C.J. (Charles James) Billson.

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In one of these ballads it is said that, after Richard had been
" dungen to death with many derfe strokes," he was cast on a
" capull," or horse (caballus, cheval), and carried to Leicester,
" and naked into Newarke." Or, as the author of the ballad
of " Bosworth Field " puts it :—

" Then they rode to Lester that night

With our noble Prince King Henerye ;
They brought King Richard thither with might,

As naked as he borne might be,
And in Newarke Laid was hee,

That many a one might look on him.
Thus ffortunes raignes most marvelouslye

Both with Emperour and with King."

After this public exhibition, the body was buried, without
any funeral solemnities, in the Church of the Grey Friars. The

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account of this miserable episode written by a former rector of
Church Langton in Leicestershire, who was a contemporary, is
worth quoting. " Interea Ricardi corpus, cuncto nu datum
vestitu, ac dorso equi impositum, capite et brachiis et cruribus
utrimque pendentibus, Leicestriam ad coenobium Francis-
canorum monachorum deportant, spectaculum mehercule miser-
abile, sed hominis vita dignum, ibique sine ullo funeris honore
biduo post terra humatur."

Strange stories grew up out of tliis singular illustration of
the irony of fate. One was told about the Princess Elizabeth,
daughter of Edward IV, who afterwards became the wife of
Henry VII. She is said by a balladist to have been in Leicester
at the time of the battle of Bosworth Field, and there to have
\velcomed the arrival of the dead body of her enemy with derisive

" The carryed him naked into Leicester,
And buckled his haire under his chin.

Bessye mett him with a merry cheere ;

These were the words she sayd to him.

How likest thou slaying of my brethren twaine ?
She spake these words to him alowde."

Another tale, not quite so impossible, is told about a son
of Richard III, known as Richard Plantagenet, then sixteen
years of age. On August 21st, 1485, it is said, this boy was
instructed by his father to meet him in London after the battle,
and the King promised that he would then and there publicly
acknowledge him as his son. When the battle was over, there-
fore, young Richard set out for London. But before he had
gone far, his progress was arrested by a tragic spectacle. " Just
as I came into Leicester," he said, " I saw a dead body brought
to town upon a horse. And upon looking steadfastly upon it,
I found it to be my father."*

It was not until after the lapse of ten years that Richard's
successor thought well to erect any memorial over his remains.
He then caused a tomb to be built " of many-coloured marble,"
adorned with a statue of the dead King. This tombstone,

* On the truth of this story, which has been doubted, see the
Gentleman's Magazine, July and August, 1767.


which Hutton, who had never seen it, called " a scrubby alabaster
monument,'" cost j(^io is. od. A Latin epitaph, intended to be
inscribed on the tomb, stating that it was put up at King Henrj^'s
expense, was never actually placed there. It will be found in
Nichols' History, with an English translation.

Two contradictory stories are told about the fate of this
tomb. According to one tradition, it was broken open by the
crowd, when the church was destroyed after the dissolution of
the monastery, and the bones of the dead King, after being
carried through the town with jeers and insults, were thrown
over the Bow Bridge. A spot near the western end of the Bridge
was pointed out as their resting-place, and a watering- trough
for horses, which stood at the White Horse Inn in Gallowtree-
gate, was asserted to have been the coffin which once held
Richard's remains. This old trough seems to have been an
ancient stone coffin, and certainly not of a kind used in King
Richard's time. It was long notorious. John Evelyn, in his
Diary, records (9th August, 1654) that he visited the '* old and
ragged city of Leicester, famous for the tomb of the tyrant
Richard III, which is now converted into a cistern, at which
(I think) cattle drink." Hutton said that it had disappeared
when he went to Leicester in 1758 in order to inspect it. But
Crutwell wrote in 1806 : " there is a little part of it still pre-
served at the White Horse Inn, in which one may observe some
appearance of the fitting for retaining the head and shoulders."
The trough is said to have been broken up in the time of George I,
and used for steps to a cellar.

The supposed connection of Bow Bridge with the Plan-
tagenet King owing to the prophecy of the " wise woman," and
the subsequent fate attributed to his marauded bones, caused
that structure to become known in later times as " King Richard's
Bridge " ; and, when the bridge was rebuilt in the year 1863,
a tablet was placed over it bearing the legend, " Near this spot
lie the remains of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenets."

