In 2015, an expanded and re-designed version of the visitor's guide to Ricardian sites was added to the website. It includes information on sites within Great Britain that are associated with Richard III, his family, and with the events of the Wars of the Roses.
Click the 'expand' link on the image below to view the Ricardian Britain visitors guide, or click the link in the left-hand side menu to download the latest PDF.
Detailed information on eight sites most closely associated with Richard III can be found below.
Ruins of Barnard CastleBarnard Castle, located on the north bank of the River Tees, is a market town in County Durham which grew up around - and was named for - the castle.
Barnard Castle: This is what remains of a Norman and 14th century castle granted to Richard in 1475 as part of the Neville inheritance. Richard probably undertook some building here as his boar badge can be seen on the slab over an oriel window which was once part of the Great Chamber, now approached by a flight of modern steps on the inside of the curtain wall just south of the Round Tower. In the northeast section of the curtain wall is the Brackenbury Tower, named after Sir Robert Brackenbury. Unfortunately, the castle fell into ruins after Richard's death. The castle is now managed by English Heritage.
Church of St Mary, Barnard CastleThe Bowes Museum collection includes the carving of a boar which was rescued from a cottage in the town when it was demolished.
Church of St Mary: Richard founded a chantry here at the same time as the one at Middleham. He also paid for extensive works within the church. The chancel arch bears corbels with portrait heads of Richard and Edward IV. On the outside of the church, there is a carved boar beside the east window of the south transept.
It was at Bosworth Field, or Redemore Plain as it was known at the time, that Richard III joined battle with the forces of Henry Tudor on 22 August 1485 and it was there that he was to be 'brutally slain', as one account describes his end.
In the five hundred or so years since, there have been a number of proposed sites for the battle. Recently there have been three in contention but it is a site near to the traditional one, about 20 miles west of the City of Leicester, and near to the village of Sutton Cheney that recent archaeological work in 2009 showed where the battle was actually fought. This is in an area straddling Fenn Lanes, near Fenny Drayton and about three miles from the traditional site on Ambion Hill. On the hill Leicestershire County Council have established a visitor centre and a new trail between the Centre and the battlefield site (which is on private farmland) has been established.
Although the visitor centre, run by the Council, already had an excellent display area, it has been upgraded to make it more interactive and to include 'living history' displays, together with models of the combatants and a tableau of the battle, including a detailed description of the events leading up to it, and ending with a film show, where a re-enactment of the battle is shown.
The centre's gift shop is one of the best. In addition to the usual souvenirs, it offers small toys for children and a comprehensive range of Ricardian related books and memorabilia.
The facilities include a restaurant, the Tithe Barn and which provides a good range of food. Following a complete upgrade, the old 'temporary' building has been replaced, the new restaurant incorporating a timber frame taken from a 14th century tithe barn and donated to the Battlefield centre by Derbyshire County Council and the Derbyshire Archaeological Society.
To complete the facilities at the Centre, there is extensive car parking and other local attractions include the village of Sutton Cheney and the small but attractive town of Market Bosworth. The Battlefield site is bounded by the A5, A444, A447 and the B585, and is clearly signposted from all these roads in the vicinity of Market Bosworth.
Access is easy from the M1, M6, M42 and M69 and all major roads in the Midlands. From Hinckley take the A47 north and turn left onto the A447 and follow signs for Sutton Cheney and then the battlefield.
April to October - 10am to 5pm
November to March - 10am to 4pm
Re-open 1 February 2013 – 10am to 4pm
Last entry to exhibition one hour before closing.
For prices for entry to exhibition, which includes discounts for families and for groups, visit the Bosworth Battlefield centre's own website at www.bosworthbattlefield.com
Telephone: +44 (0)1455 290 429
Suggested Further Reading
The Battle of Bosworth, Michael Bennett, Stroud 1993
The Battlefields of England, Alfred H Burne, London 1950
The Field of Redemore: The Battle of Bosworth, 1485, Peter Foss, Newtown Lindford 1998
The Battle of Bosworth, Christopher Gravett, Oxford 1999
Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle, Michael K Jones, Stroud 2002
Richard III and the Bosworth Campaign, Peter Hammond, Barnsley 2010
Society members should note that there is a 20% discount on all standard admissions on production of your Society membership card.
The hall was built in Bishopsgate in 1466, and in medieval times, it was the home of Sir John Crosby, a wealthy merchant in the city of London. He rented out the property to Richard, who, as Duke of Gloucester, used it for his London base, a home for his family and retainers.
In later years, the hall was 'upgraded' but remained a dwelling. However, in 1910, it was dismantled and rebuilt in Cheney Walk on the Chelsea Embankment, where the great hall is still to be found. This new site was once part of an orchard belonging to Sir Thomas More. An irony not lost on members of the Society.
