There were two remarkable events in my diary this past week – I’ll write about the first, and just mention the second, maybe saving more for another time.
On Wednesday 29th October a remarkable – arguably unique – dinner took place in the Chapter Hall of the headquarters of the international Order of St John, in Clerkenwell. The Duke of Gloucester was guest of honour of the Bishop and Dean of Leicester, and also there were the current holders of the titles of 20 noble families who had fought at or were otherwise engaged in the Battle of Bosworth. Others amongst the 90 or so invited guests included those involved in supporting the Cathedral’s Appeal, and other key people who have been involved in the various stages of this remarkable story since the autumn of 2012. Guest speaker David Starkey, no respecter of persons himself, called it “unrepeatable”, so that if he were himself a believer, he might be tempted to attribute it to the work of the Almighty. Well I am, and I am similarly tempted.
The setting is both historic in its own right, and relevant to our story. For it was at St John’s Gate, where the Order has its buildings then and now, that King Richard III called together the leading citzens of London and the realm to deny rumours doing the rounds that he was to marry his niece, Elizabeth. He didn’t – but before long Henry Tudor, by then Henry VII, did, thus reuniting the Houses of Lancaster and York in his own efforts to bring that ‘cousins war’ to and end with the onset of Tudor England.
But back to the dinner, which in its way is meant to foreshadow some of the events of next March – when many of those self-same modern ‘Bosworth Peers’ may be expected to be present as we place back into the ground the mortal remains of the man for and against whom they fought. And the present Duke of Gloucester is, of course, Patron both of the Richard III Society and of our current Cathedral Appeal – which is doing well, but still has some way to go to meet the £2.5m that we need.
That was Wednesday. – and a very late night it was, as the core team made our way back home on the slow train, getting into Leicester Station around 2.30am. David, myself, Claire, Emma, Georgia, Liz and Gill all struggling to keep our eyes open – both then and later in the day as we got back to our respective desks. So it was later on Thursday morning that Emma and I made the drive east from Leicester to Market Overton, and the workshops of James Elliott, the remarkable stone-mason who will be constructing the tomb of kilkenny marble and swaledale fossil stone. But that’s worth a whole blog of its own…
And meanwhile inside the Cathedral the brick vault which sits beneath that tomb is now in place, and this week the limecrete base for the new floors was being laid. As the picture here shows. Or you could read about it in the Leicester Mercury here. Though I think my picture is better!