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Sunday, 27 March 2016

A day remembering the reinterment of Richard III

Saturday marked the first anniversary of the reinterment of King Richard III here in Leicester.

Services were held, exhibitions opened and books launched as we remembered the heady, exciting yet reverential and remarkable day twelve months ago.

I've blogged before about the events leading upto the occasion itself....but I've only just realised how much I've done are the links

But yesterday was a day of celebrating and remembering. Kirsteen Thomson who lives a few miles from Leicester opened her art exhibition at the Guildhall.

She's been fascinated by Richard III for many years. In fact, the King passed by the back of her garden over five hundred years ago. She painted the spot twenty years ago, ...and behind the green door in the painting lies the intact drawbridge to the old castle in Kirby Muxloe.

She's painted Leicester Cathedral, the Guildhall and other local landmarks as well as other places associated with the last Plantagenet King. Fotheringhay, where he was born, Edinburgh, Yorkshire and Wales. There's also a book about Richard III filled with her paintings ...

Another book launched yesterday was "How to bury a King" by the Reverend Pete Hobson. He's the man who was given the responsibility of  doing just that...the redesign of the cathedral and preparing it for the reinterment.

And that's something that has never been done before , so it really was a step into the unknown. Pete though is so calm and level headed , and in the build up to the pomp and pageantry of last year,
he remained quite serene every time I interviewed him.
His book tells  the inside story of what happened behind the scenes .

A CD was also launched on Saturday featuring the music during the services at Leicester Cathedral last March performed by the choir from Leicester Cathedral. I still remember the shiver at the back of my neck during the Sunday service when they sang.....

And a new, different portrait of Richard III was unveiled on Saturday at the King Richard III Visitor Centre. Back in February, the centre asked people to send in their photographic memories of the reinterment in Leicester. Over ten thousand images were sent in from all over the world, and the result is this, a rather stunning , three metre high , photo montage portrait of Richard.

I love it.....and when you look closely, you can  see some of the original photographs

Local dignitaries laid white roses at the statue of Richard just outside the Cathedral on Saturday too with quite a crowd there to watch.

The effect of  Richard's reinterment on Leicester and the county is huge - symbolically, historically and financially.

Working so close by to the cathedral, I'm amazed at the numbers of visitors there over the last year. To hear American, French , Canadian and even Australian voices as I walk past would have been very unusual a couple of years ago. Not now though.

Visitor numbers in Leicester and at the Bosworth Battlefield centre where Richard III was killed remain high, hotels are running at eighty per cent capacity,

It's been estimated this week that the reinterment  has brought £59 million worth of business to the city, and that's a conservative estimate.

But let's not just talk about money...there's a buzz about Leicester now. Our Midlands city has been put on the map historically, there's a pride about the place, and that's due to the 'Richard III effect' as it's known locally.

Of course our football team, Leicester City, have also been hitting the international headlines. The stuff of dreams, the story about our team who were languishing at the bottom of the Premier League in March last year, has now become a global phenomenon. Little Leicester City, are now at the top of the league, inspiring everyone ....and it's been suggested that Richard III , even though he died over five hundred years ago, could be responsible.

I'm not kidding. Some fans say since Richard was reinterred, the football team has had a runaway success, and that the facts speak for themselves. Is it a coincidence ? Or is it a form of "King Power" which incidentally is the name of  the stadium where Leicester City play?

Whatever, Leicester has changed since a dead king was found in a city car park and was reinterred at Leicester Cathedral. And it's a very positive change too.......


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