A modern banking house stands on the original Bishopsgate site, and it bears a plaque to mark the hall's existence. Just north of it, in Crosby Square, is the church of Great St Helen, with a monument to, and effigies of, Sir John Crosby and his wife Agnes. Unusual in design, the church has two naves, in keeping with it having once been a monastic and parish foundation. The church was a beneficiary of Society help following damage by a terrorist bomb.
The church is still open, of course, but today Crosby Hall is in private ownership and is no longer available to the public to visit. In past years, though, the great hall was the scene of Richard III Society banquets and commemorative talks, most notably that in 1984 during the celebration of Richard III's quincentenary, when the event was attended by the Society's patron, the present Duke of Gloucester.
The hall was the recipient of a coat of arms, presented by the Society. Representing Richard III’s full achievement, it was removed after the hall was sold and is now displayed at the King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester.
Fotheringhay is a small village in Northamptonshire, close to Peterborough. The principal Ricardian sites are the castle, the church and the New Inn.
There is virtually nothing left of the castle since it was slighted and dismantled in the seventeenth century on the orders of King James I. The parish church has been altered over the years, and is rather shorter now than it was in the medieval period. However, it is still a wonderful place to visit and is the venue for the Society's annual carol service each December.
The New Inn was the medieval hostel provided as an overspill for visitors to the castle. It is found at the bend in the road close to the bridge over the River Nene and though it is a private dwelling, it can be distinguished by a green plaque erected by the Society to commemorate the birth of Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, in the nearby castle.
Richard III was born in the castle and legend has it that he was baptised in the church, though this event may have taken place in the castle chapel.
Little remains of the castle. There is still the mound where the keep, in the shape of a fetterlock, a Yorkist symbol, stood. Because it was here that Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded in February 1587, it has been suggested that her son, James VI, slighted the castle when he became king of England and the building fell into disrepair. All that remains of the ancient stronghold today is a chunk of the outer stone wall, which is surrounded by a railing bearing two plaques with details about the royal connections.
Of the church, much more is left, though it is no longer as large as it would have been when Richard III was last known to have visited. In 1476, as duke of Gloucester, he led the cortege that brought the bodies of his father, Richard, Duke of York, and elder brother, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, for reburial in the family mausoleum. At that time, the church extended further east and there was a college and cloister attached on the south, between it and the River Nene. The college was an institution for priests and choristers who daily prayed for the souls of the House of York, past and present.
With the Dissolution, the property was sold and the roof of the choir and the cloister was stripped of its lead, allowing the rain to get in and resulting in rot and collapse. Eventually, only the nave and tower were left. As the nave was the parish church, the roof had been left alone. In 1566, when Elizabeth I saw what had happened to the tombs of her ancestors - her paternal grandmother was Elizabeth of York - she gave money for them to be reinterred in the sanctuary on either side of the altar, where they lie to this day.
The church is large, too large for the size of its present parish, and filled with light. The windows are huge and the medieval coloured glass almost completely gone. There is a modern window, the gift of the Richard III Society, which now provides a focal point for the 'Chapel of All Souls and the memory of the royal House of York', another gift of the Society. The window displays the heraldry of the first four Dukes of York, their wives and Richard III and his queen, Anne Neville.
The pulpit was restored in 1966 and it now glows with colour. It was the gift of Edward IV and bears the Plantagenet royal arms, flanked by a white lion, a black bull and a white boar, symbols of the Yorkist sons. Hexagonal in shape, the pulpit stands in a narrow plinth.
The most recent addition to the furnishing of this wonderful old church is the pipe organ, built by Vincent Woodstock and installed in 2000. It fills the church with the most glorious sounds, and at the inaugural concert, those huge windows fairly rattled!
Other gifts of the Society to the church include kneelers throughout the high fronted box pews and a cope for the incumbent. This is richly decorated with the heraldic history of the church. Financial support has also been given to the restoration of the bells, the building of the organ and the cleaning of the Decalogue behind the altar.
The remaining arches of the Church of the Mary of the
Annunciation where King Richard was displayed following his
death at Bosworth.Leicester Cathedral (originally St Martin’s Church), is, of course, the location of King Richard’s tomb, following his reburial in 2015. The Cathedral gardens is now the home of the statue of Richard III at Bosworth by James Butler R.A. which was presented by the Richard III Society in 1980. The statue has become a focal point for Ricardians who wish to pay their respects to King Richard by leaving white roses. It should be noted that flowers are not allowed by the King’s grave.
