Leicester Cathedral stakes claim as Richard III's rightful burial site

Published 03 February 2014  |  

Leicester Cathedral announced today that the "king in a car park" will be getting a new home on the World Wide Web.

The latest phase of the ongoing row between Leicester Cathedral and the Plantagenet Alliance sees the cathedral in the city where his body was found plant the flag for its claim at www.kingrichardinleicester.com.

The website will be a resource for fact and fiction surrounding Richard lll. It includes a short video, information and stories about the king, and an interview with Bishop Tim Stevens explaining why the remains should stay in Leicester.

The launch of the website is timed to coincide with the latest news on Richard III featuring in tonight's edition of BBC One's 'Inside Out' in the East and West Midlands at 19:30 GMT.

The website will also include details of how the cathedral will be organising the re-burial of the remains itself, providing all appropriate permissions are given.

"The emphasis will be on a Christian treatment of the remains of a Christian monarch, who had a burial 500 years ago and will now be laid to a more fitting and abiding rest," said Leicester Cathedral in a statement.

Bishop Stevens said: "The story of the king in a car park, now so familiar around the world to many who had heard little of Richard III or of Leicester, has become part of the life of our city and part of the story of our nation.

"Now we look forward to welcoming people from around the world to become part of our shared story. This new website presents Richard's story clearly once again and begins the next chapter – our task of laying the king to rest with dignity and honour."

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: "Many people have a view on where King Richard lll should finally be laid to rest, and can speak about it with great passion. What Leicester Cathedral has done is to set out the plain facts with regard to King Richard's connection to Leicester, his death, and his burial in the Greyfriars church.

"Whatever your views those facts are undisputed. We cannot rewrite history. The cathedral has demonstrated very clearly why Leicester is the right location for the final resting place of the last Plantagenet King of England."

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council says: "I welcome the launch of Leicester Cathedral's website and video release which spells out the factual case for Richard III's re-interment here in Leicester. I'm sure the judicial review in March will reach the right decision - we just have to wait for it."

The University of Leicester, who uncovered the remains, said: "The University of Leicester discovered the mortal remains of the King through the expertise of its archaeological work and subsequent scientific investigation.

"We are of the opinion, and have put forward a convincing case, in line with the terms of the licence, that the King who was buried in Leicester over 500 years ago should remain in the city, and indeed in the very parish, in which he was buried.

"It is important to remember there would have been no discovery at all without a combination of factors that focussed on Leicester – Philippa Langley's Looking for Richard initiative, the university's plan for the dig and its expertise in the execution of the dig and identification of the remains, and the fact that Leicester City Council had granted permission for us to excavate their land.

"We continue to work in partnership with Leicester Cathedral and Leicester City Council for a reinterment of King Richard III with dignity and honour in Leicester."

But the controversy over the choice of Leicester for the burial site has not gone away, with the king's distant relatives objecting to the lack of consultation they have received on the matter of his burial location.

The king's 16th great niece, Vanessa Row of the Plantagenet Alliance, said on BBC News: "Once someone becomes named it doesn't matter how old they are - if they do have descendants they should be consulted on the final resting place.

"They don't actually have a case to keep him there in my opinion. He is basically buried somewhere he was murdered and left and forgotten."

Many others argue that as a Yorkist King, Richard III should be buried in York.

Verna Campbell, a member of the Richard III Society, said on BBC News: "He was brought up in Middleham and he was at Middleham when he heard his brother had died. Basically he made the north his own."

Middleham today is a market town approximately 140 miles north of Leicester, in North Yorkshire.

JoeAnn Ricca, the chief executive of the US-based Richard III Foundation Inc, pointed out on the Guardian's 'The Northerner Blog': "Although entitled to be buried at Westminster Abbey alongside other kings and queens of England, he announced his intention to be buried at York, and in 1483 set in motion plans for a new chantry chapel at York Minster.

"Indeed, so strongly was he linked to York that the city authorities greeted the news of his death at the Battle of Bosworth with these words: King Richard, late mercifully reigning over us, was, through great treason, piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city."

The mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby, was quoted on the BBC News website questioning why the Plantagenet Alliance's opinion mattered at all. He pointed out that "basic maths" showed that Richard III, who had five siblings, could have many "collateral" descendants.

Authorities in York point out that their exhibition on Richard III, which has been there since the 1990s, helped the city receive record numbers of visitors last year.

The judicial review on the matter of King Richard's final resting place will take place at the High Court in London on 13 March.

Reprints

More News in UK