Posts Tagged ‘Bosworth’

12
Aug

Bosworth Commemoration Service

   Posted by: Judith Hughes    in Branch News, News

bosworth service 3 smlMembers and Friends of Richard III NSW Branch are invited to the annual service commemorating the death of Richard III and many of his followers at the Battle of Bosworth, on 22nd August, 1483

at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church
240 Birrell St
Waverley

at 10 am, to be followed by morning tea with the congregation.

The preacher will be the Rev Dr Michael Spence, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney, and the chairperson of the NSW Branch will read a lesson.

Parking is available in front of the church, in the grounds or behind the hall.

Any members who would like lunch can meet at Arthur’s Pizza, Bondi Junction, afterwards.

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26
Aug

Remembering Bosworth

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Branch News, News

On Sunday, 25 August, a group of our members and friends gathered at St Mary’s Church, Waverley, for the morning service.  Sadly some who were coming were prevented by sudden events and others missed their public transport from far-flung areas of Sydney. Oh the tyranny of the Sunday time-tables! But  Rupert and his wife Susan made it (it was Rupert’s birthday), and Angela was able to join us too.

As always we were warmly welcomed by the Rector, choir and parishioners who have always appreciated our attendance on the Sunday nearest the anniversary of King Richard’s death at Bosworth Field. Not only was Richard’s own prayer from his Book of Hours read (abridged of course), but the parish letter for the week made especial mention of why this is such a special year for the Society. It was headed ‘A Message from the Richard III Society’.

This year has been an amazing one for the Society and its members around the world. I think all of us find it hard to believe that we have witnessed – even if from a distance – the discovery of the remains of the man who is the reason the Society exists. Until this year, because no-one knew where he was buried, we have remembered him on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field at church services and by laying white roses at memorials to him.

We now have confirmation that the skeleton discovered during the recent archaeological dig in Leicester is indeed that of Richard III, who hitherto had been the only king of England without a tomb. He had been buried in the choir of the Greyfriars chapel in Leicester, but this was destroyed on Henry VIII’s orders during the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1540. The discovery of his skeleton led by Leicester University could not have taken place without the leadership of two members of the Richard III Society: Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill. Ashdown-Hill is the historian who identified the car park as the site of the Greyfriars chapel, and who also meticulously researched the Richard’s DNA through tracing the descendants of his eldest sister, Anne, Duchess of Exeter. The astonishing match with that of the DNA extracted from the skeleton confirmed identification.

We hope that King Richard will be re-interred in 2014 with all the dignity and admiration that the last Plantagenet King of England deserves.

After the service we joined the parish for morning tea. This was a great opportunity to meet those who were longing to talk about car parks, scoliosis and the unfairness of the reputation that has been foisted on the last Plantagenet king. Copies of our brochure about the Society, and Richard’s life and times were collected, hopefully to counteract any doubts.

As for the morning tea, I doubt if any of us has seen such a splendid one! Delicious ribbon sandwiches, vol-au-vents and pizza slices, chocolate cakes, strawberries and cream – and fine teas and coffee that had never heard the word “instant” applied! Ricardians tried to control their appetites as we knew we had a lunch to attend …

A beautiful bonus to the morning was meeting someone who had just dropped in on the service on her way past. In case she was turned away because of her casual clothes, she thought she could sit in the gardens outside and read the book she had brought with her. She entered St Mary’s, was welcomed, and to her amazement saw a group of people all wearing white roses. Light dawned. The book she was reading was Philippa Gregory’s The Lady of the Rivers, so she knew very well what white roses meant! To cut a long story short, Maggi is about to fill in a membership application form.

Our remembrance of Bosworth Field is always special. This year it was highlighted by the pleasure others expressed that we now know where Richard III has lain for the past 500 plus years and there will be an opportunity to re-inter him with honour.

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28
Apr

RIDING FOR KING RICHARD III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Prior to the Battle of Bosworth, Richard III spent the night in Leicester and then rode – on his horse – to the site of the battle.  Swap Richard’s horse for a bike and you can follow in Richard’s footsteps – though probably with a less drastic outcome – and take part in a bike ride, which will be the start of this year’s Sky Ride events.

