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The Last Plantagenet

After the recent discovery of King Richard III, this pub is bound to have history.

107 Granby Street, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE1 6FD

The name refers to Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, who stayed in Leicester in 1485 on the eve of his defeat at nearby Bosworth Field. After the battle, his body was brought back to the city. His skeleton was recently discovered under a local car park.

Prints and text about the Last Plantagenet. 

The text reads: The House of Plantagenet ruled England for nearly 300 years (from 1189 until 1485). The dynasty dated back to Geoffrey V of Anjou, who married Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England. The English crown passed to their son Henry II, ending decades of civil war. The name of the dynasty dates from the 15th century and comes from a 12th century nickname of Geoffrey.

Henry II married Eleanor of Aquitaine, bringing together a vast feudal holding later called the Angevin Empire, stretching from the Pyrenees to Ireland and the border with Scotland.

Under the Plantagenets, England was transformed from a French colony into a major European kingdom. Some of the early impetus was unintentional. It was his vices and weaknesses that led King john to accept the constraints on his power contained in Magna Carta, which set out the king's duties to his realm, in addition to the realm's duties to the king based on a sophisticated justice system.

The Hundred Years War saw England lose most of its French possessions, but at the same time, the Plantagenet wars helped to shape and define a distinct English national identity. The losses in France, which devastated the English economy and the split in the Plantagenet dynasty into warring Lancastrian and Yorkist factions after 1399, resulted in several popular revolts demanding greater rights and freedoms for the general population.

These events culminated in 1485 with the death of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, at the Battle of Bosworth Field. Many historians consider that this marks the end both of Plantagenet power, and the Middle Ages in England. The succeeding Tudors were able to centralise royal power, providing the stability necessary for the development of Early modern Britain.

Prints and text about the Wars of the Roses.

The text reads: The wars fought between the Houses of Lancaster and York, from 1455 until 1485, were named after their badges: the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster.

When Henry V died in 1422, the weakness of his son, later Henry VI, led to civil war. He was inept, dominated by his ambitious queen, Margaret of Anjou, and subject to spells of madness.

In 1453, a group of barons, led by the Earl of Warwick (the “kingmaker") installed Richard, Duke of York, as protector of the realm. Margaret of Anjou restored Henry's authority in 1455, forcing York to take up arms for self-protection.

In 1471, after many fluctuating fortunes, Edward IV defeated the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury. Margaret was captured, her forces destroyed, and her son killed. Henry VI was murdered in the Tower of London, and Edward's throne was secure until his death in 1483.

The Lancastrian Henny Tudor (later Henry VII), then defeated and killed Edward's brother Richard at Bosworth in 1485. By his marriage to Edward IV's daughter Elizabeth of York in 1486; Henry united the Yorkist and Lancastrian claims.

Above left: Edward IV 
Above right: Henry VI
Right: Elizabeth of York.

Illustrations, print and text about the Battle of Bosworth.

The text reads: The Battle of Bosworth Field, fought on 22 August 1485, was the last major battle of the Wars of the Roses. The Lancastrian leader, Henry Tudor, defeated and killed Richard III, the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty.

The controversies of Richard's short reign had re-awakened Lancastrian sympathies. He was suspected of having had his nephews, the heirs of Edward IV, murdered, and of poisoning Queen Anne, his wife.

Henry Tudor, descendant of the House of Lancaster, exiled in France, seized the opportunity to challenge Richard's claim to throne. His first attempt was frustrated by a storm in 1483, but he landed successfully on the coast of Wales on 1 August 1485, and marched for London. Richard intercepted him south of Market Bosworth. A third force, not yet committed to either side, was brought to the battlefield by Thomas, Lord Stanley, and Sir William Stanley.

Richard III spent the night before the battle in Leicester, at the Blue Boar Inn on Highcross Street. According to legend, an old woman, perhaps the infamous Black Annis, told Richard "where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return". Leaving Leicester for Bosworth, Richard struck his spur on a stone of the Bow Bridge. When his naked corpse was being carried back draped over a horse, his head is said to have struck the same stone and been broken open.

On the battlefield, Richard divided his army into three groups. One, led by the Duke of Norfolk, attacked Henry's forces, commanded by the Earl of Oxford, but struggled. His other force, under the Earl of Northumberland held back when signaled to assist, so Richard gambled everything on a charge across the battlefield to kill Henry and end the fight. Seeing the king's knights separated from his army, the Stanleys intervened; Sir William led his men to Henry's aid. Richard was surrounded and killed.

Above left: The entrance to Bosworth from the battlefield
Above centre: King Richard (crowned) charges against Henry Tudor (whose horse rears as he raises his sword) Above right: The Blue Boar Inn
Far left: King Richard's Well, Bosworth Field Right: Old Bow Bridge.

Prints and a photograph of King Richard III.

Top left: A portrait of King Richard Ill from the
Royal Collection, Windsor Castle

Top right: The "Broken sword portrait. In this later portrait, he is depicted with a withered left arm, a broken sword indicating his broken kingship, and a raised left shoulder. X-ray photography has revealed over-painting to
reduce Richard's deformity

Above: A copy of the earliest known portrait
of Richard, made in his lifetime, whilst he was

Left: The reconstruction of Richard's appearance based on the skull found in the dig.

Photographs of the archaeological dig of King Richard III.

