Posts Tagged ‘Richard III Society’



   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)

Tags: , , , ,



   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.

Tags: , , ,



   Posted by: Christopher Puplick    in News

Fellow Ricardians may find a new play by Timothy Daly, Richard III (or Almost), of interest.  A special invitation for members of the Richard III Society is attached (Richard III Society Invite final_final24 3 13).

Timothy is one of Australia’s most successful playwrights (with more of his work done overseas than any other contemporary Australian playwright). This piece was originally performed in France and recently was one of only two Australian pieces at the world famous Avignon festival.

I’ve no doubt it’ll be a great evening in the theatre which our friends would enjoy.

Tags: , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, Society News

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

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

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

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

Tags: ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

For all who cannot get to Leicester to do the Richard III Trail in person, here is a short video that follows the trail.  Even if you have walked around Leicester, it offers inside views of the castle and Wygston Hall, both of which are infrequently open to visitors.

Please note, the video was recorded after the find of the remains, but before they were confirmed to be Richard’s.

Tags: , , , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

Yesterday the House of Commons debated whether Richard III should be re-buried in Leicester or York, without a final answer in sight.  In this context I find the claim that the “late King’s descendants” support York somewhat misleading, as to the best of our knowledge Richard did not leave any descendants.  These can only be descendants of his brothers and sister.   I would like to quote the conciliatory note by  Jeremy Wright, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice:  “I am sure that we would all agree that wherever the king’s remains are finally laid to rest, they will belong not only to the location, but to the whole nation.”  And not only the “whole nation”, but to everyone who is interested in Richard III.  You can read the full debate here on the website of the British parliament (go to Contents and then the Westminster Hall tab).

Tags: , , , , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

‘The Greyfriars Dig:  A New Richard III?’ was the motto of a conference on the Leicester Dig organised by the Richard III Society, which I had the pleasure to attend in Leicester on 2 March 2013.

A whole day with Richard III!  My Ricardian day started at breakfast in the hotel, when I got talking to two other guests, who as it turned out were also here for the conference.  We made our way together to the University of Leicester and had no problem finding the venue, we just needed to follow the stream of people, many of whom wore Ricardian badges or even Ricardian sweaters.  After being warmly welcomed at reception, we made our way to the bookstall – after all, the chance to purchase some of the excellent Society publications without having to pay postage had to be taken advantage of, though I had to keep the weight limitations of my luggage for the flight back in mind.

Entrance to the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester (photograph by D. Preis)

The Peter Williams Lecture Theatre was packed with nearly 500 participants, though I heard that there were more than twice as many who had wanted to attend, but could not be accommodated.  So I was glad that I had got my registration in early.  I saw some familiar faces and was able to talk to some, who were old friends via email, but whom I had never met face to face.  Though, due to the amount of people, this was not possible in all cases.

The official part began with a welcome by Dr Phil Stone, Chairman of the Richard III Society.  His announcement that the Greyfrairs Dig had been voted as ‘Research Project of the Year’ was met with general applause.  This prestigious archaeology award is each year decided by a poll of the readers of Current Archaeology magazine, and quite a few of the NSW branch members voted as well.

Dr Stone was followed by the Chair of the conference, the MP Chris Skidmore.  Mr Skidmore is the author of Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors, which will be published on 23 May 2013.  His research for this book brought him to a deeper understanding of Richard III.  He mentioned that for his book he had examined the manuscript of Vergil’s Anglica Historia in the Vatican archives.  With its corrections, this showed Vergil’s thought process much more clearly than the later printed version, on which present translations are based.  This is just one example of contemporary records being extant in a wide variety of archives, which are not easily available to the wider research community.

He compared Richard III negative image to his own experience, where he is mostly pigeonholed as a Conservative MP.  However, he also warned Ricardians to see Richard as a medieval nobleman, rather than limiting our understanding to those qualities which conform to our present day ideas.  If we were to limit ourselves to these facets of his reign, we would fall into the same trap as his detractors do, just the other way round.

Then Annette Carson and Philippa Langley (Richard III Society) took us in a Q&A style format through ‘The “Looking for Richard Project”’.  Philippa explained what had been necessary to bring the whole project together and about all the hiccups she had faced along the way.  Annette added some more general views on Richard as well as the disappearance of the ‘Princes in the Tower’, stressing that as a disappearance it was a mystery not a murder case.

