fortune that helps her family.

How many other books are there to prove that their authors found him just as significant as Ricardians? Information welcome!

 

The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson, published 1888.

Three Score and Ten, by Angela Thirkell, Hamish Hamilton, 1961

Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown, Nelson, 1945

The Evidence Exposed, by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton 1999. ISBN 0 34 075 063 0

Well-Schooled in Murder, by Elizabeth George Bantam, 1990. ISBN 0 553 401 167

Missing Joseph, by Elizabeth George, Bantam, 1993. ISBN 0 553 402 382

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, Michael Joseph, 2014. ISBN 978-0-718-17928-1

Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Gollancz 1932.

Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beaumont, Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0 316 858 137

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, Dent 1936.

 

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14
Aug

Bosworth Service

   Posted by: Judith Hughes    in Branch News, News

Members of the New South Wales Branch of the Richard III Society ad their friends are invited to share in remembering Richard’s life and to commemorate the Battle of Bosworth

at the Anglican Church of St James

at 173 King Street, Sydney

at 11 am

on Sunday, 23rd August 2015

Refreshments will follow the service

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21
Dec

Richard III: The New Evidence

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Research, Richard III in the Media

Media NewsSanta comes a few days late to Ricardians in Australia, but next Sunday, 28 December 2015, SBS 1 will broadcast the program Richard III:  The New Evidence, first broadcast in the UK on 17 August 2014, at the end of the Bosworth weekend.  The program features Dominic Smee, who has the same degree of scoliosis as Richard did and can be regarded as his body double. Definitely a program not to be missed, even if you have already watched it on YouTube.

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16
Nov

A Visit to Bosworth and Leicester

   Posted by: Denise Rawling    in News, Ricardian Places

Recently Denise Rawling was lucky enough to spend a few days visiting Leicester and the Bosworth area and thought it was worth recording a few of her thoughts and observations, especially about the new King Richard III Centre in Leicester.

Bosworth Battlefield

We went out first to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. This attractive site, run by the Council, is built around an old farm on Ambion Hill where tradition indicated the battle had been fought. Archaeological work in 2009 now pinpoints an area around three miles (5,000m) from here, although it is thought that the Yorkist forces may have camped around here with at least some sentries posted on the hill.

There was a medieval village in the area, and a well has been preserved with an inscription by a Victorian admirer. The Council have established a trail between the centre and the battlefield which is on private land. The Centre has good facilities and parking is easy. We ate at the excellent up-to- date and atmospheric cafe that incorporates a wonderful donation to the Centre: a heavy wooden frame from a 14th-century tithe barn.

The exhibition is well laid out and informative. Some fictional characters are used in audio-visual presentations that occur throughout the exhibition. They give some continuity and context to help engage visitors’ interest and make the history more personal.

There is a good section on the battle itself, including all the recent research on the actual site. It is fascinating story. There are a small number of artefacts that work well with the information around them to bring the stories to life.
The most exciting story of the search for and discovery of King Richard’s remains makes a fine dramatic ending to a good exhibition.

Later we walked round the hill in glorious soft sunshine, loving the views across the countryside – such a peaceful place for such momentous changes in history.

There seemed to be an attempt to offer a balance of Tudor and Plantagenet images. Both Richard’s and Henry’s flags fly at the top of the hill and there was quite a lot of Tudor memorabilia in the shop. I was surprised. Has this always been the case? Do Tudor tourists come here to celebrate the founding of the dynasty? I was a bit taken back as I had always thought of this as primarily a Ricardian place. Happily the shop offers a tempting choice of things Ricardian.

We dropped by St James Church at Sutton Cheney on the way back. It is believed that Richard III took his final mass here in 1485 before the battle and the church has been associated with the Richard III Society for many years, holding an annual service during the August commemorations. There is a strong Ricardian presence with banners surrounded by white rose wreaths, one from the Australasian branches from the recent memorial service. The kneelers are all needlepoint designs featuring Ricardian images. What a lovely country church in which to remember all those lives lost so long ago.

Leicester

Next day we went into Leicester itself. The town was ‘modernised’ in the 1970s/80s so there are rather bland and slightly tired-looking suburbs, at least on the side from which we drove in. The many roundabouts and high rise parking weren’t too inspiring but, once we made our way into the older centre, that is largely pedestrian only, it got much more interesting. It is as though the old centre has turned its back on the bleakness of the ‘improvements’.

