A new book details all the places with close connections to King Richard III. Naturally, York and North Yorkshire feature. STEPHEN LEWIS reports.

HE’S gone down in history as one of our great villains: the crook-backed king who murdered the princes in the tower.

Whether he really was a monster who murdered his nephews will probably never be known: much of his reputation may be down to Tudor propaganda and Shakespeare’s pen.

But in York, Richard III was well-loved. So much so that, when they heard of his death at Bosworth Field, the city fathers ordered this tribute to be set down in the city ‘house book’: “King Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was, through great treason of the Duke of Norfolk and many others that turned against him... piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.”

With the reinterment of Richard’s body due to take place at Leicester Cathedral on March 26, interest in the last Plantagenet king – whose body was discovered beneath a Leicester car park – has probably never been higher.

There have been no shortage of books about his life, endlessly examining the circumstances of his death and speculating about whether he really did murder the princes.

Kristie Dean’s new book, The World of Richard III, is different, however. It is a comprehensive account of every location associated with the king – from his birthplace at Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire to his death at Bosworth. And given that Richard was so strongly associated with the north, and with Yorkshire in particular, it is no surprise that the region features prominently.

York, Sheriff Hutton, Middleham, Scarborough: they’re all here, each with their own section, including a history of Richard’s connections with the area, and a modern-day guide to what you can see today.

And while you may think you know it all, Dean is enough of an expert on her subject to have uncovered a few snippets that may surprise and intrigue you. Below are a few...


Micklegate Bar

Long before he became king, the head of Richard’s father, Richard Duke of York, was hung on a pike above the bar. The Duke had been Lord Protector of England and a claimant to the throne himself during the Wars of the Roses. But he died in battle and suffered the usual loser’s fate, being branded a traitor. He was buried at Pontefract, apparently, but his head was put on a pike by the victorious Lancastrian armies and displayed over Micklegate Bar at York, wearing a paper crown.

“One can only imagine the young Richard grieving for his father as he visualised this gruesome scene,” Dean writes. “It is ironic that a city with such a terrible association for him (York) would come to be one of the places where he held the most support.”

It was through Micklegate that Richard entered York in triumph in August 1483, after being proclaimed king. He was “escorted to the city through Micklegate in a lavish procession,” Dean writes. “The mayor and aldermen were garbed in scarlet, while the chamberlains were robed in red. After a series of elaborate pageants, the mayor presented King Richard and Queen Anne (Anne Neville, Richard’s wife) with gifts of marks and gold.”


Austin Friars, Lendal

The Austin Friars were monks belonging to the order of St Augustine who built a friary on the banks of the River Ouse on Lendal. In the years before he became king, Richard – brother of the ruling King Edward IV and himself the ‘Lord of the North’ – lodged there several times. “While he was (there) the friars offered him gifts of several gallons of wine, along with other things,” Dean writes. “The friary must have held pleasant memories for him, because in 1484 he appointed an Austin friar, William Bewick, as the ‘surveyor of the King’s works and buildings’.”


York Minster

On hearing of the death of his brother, King Edward IV, Richard’s first public act was to hasten to the Minster, Dean writes. “On this spot where people had worshipped for centuries, he proclaimed his loyalty to his new king, Edward V (Edward IV’s son, later one of the princes in the tower).”

For centuries, the debate has raged over whether Richard was genuinely loyal to his nephew, or whether he was already plotting the seize the throne even as he publicly pledged his allegiance in the great cathedral. “Proponents of Richard claim that his loyalty to his brother had been tested time and again and had never wavered,” Dean writes. “Others point to the fact that Richard immediately sent the young king’s maternal uncle to Pontefract to be executed.”

York Minster was also where, just a few months later in September 1483, Richard - now king - had his own son, Edward of Middleham, invested as Prince of Wales.


Sheriff Hutton Castle

The castle belonged to the Earl of Warwick, father of Anne Neville, Richard’s wife. Richard may well have visited as a young man. The castle later became his. King Richard visited the castle in May 1484 when, burdened with grief following the death of his son Edward of Middleham, he was on his way to York. Edward is said to be buried at Sheriff Hutton Church.



In 1474, when still the Duke of Gloucester, Richard exchanged some of his wife Anne’s lands in Derbyshire and Hertfordshire for the great royal castle of Scarborough, and held the castle for the rest of his life.

He had a close relationship with the town – so much so that, as king, he granted it a charter making Scarborough and the surrounding area a county in its own right. Following Richard’s death at Bosworth, however, the new king, Henry VII, refused to recognise the charter, Dean writes.

King Richard is thought to have spent two weeks at the castle in June and July 1484, when he was contemplating war with Scotland.

• The World of Richard III by Kristie Dean is published by Amberley, priced £20.