After a break for morning tea, it was historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill’s turn to talk about ‘The Four Strands of Evidence’.  He also reminded us of how long he had been trying to garner interest and support for an archaeological dig of the Greyfriars site.  The four strands were:  1) evidence that Richard had been buried in the Greyfriars; 2) the similar layout of medieval friaries; 3) dismissal of the misconception that Richard’s bones had been dug up and thrown into the river during the Dissolution and 4) his work in establishing a direct female line descendent of Richard’s mother, Cecily of York.  Dr Stone announced that in acknowledgement of his work, Dr Ashdown-hill had been awarded life membership of the Richard III Society.

‘Richard III, History and Drama’ was presented by Dr Sarah Knight and Dr Mary Ann Lund (University of Leicester).  They looked at how Shakespeare used sources for his play and examined his play in the wider context of other dramatic interpretations of the material during his time.

Then it was time for lunch and more opportunities to make new acquaintances with fellow Ricardians.

Prof Mark Lansdale (University of Leicester) had the unenviable spot to be the first speaker after lunch, but it is highly unlikely that anyone would have nodded off during his fascinating exploration of the ‘Psychological Profile of Richard III’.  He concluded that Richard does not fit the profile of a psychopath, as which he is so often presented.  Instead he suggested that because of the insecurity Richard experienced during his childhood, he showed signs of an intolerance to uncertainty syndrome.  Traits associated with this are piety, a strong sense of right and wrong and loyalty, all traits Richard displayed.  (You can find a summary of his analysis here.)

Unveiling the face of Richard III (photograph by D. Preis)

Then our attention was drawn to a square object covered with a velvet cloth.  This was ceremoniously revealed to be the real face of Richard III, the facial reconstruction carried out at the University of Dundee by Prof Caroline Wilkinson.  Prof Wilkinson explained the reconstruction process in general and this one in particular.  This detailed insight into the scientific information on which a reconstruction is based was highly interesting and informative.

The following tea break gave many of us the opportunity to queue up to look into Richard’s face and to take photographs of it.

Then Dr Toby Capwell (Wallace Collection) talked about ‘Harness for the Differently-Abled:  Armour, Scoliosis and King Richard III’.  He speculated on what type of armour Richard might have worn and explained how this could have been designed to accommodate and disguise his scoliosis.

Bob Woosnam-Savage (Royal Armouries) gave a report on how Richard would have suffered the injuries his remains display.  He warned that this was a preliminary report only as the investigation was ongoing and they were continuing to find new evidence.

Sir Peter Soulsby (Lord Mayor of Leicester) looked at ‘The Future of Richard III in Leicester’.  This includes a Richard III Visitor Centre in the old grammar school next to the Greyfriars site as well as a general focus on making historic sites more accessible for pedestrians.  He also suggested thinking about a more appropriate spot for the Richard III statue in Castle Gardens.  This would be very welcome after my own attempts at taking a photograph of it, which were rather disappointing as the sun was always behind the statue.

The conference finished with a ‘Round up and thanks from the Chairman’.

The designers of the proposed tomb, David and Wendy Johnson, were also present, but unfortunately there was no time for them to talk to us.  The sculptor of the tomb, Graeme Mitcheson, showed photographs of his previous work as well as a beautiful carving of Richard’s boar.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my own thanks to all who made the Greyfriars dig and its findings possible, to all the excellent speakers and last but not least to all those who organized this event.  I can only marvel at the organisation which was necessary to make this day with so many participants run smoothly. It all worked out perfectly.

If you were to ask me whether it was worth travelling half-way around the world for one day in Leicester, my emphatic answer would be ‘most definitely!’.

Tags: , , , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

Should you still be thinking of going to the conference on the Leicester Dig to be held at Leicester on 2 March 2013 – sorry, to disappoint you.  We just received the following message:

The Conference on 2nd March is now fully booked. All of the unsuccessful applicants will be placed on a date-sequenced waiting list.

We heard that there was enormous interest and that many Ricardians from all over the world are attending.  Looking forward to seeing many old and new friends.

