Plans to research, celebrate and commemorate King Richard III are being considered, following a meeting including local civic, academic and faith leaders.
City of York Council, York Minster, the University of York, York Museum’s Trust, the Richard III Society and the king’s descendants have agreed to build upon the extraordinary levels of public interest prompted by the remains of the last Yorkist monarch being discovered beneath a Leicester car park.
The group wishes to build on and further inform that interest by researching and developing public awareness of the life and times of Richard’s reign as well as celebrating the man and monarch in a manner similar to the highly-successful York 800 programme of community involvement, education and sense of place.
Among the research sources available to academics will be House Books from the city’s archives and finds like the Middleham Jewel displayed at the Yorkshire Museum. Buildings which may be used to illustrate the life and times of late 15th century England could include Monk Bar – now a museum dedicated to Richard III – the Guildhall, where the last Plantagenet king dined, Barley Hall, a restored 15th-century town house owned by York Archaeological Trust, and York Minster which is likely to be central to ceremonies to celebrate the l ife of a King with whom the city then, as now, so closely identified itself.
Councillor Sonja Crisp, City of York Council’s cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism, said: “King George VI said, “The history of York is the history of England” and Richard’s legacy is part of York’s legacy: one that we are anxious to share locally and with those many thousands of people across the globe who come to York every year and who have expressed their passion for this period of history and for the monarch.
Kersten England, City of York Council’s chief executive, said, “Systematically working through the wealth of myths and hard evidence surrounding Richard will give us a firm knowledge base on which to build a programme of public involvement and celebration – with which we hope to include the people of Leicester – to keep alive the life and times of this remarkable man and monarch.”
The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, Dean of York Minster, said, “I am really pleased that the city is working together in this way and welcome the chance to involve the Minster’s archives and building to support commemorations of Richard III who is remembered here in stained glass, in our historic records and through the investiture of his son as Prince of Wales.”
A spokesperson for the Richard III Society said: “The Society fully supports this venture which builds on its long promotion of the special relationship between the city and the king.”
Dr Sarah Rees Jones, Director of the University of York’s Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past said: “By engaging both expert scholars and the public in exploring the fascinating and complex legacy of Richard III’s relationship with the city, I hope that we will inspire future generations to discover more about the rich history of medieval York.”
Janet Barnes, York Museums Trust Chief Executive, said, “This could be a wonderful opportunity for more secrets surrounding artifacts like the Middleham Jewel to be unlocked and shared to create greater understanding of the turbulent, late middle ages.”
Vanessa Roe, 16th great-niece of Richard III said, “We wish to keep the impact and memory of the king alive. Adding to the existing body of research and celebrating his life is something I hope many, many people across the world will join us in, will enjoy and will continue to do so for generations to come.”