Forming an historic core is The Richard III Centre (formerly Leicester Grammar School) incorporating the original Greyfriars site, the Guildhall and the cathedral (formerly St Martin’s church). The lovely old Guildhall dating back to the mid-14th century has had many roles and would have been known to Richard. The cathedral is of course undergoing extensive changes in preparation for the re-interment there early in 2015. It is not a big church, but I found it very atmospheric even with scaffolding everywhere. We were the only ones there at Evensong except for the two ministers taking the service in a side chapel. There is such a strong feeling of spirituality and continuity in this old place of worship.

Our first real Ricardian encounter was actually outside the centre, with the bronze statue of King Richard by James Walter Butler (1980). This was originally placed in Castle Gardens but has been moved to stand between the centre and the cathedral. The statue was originally commissioned and the cost contributed by members of the Richard III Society. This area has been extensively remodelled to allow easy access between the two buildings. The statue looks fine here and it seems a fittingly triumphant image for this new era.

The King Richard III Centre: Dynasty, Death and Discovery

The Leicester Visitor Centre opened to the public on 26 July 2014. There have been mixed reviews for the new centre, from boring to offensive and a lot in between, so I was wondering what lay ahead for us.

I have had a lot of experience working in museums and galleries, and this one has all the signs of a new set up that is still bedding down. The staff were friendly and helpful but still had an air of not quite knowing how things work. The foyer, although modern and attractive, seems awkward and not yet functioning smoothly. I wonder if there might be some changes made soon.

Passing through the first set of doors from the foyer, the first encounter is a sophisticated audio-visual presentation. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me as I struggled to understand what was happening. Even with my bit of background knowledge, I wondered what a newcomer to the story would make of it all. All this was not helped by a confusion of sounds from the foyer and other audio-visual exhibits. I couldn’t hear well enough to follow all the dialogue. There is screen text but it is hard to read, watch the characters, try to hear what they are saying, and try to put it all together.

There are segments with different characters speaking, such as Richard’s mother, Cecily of York, with a young Richard beside her, Warwick and – most unsettling of all – Richard himself with a naked twisted torso seen from the back as he is dressed in armour. We now know that this was the reality of his physical body, but it is rather confronting seeing it as almost the first image. As he becomes fully armed his difference disappears and a knight emerges, but will visitors who do not yet know the full story be left with this image of the deformed king? The viewer is left with little except the images and only those determined to hear out the whole presentation, read the hard-to -find accompanying texts and give it some thought would leave with more than a jumble of medieval images and a distorted body.

However it does look good and the idea has merit, but it needs a better context to make sense and do it justice. There was an explanation about this “play” as you leave this area but it was “too little too late” for me.

There are various dates related to the history scrolling on the floor but they don’t relate directly to the screen action and for me only added to the confusion. It was a bit of an assault on the senses and not in a good way.

Apparently it could have been worse. On her blog site, in a succinct criticism of some aspects of the centre, Ricardian Annette Carson says “…. it was only by strenuous insistence that we removed the planned visual which was to greet visitors: the central throne was to be drenched in a sickening pool of blood which dripped down to form words written in blood on the floor below.”
The lower levels are an introduction to the general history of the period and the back story for King Richard himself.

Understandably there needs to be a little something for everyone from the clueless to the well-informed. Maybe there is a little too much of everything in an attempt to provide a little for all but it is a reasonable introduction when you consider the very short time frame for getting it all together. All permanent exhibitions are a work in progress and evolve with input from further research and their audience.

This is great history with something that all history does not have – an amazing end story!

And mysteries still not solved….all great ingredients for fantastic story telling.

The provided text states that the princes were probably killed by Richard, though their fate remains a mystery. Further on upstairs there is an excellent touchscreen exhibit showing how King Richard’s reputation was distorted, but surely this statement could have been better handled at this early stage, even taking into account the need for brevity and other myriad considerations of this complex subject.

Annette Carson gives another warning: “… no matter what they claim, do no suppose that the text exhibited at the Visitor Centre has been approved by the [Richard III] Society or by the ‘Looking For Richard Project’.”

Upstairs I enjoyed a lot of interesting material on the discovery itself and the science around it. Here we can follow the reproduction of the bones, the facial reconstruction and the DNA comparisons among a lot more. I had not read Annette Carson’s critique of the centre at this stage so was not aware of the missing details in the story of the search and the discovery presented there that she has detailed. It does seem a shame that an inclusive path was not followed, with those who have made this a long-term project with a lot of personal and financial investment have not been more properly involved or correctly acknowledged.

If you don’t know the background of the search and the discovery, of course you do not realise what is missing and how what is there is affected by those omissions. It appears to be another example of history being moulded by circumstance, convenience, self-interest and politics.

