The Re-interment of King Richard III

Page last updated:  20th March 2015

News about the re-interment of King Richard III in Leicester.

See our feature article on the reinterment of #King Ricard in March 2015.

5th December 2014

Public invited to ballot for ticket

From the King Richard III Project

You may have seen in the press that by using a public ballot we will be making 200 seats available for members of the general public at each of the three services connected with the reinterment of King Richard lll next March. This represents one third of all the seating in the Cathedral for these events. On Friday 12th December, 100 days before the week of events, the ballot will become active and people from anywhere in the world can apply. The ballot closes on 31st December at 12noon.

30th October

King Richard III Composer Commissioned

The re-interment of King Richard lll will take place accompanied by music written by prize-winning composer, Judith Bingham.

This event is unprecedented and so Leicester Cathedral wishes to ensure that the liturgy and music used in the services planned for March 2015 will carry both a profound sense of history whilst communicating afresh to our contemporary community his Christian spirituality.

The Dean of Leicester said “I am delighted that Judith Bingham is composing this new work for King Richard III’s re-interment. It will therefore receive its premiere on Thursday 26th March.  Judith has sensitively researched texts which bring to life the spirituality of his time, yet which still resonate with us in a world that remains laden with battles, betrayal and the scars of war.”

Some suggest King Richard III owned a copy of Wycliffe’s scriptures. The text for this anthem will draw on verses from Psalm 42 taken from Wycliffe’s bible.  John Wycliffe was Rector of Lutterworth in Leicestershire.

[Source:  King Richard in Leicester website]

29th October 2014

Brick vault ready for the King

FWA (contractors) have now completed their task of digging down into the floors of the Cathedral, and are commencing the building up of the sub-floor structures, before laying the new floor surfaces.  The brick vault that will receive the coffin of King Richard III has now been constructed and can be seen in the attached image (on the website.)  This vault will ultimately lie below finished floor level, and be surmounted by a plinth of black Kilkenny marble, topped off by the Swaledale fossil tomb-stone.

[Source: King Richard in Leicester website]

16th October

Curve to work with Cathedral for final service

Leicester’s Curve theatre will be involved in creating the dramatic elements of the final re-interment service, with a focus on thanksgiving, diversity and the youth of the city and county.  Fiona Allan, Curve’s Chief Executive commented, “It’s very exciting that Curve has been invited by the Cathedral to be at the heart of the celebrations during this very special time for Leicester. The creative project will be led by our new Artistic Director, Nikolai Foster, who will be working with the exceptionally talented people of our city and county to especially create several theatrical  pieces throughout the celebratory service.  ”

David Monteith, Dean of Leicester said:  “When the King is safely at rest in the Cathedral, we then will all want to look to the future of our community. So I can’t think of better partners than Curve to help us to come together and to really mark the day we reveal the completed tomb with vivid drama and liturgy.”

14th October

King Richard III’s last journey: The route is announced

the rose-laying ceremony at the Battlefield Heritage Centre on August 22nd 2014, commemorating the Battle of Bosworth
The rose-laying ceremony at the Battlefield Heritage Centre on August 22nd 2014, commemorating the Battle of Bosworth

The route for the cortege which will transport the mortal remains of King Richard III from the University of Leicester, via Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre to Leicester Cathedral next March, has been announced. The remains of the King have been held securely at the University of Leicester, following their discovery under a car park in Leicester in August 2012.

On Sunday 22nd March 2015, a hearse will leave the University of Leicester during the late morning and travel to Fenn Lane Farm, reputedly the site of King Richard’s death, before moving on to nearby village parish churches of Dadlington and Sutton Cheney. The cortege will visit Dadlington as some of the battle-dead are buried in the churchyard of St James’ the Greater. Sutton Cheney has been chosen because it is believed that King Richard took his final Mass at St James’ church on the eve of the battle.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, will then lead a short ceremony at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre in the early afternoon. The cortege will then go on to Market Bosworth, Newbold Verdon and Desford as it makes its way back to Leicester.  A spokesman for the Leicester Cathedral Quarter Partnership Board said: “We are now working closely with partners in the district and the parishes to plan the detail of how the passing of the cortege will be marked.”

The King’s mortal remains will re-enter the City of Leicester in mid-afternoon at Bow Bridge, where they will be greeted by the City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, and the Lord Mayor, Councillor John Thomas. A horse-drawn hearse will then be used to complete the final section of the King’s journey from Bow Bridge through the city centre to the Cathedral, where The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith, will meet the coffin when it arrives at the Cathedral just before 6pm. Dr Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, lead archaeologist on “The Dig for Richard III”, , will then formally pass of the Ministry of Justice licence granted to the University for the remains of the King to the Dean of Leicester. At that point, the responsibility for the King passes from the University of Leicester to the Church.

King Richard’s coffin will be carried into the Cathedral for an evening service of Compline, at which the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, will preach the sermon. King Richard’s remains will lie in repose within the Cathedral on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, during which time members of the public will be invited to visit the Cathedral to pray and pay their respects. The re-burial service will take place on Thursday 26th March, bringing to an end the remarkable journey of the last Plantagenet king.

