An Historic Time in Leicester
The week of the reinterment of our king, Richard lll was well attended by Society members and the public alike. In fact, the world and his cat turned up to mark the momentous occasion!
I was fortunate enough to be successful in the ballot for tickets to the Society memorial service in Leicester Cathedral on 23rd March and so booked myself into a hotel for a couple of nights to better experience the amazing things unfolding.
And amazing they really were. Richard’s simple oak coffin was transported from Fenn Lane Farm to the battlefield at Bosworth and then along public roads to Leicester city centre and the cathedral.
Luckily, I managed to bag myself a good vantage point right opposite BHS and by the time the cortege passed (within touching distance, I might add!) the crowd was a good four to five deep behind me.
The reverence paid was amazing. After all, many of these people were not Ricardians and had simply come to see the procession and satisfy their curiosity. There was a air of respect throughout which was compounded by the huge queue of people outside the cathedral waiting to pay their respects once Richard had completed his last journey and was in repose within the cathedral walls.
Aside from the official happenings this was a great opportunity to meet up with fellow Ricardians who had travelled from all over the world to be present in Leicester and pay respects to Richard. Part of the Guildhall was taken over by the Society as a hospitality area for members to link up and also buy the lovely funerary badge.
The Memorial Service itself was beautiful. We filed slowly into the cathedral to take our seats, passing the coffin where Richard lay under the beautifully embroidered pall. And so the service began, simple, dignified and with input from Society members including Philippa Langley, John Saunders and Don Jennings who gave readings from contemporary sources.
I have to applaud John Saunders here, who gave a passionate address taken from Thomas Langton and delivered it completely without notes!
Society Chairman, Phil Stone, gave a reflection on King Richard lll’s prayer which ended with those beautiful words taken from Hamlet, ‘Goodnight, sweet prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest’. This brought tears to my eyes and those of many others too, I am sure. There was a hearty and spontaneous round of applause to accompany Phil back to his seat.
And so my Leicester experience ended and I headed for home the next morning to watch the rest of what is a historical and poignant week unfold on television.
After all the criticism of recent months, Leicester really came up trumps and opened its arms to we Ricardians. OK, there were some moments of tackiness here and there, but the overall impression to me was one of respect and I, for one, am grateful and honoured to be able to witness such a momentous occasion.