The King Richard III Visitor Centre is opposite the Cathedral and includes the king’s original gravesite. The centre is also the home of the reconstruction of King Richard’s head, commissioned by the Society in 2013. There is a charge to enter the visitor centre, but members of the Richard III Society are eligible for a discount of 25%.
The Guildhall is located next to the Cathedral. The building dates back to the mid fourteenth century, and in Richard’s time was used by the Corpus Christi Guild for its meetings, and also provided accommodation for the Guild’s chantry priests.
The site of Leicester Castle is in the Castle Gardens off St Nicholas Circle. The Castle Yard, the Great Hall and St Mary de Castro (originally the chapel for the Castle) have survived. St Mary de Castro was founded in 1107 and was where Richard’s father, Richard Duke of York, and King Henry VI were knighted in 1426. The church is open weekdays 12.00 – 2.00pm, Saturdays 2.00pm – 4.00pm, and the church website features a virtual tour of the building.
The Magazine Gateway dates from 1410 and was the original main entrance into the Newarke. Local tradition has it that Richard passed through this gate on his last visit to Leicester just prior to his death. Within the Newarke was the Collegiate Church of St Mary of the Annunciation. It was in this church that Richard’s body was put on display after his death at Bosworth. Very little of the church remains, but there are two arches inside the Hawthorn Building of De Montfort University, which is occasionally open to the public.
Richard led his troops out of Leicester to Bosworth over Bow Bridge and his body was carried back over it after the battle. The present bridge is not the original, but dates from around 1863. According to legend – now disproved – an old woman prophesised that where his spur struck the bridge on the outward journey, his head would strike after the battle.
A plaque erected in 2005 by the Society close to the bridge, records the story that Richard’s body was thrown into the River Soar from there. This story has also now been disproved. Another possibly unlikely story is that Richard spent his last night in Leicester at the White Boar Inn, which was changed to the Blue Boar after the battle. The site is now occupied by a Travelodge.
Leicester Website: http://www.leicester.gov.uk
St Mary de Castro website: www.stmarydecastro.org.uk
The Guildhall: Tel: 0116 253 2569. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Close to the market town of Leyburn in the North Riding of Yorkshire, Middleham is today a centre for the training of race horses, leading to it being known as the “Newmarket of the North”, and very little remains of its medieval grandeur when, as a market town, it was a seat of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Nevilles
It has three principle sites of interest to the Ricardian visitor, the castle, the church and the market cross.
The castle keep was originally built in the 12th century as a stronghold of the Neville family and it was here that Richard of Gloucester was sent to learn how to be a knight. It was at Middleham that Richard met his future wife, Anne, daughter of his cousin Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, later known as the Kingmaker. In later years, when Richard was given the governance of the north of England by his brother Edward IV, it was his favourite residence. Richard’s son, Edward of Middleham, was born here between 1473-1478, and died here in April 1484.
Although ruined, much still stands, especially the curtain wall and the keep with the great hall. There is a stairway that can be climbed to get views of the surrounding countryside. Nearby is the Prince's Tower, so-called because the young Edward lived there.
A few years ago, a rather controversial statue of Richard III was erected in the bailey, close to the entrance. The sculptor, Linda Thompson, has tried to portray various descriptions of Richard, including the good king and the Shakespearian villain. A basilisk is partially visible behind Richard, its tail curling over his right shoulder to form part of the livery collar.
The church at Middleham, dedicated to St Akelda, a Saxon woman murdered for her beliefs, was embellished by Richard III. It was here, in 1477, that he founded a college, where priests were endowed to say masses for the House of York. Richard's college did not survive his death, but a college of canons under a different statute did continue, and was only brought to an end in the Victorian period. One of the last of these canons was the author Charles Kingsley. Buried in the church is the author and playwright Caroline Halstead who wrote an early biography of Richard III.
The church has been the recipient of several gifts from the Richard III Society (or its predecessor, the Fellowship of the White Boar), with a stained glass window portraying Saints Richard and Anne, and a heraldic altar frontal, bearing the Plantagenet and Neville arms.
Close to the castle is the base of the old market cross. Known as Swine Cross, it is a rather shapeless lump of stone today and thought to have been a statue of a boar, erected to commemorate a grant obtained by Richard of Gloucester in 1479 for Middleham to hold a twice yearly fair and market. However, it might equally have been a bear, the heraldic animal of the Nevilles.
Middleham is 13 miles south of Richmond on the A6108.
The small Yorkshire village of Sheriff Hutton has two sites of Ricardian interest, the remains of the castle and the Church of St Helen and Holy Cross.
To be found in the grounds of a local farm, the castle is a total ruin, with only a few turrets and the corners of the keep still standing. It has been described as looking like an upturned table.
