King Richard III - Leicester Locations
King Richard III was a regular visitor to Leicester and spent his last night in the City before his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. He was buried in the chapel of the Greyfriars Monastery.
The Greyfriars Monastery was established in Leicester in the 12th century, occupying a large walled area of land against the south wall of the medieval town. The monastery was home to the Friars Minor, also known as Grey Friars after the colour of their habits. They were not a wealthy order, and went out into the community to preach, to beg and to hear confession. The friary was founded in the 13th century and was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538, soon after which it was demolished.
Some 70 years later, a mansion had been built on the site by the Herrick family, perhaps incorporating some elements of the medieval friary buildings. An 18th century map of Leicester shows the boundaries of the former Greyfriars, together with the formal gardens of the Herrick mansion. The mansion too was demolished in the mid 18th century and some fine brick Georgian town houses were built with gardens to the rear. In the 20th century, these were converted into offices, new buildings were constructed and the gardens became a car park.
Greyfriars is best known as the final resting place of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. After he had been defeated by Henry Tudor at Bosworth, Richard III’s body was stripped of its armour, slung over a horse and brought back to Leicester for public display, perhaps in one of the churches in the Newarke, to show people that the king was dead. Later, it is recorded that the Grey Friars buried his remains in their church, according to one source, in the choir at the east end of the building, close to the high altar. In 1495, Henry Tudor, now Henry VII, paid for an alabaster memorial slab to be placed over the burial.
After the Dissolution, most of the friary buildings, and especially the church, are thought to have been demolished in a short space of time, but there is no record of what happened to the king’s remains or the memorial slab. In the early 17th century, Herrick is said to have shown a visitor a column he had set up in his garden marking the king’s burial place. Another story circulating at this time suggests that Richard’s remains were dug up by a mob and thrown into the river soar by Bow Bridge.
The layout of the friary buildings prior to the recent excavation was unknown, but such sites usually have one or more courtyards (cloister garths) surrounded by ranges of buildings, including a refectory and dormitory. The complex would have an east-west church typically on the north side, but sometimes on the south side.
Following the Battle of Bosworth, Richard’s dead body was transported back to Leicester, placed on public view and subsequently buried in the choir of the Franciscan Church within Greyfriars.
Greyfriars Monastery is commemorated by a 1990 Richard III Society plaque on the wall of the former National Westminster bank building in Grey Friars at its junction with St Martins.
Near to the Cathedral end of New Street the only visible remnant of the Monastery, a small piece of grey stone wall, can be seen next to the attendant’s hut in a car park.
Blue Boar Inn
Site of Blue Boar Inn (where Richard III spent the night before going to Bosworth Field) is now covered by the Travelodge on Highcross Street. There is a legend that the inn was originally called the White Boar, which was Richard’s emblem. After the battle the landlord hastily painted the sign blue – the Blue Boar was the emblem of the Earl of Oxford, Henry’s chief supporter – however there is no evidence to support this.
The Inn supposedly bore Richard III’s badge as its sign and possibly had some pre-existing connections with Richard III. The Inn was pulled down in 1836.
Just before the battle of Bosworth, the King had his own bed, from Nottingham Castle, set up in a ‘large gloomy chamber, whose beams bore conventional representations of vine-tendrils executed in vermilion – these beams could still be seen when the Inn was demolished in 1836. The bed was left at the Inn either to be returned to Nottingham after the battle or because the King intended to return to the Leicester Inn.
Folk lore tells that the Royal bed remained at the Inn and almost a Century later a hoard of medieval gold coins were found in a false bottom underneath the bed.
The Magazine (Newarke) Gateway
The Magazine is located at the western end of Newarke Street. The building, circa 1410, is a mediaeval gateway added to Leicester Castle by the Third Earl of Leicester. It is a Grade I Listed Building.
On the 21st of August 1485, King Richard III, rode out of the gatehouse, to fight in the Battle of Bosworth
Bow Bridge, St Augustine Road
Richard III rode over this bridge on his way to the Battle of Bosworth.
As you walk from the Holiday Inn down St Augustine Road, Bow Bridge is the second bridge you come to on the right hand side of the road. The old bridge was demolished in 1861– the ironwork of the present Bow Bridge depicts the white rose of York, the Tudor rose, the White Boar emblems and Richard’s motto ‘Loyaulte me Lie’. A memorial stone is mounted on a wall near to the Bow Bridge.
Leicester Castle, Castle Gardens/Castle Yard
Richard often stayed at Leicester Castle when visiting the city. The Great Hall of 1107 survives in Castle Yard and is now open for tours on the last Sunday of every month (not December and January).
The final resting place of King Richard III who was reinterred here on Thursday 26th March, 2015. His tomb is viewable by the public; please see the Leicester Cathedral website for details.
Richard III Statue (Cathedral Gardens)
A 1980 Richard III Society bronze statue depicting Richard III can be found on Peacock Lane between the Cathedral and the King Richard III Visitor Centre.
Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, Near Market Bosworth
Situated close to battlefield where Richard III lost his life on the 22nd August 1485. Click here to visit their website.