Monday 8th September 2014

The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster

and the Archbishop of Canterbury will both be taking part in services in Leicester Cathedral to mark the reinterment of King Richard III. This means the most senior clergy of both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in this country will be present as the former monarch is laid to rest during a week of events from 22nd – 28th March next year.

During the days when the King awaits reinterment, Mass will be celebrated for the repose of his soul in the local Catholic parish church and Leicester Cathedral’s regular pattern of prayer will include ecumenical participation.

Since the discovery of the body of Richard III in 2012, the Anglican Diocese of Leicester and the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham have worked closely to ensure that his re-interment in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester, will be celebrated with dignity and prayer.

Following his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the body of Richard III was buried near the altar of the Greyfriars’ church in Leicester. Although the church was destroyed during the Reformation, the last Plantagenet Monarch lay there in peace until the excavations that led to the exhumation of his body in 2012.

Both Dioceses are working together with other stakeholders to organise various acts of worship during the week in which Richard III’s mortal remains will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral. The major liturgies, or services, will be as follows:

The remains of Richard III will be received into Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 22nd March 2015; an invited congregation will pray a service of Compline where Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, will preach.

On Monday 23rd March, Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) of Richard III in Holy Cross Church, the Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre. The Choir from St Barnabas’ Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nottingham, will sing at this Mass, which will be open to the public.

On Thursday 26th March, the mortal remains of Richard III will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and senior clergy from both dioceses, and other Christian denominations alongside representatives of the World Faiths.

On Friday 27th March, invited people from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.

In addition:

The regular pattern of morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist will be kept by Leicester Cathedral throughout these days as we prepare for the King’s reinterment. A number of these services will have a very special character. All these services will be open to the public.

On Tuesday 24th March the Dominican friars will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, in Leicester Cathedral; this is in addition to the daily celebration of Mass and the divine office in Holy Cross Church.

On Wednesday 25th March, Father David Rocks OP, the parish priest at Holy Cross Church, will preach at the lunchtime Eucharist in Leicester Cathedral.

Further information about each service will be released in due course. In addition, the Cathedral will be open for people to visit, to pay their respects and to pray from 23-25th March, and from Saturday 28th March the area around Richard III’s tomb will be open to the public.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:

The death of King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 was a decisive moment in English history. Following his death, Richard III was buried in the Franciscan Friary in Leicester, and his body lay in its grave until it was discovered in 2012. It is now fitting that his remains should be reinterred with dignity and accompanied by the prayers of the Church in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval parish church of Leicester. We commend all who have died to the love and mercy of Almighty God, and continue to pray for them, as we shall for Richard III and all who have lost their lives in battle.

The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester said:

I am delighted that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster will be in Leicester for our celebrations surrounding the reinterment of Richard III. The presence of the Cardinal marks the historical continuity between the Catholic faith in this country and the Church of England. The presence of both Archbishops is a sign of the close partnership between our two Churches in burying King Richard with dignity and honour.

Monsignor Thomas McGovern, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham, said:

We very much look forward to welcoming Cardinal Nichols to the Diocese of Nottingham next March for the reinterment of Richard III, one of the last Catholic kings of England, in the city in which he was buried in 1485; we are very pleased that he will celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul in Holy Cross Church and preach in Leicester Cathedral. The presence of both the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the Archbishop of Canterbury is a reminder of the good relationship that the Catholic Church and the Church of England enjoys today, as we all seek to be faithful to Christ’s wish that we ‘may all be one’ and overcome the divisions brought about at the Reformation by continuing on the ecumenical journey to which we are both committed.

The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester, said:

Leicester Cathedral has always intended to have prayer at the heart of Richard III’s reburial and we wanted to demonstrate our sincere ecumenical commitment which characterises the modern church. So we are delighted that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Cardinal Archbishop are to be with us.

Father David Rocks OP, Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Priory, said:

Just as our Franciscan brothers at Greyfriars prayed over Richard III at his burial in 1485, so the contemporary Blackfriars of Leicester look forward to joining with the people of Leicester in the celebration of his reinterment in the city’s cathedral in 2015, and to taking part in the beautiful and fitting services and events that are planned.

The reinterment of Richard III is a historic event in the life of the City of Leicester, and both Dioceses will continue to work together ecumenically to ensure that his life is commemorated and his body reinterred with due honour.

Wednesday 3rd September 2014

King Richard lll re-interment March 2015

In light of the current publication of misinformation concerning seating at the events in March, Leicester Cathedral issues the following statement:

The reinterment of the last Plantagenet King of England is an event of national and international importance, funded  from private donations. This is entirely in line with large-scale heritage projects which rely on the philanthropic support of individuals, trusts and foundations.   The cost of reordering the cathedral fabric and of building the tomb is £1.54million. The cost of the reinterment events, interpretation and learning, liturgy and the gardens is £500k. The central costs, contingency and the preparatory works are covered by a £500,000 grant from the Diocese. Every pound raised is therefore going directly into the project itself.