Richard acquired the castle through his marriage and although he preferred to live in Middleham, in 1484, he made it one of the two centres that housed the Council of the North. The other was at Sandal, another property of the House of York. This Council was the administrative structure that Richard established to govern the north following his accession as King of England. As an administrative entity, it survived into the seventeenth century.
© Geoffrey WheelerThe church is to be found up a small lane and whilst it looks drab and unprepossessing from the outside, it has many fine features inside. Most important is a memorial possibly for a member of the Neville family; until recently this was thought to be a memorial for Edward of Middleham, Richard III's son, who died in 1484. However recent research has proved that it dates from the first half of the fifteenth-century and therefore cannot be associated with King Richard's son.
The artists impression of Sheriff Hutton
by Geoffrey Wheeler ©The memorial is a cenotaph, not a tomb, as the body was buried elsewhere, and its present position in the north east corner of the church is not where it was intended to stand. From past records, it would seem that the monument has had several sites within the church. Made of alabaster, it has suffered over the years and during the twentieth century, it was twice restored at the Society's expense.
The village is about 13 miles north of York on a minor road off the A64.
Richard III’s associations with the city of York and the north, both as duke of Gloucester and king, were extensive and mutually advantageous. During his many years based in the north of England Richard did a great deal for the benefit of York and its residents and always showed respect for the city’s liberties. For example he gave active support in their efforts to have illegal fish garths removed; these were weirs which restricted the flow of the water and thus the amount of fish available to the common people. He also actively urged Edward IV not to remove the city’s Charter of Liberties in 1476. For a full account of Richard’s relationship with the north, click here.
When the king was defeated and killed at the battle of Bosworth the York authorities had no hesitation in recording in their records that ‘King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was most piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this city.’ Brave and sincere words in the early days of the new Tudor regime.
As duke of Gloucester, Richard, when visiting York, would stay at the Augustinian Friary on Lendal. The Friars had moved to the city by 1272, and lasted there until the Dissolution in 1538. In Richard’s time the friary would have stretched along Lendal from approximately where the Post Office is to Museum Street. It occupied the land between Lendal and the river, and is likely to have had more than one entrance. The alleys that today lead off Lendal in the direction of the river may well be the remains of these. Part of the site is now occupied by a restaurant called ‘Zizzi’; its lower floors may contain fragments of the friary’s original cellar.
There are a number of extant buildings and sites within the city which would have been known to Richard III. The principal ones are listed below together with links to sources of further information.
Details of a walking tour of York focussing on a number of these buildings and sites can be found here.
York city walls with the Minster in the distance.York is England’s best preserved medieval city, indeed the fifteenth-century street patterns that Richard III would have known still exist in the city’s historic centre. Its walls run for around 2.5 miles and originally enclosed both the city and its castle. Beneath the medieval stonework are the remains of earlier walls dating back to Roman York or Eboracum as it was then known. These survived until the ninth century when the Vikings invaded and named the city Jorvik. They buried the Roman walls under earth banks topped with a palisade. These were replaced in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries with the stone walls we see today. Attempts in the nineteenth century to have them demolished met with strong opposition, and unlike many other cities most of York’s walls survive and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I listed. For more information about the walls visit www.yorkwalls.org.uk
The medieval city walls originally included 4 main gates or ‘bars’: Botham Bar, Monk Bar, Walmgate Bar and Micklegate Bar. The two of particular interest to Ricardians are:
Micklegate Bar.Micklegate Bar was first documented during the reign of Henry II in the twelfth century. Two of the shields on the outer wall depict the arms of the City of York and a third bears the royal arms. All date to c.1370–75 and are likely to be the earliest surviving examples of the city’s arms. The three statues set on top of the bar are modern replacements of earlier statues. The bar is the southern entry into the city and for centuries the severed heads of rebels and traitors were displayed above the gate, including Sir Henry Percy (Harry Hotspur) in 1403 and Richard, duke of York in 1460.
It was through Micklegate Bar that King Richard on his post-coronation progress entered the city on 29 August 1483. At the bar, Richard would have been greeted by the Mayor and the city’s leading figures, and possibly also a pageant. The bar is now home to the ‘Henry VII Experience’, where visitors can discover the impact Henry had on the city. For more information go to www.richardiiiexperience.com/discover-medieval-york/about-henry-vii.
Monk Bar dates from the early fourteenth century and is the largest and most ornate of the bars. It was constructed in several stages, with the top storey added in 1484 during the reign of Richard III. For many years the Richard III Museum run by Mike Bennett occupied parts of the bar. This has now been replaced with the 'Richard III Experience', which explores the king’s history and his legacy in the city. For more information go to www.richardiiiexperience.com/discover-medieval-york/about-richard-iii.
St Mary's Abbey was founded in 1088 and its ruins are located in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens. The abbey was once one of the wealthiest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England. Following the Dissolution the monks of St Mary’s were pensioned off and the abbey buildings were converted into a palace for the king when he visited York. Eventually most fell into ruins and were used as agricultural buildings before being excavated by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in the 1820s.
The ruins of St Mary's Abbey.
One part of the abbey that survives relatively intact is St Mary’s Lodge, built around 1470 as an addition to the late twelfth-century buildings that formed the gatehouse at the main entrance to the abbey. The lodge now forms the Marygate entrance to the Museum Gardens. Another building that survives is the Hospitium, a timber and stone structure; the ground floor is medieval and would have served as a guest house or barn for the monastery.
For more information go to www.yorkmuseumgardens.org.uk/about/st-marys-abbey.
The King's Manor was originally built in the thirteenth century to house the abbots of St Mary's Abbey; however the earliest remains date from the fifteenth century. When the abbey was dissolved in 1539 it became the seat of the Council of the North until 1641 when the council was abolished. It is now a Grade I listed building and is home to the Archaeology, Medieval Studies and Eighteenth Century Studies departments of the University of York. For more information go to www.york.ac.uk/about/campus/landmarks/kings-manor.
St Leonard’s Hospital was one of the largest medieval hospitals in England and was run by the Augustinian order. The remains of the hospital’s undercroft can be found next to the York Central Library and can be accessed from the Museum Gardens. For more information go to www.yorkmuseumgardens.org.uk/about/st-leonards-hospital.
Clifford's Tower.Clifford's Tower and its mound are iconic landmarks in the city and are Norman in origin. The original timber structure was constructed by William the Conqueror in 1068 to reinforce his power in the north. The present stone tower was constructed during the reign of Henry III. For more information go to www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/cliffords-tower-york.
The Guildhall or Common Hall as it was then known was built in 1445 on the site of an earlier hall dating from the thirteenth century. It was for the use of the York Corporation and the Guild of St Christopher and St George; Richard III may well have been entertained there during his three-week stay in the city in 1483.
The Guildhall. The hall was a victim of one of the ‘Baedeker Raids’ during the Second World War when it was badly damaged by bombs in 1942. Restoration took 18 years, and it was re-opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 1960. For more information go to www.york.gov.uk/info/20033/about_us/1229/the_guildhall.
The Merchant Adventurers' Hall.Merchant Adventurers’ Hall is located in the centre of York and dates from 1357. There are three main rooms in the Hall: the Great Hall where the medieval merchants first gathered to conduct business and to socialise; the Undercroft which was used as an alms house to help the sick and the poor, and the Chapel offering spiritual care. For more information go to www.theyorkcompany.co.uk.
Merchant Taylors’ Hall was built in the fourteenth century and received a new red brick cladding in the seventeenth. The Company of Merchant Taylors is one of seven guilds in York and dates back to the thirteenth century. For more information visit www.merchant-taylors-york.org.
Barley Hall.Barley Hall was originally built as a townhouse for Nostell Priory in the fourteenth century and a new wing was added in about 1430. In 1480 it became the home of William Snawsell, Goldsmith, Alderman and Lord Mayor of York, someone who would certainly have been known to Richard III. The hall was bought by York Archaeological Trust and work to restore it began in 1990 and it re-opened to the public in 1993. For more information go to www.barleyhall.co.uk.
The ShamblesBedern Hall was originally part of the College of the Vicars Choral and was the refectory (or dining hall) for the college from the 1390s until the mid-seventeenth century. For more information go to www.bedernhall.co.uk.
The Shambles is one of the best preserved medieval streets in the world and can be found in the heart of the many twisting and narrow lanes which remain from medieval York. Many of the buildings on the street today date back to the late fourteenth and fifteenth century.
There are number of museums and other heritage centres that will be of interest to Ricardians, in particular the following:
The Yorkshire Museum is located in the York Museum Gardens and was opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. It was one of the first purpose-built museums in the country and currently has five galleries showing archaeological treasures, rare animals, birds and fossils.
The Middleham JewelThere are a number of exhibits of particular interest to Ricardians, especially the Middleham Jewel. This was found near Middleham Castle in 1985 and was purchased by the Yorkshire Museum in 1991 following a national appeal for funds. The Richard III Society and many of its members donated to the appeal. The jewel dates from the third quarter of the fifteenth century and is likely to have belonged to a lady of high social standing. Possible owners include Anne Beauchamp, Countess of Warwick, Richard III’s mother-in-law, Cecily Neville, Richard III’s mother, and Anne Neville, his wife, since they all spent time at Middleham. Other items of jewellery in the museum’s collection found in the vicinity of Middleham area include a copper alloy boar badge which could have been a gift to a retainer of Richard III, and the Middleham Ring.
