Travels in Middle England – 12 February 2016

May 17, 2016

Leicester is a wonderful place to visit.  The people there are extremely friendly and helpful.  The discovery of Richard III’s body has put the city on the international tourist map and now the city’s football team has won the English Premier League.  Some have put it down to the good fortune bestowed on the city following the King’s reburial.  I visited the city on 12th February this year when the football team, comprised of home grown players, football league rejects and lowly priced players, topped the Premiership but no one expected them to remain there.  I meant to write this blog then but somehow never got around it but perhaps my subconscious knew that it was not quite the right time.  Now I feel that my timing is almost perfect.

Finding a car park near Leicester’s city centre is difficult, this in a city which in 2014 became famous for one particular car park which contained the remains of King Richard.  I had already visited the site of the battle of Bosworth in 2014 where the King met his end and now that he had been recently buried decided to see for myself the place where his remains had been put to rest.  I booked into a hotel in Market Bosworth a few days earlier and set my car Sat. Nav. to find the Cathedral, where King Richard lies buried.  My car circumnavigated an island on which lay a nearby multi-storey car park three times before I eventually found an entrance and was able to park at what I was later to find out to be an exorbitant price (£8.00).

The cathedral lacks the grandeur of similar structures in other British cities, but it is a beautiful building nonetheless.  Richard’s stone tomb lies inside and has a section to itself.  It was free to enter and I was allowed to take photographs, but not to use flash.  I asked the lady steward at the door where the famous car park was.  I was told that it was a short distance away across the road and I should look for a plaque on the wall.  I was in the process of photographing the plaque by an entrance to a space in which cars were parked when a man passing by remarked, “If you are looking for the place where Richard III’s body was found that’s not it.  The actual car park is further along the road and around the corner.  I’ll show you where it is if you like.”  I thanked him and he led me a few hundred yards to a red bricked courtyard, the entrance to which was blocked by a barred iron gate.  “The bones were found there in the far corner,” he said pointing through the bars.  I duly pointed my camera lens through a gap in the metal in the direction he indicated and took my photograph.  “After they discovered them, they dug the whole area up and removed it to the visitor centre opposite the church.  There is a walled off centre in the courtyard which signifies the car park, but the actual car park is here.  If you want to see the removed area you must visit the visitor centre and pay the expensive entrance fee.”  I thanked him for his help and for taking the time to guide me to this spot.  His reply was that he was delighted to help someone who was interested in understanding the history of the city where he now lived.  I thanked him again and we parted company.

I did visit the visitor centre and paid the £7.00 entrance fee.  Inside, I was treated to a photographic display and videos showing the archaeological excavations that took place when the remains were discovered.  I also saw and was able to photograph the removed part of the car park which was now under glass.  Afterwards, I visited the timber framed Guildhall, built in the 14th century, which was next to the Cathedral and free to enter.

The city and its football team deserve their good fortune despite the high price charged by its car parks.  Yesterday a crowd of over one hundred thousand turned out to cheer the team as it paraded through the streets in open top buses.  Leicester’s citizens and footballers have inspired those of other cities worldwide.  Long may this continue.

Keith Jahans
17th May 2016

King Richard's Car ParkKing Richard III’s Car Park

King Richard's Statue in front of CathedralStatue of King Richard outside Leicester Cathedral

King Richard's TombKing Richard’s Tomb

For information about Leicester City Football Club
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