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Richard tomb: row rumbles on

27 September 2013


Regal design: the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith (left), and the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, show the plans for the tomb of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral on Thursday of last week

Regal design: the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith (left), and the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, show the plans for ...

A PROPOSED design for a tomb to hold the remains of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral has had a mixed reception.

The Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith, described the proposal, unveiled last week, as "regal and respectful in its elegant simplicity, as befits the final resting place of a king of England".

But Richard's 16th great-niece, Vanessa Roe, said that the use of a block of Yorkshire limestone, incised with a simple cross, made it look like something from IKEA; and some members of the Richard III Society are threatening to withhold cash that was pledged to fund a tomb.

Under the cathedral's proposals, the sarcophagus would sit in the chancel on a section of floor inlaid with the white rose emblem. Plans for the £1.3-million reordering of the cathedral to accommodate the King's bones, which were unearthed in a Leicester council car park (News, 14 September 2012), will be considered by the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England this month.

Ms Rowe, a member of the Plantagenet Alliance, which wants York Minster as Richard's final resting place, said: "It doesn't even have his name on it, his crown, or his sign. Our petition to bring Richard back to York has gone up because of this awful tomb.

"The idea of having a Yorkshire rose under the tomb which is made of Yorkshire stone says all you need to know about where he should be buried. Leicester would be the last place he would want to be buried when he was murdered there."

Philippa Langley, of the Richard III Society, and the driving force behind the search for the King's grave, said that some overseas members thought it "a very difficult design. . . The feeling is that it is too modern and stylised, and designed with a cathedral in mind, not a medieval warrior-king. I pretty much agree with them."

The society's chairman, Dr Phil Stone, however, said that it was "beautiful" and "inspired".

Canon Peter Hobson, the cathedral's leader on the project, said: "Some members of the society want a monumental tomb which stands in a park; we are talking about something that works inside a working cathedral.

"In the minds of those who have used the phrase 'medieval warrior-king'," he said, "there is one of those big ornate things with effigies on top, with swords and shields. . . I don't know what place of worship would want one now."

A challenge to the Leicester burial by the Plantagenet Alliance, a group of Richard's distant descendants, is due to be heard in the High Court next month. They argue that the Ministry of Justice, which authorised the original dig, failed to organise the necessary public consultation.

Question of the week: Do you think the proposed design of Richard III's tomb is appropriate?

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