Public given chance to follow ceremonial route of Richard III in repeat of sold-out storytelling

By Ben Miller | 12 March 2014

An archaeologist will follow the path taken by Richard III more than 500 years ago in three public tours of York

A photo of a castle on a city street
Micklegate Bar is the setting for the first in a series of Richard III rambles© City of York Council
Last Autumn, at the height of the revelations surrounding the discovery of Richard III, a series of walking tours following the footsteps of the king around York, devised by the City of York Council’s archaeologist, John Oxley, proved a sell-out with the public.

Six months on, the king’s ultimate resting place – Leicester and York are currently courting some controversy, with an impassioned debate seeing calls from both sides for Richard’s remains to be buried in one of the cities – remains unresolved. In the meantime, his path in Yorkshire is being recounted by Oxley, a master of 15th and 16th century storytelling.

“The king’s personal affection for York can be in no doubt,” says the one-man fount of knowledge on the former haunts of the last Yorkist king, who leads these 90-minute strolls as part of a new project, Rumour and Reality, driven by public enthusiasm across the region.

“My favourite part is being able to use the words that were written and spoken before and during Richard’s visit in August 1483.

“Richard III stopped at Nottingham on his way to York. On the 23rd of August, six days before his arrival in York, John Kendall, the King’s Secretary, wrote to the Lord Mayor of York saying: ‘I truly know the king’s mind and entire affection that his grace bears toward you and your worshipful city, for your many kind and loving deservings shown to his grace heretofore, which his grace will never forget, and intends therefore so to do unto you that all the kings that ever reigned over you did never so much, doubt not hereof.’”

Calling them “contemporary narratives”, Oxley says the walks are often “thrilling”.

“I enjoy pointing out and talking about the buildings that Richard would have seen that day and which are part of the streetscape today.

“Each walk takes a different theme: Greeting, Feasting, Praying. In Greeting, participants will be able to retrace the ceremonial route that Richard III took on Friday the 29th of August 1483, when he entered the city of York for the first time as King.

“The route starts outside Micklegate Bar, where a grand pageant was performed in honour of the king, and finishes at the West Door of York Minster, where he knelt and was blessed by the Dean of York Minster.”

Archaeologists, historians and curators across York are leading other events on Richard III. Visit richard111rumourandreality.co.uk and richardiii-ipup.org.uk.

  • Tour dates (all 6pm): Meeting and Greeting, March 12 (Micklegate Bar to York Minster); Wining and Dining, March 19 (Mansion House to Fossgate); Praying, March 26 (York Minster to Lendal). Limited places, email your name and number of places required to archaeology@york.gov.uk or call 01904 551671.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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