The Church of St James, Sutton Cheney (photograph by D Preis)

Planned is a 35-mile (approx. 56km) round-trip starting off at Leicester Town Hall Bike Park.  The tour will pass the car park, where Richard’s remains were discovered, then on to St James’ Church in Sutton Cheney, where Richard is said to have attended his last Mass, before dying in battle, and the battlefield itself.   Then riders will return to Leicester, where the ride finishes at the Guildhall, where the Richard III exhibition is being shown.

The Guildhall in Leicester (photograph by D Preis)

The ride is classified as ‘Challenging’, but suitable for anyone, though I expect you would have to be reasonably fit and experienced.  The trip is scheduled for 4 May, participation is free.  It starts at 9h00 and is expected to take 4 hours 20 mins (3 hours 20 mins cycling), so you can expect to be back in Leicester by about half past one in the afternoon.

More information:

Tom Mack, ‘Sky Ride event to trace Richard III’s last days‘, This is Leicestershire (25 April 2013).

The Richard III Ride‘ on the Sky Ride website.

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10
Apr

LOOKING FORWARD TO SUMERFORD’S AUTUMN

   Posted by: Julia Redlich    in Bookworm

I just received the advance notice of Simon & Schuster’s June releases.  Almost top of the list is:

Sumerford’s Autumn, by Barbara Gaskell.

Described as:  “Four sons, and four very different personalities, children of the Sumerford Castle and estates, and their father the earl watches their varied interests with misgiving.”

Barbara is a valued member of our branch and we are very happy that her enjoyable books will finally be available in print format, making them accessible to a much wider audience than her self-published ebooks.

You can find Dorothea’s review here.

(Please note, the above was the cover design of the ebook,  The cover of the print book has not been published yet.)

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Being at the other end of the world has its problems.  We sometimes hear about talks and presentations given in the UK, when we would just love to jump on the next plane to be able to be there and money and time were of no concern.

This is the case when Dr John Ashdown-Hill will present the ‘ 2013 Dudley White Local History Lecture’ at the University of Essex in Colchester on Wednesday 8 May 2013 under the title ‘The Search for Richard III and his Cousin John Howard, Duke of Norfolk’.  Both Richard III and John Howard were killed in the Battle of Bosworth and John is looking at the question what “what was done with their bodies – and where are they now?”

John Ashdown-Hill is the obvious choice for a talk like this.  His research was instrumental in finding Richard’s remains under the now famous car park in the former Greyfriars church in Leicester.  He had demonstrated that the story that Richard’s bones were dug up at the Dissolution of the Monasteries was a later legend, not supported by contemporary evidence.    His success in finding a direct line female descendant of Richard’s sister Anne was what clinched the DNA evidence on the remains.  His research and much more was outlined in his 2010 book The Last Days of Richard III (new edition The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of his DNA: the Book that Inspired the Dig including information from actually finding Richard’s remains was published earlier this year).  He was leader of genealogical research and historical adviser to the ‘Looking for Richard’ project.

John Ashdown-Hill also has had a long interest in John Howard, duke of Norfolk, resulting in his 2009 book Beloved Cousyn’: John Howard and the House of York.  It explains that John Howard was at first temporarily interred in Leicester, before his family had him buried at Thetford Priory, Norfolk.  However, also in his case the Dissolution of the Monasteries caused a problem.  While it has now been confirmed that Richard’s remains were simply left where they were in the ruins of the former church, it is not clear what happened to John Howard’s remains.  They might have been removed to Framlingham Church along with those of other family members, where an account of an examination of various remains in 1841 offers tantalizing possibilities.  It should be fascinating to hear John talk about these possibilities.

Again, we heard about this event came via the Ricardian grapevine.  According to information received admission is free, but you will need to book your tickets in advance via the Lakeside Theatre website (though at this stage I could not find a link to it).

Note: You can find reviews of The Last Days of Richard III and Beloved Cousyn’: John Howard and the House of York on the ‘Book Shelf’ of this page.

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14
Dec

REVIEW OF THE GENERAL MEETING ON 8 DECEMBER 2012

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

The last meeting of the year was held on Saturday, 8 December 2012, with old members and new, and various friends visiting from other branches. Judith, our branch chairperson, welcomed a full house and was followed by Judy with a brief treasurer’s report. She confirmed that all the renewal fees had been received and were now en route to the UK.

