No doubt you’ve heard about the discovery of the king in the car park in Leicester – now it’s easier than ever to take a trip to Richard III country. If you’re short of time, you can do a day trip from London, or otherwise make the most of two new short break offers and incorporate your visit into a culinary tour of the UK.
Richard III, the last Plantagenet who was portrayed by Shakespeare as a wicked monarch, was the last English king to die in battle. His death, at the Battle of Bosworth, heralded the start of the Tudor dynasty. After the battle, Richard’s body was taken to Leicester and buried in Greyfriars monastery church. However, the monastery was later destroyed, along with the king’s memorial. For centuries, myths persisted about the location of his body – with many stating that it had been dug up and thrown into the river. However, in August 2012, excavations in a council car park – which had been built over the remains of Greyfriars - revealed the body of a man who had died in battle. Archaeologists also found that he had a spinal curvature – consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard. They’d found the king in the car park.
I recently stayed at the Ramada Encore, a good value contemporary chain hotel in Leicester and joined a walking tour of the city the next day. Richard III was a frequent visitor to Leicester and spent the night before the Battle of Bosworth in the city’s Blue Boar Inn. The inn has gone now but Steve Bruce, the Blue Badge guide, showed us where it used to stand – there’s a Travelodge there now. Later on, we walked across Bow Bridge, which Richard III crossed on his way to the battle; saw a statue of the king in Castle Gardens, and the cathedral where he is likely to be re-buried next year. Archaeologists are still excavating the famous car park, but we peered through the black iron railings to see the spot where his body was found – the king in the car park. You couldn’t have made it up.
Where to Eat on a Richard III Tour
While the Blue Boar Inn is long gone, you might want to stop for a light lunch at the Rutland and Derby Arms, on Millstone Lane in Leicester, or try one of the cafes in the Lanes close to the cathedral. Mrs Bridges, for instance, serves great sandwiches with fillings such as brie, walnut and cress or goats’ cheese, avocado and rocket. If you’d prefer to eat at an historic pub which Richard III might have known, then there’s the Cock, Twycross Road, Sibson (01827 880357) – not far from Bosworth Field. A thatched, half-timbered pub, it dates back to around 1250, so was already well-established by Richard III’s time. The food is pricey but good: dishes include homemade fish cakes, fillet steak and pan-fried breast of pheasant.
Short Breaks in Leicester
To do the king in the car park tour on a day trip from London, you can catch a train from St Pancras station at 08.15 or 08.25 to Leicester (if you want to visit on a Sunday you’ll need to stay overnight in Leicester). The King’s Tour (£10 pp) starts at 10am and includes a walking tour with a Blue Badge guide, a visit to the ‘Search for a King’ exhibition at the Guildhall and coach travel to Bosworth Battlefield and entry to the visitor centre. You’ll return to Leicester at about 18.00. It takes place on the first Sunday and Wednesday of each month until September, as well as 4 and 7 August, 1 and 4 September.
For a king in the car park short break, check out goleicestershire.com. The holidays cost from £129 for 2 people and include the Bosworth Battlefield Site and a walking tour of the city.
Now go from the King in the Car Park to Herefordshire Culinary Tour.