Posts Tagged ‘Richard III Society’


New Web Address for the Victorian Branch

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, News from Other Branches

Please note that the Victorian Branch of the Richard III Society has a new website and a new address.

We wish their webmaster Gillian lots of success with their new project.



The December Ricardian Bulletin

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Branch News, News

The December issue of the Ricardian Bulletin is starting to arrive in Australia!  Congratulations to the Bulletin Committee on a wonderful new issue.  Not only the contents are very appealing, but so is the new style with full colour throughout.  And it got here extremely quickly, virtually at the same time as for members in the UK.

Hoping yours arrives soon, too.  If you are a member of the NSW branch and have not received your copy by 14 December, please let me know at

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

The AGM of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society will be held on 12 October 2013 at 14h00 at our usual venue, the  Harry Jensen Centre, 17 Argyle Street, Millers Point.

As it is every year, the AGM is your last opportunity to renew your subscription.  If you haven’t renewed your subscription by sending your Renewal Notice and indication of payment (either by cheque or direct credit) to our treasurer Judy by Friday, 11 October 2013, you will be able to do in person at the AGM.  Please make sure that you bring payment AND the filled in Renewal Notice with you.

There will be a few changes to the composition of the committee on the cards, with some members stepping down.   We thank them for their tireless work on behalf of all of us.  However, we also thank those, who have bravely put up their hands to become part of our branch committee.

And after all the housekeeping, there will be a fascinating talk.  Unfortunately our scheduled speaker had to pull out at short notice, but Judith will come to the rescue and tell us about ‘Innovations of the Middle Ages’.  This promises to be an interesting topic.

One innovation coming to my mind immediately is Johann Gutenberg and the printing press.  We must not forget that Richard III was a strong supporter of printed books, as he explicitly exempted them from the import and export restrictions in the statutes of his only parliament.   Incidentally the statutes of the 1484 parliament were not only the first to published in English, but also the first to be printed.

So come along and join us to decide on the future committee of YOUR branch and find out which innovations can be traced to the Middle Ages.

Most Society members should have received their September 2013 Ricardian Bulletin during the last days.  Should your copy not have arrived by the AGM, please let our Bulletin coordinator Dorothea know.

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On 22 August …

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Society News

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.

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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

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Society News

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    in News

The Richard III Society has commissioned new artwork from the Queen’s Scribe, Andrew Jamieson.  The new design is used on a variety of merchandise available from the Society.

Our branch has for a long been very grateful to Andrew to be able to use his artwork in our documents or on our website with his permission, which was of course credited to him.  Therefore we feel very strongly about spreading the word on this new merchandise.

The design commissioned by the Society of Richard III mounted on his horse is full of meaning.  He is armoured as a warrior, but holds a scepter in his hand to show his kingship.  His horse wears Richard’s armourial bearings, a white boar is running alongside him and above him flies his standard.  His crowned shield is surrounded by a garter.  On the grass we find forget-me-nots, white roses for York and broom flowers and pods for Plantagenet.

You can see the picture and all details of ordering any of the merchandise here.

Note: The illustration above is another depiction of Richard III by Andrew Jamieson.  It does not show the new artwork.

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Niclas von Popplau reports after his visit to Richard III in spring of 1484 that the king employed a choir which performed ‘the loveliest music I have ever heard in all my life’*, so we can guess that Richard appreciated good music.

Therefore I am sure he would also appreciate the music which is now written in his memory. Here are two examples.

Graham Keitch wrote a beautiful choral piece ‘In memoriam Ricardus Rex’.  Listen to it here.  And a little hint for all who attend the Australasian Convention in July, it might very well feature there as well.

The Richard III has hosted an orchestoral piece by Robert Draper.  You can find out more about this and of course listen to it on the website of the Richard III Society here.


*Livia Visser-Fuchs, ‘He hardly touched his food, but talked with me all the time:  What Niclas von Popplau really wrote about Richard III’, The Ricardian, Vol.XI, No.145 (June 1999), p.526

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

The following are the personal views of the author and do not reflect those of the NSW branch or the Richard III Society as a whole.