Our branch secretary Julia then discussed the ongoing news from Leicester about the parking lot dig where the suspected remains of Richard III have been unearthed. It is a very exciting time to be a Ricardian and the timing is excellent to pique the interest of the general public for the upcoming convention. The convention deadline is fast approaching so please get your registrations in soon. There is a lot of work involved in putting on an event so all offers of volunteer assistance are welcome, please contact any of the committee members if you can help. Julia also made a plea for a replacement for her role as branch secretary, as she will be leaving soon and needs time to hand over a lot of business to her successor.

The webmaster’s report was then given by Dorothea, who reminded us that it is a lot of work to keep it active and interesting, and she would like to think that all members with an internet connection are reading it regularly. There are still increasing numbers of international visitors to the website, and that is high praise. The website also features book reviews and links to an every growing array of fascinating late medieval oriented websites.

One of Dorothea’s most recent posts was a link to a Canadian TV news report on the progress of the identification of the remains found in Leicester, which was very interesting and well worth watching. Author John Ashdown-Hill was interviewed, along with the forensics experts who reported the skeleton as having scoliosis of the spine, a significant head wound and the presence of an arrowhead near the spine. Also featured was a 17th generation Canadian descendant of Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, whose maternal DNA will hopefully help to confirm the skeleton as Richard’s.

Dorothea then distributed the always well-written branch journal, The Chronicles of the White Rose, one of the best perks of membership.

Lynne then gave her report regarding the stores of memorabilia, and presented a sample of the appealing pewter boar lapel pins now available on order.

Our program for the day was a very interesting talk by our treasurer Judy about her April attendance at the 11th Triennial Conference at the University of Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK entitled “Bosworth and Warfare: New Finds, New Ideas.” Many experts on late medieval warfare spoke about all aspects of war in the era of interest.  Judy’s detailed presentation is posted on our branch website, and well worth reading, as it was fascinating!

Following Richard’s body from Bosworth to Leicester, Dorothea gave a short update on the dig and the find of male remains as well as the variety of tests being performed on the remains.

A highlight of this holiday meeting was a performance of vignettes written and performed by Isolde and Julia. This included cleverly reworked Christmas carols with Ricardian commentary for group singing (e.g. ‘Away in Some Danger’ and ‘O Little Town of Middleham’); a play about Elizabeth Wydville’s dim prospects as a single mum; and a list of personages never to be invited to a Ricardian Christmas, including Thomas More, Lord Stanley, and Henry Tudor.

The first meeting of the new year will be on 9 February 2013, with invited guest speaker Rosamund Burton who will be talking about the ancient pilgrim path in Waterford, Ireland known as Saint Declan’s Way.

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9
Dec

BOSWORTH AND WARFARE: NEW FINDS, NEW IDEAS

   Posted by: Judy Howard    in Ricardian Places

A report from the 11th Triennial Conference of the Richard III Society,

Loughborough, 20 – 22 April 2012

Well, it is months since I attended the Triennial Conference in the UK and I will say that I enjoyed it immensely and would go again tomorrow if the opportunity arose, but I somehow feel that the events of the more recent months have almost overshadowed my experience.  Within weeks of my return to Australia the Greyfriars Dig commenced and next we have skeletal remains which may well be those of Richard himself.

However, at the Conference we were delighted by the presentations from the two academics who had made such monumental discoveries of the battlefields of Bosworth and Towton, and I will go into these presentations a little more.

Recent years have been good for investigation and discovery regarding Richard, the Yorkists and our Society.

You will already be aware of the programme for the triennial conference and if I was asked to choose which was my favourite it would be a hard call.  However, I think the tour of the new site for the battle of Bosworth was the most thrilling, followed by the presentation by Mark Stretton on the ‘Power and Effectiveness of the Warbow in Battles’.

We were also treated with a presentation by Dr Glenn Foard, the person responsible for identifying the new Bosworth and discovering all the wonderful artefacts which have generally enlightened thought on late medieval warfare.  In his presentation he not only brought the long and arduous investigation to light, but we heard about the importance of the discoveries of the great number of cannon balls found at Bosworth.

