Today, I am selfishly taking over my own blog slot, as March is now the month forever associated with Leicester for me. I’ve written about my visit to attend Compline in March 2015 before, but the weekend was about more than just one event… So for today’s Sunday Sojourn, I’m taking a virtualvisit back to Leicester (which I hope to be doing in real life again very soon!).
The first time I really registered Leicester was thanks to a very (very, very) delayed journey from Newcastle down to London, on my way to a conference, where we ended up being re-routed via Leicester, and as we passed through, it struck me that Bosworth couldn’t be very far away. I’d become interested in Richard III thanks to Philippa Gregory’s Cousins’ War series, and gradually become fascinated by the King, and the way his reputation had been so changed over the years. And then, of course, the dig started, in that now famous carpark.
After a heady morning listening to the news conference, and the opening of the Visitor Centre later that year, in August 2013, over the Bank Holiday, I headed with friends to Leicester for the first time, and visited that grave site.
The site itself had been presented beautifully, with real reverence for what it represented, even if the body was, at that time, sat in a box somewhere in the university!
Later, of course, Compline, and the chance to explore Leicester over a whole weekend this time. They have a walking tour, among other things, so, after an early morning visit to the uni to see the coffin unveiled, I set off! There is so much of medieval Leicester still there to take in, from the Guild Hall to the Magazine Gateway, both of which had associated events and exhibitions going on during the weekend.
And of course, there’s Bow Bridge. The bridge there now is a replacement of the medieval structure, but it doesn’t stop it being a key stop on the pilgrimage around the city for fans of Richard III (and, I suppose, Henry VII). Famously, as he left on his way to Bosworth, his heel clipped the stone of the bridge, and an elderly woman prophesised that on his return, his head would hit against the same spot.
It’s a beautiful bridge as it stands now, and leads, funnily enough, onto Richard III Road (of course I took a photo!).
Despite finding the inspiration and motivation to finish the novel I had tucked away in the drawer at that time, it’s taken me until this last six months to finally put something on paper about my visit to Leicester. That tale, in its first draft, is currently out with a couple of friends for their thoughts, but hopefully one day, it’ll make its way onto Amazon.
For now though, I’m planning another jaunt back, to go back to the Visitor Centre, do the walking tour again, and finally visit the tomb in Leicester Cathedral – despite having been in the building, and standing in line to file past the coffin the next morning, I feel I still need to get back and see the great stone itself. Seeing it hauled into position on Channel 4 later in the week looked such an impressive feat, so seeing it in ‘real life’ is definitely something I need to do.
I shall report back once I’ve been!