SNV30239

SNV30239

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Richard III...Sunday 22 March 2015


It's a day I will remember for a very long time. Richard III's cortege made its way slowly around Leicestershire before finally arriving in Leicester. There, crowds were gathering...it's estimated that 35,000 people were in the city itself.

The sun shone, there was such a happy atmosphere as people watched the progress of the procession on big outdoor television screens and on a corner of Jubilee Square, Morris dancers stamped their feet, clicked their sticks to music which would have sounded so familiar to King Richard III.



Outside Leicester Cathedral, the crowds waited patiently, many clutching white roses for Richard




While Mabon the police dog did a last minute sweep of the  Cathedral Gardens





It was time for me to put on my lanyard and walk into the cathedral for the service of Compline with the rest of the invited guests.









Once in the Cathedral, I saw Simon Dixon who is the Special Collections Manager at the University of Leicester...he was in charge of the Bible which was later placed on Richard's coffin.








This is no ordinary bible. It a Latin Vulgate bible printed in 1481 during Richard III's lifetime. At the time of Richard's reign though, no Bible had been printed in England,- this one was printed by Johannes Amerbach in Basle, Switzerland.

It is beautiful ....




It was then time to sit and wait  for the service to begin, to admire the Cathedral ,which I see so often, all dressed up, to watch the lights flicker on the polished brass and wood, to chat to my neighbours sitting next to me, and to have a look at what form the service would take.




 Suddenly there a hush, all we could hear was the whirring of a helicopter overhead, and the sound of horses hooves outside the cathedral





We all stood as the Tower Bell began to ring. The coffin was led into Cathedral by servers and clergy including the Very Reverend David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols , Archbishop of Westminster and the Right Reverend Tim Stephens, Bishop of Leicester.


I was positioned near to the entrance so the King's coffin passed within touching distance. It was a surreal moment, being aware of being so close to the mortal remains of  a King slain on the battlefield five hundred and thirty years ago and to be surrounded by the strong  scent of incense.

The service itself was memorable ,with the soothing ritual of Compline and the cathedral being packed with everyone from royalty and descendants of peers of the realm who fought at the Battle of Bosworth  to members of the public from all over the world .

 There was genuine emotion and a sense of a unique occasion, and above all there was the mediaeval and renaissance music from the organist Simon Headley, the Leicester Cathedral Choir and the Leicester Cathedral Chamber Choir. It was spellbinding as their voices rose to the rafters of the cathedral, especially during The Motet.

The hairs on the back of my neck tingled as I listened to this haunting, moving work which was composed for the memorial service of John F.Kennedy using the words of Prudentius who lived in the fifth century.

At the end of the service, I had to hurry back to the real world, to work. To interview people at the service, to interview the remarkable Pete Hobson who had been in charge of the whole Richard III project. He couldn't stop smiling. "Are those smiles of joy or relief that everything went so well?" I asked. "Both!" he replied with another huge grin.

Then it was back to the BBC studios, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Cathedral, to go on air describing what I'd seen and to edit some interviews to be used later that night and the following day.

And on leaving work, my friend Victoria Hicks, who is a television journalist for BBC East Midlands Today, and I walked back into the Cathedral Gardens just to stand for a while and reflect on the day, and to have a photo with Richard III's statue....




And for a final look at the Cathedral in the quiet of the night.



What a day. What a wonderful day.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry, I've only just caught up with this amazing post. What a day it was, what a week it was! I loved hearing the day from your side of the Cathedral doors. I was outside in the crowds!

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