In terms of the confirmation of the site, the identification of the marsh, which was confirmed by soil sampling and then the analysis of the landscape, which matched the historical records, meant that the new site was now undisputed.

Dr Foard told us that artillery and guns were known to have been crucial to battle strategy and at the time were known to be important weapons of the future.  It was also interesting to know that there were no arrowheads found in the area, unlike the number of arrowheads found at the Towton battlefield site. In addition, there was not the quantity of evidence at Bosworth that was found at Towton, and Dr Foard thought this was attributed to the fact that the battle of Towton resulted in the deaths in battle of a far greater number of nobles than were killed at Bosworth.  At Bosworth a number of artefacts were found where the action was concentrated, and this was where the silver boar brooch and a fragment of the hilt of a gilded sword were found.

Dr Foard explained that the Bosworth discovery increased the understanding of the use of firepower and there was not much evidence of the use of handguns at Bosworth, unlike on the Continent and in Burgundy. The evidence suggested that a bigger calibre was used at Bosworth, lead with flint, lead with stone and iron with iron.  It is also now thought that the Wars of the Roses were important battles for the development of artillery and the evidence supports this theory.  The findings at Bosworth provided evidence of the battle tactics that were deployed at the time and also that the pressures and temperatures of different materials used to make guns were well understood by the commanders at the time.  For instance they understood muzzle velocity, whether to elevate guns or to fire point blank, that the cannon balls bounced on the ground and the angle of elevation that was needed to maximise the bounce and therefore increase the opportunity of hitting a target. Dr Foard thought that gunpowder was the determining factor in the development of artillery and guns.

The actual battlefield is now a working farm and great pains have been taken to conceal the actual site from the public, to avoid hoards of amateurs using metal detectors and collecting artefacts but who would also damage the site and interrupt the farm.  The farmer and his wife were very charming people who felt honoured and thrilled that such an important historical event occurred on a site they now own.  In this, everyone is very fortunate to have such custodians, who in conjunction with archaeologists and serious academics, will ensure the preservation of the site until it has been thoroughly and scientifically investigated so that all archaeological evidence can be properly collected and studied.  Dr Foard said there was much more work to be done on the site as it had not been fully surveyed, and this could take years of work to complete.

I must say, it was a thrill to visit the site, it was a special occasion where I got a true sense of battle that took place and the spot was pointed out where it was thought the battle was most intense, and where it was suspected that Richard had lost his life.

A view of a section of the new battlefield from the trail at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre which opened up new avenue of research and is awaiting further archaeological investigation. (photo by Dorothea Preis)

The next lecture I most enjoyed was by Mark Stretton on the ‘Power and Effectiveness of the Warbow in Battle’.  This was extremely informative and entertaining. Mark has been entered in the Guinness Book of Records as an archer, he is a master arrowsmith and has made an in-depth study of his craft.  Through study and experimentation Mark has identified the uses for each type of arrow head from the period, its effectiveness in piercing armour and the amount of damage it was intended to inflict.  He told us that the bodkin type of arrowhead was the most commonly used because of its ability to pierce armour and was more likely the type used in battles around this period.  It will be interesting to hear any comments he has to make regarding the arrowhead found in the human remains recently discovered in the Leicester car park as I understand that this arrowhead was of a shape thought to be used for hunting boar (funnily enough!!) and is very different to the bodkin-type arrowhead and apparently not known for its ability to pierce armour.  It will be great to hear any comments about this and whether Mark will revise his thoughts, or indeed have any other comments to make.

Mark also explained that the greatest vulnerability to arrow shot, was in areas of the body where the armour was weakest, that is in the arm pits, elbows, groin and legs.  He also made the further comment that from a tactical point of view, an arrow wound would cause a nobleman to die slowly and when the nobleman was hit, it took the attention of his retainers, giving a tactical advantage to the opposing side.  These are unpleasant thoughts.