In 2015, to commemorate Richard III’s reinterment, the museum held an exhibition Richard III Rumour and Reality and created this associated website www.richardiii-ipup.org.uk.
The Tempest Anderson Hall is attached to the Yorkshire Museum. The Society’s founder, Dr Saxon Barton, gave a lecture here in 1934. For the story behind this lecture, you can read The Bulletin article. For more information about the Yorkshire Museum go to www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk.
Dig Centre is a hands-on archaeological adventure focussing on children. It has four special in-door excavation pits, based on real digs in the city and filled with replica Roman, Viking, Medieval and Victorian finds. For more information go to www.digyork.com.
Between the years 1976-81 archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust revealed the Viking city of Jorvik as it stood nearly 1,000 years ago. The centre is built on the very site of the excavations and it recreates the experience of life in Viking York. For more information go to www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk.
The Prick of Conscience Window, All Saints Church,
North StreetIn addition to the magnificent York Minster, the city had around forty parish churches in the fifteenth century. Twenty survive, in whole or in part, a number exceeded in England only by Norwich. Twenty are still used for worship, two in particular to note:
All Saints Church in North Street was founded in the eleventh century, but most of the present building is fourteenth and fifteenth century. It has a fifteenth-century hammerbeam roof and is noted for the most extensive collection of medieval glass in York. The glass dates mostly from the early fourteenth century, and includes the famous ‘Prick of Conscience’ window. For more information go to www.allsaints-northstreet.org.uk.
Holy Trinity Micklegate was originally part of Micklegate Priory, a Benedictine foundation founded in 1089 and dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The church building dates from the twelfth century with additions in the thirteenth and fourteenth, its tower was built in 1453.
The guild of Corpus Christi was one of the most important guilds of later medieval York. It placed considerable emphasis on practising charity and its shrine was in Holy Trinity until 1431 when it was removed to the civic chapel of St William on Ouse Bridge at the end of Micklegate. Richard, duke of Gloucester and Anne Neville became members of the guild in 1477. For more information go to www.holytrinityyork.org.
A leaflet with further details about the medieval churches of York can be downloaded from www.historyofyork.org.uk.
York MinsterYork Minster is also known as St Peter's, its full name being the ‘Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of St Peter in York’, and is one of the finest gothic buildings in Europe. Its site has always been an important one for the city; indeed the remains of the Basilica, the ceremonial centre of the Roman fortress, have been found beneath it. The first Christian church on the site has been dated to around 627 with the first Archbishop of York appointed in 732. The present Gothic-style cathedral was built between 1220 and 1472.
The first recorded visit of Richard duke of Gloucester to the Minster was in 1465 when he witnessed the investiture of George Neville as Archbishop of York. As king he created one of the largest colleges in Europe within the cathedral with no fewer than one hundred priests to pray for the souls of the king and royal family. Documentary evidence shows that by March 1485 the college was fully endowed and the chantry priests had begun their daily round of prayers and masses on behalf of their royal founder and his family.
The Investiture by Graham Turner.
Reproduced by kind permission of the artist.
www.studio88.co.ukA collegiate building to house the chaplains was begun during his reign, but worked ceased following his defeat at Bosworth. The college was to be dedicated to the worship of God, the Virgin Mary, Saint George and Saint Ninian, saints favoured by the king. This may indicate that the king planned at this point in his life to be buried in the Minster. There is also the possibility that Edward of Middleham is buried there given that the tomb in Sheriff Hutton is certainly not that of the prince.
St William's CollegeThere are a number of buildings associated with York Minster that have medieval origins. St William’s College was built in 1465 for the Minster’s Chantry Priests, this Grade I listed building is named after William Fitzherbert, Archbishop of York (1143 – 1147), who was canonised in 1226. It is a fine example of a medieval timber framed building. For more information go to www.jorvik.co.uk/st-williams-college.
The Archbishop’s Palace lay to the north of the Minster and comprised an open court surrounded by buildings; however by 1600 it had fallen into disuse. This area today is located at the back of the Dean’s Park where some remains of the palace can be found.
The Bishop's Chapel,
now the Minster LibraryThese include six bays of a late twelfth century blind arcade, known as the 'Cloister', which now serves as a war memorial and there is also an L-shaped block which housed the thirteenth century bishop’s chapel and this is now the Minster Library.
During his 1483 visit to York, Richard III stayed at the Archbishop’s Palace and would have used the bishop’s chapel for his private prayers. The highlight of this visit was the investiture of his son, Edward of Middleham, as Prince of Wales and this ceremony took place at the Archbishop's Palace during the evening of 8 September 1483. Here is a contemporary account:
'On the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the King and the Queen both crowned, went in procession to the aforesaid church, the Prince and all other Lords, both spiritual and temporal being in attendance. The Bishop of Durham was the officiating prelate, and the High Altar was ornamented with silver and gilt figures of the twelve Apostles and many other relics given by the Lord King. These remained there until the sixth hour. After Mass they all returned to the Palace, and there before dinner, he [i.e. Edward] was created Prince by the Lord King, in the presence of all. And so they sat, crowned, for four hours, there being present the Dean, Robert Booth, the Canons, that is Treasurer Portyngton, Archdeacon Poteman of York and the Sub-Dean, and four other prebendaries, ten parsons and twelve Vicars with other ministers of the Church.' [From the York Minster Library, Vicars Choral Statute Book, p. 48, transcript in P.W. Hammond and A.F. Sutton, Richard III The Road to Bosworth Field (London, 1985) pp. 140-41.]
This plaque, donated by the Society of Friends of King Richard III,
can be found on the wall of the Old Palace in Deans Park
at the north side of the Minster.
For more information about York Minster visit www.yorkminster.org.
In 1966 the Richard III Society presented a gift to York Minster — The York Vellum — in the form of a hand-lettered inscribed vellum, with illuminated coats of arms, of contemporary accounts of Richard III’s 1483 coronation-year visit to the city. The vellum was for display in the Minster’s Chapter House, where it was presented to the then Dean of York, Alan Robinson, by Society Chairman Patrick Bacon on 9 July 1966. The art work was carried out by the York School of Art, Joan Dodds under took the lettering and Lillian Sloane the illumination. The text of the vellum provides a vivid description of the preparations for King Richard’s visit to the city in August and September 1483 and the events that took place during it, including the investiture of Edward of Middleham as Prince of Wales. Richard spent three weeks in the city, a stay which was filled with festivity, including welcoming speeches, pageants, gift-giving and feasting. The city had been warned of the royal visit a little over a month earlier but received detailed instructions of the scale and style of display expected just a few days before Richard's arrival. The York Vellum is not currently on public display.
The York Vellum.The vellum also illustrates the close and positive relationship that King Richard enjoyed with the city, and its regard for him. Its text reads as follows:
'RICHARD PLANTAGENET a good friend to the Minster and city of York, during the years 1472-83 when, as Duke of Gloucester, he served his brother King Edward IV, as governor of the northern parts of the Kingdom, and after, as King Richard III from 1483-1485. When he fell at Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485, the Council recorded that he had been "piteously slain and murdered to the great heaviness of this City". In August 1483, King Richard came to York with his Queen, in the course of the triumphal progress which followed their coronation. During their stay in the City, some of the ceremonies associated with it took place in this Chapter House'.
The following extracts from contemporary and near-contemporary records describe this occasion.
Minutes of the Proceedings of the Council of the City of York. Fourth August, first year of King Richard III:
'At the which day it was agreed that my lord the Mayor, and all my masters his brethren, the aldermen in scarlet, and all my masters of the twenty four, and the Chamberlains, and also all those that have bought out their charges of all offices in this City, shall, in red gowns, on horseback, meet our most dread liege lord the King at Breckles Mills, and over this, the Bridgemasters and all other that hath been Bridgemasters, and all other honest men of the City, shall be in red ... and that all other persons, of every occupation, in blue velvet and muster devers, shall meet on foot our said sovereign lord at St James's Church …'
John Kendal, Secretary to King Richard, to the Mayor and Council, 23rd August, 1483.
' … I verily know the King's mind, and entire affection that His Grace beareth towards you, and your worshipful City, for manifold your kind and loving designs to His Grace showed heretofore, which His Grace will never forget and intendeth therefore so to do unto you that all the Kings that ever reigned did never so much … '
Minutes of the Council of the City of York, 28th August, 1483.
'At the which day it was agreed that our sovereign the King shall be presented at his coming with 100 marks in a pair of basins of silver gilt, or in a cup of gold, or in a gilt piece, and that our sovereign Lady the Queen presented with a hundred pounds of gold in a piece …'
2nd September, 1483.
'At the which day it was agreed that the Creed play shall be played before our sovereign lord the King on Sunday next coming, upon the cost of the most honest men of every parish in this City.'
Hall's Chronicle, 15.
