THE RICHARD III Museum

Richard III Museum tells different story than famous playwright

Shakespeare has the last Plantagenet king down as being a hunchback and a monster but the Richard III Museum says 'bollocks'

YORK, England — Marvellous writer, Shakespeare.

Not such a dab hand with historical accuracy, though.

Case in point: Richard III. Shakespeare has the last Plantagenet king down as being a hunchback and a monster whose crimes included the murder in the Tower of London of 12-year-old Edward and 10-year-old Richard, who were the two legitimate claimants to the English throne on the death of their father, Edward IV.

Nastier still, the man who made himself king was supposed to be safeguarding the two princes, who were his nephews.

Oh, and he also had his brother, the Duke of Clarence, drowned in a barrel of wine.

Bollocks, according to the Richard III Museum.

Shakespeare was working from historical sources friendly to or controlled by Henry Tudor, the man who won the crown from Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field and became Henry VII.

(Another Shakespearean inaccuracy, according to the museum: Richard never said, “My kingdom for a horse.” His last words were, “Treason, treason, treason, treason, treason!”)

Henry VII begat Henry VIII who begat Elizabeth I, whose reign covered most of Shakespeare’s working years. Playwrights in Tudor times didn’t diss the monarch, so even if the Bard of Avon knew a different story he was unlikely to tell it.

But this five-century cover-up (Richard died in 1485) rankles a certain type of Englishman, leading to the formation the Society of Friends of King Richard III. One of its number, Michael Bennett, has gone to the trouble of creating the Richard III Museum.

The museum itself is strange and wondrous. Or tacky, depending on your inclinations. It’s in the apartments above Monk Bar, one of York’s four ancient city gates, built in the early 1300s.

From the street it’s reached by a narrow stone stairway in the gate wall, and each of its three small floors is heavy with the building’s age. The fact that the museum is little known and gets only about 13,000 visitors a year means you’ll likely to have the place to yourself, which adds to the atmosphere.

On the other hand, the floors are lit with fluorescent strip lights and the displays consist of Bennett’s notes typed up neatly, laminated and stuck on boards along with various press clippings.

There’s a 10-minute audio “trial” in which Richard justifies his conduct before a judge and prosecutor (and claims that it was the Duke of Buckingham, once Richard’s right-hand man, who was responsible for the princes’ deaths).

A nice flourish is the series of front-page headlines torn from the tabloids of the late 1400s, chronicling Richard’s rise and fall: “Official: It’s Tricky Dicky!,” “Where Are the Princes, Richard?” and “Yorked! King of England in Death Shock! Unknown Welshman Seizes Crown!”

Another of York’s ancient gates, Micklebar, is also open to visitors. It’s operated by the people who run the city’s Jorvik Viking Museum, and they bring to it the same professional slickness that’s made Jorvik such an international hit.

But it lacks the mustiness, quirkiness and passion of Monk Bar, and it costs a pound more.

Access

For more information on the Richard III Museum visit its website at www.richardiiimuseum.co.uk.

For information on travel in England go to Visit England’s website at www.visitengland.com.

Just Posted

Island Health announces addition of 38 beds for seniors care in the Comox Valley

17 beds at Comox Valley hospital; 21 beds at St. Joe’s

VIDEO: North Island Hospital heliport flight testing

Island Health, in conjunction with Helijet, tested the heliports Tuesday as part… Continue reading

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Change of command at HMCS Quadra

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.-Col.) Allan Dengis assumed command of HMCS Quadra in a… Continue reading

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

BC Games marks 40 years in 2018

Cowichan Games a milestone for BC Games Society

VIDEO: Life’s a beach at this B.C. sand sculpting contest

More than $50,000 was up for grabs at the annual contest held in Parksville

Most Read