The air conditioning was freezing cold the day we were there so that might have put me off as we rushed through at the end to avoid frost bite!

The pathway through the exhibition leads the visitor to the actual grave site and dig area at the end of the displays. A simple but stylish wood and glass extension sits beside the older building reaching out into what was originally part of the car park. The grave is left open and the site relatively intact within reason. This was well handled. It will be quite emotional for many and the area has seating and a nice space for just sitting and contemplating the amazing story. Fading in and out, a ghost like projection of the bones shows how they would have lain in the space. This might sound a little odd but actually works quite well. They seem so fragile and insubstantial, and it underlined for me the wonder of their survival at all.

Annette Carson and others find this section offensive, even ghoulish, certainly disrespectful and against undertakings made on the proper handling of the remains. Here is a link to the full article with many worthwhile and thoughtful writings on the site.

The Looking for Richard team has to be admired, to put it mildly, for their dedication, resolution, robustness and general staying power without which none of this would be happening. They are continuing their vigilance and care through all the changes and obstacles.

The grave site seems a reasonable balance between respect and science. Everyone will have a different view based on what they bring to this most amazing and moving site. In a practical sense this is a now a historical tourist attraction which hopefully will engage and enlighten many new to the broader story.

From the moment I saw the first tourist signs on the outskirts of Leicester saying just ‘Richard III’ with an arrow, I felt this most controversial king had entered a new phase of a different kind of propaganda, as a tourist attraction. Perhaps the price of celebrity?
At least now the story is getting some balance and certainly world -wide exposure. King Richard the Third, King of England has weathered many ups and downs in his life and history. One thing is certain, now more than ever before, he is unlikely ever to be forgotten.

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The Annual General Meeting of the New South Wales Branch of the Richard III Society was held on Saturday, 11 October 2014, at the Sydney Mechanics Institute.

Opening remarks were made by Chair Judith along with a warm welcome to all the members and visitors present. Thanks were expressed for the work of all the committee members throughout the year.

All of the officers then gave reports for their areas, and then officially stepped down. Margaret conducted the election process for all of the officers of the branch with most returning unopposed to their roles: Judith continues as Chair, Jacqueline as Deputy Chair, Judy as Treasurer, Dorothea as Webmaster, Lynne as Sales Officer, Joan as Tea Lady, Rachel as Secretary, and Leslie & Doug as Editors of the Affinity newsletter.

The program consisted of three ‘Scrabble’ speakers, giving separate presentations on different and very interesting topics.

Maggie told us of her experiences during her recent trip to the UK during which she laid the wreath on behalf of Australian Branches of the Richard III Society during the Bosworth commemoration ceremonies. Afterwards, she informally showed us interesting photos she had taken during the trip.

Dorothea had the letter ‘Y’ and shared her well-illustrated research about the history of the ancient church of St Mary de Castro in Leicester, which has been in existence for more than 900 years. Richard, duke of York, had in 1426 been knighted in this church.

Rachel spoke on the letter ‘R’ for rehabilitation. In an interesting talk entitled “Was Joan of Arc a Witch?” she addressed the charges raised against Joan, her astute responses to them, and the arguments for her defence that could have been made if her trial had been a fairer one, conducted in less prejudicial circumstances.

Our next gathering will be our Christmas meeting scheduled for 13 December 2014, when our guest speaker Wendy Schmid will be discussing medieval embroidery. All of the 2015 speakers will be listed in the next issue of the branch newsletter, Affinity.

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14
Sep

The “Murder” of King Richard III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Medieval Miscellany, Quotes

York House Books“King Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was thrugh grete treason of the duc of Northfolk and many othre that turned ayenst hyme, with many othre lords and nobilles of this north parties, was piteously slain and murdred to the grete hevyness of this citie”

([f.169v], York House Books, 1461-1490, Vol.1, ed. by Lorraine C. Attreed. Alan Sutton for Roichard II & Yorkist History Trust, 1991, pp.368-369)

 

When I read the word “murder”, I think of detective novels. One person kills someone else after careful planning trying to hide the fact that he/she is the murderer, sometimes even trying to disguise it as an accident or suicide. In the end, Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey, Miss Fisher etc clears it all up and explains what had been going on.

In the above well-known quote from the York House Books, especially as it is used in the same sentence as the alleged treason of the Duke of Norfolk and others, the word “murder” seems to suggest some kind of whodunnit.   However, was this really what the York city officials wanted to say?  After all, a death in battle, though certainly hoped for by the opposing side, is not the result of careful planning, nor would the person responsible try to hide his deed.