The other story relating to the King's tomb occurs in the
Memoirs of the Wren family, and is contained in some notes


written by Christopher Wren, Dean of Windsor (father of
Sir Christopher), who was born in the year 1589. " The wicked
and tyrannical Prince, King Richard III," he wrote, " being
slain at Bosworth, his body was begged by the Nuns of Leicester
{sic), and buried in their Chapel there ; at the dissolution whereof
the place of his burial happened to fall into the bounds of a
citizen's garden, which being after purchased by Mr. Robert
Herrick (sometime Mayor of Leicester) was by him covered
with a handsome stone pillar, three foot high, with this inscrip-
tion, ' Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of
England.' This he showed me (Chr. Wren) walking in his
garden. Anno 1612." The future Dean was at that time 23 years
of age, and tutor to the eldest son of Sir WilUam Herrick, of

The site of the Grey Friars, where Richard was buried,
had been sold to Robert Herrick by Sir Robert Catlyn. Samuel
Herrick, Robert's great grandson, sold it in 171 1 to Thomas
Noble, whose devisee, Roger Ruding, of Westcotes, after allotting
a piece of ground throughout for a common street now called
New Street, sold it to different purchasers. The mansion-
house with its gardens, lying on the eastward side of the Grey
Friars Estate, was conveyed in 1752 to Richard Garle, whose
heirs, after his death in 1776, sold it to Thomas Pares. Thomas
Pares enlarged the house, which was considered " the principal
private residence in Leicester " ; but in 1824, the year of his
own death, he seems to have sold all the property, excepting
the site of Pares' Banking House, to Beaumont Burnaby. Beau-
mont Burnaby, who died there, devised " the messuage or
mansion house formerly called ' The Grey Friars " to his wife
Mary Burnaby. It appears then to have been divided into two
separate houses, one of which was occupied by Mrs. Burnaby,
who died there on February 7th, 1866, having by her will devised
the property to Trustees upon Trust for sale. The Trustees
of her Will afterwards conveyed it for the sum of ,^6,400 to
Messrs. Alfred Burgess, George Toller, George Baines, Richard
Angrave and Charles R. Crossley. These gentlemen had taken
the conveyance as Trustees for the Leicester Corporation, and


in January, 1871, it was resolved by the Town Council that
Municipal Buildings should be erected upon this site. In the
following year, however, this resolution was rescinded, and it
was agreed that the new Town Hall and offices should be built
on the land where the old Cattle Market used to be held. The
Corporation then cleared the ground which they had bought
from Mrs. Burnaby's Trustees, and made a street through it
named " The Grey Friars." Subsequently, by an Indenture
dated the 30th September, 1873, the Corporation took a con-
veyance of the land from their five Trustees, by the following
description : — " All that piece of land situate in the parish of
St. Martin's in the Borough of Leicester and lying between two
streets there now called Friar Lane and St. Martin's and which
said piece of land was lately the site of a messuage or mansion-
house for some years formerly occupied as two messuages with
the gardens yards and out-buildings thereto belonging known
as ' the Grey Friars,' and one of which said messuages was
formerly in the occupation of Mary Burnaby widow deceased
and the other of which said messuages was formerly in the
occupation of John Henry Davis and which said mansion-house
and premises have since the date of the lastly recited deed "
(the Conveyance to the Corporation's Trustees), " been pulled
down and the ground cleared and a street formed upon the said
land by the Corporation." The Corporation of Leicester have
since the date of this deed parted with the whole of the land,
which is now built on. The site of the old mansion-house and
grounds at the present day comprises the Grey Friars Street,
with the Leicester Savings Bank and two blocks of offices, extend-
ing from St. Martin's to Friar Lane, on the West side of the
street, and the London County Westminster and Parr's Bank
and blocks of offices, extending from St. Martin's to Friar
Lane, on the East side. If then the Grey Friars' Church and
the burial place of Richard III were in Robert Herrick's garden,
Richard's remains must now lie, if undisturbed, somewhere beneath
the Grey Friars Street or the buildings that face it. The exact
place cannot be more nearly identified.