A while ago, I was asked by one of our branch members, where and when Richard would be re-interred, as she would like to be there.  Probably to her great disappointment, I had to tell her that I didn’t know.  The original plan was for the reburial to take place in Leicester in May next year, however, with all the controversy and legal challenges it would be better to wait a bit, before making actual travel arrangements.

And unfortunately the situation does not look any clearer so far.  There is the so-called ‘Plantagenet Alliance’, which portrays itself as a group of Richard’s descendents.  They would like Richard’s final resting place to be in York, whereas the exhumation licence granted last August states that any human remains should be reinterred in consecrated ground closest to the place where they were found, ie. Leicester Cathedral.  Therefore they have started to challenge the legality of the exhumation licence.  This week legal papers should be lodged with the (UK) High Court, seeking permission for a judicial review of the original licence to go ahead.  However, it is not sure whether the High Court will even accept the challenge and any decision is expected to take at least several weeks.

Whether the Plantagenet Alliance will have any success seems dubious.  As far as is known, there are no direct descendents of Richard III, his legitimate son had predeceased him and his illegitimate children died without issue, which leaves descendents of his brothers and sisters.  The group apparently consists of 15 of these distant relatives.  After 500 years, this is a surprisingly low number, as the University of Leicester estimates that “many tens of thousands of individuals alive today are descended in this way”.

The legal claim of the Plantagenet Alliance is based on the fact that they were not consulted before the exhumation licence was granted – and we have to remember that at that time it seemed rather unlikely that any human remains, let alone Richard’s, would be found.  They argue the licence was in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which grants the right to respect for private and family life.  After 500 years to claim “respect of family life” seems a bit strange, after all we are not talking about a dearly beloved uncle, who used to come round for tea.  The University of Leicester refutes this saying that the obligation to consult living relatives expires after 100 years.

I tried to find out a bit more about the Plantagenet Alliance.  It is a private limited company, with a relatively new website (their archives only go back to March 2013).  They are asking for donations to help fund the day-to-day running of their affairs as well as the legal campaign.

For my part, I rather donated to the Richard III Society’s appeal for funds for a tomb for Richard, than giving money for a business to go to court.

There certainly are valid arguments in favour of a re-interment in York rather than Leicester, however, these are not furthered by challenging the legality of the original licence.  If only all concerned could stop arguing their case with increasing animosity, which, while the media might love it, is very sad and in bad taste.

The Patron of the Richard III Society, Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who shares his name and title with the medieval king before his accession to the throne, has pleaded that his remains “are treated with the utmost dignity”.  I am sure that his discussion partners Dr Philip Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, and Philippa Langley, who had pushed tirelessly for the dig to take place, share his sentiments completely.  As does the University of Leicester, who pledges to “continue to work with our partners, the Richard III Society, Leicester Cathedral and Leicester City Council to ensure an appropriate and fitting re-interment for England’s last Plantagenet monarch in Leicester.”

HRH Richard, Duke of Gloucester, also attended a lunch with the Richard III Society, whose patron he has been for more than 30 years, at the Tower of London recently.


Kate Liptrot, ‘Richard III legal fight to start next week’, The Press (27 April 2013).

University of Leicester Press Office, ‘Plantagenet Alliance seeks judicial review – statement from University of Leicester’ (26 March 2013)

Duke Of Gloucester Meets With Richard III Society Over King’s ‘Dignity’’, Royal Central (2 March 2013).

Duke Of Gloucester Attends Richard III Society Dinner At Tower Of London’, Royal Central (30 April 2013)

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   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

Once again “Thank you” to my friend Renate, who found this!

The various talks from the Greyfriars Dig Conference, which took place in Leicester on 2 March this year, are now available on YouTube.  While you will not be able to experience quite the same atmosphere as the audience did, they are a great way to catch up with – or revisit – the information.

And a very big “Thank you” to the Richard III Society as well, for making this available to us!

You can find the YouTube clipes here.

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