And as a last interesting comment, another presenter Tobias Capwell who is the Curator of Arms & Armour for the Wallace Collection in London, gave an interesting presentation on armour and how he thought it was pregnant with meaning – how it was an indication of status and wealth.  He thought Richard, on going into battle, would have worn a surcoat over his armour which was made of rich material, probably silk with gold embroidery.  The armour he wore at Bosworth was probably fully gilded and probably looked like a golden mirror and would have been worth several millions of dollars in modern currency.  This would have been evidence of conspicuous consumption; however this would have been expected of a King.  The armour or the surcoat could also have had jewels and pearls embedded in them.

Tobias explained that a king’s splendid armour was like a beacon on the battlefield, soldiers were drawn to it, he led from the front, the imagery was very important.  But the wealth displayed by the armour worn, by the King or his nobles, even though it caused enemies to be drawn to them on the field, it was also seen as an insurance policy – capture me, don’t kill me, I am worth saving as my ransom will be worth it to you.

The Conference was great and I’m really going to try to get to the next one.  I hope you can too.

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2
Dec

Christmas cheer at the NSW branch

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Branch News, Meetings, News

Our December general meeting will be taking place at our regular venue, the Harry Jensen Centre (17 Argyle Street, Millers Point), on Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 14h00.

We have a whole range of attractions for you to enjoy.  Judy will give an illustrated talk about the triennial conference of the Richard III Society, which she attended at Loughborough earlier this year.   This will be a unique opportunity to see pictures of the real site of the battle of Bosworth, which was visited as part of the conference.  This is on private land and normally not open to the public.

While we are all are waiting for the results of all the scientific tests being carried out on the male remains found in Leicester, there will also be a look back on how these remains were found at all.

And our regulars know that any item presented by Isolde and Julia promises to be great fun.  They told us that this year they will be acknowledging some characters familiar to all Ricardians, but who won’t be receiving Christmas cards from us.  Sounds intriguing.

It will also be an opportunity to pick up your copy of this year’s Chronicles of the White Rose, our branch journal.  In it you can find a variety of presentations from past meetings and some articles which appeared on our website, as not all our members have access to the internet.  And of course the volume also includes an entertaining and challenging quiz.  (The Chronicles will be mailed afterwards to members unable to attend.)

It would be appreciated if members could help to make our Christmas afternoon tea special by bringing a plate, but please do not be over-generous with the plate size!

Looking forward to seeing all our regular friendly faces and perhaps some new ones as well.  As always any guests, curious to find out more about us, are more than welcome.

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8
Nov

Richard III, the ‚Bösewicht‘

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

The interest in the findings in Leicester is not limited to the English-speaking world.  One of the two main German TV station, the ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), also reported on it as part of their news and interviewed John Ashdown-Hill for the short feature (approx. 2 minutes).  The dig in Leicester was based on John’s research, outlined in his book The Last Days of Richard III.

So far I had known John only through his books and from photographs, so this was the first time I met him ‘live’.  This was the highlight of the programme, as I was rather disappointed with the reporting around it.

The moderator introduces Richard III as the “probably most hated king in British history”, who also features as the “main character of a Shakespeare drama”.  This gives you a good idea on the line they are going to follow:  history as told by that great “historian”, William Shakespeare.

We learn that Richard had numerous people killed, two brothers and nephews, but also “at least one wife”.  Now, please, even Shakespeare doesn’t give him more than one wife!  It was only his great-nephew Henry VIII, who had the bad track record with multiple wives.

As there is no mention that any view of Richard but Shakespeare’s even exists, it comes as a bit of a surprise when the reporter finishes with “Richard, the villain.  Maybe this part of history now needs to be rewritten.”  Unfortunately finding Richard’s bones will not be not sufficient to change the popular opinion of this king.

And while I am on my rant, there is also a minor point.  In the beginning we see the sundial at the Bosworth Battlefield Centre and the voice over informs us that this is the spot where Richard was killed.  Well, not exactly, the actual battlefield was a bit away.

In my family, ZDF had been the broadcaster of choice, for its accuracy in its news coverage as well as for entertainment.  A pity, but even John Ashdown-Hill cannot make me overlook the shortcomings in this short programme.  I would have expected better!