The text reads: In August 2012, the University of Leicester Archaeological Service, in partnership with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, excavated human remains which have now been proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, to be those of King Richard lll, the last Plantagenet King of England.

The documentary evidence showed that Richard Ill was brought back to Leicester after the Battle of Bosworth and eventually buried in the choir of the Grey Friars church. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, the site survived as gardens and outbuildings. It was bought by the Council in 1915 and became a car park in the 1930s-40s.

Three trenches were dug, revealing the Greyfriars complex of buildings. In trench one, human bone was discovered on the very first day of the excavation. Over a fortnight later it became evident that this particular individual could well be buried in the choir of the church - the exact spot where history told Richard Ill was laid to rest.

The skeleton was an adult male. Damage to the skull suggested the individual had been in a battle. The skeleton exhibited severe scoliosis, which would have made Richard's right shoulder visibly higher than his left and would account for his reputation, among his enemies, as a hunchback

Jo Appleby, the Human Bio archaeologist who excavated the skeleton, was cautious: "we live in a world where you just don't find dead kings...Then, as vertebrae after vertebrae appeared the spine twisted one way then the other and we looked at it in shock...this ticked every box"

A priest, John Rous, who is likely to have seen Richard before his death, writing sometime between 1485 and 1491, described Richard as ‘small of stature, with a short face and unequal shoulders, the right higher and the left lower'. The severe curve in the spine would also have shortened Richard torso making him perhaps shorter than the average.

Radiocarbon dating of the skeleton, and DNA comparisons with living descendants of Richard's bloodline, have given further corroboration.

Above left: The skeleton in the trench
Above right: The skeleton clearly showing the spinal deformity
Right: "Alas poor Richard"… Jo Appleby holding King Richard's skull.

Illustrations relating to King Richard III.

Top: Interior and exterior view of the Blue Boar Inn, Highcross Street, where King Richard III stayed before the Battle of Bosworth.
Above: King Henry VII.

Illustrations relating to King Richard III.

Top: Richard III at Bosworth Field
Above: The crown passes to the first Tudor King.

Illustrations and text about Leicester Castle.

The text reads: The first castle in Leicester was built shortly after the Norman invasion of 1066, either for William the Conqueror or Hugh de Grandsmesnil, the first Lord of Leicester.

The castle was a timber fort on a large man made mound, with an enclosure surrounded by a bank and a timber stockade. For most of its history it was lived in only occasionally by the Lords of Leicester, who had property in many different places.

Over the centuries the Castle has been rebuilt several times. The original mound, or motte, can still be seen in Castle Gardens alongside the River Soar.

The two surviving medieval gateways both
date back to the 1400s. Originally the rooms
above Castle Gate joined onto the Norman
church of St Mary de Castro.

During the Middle Ages, St Mary's was a rich and important church. In 1426 the future King Henry VI was knighted in this church. It was also where Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the Canterbury Tales, was married.

St Mary's and the Great Hall were the largest buildings in the Castle. The Great Hall dates back to the mid-12th Century. It was the scene of great feasts and also less festive occasions.

Parliament met in the Hall several times during the 15th Century. The Castle court was also held here. Many of those convicted were hanged on the gallows nearby. In 1821 the Hall was divided into two separate courtrooms, which remained in use until 1992.

Top: Castle mound as it may have looked c1100
Above: Left, St Mary de Castro - the Norman door
Right: The Castle Gardens.

Prints and text about the inventor of tourism. 

The text reads: Travelling for pleasure is as old as recorded history. It's origins as an organised industry, however, date back to an event here in Leicester over 150 years ago. In 1841 Thomas Cook, a Baptist minister living in Market Harborough, organised the first railway excursion from Leicester to Loughborough.

Other excursions soon followed, Thomas Cook and his wife moved to 1 King Street, Leicester, and arranged tours on a commercial basis. Unlike other excursions Cook took care of all the arrangements and produced guide books for each traveller.

By 1855 he was organising trips abroad. For the first time destinations such as Mont Blanc in Switzerland, were within reach for the English middle classes. In 1869 Cook organised his first trip to Egypt, which soon became the fashionable place to be, and where Thomas Cook was regarded as the 'uncrowned King'

Not long after he organised trips to the Holy Land. He then devised an 'Around the World Tour', which established him as the world's greatest tour operator. But it left him wondering what to do next. When asked about his next destination, Cook joked about travelling to the moon

In fact, he retired not long after. His son moved the travel agency's headquarters from Gallowtree Gate to London, Thomas Cook died in 1892 and was buried in Welford Road cemetery.

A photograph of Narboro Road, Leicester c.1910.

A photograph of the view form Newarke Bridge, Leicester c.1905.

A photograph of New Walk, Leicester c.1906.

A photograph of East Gate, Leicester c.1904.

A photograph of Great Central Railway Station, Leicester c.1905.

A photograph of Clock Tower and Haymarket, Leicester c.1905.

A photograph of Gallowtree Gate, Leicester c.1905.

A photograph of Leicester Trams c.1910.

A photograph of P.C. Stephens - England's heaviest constable.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

JD Wetherspoon PLC would like to thank the University of Leicester and the Guildhall, Leicester, who provided images and information for the display of local history at The Last Plantagenet related to Richard and the recent dig that unearthed his remains.

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