The story told by Wren is far the more credible of the two.
The popular tale of the desecration of Richard's tomb rests on
no good authority, and seems to have grown up in the following
manner : —

Very soon after the Battle of Bosworth Field, a report
became current that the defeated King had been buried " in
a ditch like a dog." Four years after the battle, in the course
of some legal proceedings which took place at York, this report
was contradicted, and it was stated as a fact that Richard was not
buried in a ditch, " for the King's grace had been pleased to
bury him in a worshipful place." There is indeed no question
about the burial at the Grey Friars' Church, which is quite well
established. Nevertheless, the common rumour survived, and
seems to have been the basis of a statement made by Bacon,
in his life of Henry VII, that, although Henry " of his nobleness
gave charge unto the friars of Leicester to see an honourable
interment to be given to him, yet the religious people themselves
being not far from the humours of the vulgar, neglected it ;
wherein, nevertheless, they did not incur any man's blame or
censure." Holinshed mentions the burial of Richard in the
Church of the Grey Friars, and the erection of the alabaster
monument, but says not a word about any subsequent disturb-
ance of the tomb, either in the first edition of his Chronicle,
published in 1577, or in the enlarged edition of 1587. The
tradition of this desecration appears to be mentioned first by
John Speed, in his " History of Great Britain," which was
published in 161 1. He states that, at the suppression of the
Grey Friars' monastery, Richard's monument was " pulled
down and utterly defaced, since when his grave overgrown with
nettles and weeds is very obscure and not to be found. Only
the stone chest wherein his corpse lay is now made a drinking-
trough for horses at a common inn. His body also (as tradition
hath delivered), was borne out of the city, and contemptuously
bestowed under the end of Bow Bridge." In the account of
Leicestershire contained in his " Theatre of the Empire of
Great Britain," Speed omitted the latter part of this statement,
mentioning only Richard's burial at the Grey Friars' monastery,
" whose suppression hath suppressed the plot-place of his grave,


and only the stone-chest wherein he was laid (a drinking-trough
now for horses in a common inn), retaineth the memory of that
great Monarch's Funeral." The whole of the passage quoted
above from Speed's " History " was repeated almost verbatim
by Sir Richard Baker in 1643, and was quoted by Nichols from
Baker's Chronicle.* But Throsby added some embellishments
of his own. " At the dissolution of the religious houses in the
succeeding reign," he wrote, " about 50 years after his (Richard's)
death, it (the monument), was ruinated with the church, the
grave ransacked, and his bones taken in triumph through the
streets, and at last thrown over the bridge over which he rode
to the fatal battle of Bosworth."

In the year 1846 a stone coffin was found, in lajdng the
foundations of a house in Halford Street, which contained some
remains. James Thompson conjectured that they were those of
Richard the Third, who, he thought, had been hastily re-interred
in an old Norman coffin by the Warden and brethren of the
Grey Friars, before the dissolution of their Priory. It is, how-
ever, very difficult to accept this hypothesis, which is based on
the assumption that Richard's body was removed from its
resting-place at the Grey Friars. But this, in all probability,
is a mere legend.

The destruction of the Grey Friars' monastery took place
in the lifetime of Robert Herrick, who was born in 1540 ; and
the events connected with it must have been fresh in the re-
collection of his contemporaries ; yet, in 1612, he does not
appear to have been aware of the tradition which had been
published for the first time by Speed in the previous year, or,
if so, he had evidently no faith in it. We cannot do better
than follow his example.

*Some writers seem to have thought that this quotation came
originally from Holinshed. Thus James Thompson repeated the
passage in the Midland Counties Historical Collector for December ist,
1858, and stated that it came from "Holinshed (quoted by Nichols),
writing in the reign of Elizabeth (1577)." And, when the new Bow
Bridge was being built, those who wished to place near it a tablet,
commemorating King Richard's death, adduced, in a local newspaper,
the authority of Holinshed. But I have not been able to trace the
tradition to an earlier source than Speed, who does not mention where
he obtained it. A reference to Holinshed in the margin of his book
applies only to the preceding account of the King's burial.



The story of the Treasure in the Bedstead was first written
down in the middle of the 17th century by Sir Roger Twysden,
" who had it," says Throsby, " from persons of undoubted
credit, who were not only inhabitants of Leicester, but saw the
murderers executed."