'He came to the city of York, where the citizens received him with pomp and triumph, according to the qualities of their education and quantity of their substance and ability, and made, divers days, plays and pageants in token of joy and solace. Wherefore King Richard magnified and applauded of the North nation, and also to show himself ... before them in habit royal with sceptre in hand and diadem on head, made proclamation that all persons should resort to York on the day of the Ascension of Our Lord, where all men should behold and see him and his Queen and Prince in their high estates and degrees, and also for their good wills should receive many thanks, large benefits and munificent rewards. At the day appointed the whole clergy assembled in copes richly revested, and so with a reverent ceremony went about the City in procession after whom followed the King with his crown and sceptre, appareilled in his surcoat robe royal, accompanied with no small number of the nobility of his realm; after whom marched in order Queen Anne his wife, likewise crowned, leading on her left hand Prince Edward her son, having on his head a demi crown appointed for the degree of a Prince. The King was had in that triumph in such honour, and the common people of the North so rejoiced that they extolled and praised him far above the stars …'
The Reception of King Richard III, Queen Anne, and Prince Edward at York.
'It is to be remembered that on the 29th August, the Festival of the beheading of St John the Baptist, 1483, Richard lll, King of England and France, came to the City of York, accompanied by the Queen (Anne) and Prince (Edward) and by many other Lords, both spiritual and temporal, namely the five Bishops of Durham, Worcester, St Asaph, Carlisle and St David's, the Earls of Northumberland, Surrey and Lincoln, the Lords Lovell, Fitzhugh, Stanley, Strange, Lisle, and Greystoke, and many others.
He was solemnly received by a civic procession at the Chapel of St James outside the walls and he entered the City honourably, passing between various sights and decorations in the City to the Metropolitan Church of St Peter, and there at the west door he was honourably received by a procession of the Very Reverend the Dean and Chapter and all the Ministers of the said Church, dressed in copes of blue; he was sprinkled with holy water and incense, at an ornate prayer-stool by the font he said the "Our Father", and the Subchanter of the Vicars began the Response to the Trinity, "Honor, virtue", and it was fmished by the Choir before the step of the High Altar, and at that point there was a pause about as long as an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary", then the Dean began the prayers, namely, "And lead us not" for the King, and this done the Dean and Canons with the Ministers retired to their stalls while the Amen was finished with the organs, and then the Psalm "We praise Thee, O God" was begun by the Prelate acting as celebrant of the mass and finished by the Choir and organs, and immediately the Subchanter began the Antiphon to the Trinity, namely, "Thanks be to Thee, 0 God", with the Versicle and the Collect to the Trinity. And so he went in procession to the Palace of the Lord Archbishop. And on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary next (September 8th) the King and Queen, wearing their crowns, came to a procession in the said Church, attended by the Prince and all the Lords, both spiritual and temporal, and the Bishop of Durham celebrated Mass at the High Altar, which was decorated with figures of the Twelve Apostles of silver gilt and with many other relics given by the Lord King, which stood there until the sixth hour in the evening. And after Mass all returned to the Palace, and there in the Hall before the whole company Prince (Edward) was created (Prince of Wales) by the Lord King before dinner, and so they sat at dinner for four hours wearing their crowns, and there were the Dean, Robert Booth, and of the Canons, Treasurer Portington, Archdeacon Poteman of York (or rather Cleveland), the Subdean, and four other Prebendaries, ten Chantry Priests, twelve Vicars Choral, together with other Ministers of the Church.'
Grant of King Richard ill to the City of York and its Mayor, AD 1483.
'Made that the 17th day of the month of September … our … sovereign lord the King of his most special good grace remembering the good service that this City had done to his good Grace, called before his good Grace the said day into the CHAPTER HOUSE OF THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF SAINT PETER AT YORK the Mayor, his brethren the aldermen and many other of the Commons of the said City, and then and there our said sovereign Lord openly rehearsed the said service to his good Grace done and also the decay and great poverty of the said city, of his most special good grace, without any petition or asking of anything by the said Mayor, or of any other, our said sovereign lord, only of his most abundant grace most graciously and abundantly gave, in relief of the said city, in easing of the tolls, murage, butcher pennies and skaitgild of the said City yearly for ever £58 lIs. 2d … so that from then forward it should be lawful to every person freely to come to the said city with their goods and chattels and them freely to sell in the same without anything giving or paying for toll or murage of any of the said goods; and over that most graciously granted to the Mayor and Commonality of the said city yearly £11 for ever … '
Extract from a Minster Inventory.
'Item, a Cross standing on six bases, having six angels on the pinnacles of the said bases, and two angels on the bases holding in their hands the reliques of the chasuble or vestment and shoes of St Peter the Apostle; having white images of crucifix and of the Two Thieves, with other images by the foot, and many precious stones, rubies and sapphires. The gift of King Richard III.’
Patrick Bacon, Chairman of the Richard III Society, presents the vellum to Alan Richardson,Dean of York.
Lillian Sloane, the illuminator, is on the left