Tags: , ,



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

The first branch meeting of the year was held on Saturday, 9 February 2013, at our usual venue in the Rocks just days after the wonderful announcement about Richard III, which excited members had been eagerly awaiting. As a result of the wide media coverage, there was extraordinary interest in our website and our branch, with hundreds of emails having been received, and a number of new faces at our meeting. We hope to see Amanda, Natasha and Peter again.

Welcoming remarks were offered by our Chairperson, Judith, but departing from our usual routine, the minutes from the previous meeting were not discussed nor were there any of the usual reports presented by the Treasurer, Webmaster, or Librarian. This change was due to this meeting’s emphasis on the final results of the Greyfriars’ dig in Leicester. The results of the osteoarcheological and DNA examinations of the bones, the subsequent facial reconstruction, and the media conference with the research panel from Leicester University, were comprehensively reviewed and summarized by Dorothea for those present. Her excellent coverage can be found on the branch website, as well as the many links she has provided to the various media clips and written reports available on YouTube, BBC, University of Leicester and other websites. Dorothea will also be attending a one-day summing up conference at the University of Leicester in March and will report back to us at the next meeting. Her efforts in keeping all of us to date over the past weeks has been deeply appreciated.

Julia discussed the upcoming conference to be held in July, and encouraged members and guests to register for the exciting speakers and planned social events over that weekend. Also, Sydney’s Genesian Theatre is opening their 2013 season with a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. After the 10 March 2013 matinee performance, a panel will be convened to discuss the nature of the ‘real Richard’ in light of recent discoveries, for which Julia has been invited to represent the Ricardian point of view. Tickets are available online at

Our guest speaker was the charming Rosamund Burton, author of Castles, Follies and Four Leaf Clovers, a memoir of her journey along the ancient Irish pilgrimage route known as Saint Declan’s Way. She had been been raised in a castle in Lismore, Ireland (her father was employed by the Duke of Devonshire), and presented fascinating slides of the many sacred wells, castles, and the lovely Irish countryside.

The 13 April 2013 meeting will feature “Richard III in the Movies” with our guest Yvette Debergue.

Tags: , , ,



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News

What an evening!  I am sure that many of our readers followed the press conference in Leicester as spell-bound as I did.  It was a moment we had all been waiting and hoping for which finally came true.

The press conference revealed in a step by step account that the human remains found in Leicester in 2012 are “beyond reasonable doubt” those of King Richard III.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist of the Greyfriars Dig, explained how they found the human remains right at the start of their dig and how the further trenches helped to confirm where in the Greyfriars site the remains had been found.  He also explained that the grave had been dug in a hurry and had actually been too short for Richard.  While his lower body, which apparently had been laid out first, was straight, his upper body was more twisted, as they had tried to fit him into the grave.

The most confronting report was that by Jo Appleby, the osteoarchaeologist of the University of Leicester, who had analysed the skeletal remains.  Her description of the injuries which led to Richard’s death as well as those inflicted as humiliation brought the horrors of a medieval battle into our living rooms.

Dr Appleby also remarked that the king would have had had an unusually slender, almost feminine, figure.   She explained the scoliosis and what it would have meant for him, but stressed that the “withered arm” from the Shakespeare play was not based on fact.

The most anticipated evidence was probably the DNA analysis, presented by Kevin Schürer and Turi King. An analysis of male descendents of Edward III, who was also an ancestor of Richard III, has not been concluded yet.  However, the mitochondrial DNA of Michael ibsen, a descendent of Richard’s sister Anne in an all-female line, was matched to that of another descendent, also in the all female line, and then to that of the human remains.

When Richard Buckley concluded that based on all the evidence it was “beyond reasonable doubt” that these were the remains of Richard III, it was not only the audience in Leicester who started clapping and cheering.  What a truly amazing day for all of us!

The thanks of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society go to John Ashdown-Hill, Philippa Langley, the team of the University of Leicester and all others that made this wonderful discovery possible.

You can find out more in the Press Release of the University of Leicester and on the brand new website of the Richard III Society.  Now pictures of the facial reconstruction have been published as well and it is certainly a special moment to look into the face of the real Richard.

Tags: , , ,