Twysden's account of the prevaiUng local tradition, (which
is contained in his " Commonplace Book," and not in his " Decern
Scriptores," as Kelly stated in his " Royal Progresses "), runs
thus : —

" When King Richard III marched into Leicestershire
against Henry, Earl of Richmond, afterwards Henry VII, he
lay at the Blue Boar Inn, in the town of Leicester, where was
left a large wooden bedstead, gilded in some places, which, after
his defeat and death in the battle of Bosworth, was left, either
through haste, or as a thing of little value (the bedding being
all taken from it) to the people of the house ; thenceforward this
old bedstead, which was boarded at the bottom (as the manner
was in those days), became a piece of standing furniture and
passed from tenant to tenant with the inn. In the reign of
Queen Elizabeth this house was kept by one Mr. Clark, who
put a bed on this bedstead, which his wife going to make
hastily, and jumbling the bedstead, a piece of gold dropped out.
This excited the woman's curiosity. She narrowly examined
this antiquated piece of furniture, and finding it had a double
bottom, took off the uppermost with a chisel, upon which she
discovered the place between them filled with gold, part of it
coined by Richard III, and the rest of it in earlier times. Mr.
Clark, her husband, concealed this piece of good fortune, though
by degrees the effects of it became known, for he became rich
from a low condition, and in the space of a few years Mayor
of the town, and then the story of the bedstead came to be
rumoured by the servants. At his death he left his estate to his
wife, who still continued to keep the Inn, though she was known
to be very rich, which put some wicked persons upon engaging
the maid-servant to assist in robbing her. These folks, to the
number of seven, lodged in the house, plundered it, and carried


off some horse-loads of valuable things, and yet left a consider-
able number of valuables scattered about the floor. As for
Mrs. Clark herself, who was very fat, she endeavoured to cry
out for help, upon which her maid thrust her fingers down her
throat and choked her^ for which fact she was burnt, and the
seven men who were her accomplices were hanged at Leicester,
some time in 1613."

There are several mistakes in this account, as will appear,
but the only material one to notice at present is that the trial
took place in 1605 and the sentence was executed soon after,
and not in 161 3. It appears that soon after the circumstances
of the murder had been published abroad, with the romantic
story of hidden treasure, a bedstead was being exhibited at
Leicester, either at the Blue Boar Inn, or elsewhere, which
purported to be the one in which the treasure had been found,
and in which King Richard had slept. It did not however
figure at the trial, in the course of which nothing whatever was
said about King Richard's treasure. But, after the trial, the
fame of the bedstead became firmly established, and endured for
many generations. Henry Peacham, who afterwards became
famous as the author of " The Complete Gentleman," wrote
some barbarous hexameters which were prefixed to Tom Coryat's
" Crudities," first published in 161 1, and in the course of these
verses he referred to various sights and exhibitions of his time
that might be seen for a penny, including —

" Drakes ship at Detford, King Richards bed-sted i' Leyster,
The White Hall Whale-bones, the silver Bason i' Chester."

In the latter half of the i8th century this bedstead was still
regarded as one of the wonders of Leicester. When Samuel
Ireland, the father of the Shakesperian forger, visited the town,
in the course of an artistic and literary tour, about 1790, he
proceeded at once to make enquiries about the " two curious
remains " which the town of Leicester boasted, and " which
must be admitted to have reference to his (Shakespeare's) works :
the house and bed in which Richard the Third slept the night
before the battle of Bosworth, or rather Sutton, Field." He
was shown over the house, " which is still," he wrote, " in good

preservation, and the room in which the King slept is so spacious
as to cover the whole premises ; it is situated on the first floor
agreeable to a style of building at that time very common in
most of our ancient inns."

Ireland made a sketch of the building, and another of the
bedstead, about which he wrote : — " The bedstead from which
the above sketch is made, is now in the possession of Mr. Alder-
man Drake, who purchased it for about forty shillings of one
of the servants of the forementioned inn about twenty years
ago. It is of oak, and richly carved with Gothic ornaments
suitable to the taste of the time, but at what period it was made
is not clearly ascertained, though a date, I am informed, appeared
on one of the feet, when it was last taken down, but no person
had the curiosity to notice it. When purchased by Mr. Drake
much of the old gilding appeared about the ornaments. Some
particulars of this bedstead, I also understand, are preserved
in the records of the corporation."