When the other day, a friend of mine referred to the “murder” of Richard, my literature professor at uni came to my mind. He was very strict on interpreting any work of literature, be it fiction, drama or poetry, within its historical context. To this end it was important to find out whether the meaning of a word was at the time it was written the same as its modern meaning. So we would make our way to the library, and check in the many volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary.

What applies to works of literature, certainly applies equally to historical records. Checking out “murder” in the online version of the OED first showed me the detective novel explanation: “The deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being, esp. in a premeditated manner; (Law) criminal homicide with malice aforethought (occas. more fully wilful murder); an instance of this.”

However, a bit further down there was another explanation, marked as now obsolete and recorded for the last time in 1590. Here it said: “Terrible slaughter, massacre, loss of life; an instance of this.”

“Terrible slaughter, massacre” are words which describe a medieval battle perfectly and fit in with what we know about Richard’s death. Therefore I would suggest that the city fathers of York used the word in this sense, without any more sinister connotations.

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14
Aug

The August NSW Branch Meeting

   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in Branch News, Meetings, News

David MeeThe August meeting of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society was held on Saturday, 9 August 2014, at the Sydney Mechanics’ Institute. Chair Judith welcomed all members and guests. Leslie introduced the guest speaker, David Mee, who presented a fascinating look at the years between 1485 and 1520 in order to put into cultural and historical context the development of the coinage of the day. David has been a serious coin collector for over 20 years, and has European coins from Ireland to the Latin East, as he called it, defined as ‘wherever the crusaders went’. His many slides showed the artistry of the coin makers, and reflected the changing styles over the decades from frontal images of the symbolic head of the monarch, to the classic profile first used by Henry VII and soon copied by other rulers, as well. The coins minted during the reign of Richard III had a mintmark of a boar, the Duke of Gloucester’s symbol. There was a lively question and answer following the talk, as David was able to shed light on the more arcane aspects of the topic.

There were no committee reports presented but one important item of business was the announcement that the membership fees would not be increased for the coming year, and that all renewals are due before the next meeting in October. Renewal forms will be posted soon and all cheques are to be sent to the Secretary. Please note that even if you are not renewing your membership it is requested that you inform the Secretary in writing as a courtesy, if possible.

Business also included the discussion of the re-interment of Richard at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015. The events will be spread over a week, 22 to 28 March. After three days of lying in state for the public to pay their respects, Richard will be reburied with a formal Church of England service on 26 March. A special service for Society members will be held at the Cathedral on Monday, 23 March (more information can be found on the website of the Richard III Society). It is expected that several of our members will attend the ceremonies.

The New Zealand Richard III Society will be holding the biennial Australasian Convention over their long weekend of 23 -25 October 2015, and organisers were hoping to get an idea of how many members and friends might be making the journey to join them from Australia but it was too soon to tell.

Our member Isolde Martyn is having a book launch of her latest production, The Golden Widows, about Elizabeth Woodville and Katherine Hastings, on 21 August at Abbeys Bookstore on York Street, Sydney, 6pm for 6:30pm speeches and formal program. All members are invited.

The not-to-be-missed St Ives Medieval Fair will be held over the weekend of 20 and 21 September 2014, with a great line-up of family-friendly activities and attractions, including world-class jousters from Europe competing against the Australian contenders.

The Bosworth Service scheduled for the 24 August 2014 will be held at St Mary’s Anglican Church on Birrell Street in Waverley at 10am, with lunch at Arthur’s Pizza in Bondi Junction for interested members and friends afterwards. St Mary’s is a fine old sandstone church with lovely stained glass windows and gardens, and the Minister Rev Peter Clark and his congregation have always been very welcoming.

The Bring and Buy Table was a success, with many interesting items contributed to the branch for fundraising, and many pleased buyers, as well. The raffle was also drawn, then all broke for afternoon tea. The NSW Branch Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, 11 October 2014, featuring this year’s ‘Scrabble Speakers’, members Dorothea, Maggie, and Rachel speaking on various gripping Ricardian topics

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12
Aug

Additional information for the Bosworth Service

   Posted by: Kevin Herbert    in Branch News, News

travel-trip-bus-clip-art_423386Kevin informed us of the following options of catching buses to St Mary the Virgin, Waverley:

a) Bus 361 leaving Bondi Junction Interchange at 9.28 a.m.

or

b) Bus 360 leaving Bondi Junction Interchange at 9.41 a.m.

The same buses – 361 and 360 – can be caught from the opposite side of road (adjacent to Waverley College) to return to Bondi Junction Oxford Street Mall, where Arthur’s Pizza is located at 139 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction (next to Commonwealth Bank).

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