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Leicester Cathedral - Richard III

A history buff, I am considering a side trip to Leicester Cathedral to see the final resting place of Richard III. Has anyone visited the site, is it a worthwhile stop.

thank you

Posted by
5385 posts

Yes, although I wouldn't go into Leicester just for that myself. There is plenty of other things:

Since you are mainly interested in history, I would suggest something from the Jewry Wall(*), The Guildhall, The Church of St Mary de Castro (^), and the Castle Gardens. Maybe a stroll up New Walk (one of the oldest pedestrian streets in the UK) and a visit to the museum there which amongst other things has a world-class collection of German Expressionism. I presume although you have not mentioned it that you may also be going to the RIII Visitor Centre.

(*) The associated museum is closed for refurbishment, but you can still access the wall itself, which is one of the tallest surviving sections of Roman masonry in Britain, dating from about AD 160.

(^) Chaucer was married here, and Henry VI knighted.

Leicester is a bit of a hidden gem - there’s a mediaeval city hidden beneath a big bustling city that’s full of 60s concrete flyovers and ugly busy roads

The Cathedral is a short visit but opposite the cathedral is the very good Richard III visitor centre where you can see the actual burial place. It’s all been very nicely done.

Nearby is the half-timbered Wyggeston’s House that’s now a restaurant and coffee shop.

Jewry Wall museum nearby has the tallest surviving Roman Wall in Britain. There is a museum there but it’s currently closed for updating but you can look at the wall and the Roman remains from the street.

Are you planning a trip from London? It’s just over an hour on the train although buy tickets in advance as it’s expensive.

Not far from Leicester is the Bosworth battlefield centre but it’s tricky to get to without a car. I know that they do run occasional coach trips from Leicester.

Posted by
33337 posts

My last visit to Leicester was approaching a year ago even though it is nearly on my doorstep.

There has been a church on the site back nearly to Roman times, and a Roman Temple before that, but until 1927 this was still a parish church. It only became a cathedral in 1927 so don't expect all the bigness and impressiveness associated with the great cathedrals.

It is my impression that the Leicester Cathedral really has become above all else either a shrine to Richard III or they are attempting to mine a rich vein of Richard III tourists and enthusiasts. Take your choice. It is certainly the case that the cathedral has really focussed most parts of the church on the Richard III bit. For miles around there are banners and advertisements and this is continued on the outside of the cathedral and inside. The stone covering where the remains were reburied after being removed from below a council car park is simple yet it is in the beam of a spotlight. In my opinion - which may vary from many others' - it cheapens him and is a bit gaudy. As may be obvious although I am fairly regularly in Leicester I haven't returned to the cathedral.

There is ongoing debate as to whether the bones found are indeed those of Richard III, but the cathedral is convinced, and I'm happy to go along with that. There was considerable disagreement as to either keeping the bones in Leicester or returning them to York, or even taking them to London. After court cases at the highest level, Leicester won.

I hope that this background helps....

Posted by
205 posts

There is ongoing debate as to whether the bones found are indeed those of Richard III,

Only in the sense that there is a debate about whether astrology is a science. The real science has proven that the chances of the bones NOT being Richard III are billions to one against. Enough fake news already...

Posted by
5385 posts

The Cathedral doesn't have that much to do with the widespread promotion of Richard III as such - put that on the City Mayor and Council. If you look at the website, it has pretty much a self-contained section. As it is a working church do take note of the times it is closed to the public for functions, and when the services are (which are open to everyone, but the tomb is not accessible during them).

Yes there are those who think that the Cathedral was a better place before the domination of it by the tomb, but the historic parts are still more or less the same - the Chapel of St George as a memorial chapel to the Leicestershire Tigers etc. It caused the Cathedral a lot of difficulties, but overall I think it has enabled some things to happen that otherwise wouldn't have gone ahead. It used to be amongst the least visited Cathedrals in the country. As for the general growth of tourism into the city, the 8 new hotels under construction or in planning speak for themselves.

Worth mentioning as it hasn't been already that there is no charge to go around the Cathedral, although donations are suggested.

There are three other churches still remaining in the centre besides the Cathedral and St Mary de Castro - St Nicholas’, St Margaret’s (just outside the old town walls) and All Saints (closed). The Church of the Annunciation where Richard III's body was on public display after being brought to Leicester didn't survive the dissolution of the monasteries except part of the crypt now situated inside the Hawthorn Building of the De Montfort University. This is now open to the public as part of the museum of DMU (until recently it was a computer laboratory!).