Upon the death of Mr. Drake, who was Mayor of Leicester
in 1773, the bedstead passed to his grandson, the Rev. Matthew
Drake Babington, who gave it, in 1797, to Thomas Babington
of Rothley Temple. In 1831, Professor Churchill Babington,
to whom it then belonged, offered to sell it for £100 to the
Corporation of Leicester, to be placed in the Town Museum.
This offer was, however, declined ; and the bedstead was after-
wards purchased by Mr. Perry Herrick of Beaumanor.

Mr. John Gough Nichols, writing in the Gentleman's
Magazine for July, 1845, raised the objection that the bedstead
then (and still) at Beaumanor, could not have been King Richard's
because it is undoubtedly of Elizabethan workmanship. How-
ever, Mr. James Thompson, who examined it in 1872, reported
that a distinction must be made between the bedstock or frame-
work and the super-imposed bedstead, and he found that the
carved and decorated portions of the bedstead were of the
Elizabethan or Jacobean period, but the bed-stock itself he
concluded to be of an earlier time. Hutton stated that Richard
brought to the Blue Boar Inn his own bedstead, " of wood,
large and in some places gilt. It continued there 200 years


after he left the place, and its remains are now in the possession
of Alderman Drake. It had a wooden bottom, and under that
a false one, of the same materials, like a floor and its under-
ceiling. Between these two bottoms was concealed a quantity
of gold coin worth about ;(^300 of our present money, but then
worth many times that sum. Thus he personally watched his
treasure and slept on his military chest." All this is mere
assertion, and is to a large extent contradicted by the results
of Thompson's investigation, full particulars of which will be
found in an article which he contributed to the " Reliquary."
(Vol. XII, p. 211, sqq) There is, however, another statement,
made by Throsby, which is worth consideration. He says that,
after the murder, the bed came into the possession of a servant
of the Blue Boar, " and before it came into the hands of Mr.
Alderman Drake it had been many years in the Red Cross Street,
where it had been cut to make it fit for a low room. The feet
which were cut off were 2 feet 6 inches long, and each square
6 inches. The present feet, as one may see by the engraving,
are modern. I have the old feet in my possession and the
headboard which were taken from it when it was shortened."
If the EUzabethan super-structure was raised on the old oak
bed-stock while it was at the Blue Boar in the time of the Clarkes
or their predecessors, and afterwards exhibited as King Richard's
Bedstead, perhaps by the servant into whose hands it is said to
have come, when the legend of the treasure had gone abroad,
it would be a relic so well known that, even after the lapse of
more than 150 years, Mr. Drake, who is said to have been a
furniture broker, might have had no difficulty in identifying it ;
and as Throsby appears to have been himself cognisant of the
circumstances under which it was removed from the Inn to
Redcross Street, and cut down to fit into its new quarters, and
even to have secured some of the discarded parts, his evidence
is of value. But, although there is a strong presumption that
the foundation of the bed now at Beaumanor was the one on
which King Richard slept, the story of the hidden treasure,
which gave it its celebrity, and probably preserved its existence,
has little claim upon our beUef. The tale was never heard until
after the burglary, and was, in all probability, suggested by that


event. The thieves certainly did discover a considerable amount
of treasure located in the house, but not more than a wrealthy
burgess of the period might be expected to hoard out of savings
acquired in the ordinary course of business. And Thomas
Clarke was a man of exceptional abiUty. He belonged to the
little band of shrewd and enlightened men who governed the
destinies of Elizabethan Leicester with singular prudence and
foresight. Something of his character may be gathered from
the following slight sketch of his municipal career. There were
in his time several other persons of the same name who became
of some note, especially James Clarke, who was Mayor in 1585-86,
and another Thomas Clarke, a shoemaker, who distinguished
himself by his philanthropic work ; but the landlord of the
Blue Boar was a far more important personality than either of
these. He was prominently concerned in dealings with land
and other property on behalf of the town, and in several negotia-
tions and affairs of great moment. He held the highest municipal
offices. His name appears first in the Town Records in the
year 1568, when he was elected one of the Borough Chamber-
lains, and for the next thirty-five years his activity is constantly
in evidence. In the following year he was appointed one of
the three Meat Testers, and towards the end of his life he became
one of the Leather Testers. He was a Collector of Subsidy
in 1576, and a Surveyor of Town Lands in 1584. In 1576-77

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