Watch the programme at http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek#/beitrag/video/1768286/Grab-von-K%C3%B6nig-Richard-III-entdeckt

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8
Aug

Bosworth at Peace

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Ricardian Places

During our recent European holiday, we visited the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre.  And I have to agree with what they say on their website, it “is a unique day out for all the family”:  My husband, who does not share my interest in medieval history, also enjoyed the experience.

We left Hertford, where we had been staying for our first week, in the morning and travelled via Rugby, for a look at the school which gave its name to the game.  On the way we noticed – and were very impressed by – a Tesco storage facility, which is powered by its own wind turbine to lessen CO2  emissions.   I somehow doubt whether our Woolworths or Coles are as considerate of our environment.

If I have one whinge, it is about the sign posting to the Battlefield Centre.  For such an important attraction, the signage left a lot to be wished for.

We arrived around lunch time and therefore our first stop was the Tithe Barn Restaurant, where we had the pleasure having our sandwiches under the watchful eye of Richard in full armour.

Refreshed we went to have a look at the exhibition.  Though I might have liked some more in depth information, I would say that to visitors without too much previous knowledge it gave quite a good and relatively unbiased overview of the lead-up to the battle.   Some of the events were told by a variety of people involved with the battle, like a mercenaries wife or Lord Stanley (a very shady character!).  My personal favourite was the innkeeper’s daughter from Leicester.  We also did the more touristy things like trying on medieval armour (not particularly flattering!) and minting our own commemorative penny.  The BFI Gallery offered an interesting insight into the methods used by archaeologists.

The Sundial

And then – in warm sunshine (which is worth a special mention after this British summer!) – we walked the battlefield trail.  We admired the new sundial in the form of a medieval billhook, with Richard’s crown dangling from the end.  Near the sundial and white rose bushes are rather uncomfortable looking thrones for Richard and Henry Tudor as well as posts for other people who fought in the battle, like for instance John Howard, duke of Norfolk.   We also sat for a while on the bench donated by the Richard III Society in memory of Paul Murray Kendall.

The walk is well illustrated by informative plaques and exhibits.  While the actual battle site is not part of the trail – it is private property – it is possible to look out over it.  It was difficult to imagine that in this peaceful rural setting, with sheep grazing on lush green grass, such a bloody and decisive battle was fought, where King Richard III and so many others lost their lives.

On our way back to the gift shop, we spotted a lady of Hawkwise Falconry with one of their hawks on her hand, reminding us of the role these birds played in medieval times.

Maybe it reflects my personal bias, but to judge from what was on offer at the gift shop, I got the distinct impression that the battle of the gifts was a decisive win for Richard.  Ricardian themed souvenirs outnumbered those with a Tudor connection.  Needless to say that I was in shopping heaven!

St James, Sutton Cheney

We then went for some quiet reflection to the Church of St James at Sutton Cheney.  The church building dates mainly from the 13th and 14th century, though it may replace an earlier one.  According to local tradition, Richard heard mass here before the battle.  The Richard III Society holds each year on or near 22 August a commemorative service at this church.  During this service wreaths are laid at the memorial plaque, one of which is donated by the Australasian branches.  At the time of my visit (July), last year’s wreath had wilted and had been taken away, but the card which had been attached to it, was still in place.

Richard III Memorial in St James, Sutton Cheney

(The card from the Australasian and Canadian branches is on the shelf on the right hand side)

The connection to Richard at this church is very strong:  not only the memorial plaque, but there is a great number of needlepoint kneelers, which have been stitched by Society members.  Among the designs is the white boar; another shows the entry in the York Records, when they heard of Richard’s death; there is the York rose, but his faithful henchmen are not forgotten either (the cat, the rat and Lovell our dog).

After a day full of travel and lots of new impressions, the church was a quiet and comforting spot.  I hope that it felt the same for Richard, when he came here amid the bustle of the last minute preparations for his final battle.

Further Information:

Phil Stone, ‘Shine out fair sun – and tell us the time at Bosworth’, Ricardian Bulletin (September 2011), pp.10-11

Pewfinder, ‘Sutton Cheney Church – St James’, Leicestershire & Rutland Churches (19 October 2011).  URL:  http://www.leicestershirechurches.co.uk/sutton-cheney-church/  Date accessed:  7 Aug. 2012

All photographs are by the present author.

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