Leicester: Richard III and stuff.

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Well, if the white roses at the base of the statue and the title of this blog post weren’t enough, then let me tell you that this is Richard III. We did a few things today as well as see all about him, but I’ll deal with him first and then mop up around the edges.

For those not keen on their history or their Shakespeare, Richard III was the King in the Carpark.

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And there’s the car park, where the cars are in the distance.

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Richard was only king for 2 years, before he was defeated by Henry VII, (Henry VIII”S dad) and was killed on the field of battle, the last English king to die this way. At least, so far…

I think that your attitude towards him all depends on how you encounter him first. If you first read Shakespeare’s play or watched a movie based on this, you think he’s a villain. You may have a sneaking sympathy for him, but that’s as far as it goes. However if you, like me, first read a book like Sharon Penman’s, “The Sunne in Splendour”, then you love Richard and know that he was a lovely guy and that Shakespeare did the worst hatchet job in history on him. Can you imagine how lacerated my feelings were when I had to teach Shakespeare’s ‘Richard III’ to my year 12s for years??? I’m fond of the play but it’s full of dirty rotten lies.

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Here’s a reconstruction that they’ve done of his skull to picture what he probably looked like. The woman who did this work had no idea whose skull it was when it was given to her, so she wasn’t swayed by portraits like the one above.

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Interesting. Where’s the hunched back, Shakespeare???

This is so fabulous I just had to show you. The music! The Power! The Pageantry! The 1950’s!!

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Here’s where he was found. Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again… I’ve had amazing luck with many things on this trip. This time around I just happen to rock up on the 530th anniversary of the very day that he was buried. I was so excited.

There were only a couple of other people in the room, not counting Scott, and the guide told me to stand back in the far corner of the room to take this shot, to get the effect of the light. “Normally there’s too many people in here,” he said. Fortunate Frogdancer….

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You can see where his body was buried – hard up against this wall. The team looking for him only had 3 weeks to get the job done, so they dug 3 trenches and hoped for the best. The guide said that if they’d started 2 feet away from where the first trench was, they’d have missed him altogether.

This effect with the bones comes and goes every 30 seconds.

Then we went out through the gift shop and I fell in love with a chain mail necklace. Trust me, it looks better than it sounds. Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again.

“It’s the last one we have,” said the nice girl on the till. “Do you mind having the one on display?”

“It’s the one I made my decision on, so that’s ok!” said I.

Yay.

We then went and visited his tomb in Leicester Cathedral, just across the courtyard.

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Here’s Richard from a different angle. I love how people have brought white roses for him. In the War of the Roses, Richard’s family, the Yorks, had a white rose as their emblem, while their cousins the Lancasters had a red rose. When Henry VII defeated Richard and took the throne, he married Richard’s niece and  took as his emblem the Tudor rose… a mix of the red and white. Clever.

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This was on display outside the niche where his tomb is. It’s what was prepared for his funeral.

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A close-up of the crown they made for him.

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The stitchery was amazing.

But Richard isn’t the only guy I wanted to see in Leicester that day. Sharon Penman has also written another book, this time about Simon de Montfort.  I’ve mentioned him before.

IMG_6672See the medieval tower-y thing?

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*gasp* Simon de Montfort!! It’s even better than seeing his shield in the stained glass window of Kenilworth church. Remember? I love how all the bits and pieces of this trip are coming together.

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We were walking past this and Scott said, “Hang on, it’s open. It’s never open.” Fortunate Frogdancer strikes again. I was clearly on a roll.

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The middle part of the building is 14th century.

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To be honest, there was nothing much to see. EXCEPT this guy upstairs playing a hurdy-gurdy. He was banging out some rollicking show tunes from the 1500’s and they were toe-tapping songs.

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Then he broke our his dulcimer. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d use, except as a euphemism. He had a cd so I bought one for the boys, as I’m pretty sure they’ll be new sounds for them to play with.

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Back in England… scones and jam and clotted cream.

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I love how things in this country are called ‘New’ even though they’ve been around for over 200 years. We took a stroll down here and visited the museum. It had some Picasso ceramics.

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I could live with this one.

Apparently he did hundreds of these ceramic plates and vases, dishes and bowls. They’d let him play and them when he was happy with a design they’d mass produce it and sell them off. There was only one totally unique one here:

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Quite liked this one, but most of them were pretty ‘meh’.

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They also had an art collection, but it was from Germany between the wars. It was full of works like this and this:

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It was a bit of a downer so we left to cheer ourselves up.

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And then look what I saw… Simon again.IMG_6769AND A SQUIRREL!!!!!!

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In the wild. It was like we were on safari.

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Then he ran up a tree and vanished.

Bath tomorrow. As in the city.

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2 Responses to Leicester: Richard III and stuff.

  1. Mary L says:

    Yay Frogdancer, my home town. Sorry I wasn’t there to share Richard, Simon and the Squirrel….lol……I will be there on Wednesday next week. I could have bought you coffee 🙂 Love your photos.

  2. Lucinda Sans says:

    Fantastic. Again!! Re Shakespeare’s Richard. It gives you a great opportunity to show students how context is all. When and who Shakespeare was writing for. And in his defence: sway spin, hunchback. Same same. Near enough.

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