A particular element of our fundraising programme was designed to raise £100,000 from existing supporters and advocates to fund the ambulatory around Richard’s tomb. We are delighted that the people of Leicester and Leicestershire donated the full costs in under three weeks. We are very proud of them for their support. As a thank you to these benefactors, they will be invited to the first service so they can witness the unveiling of the place of quiet reflection and beauty which they directly funded.

It is the philanthropy and good will of so very many people which will ensure the success of this momentous event and we look forward to re-interring King Richard III in March 2015 with dignity and with honour.

There will be no tickets but invitations will be sent to a wide cross-section of the community in due course. Anyone will be able and is welcome to come and pay respects during the days when the King’s remains will lie in the Cathedral awaiting reinterment. We are also planning that the main service will be broadcast on television. Thus everyone who wishes will be able to share in laying Richard III to rest.

[Source: Diocese of Leicester]

Thursday 7th August 2014

Re-interment of King Richard III

26th March 2015 was announced today as being the date on which the bones of King Richard III will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral.

The reinterment of the  remains of the last Plantagenet king will take placed next year on 26th March, at a service to be held at the Cathedral, close to the car-park where his bones were discovered, here in Leicester.

Matt Webster, David Monteith, Dr. Phil Stone
Matt Webster, David Monteith, Dr. Phil Stone

The announcement was made by The Very Reverend David Monteith, speaking at a media event held in the Cathedral today.  The re-interment service will be one of three which will commemorate the life and death  of the only English monarch to be buried in an unmarked grave.

The King’s mortal remains will be received into the care of the Cathedral on the evening of 22nd March and lie in repose for three days before being buried inside the church on 26th March.

The Bishop of Leicester, The Rt Rvd Tim Stevens said ” Our Cathedral has been consistently committed to providing a fitting, dignified and memorable ceremony for the reinterment of  King Richard.”

The service will not be a funeral because when the dead king was buried in 1485 he would have been given some kind of religious rights by the monks of Greyfriars, at that time a Roman Catholic abbey.

The service will not be a state occasion although it is very likely that one or more members of the royal family will attend. It will be an event of national significance, though not technically a state funeral in the modern sense of the phrase.

It was also announced today that His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester is to be patron of Leicester Cathedral’s King Richard III Appeal. Richard III was himself Duke of Gloucester, before he became king of England in 1483, The Dukedom was conferred on him by his elder brother, King Edward IV.

Speaking at the media event today, The Very Revd. David Monteith explained that  the mortal remains of the king will be commemorated in a series of services at the Cathedral, in which his life and death will be remembered.

The re-interment service will be broadcast live  by Channel 4. Prior to their burial inside the Cathedral, the bones will be placed in a lead-lined coffin which will then lie beneath a specially commissioned stone tomb.

Building work to create a space for the tomb is being undertaken by contractors Fairhurst Ward Abbott (FWA), a firm experienced in conservation work. FWA has previously worked on Buckingham Palace, Ely Cathedral and Leicester’s Magazine Gateway.

The King’s remains will lie in repose, for three days,  for members of the public to pay their respects and offer prayers. Before being taken into the care of the Cathedral, the King’s remains will be taken to Market Bosworth, the area near to where the battle took place at which Richard was killed.

The Leicester Cathedral King Richard III Appeal plans to raise £2.5m, of which one million has already been raised. It is already working with trusts and foundations, private individuals and businesses to reach its funding target. The Dean of Leicester, David Monteith said “This is a huge boost not just for the appeal but for the whole of Leicester. It demonstrates, beyond all doubt, that our Cathedral and city are well  equipped to undertake this responsibility on behalf of the entire nation. ”

Model of the space planned for Richard III's tomb
Model of the space planned for
Richard III’s tomb

23rd May 2014

The Plantagenet Alliance calls for the king to be re-interred in York.

In a statement issued today, The Plantagenet alliance said:

The Plantagenet Alliance does hereby most respectfully demand that the remains of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England and our mutual, collateral ancestor, be returned to the City of York for ceremonial re-burial. We believe that such an interment was the desire of King Richard in life and we have written this statement so that his inferred wishes may be fully recognised. King Richard III was the last King of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty which ruled England following the succession of King Henry II in 1154.  We believe that King Richard is deserving of great recognition and respect and hereby agree to dutifully uphold his memory.  With due humility and affection, we are and will remain his Majesty’s representatives and voice.
[Source: the website of the Plantagenet Alliance – ]

High Court announces Judgement.

The High Court of Justice  (Queens Bench Division), sitting before Lady Justice Hallet et al, today issued its judgement in the case of The Queen (on the application of The Plantagenet Alliance Ltd. (the Claimant) and the Secretary of State for Justice (the first defendant).  This followed hearings held on 13th and 14th March 2014.  The Court found that  ‘there are no public law grounds for the Court interfering with the decisions in question. In the result, therefore, the claimant’s application for Judicial Review is dismissed.’

It was the view of the judges that ‘it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.’

See also:

New photos from inside Leicester Cathedral as they make ready the area where the new tomb will be, on King Richard in Leicester website.

#Decision to bury king in Leicester

#Opening of Richard III centre

#Cathedral gardens makeover

 Website for King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral