Another contender

22 February 2013

HE WAS divisive in life, and, 500 years after his death, is proving to be divisive again. Nevertheless, many people seem to want him. Yet another contender for the bones of King Richard III is the parish of Aston, in Birmingham. He has more supporters under the floor of St James's than he has at Leicester Cathedral, a parishioner, Nigel Cripps, says.

The church has at least three fine memorials to people who would have been on Richard's side in the Wars of the Roses, he says. He cites a lady lying alongside Sir Ralph Arden (probably a relative of Shakespeare's mother) as the wife of Robert Arden, who was executed in 1452 (the year Richard was born) for organising troops against Henry VI. Mr Cripps says that there is also an effigy of her nephew, Sir William Harcourt (above), who was a contemporary of Richard's, but died the year before he took the throne. Sir William's effigy, in full English armour - "very rare", Mr Cripps says - was completed in 1465, and kept in store until needed. He says that the collar that Sir William wears is one of those given to the supporters of the Yorkist King Edward IV.

Somehow, I don't think the Aston claim will win against that of Leicester Cathedral.


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