Richard III must be one of the most famous (or infamous) monarchs ever, and that’s despite being king for just two years, from 1483 to 1485. His reign heralded the beginning of the end of the Wars of the Roses and his death ushered in possibly the most well-known royal family of all, the Tudors, plus of course, there is the question of the Princes in the Tower and a reputation forever damaged by Shakespeare’s iconic play.
Richard has also been in the news more recently as his body was discovered in a Leicester car park back in 2013. We visited the Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester last year and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. In fact, we seem to have been on something of a Richard odyssey, as we also had a trip to beautiful Fotheringhay, where Richard was born. And now we’ve just returned from BOSWORTH, the battlefield where Richard was slain, and where he became the last English king to die in battle.
Bosworth is in Leicestershire and is, I may as well say right here, an excellent place for a day out, with or without the kids. The site has been beautifully maintained and is huge. When we went, there were lots of groups there enjoying the sun and outdoors. It’s free to walk around the site – although you do have to pay £2.50 for parking (I wonder if this should be free for those visiting the exhibition).
We very much enjoyed our walk around the battlefield site, enjoyed the views, and appreciated the information points on the way. It seemed quite bizarre to think of a bloody battle going on in this beautiful place, especially as we were looking out on quiet fields of green and, at one point, watching canal boats roll lazily by.
There’s a sundial and flags (including Richard’s standard) at the top of the site and there is also a nice eating area (we forced ourselves to try some ice-cream and cake) and shop. Plus, there are a number of guided walks on offer (including a ghost walk, which sounded great) and even shows involving birds of prey.
The exhibit at the Heritage Centre isn’t huge, but it is thoughtful and has some excellent interactive elements. It begins by giving some historical background and also introduces a number of characters who take you through the events as they happen, and from their points of view.
There are lots of costumes to try on (we were amused that those doing this when we were there were all adults!) including armour (I tried on a helmet which was extremely heavy), while the display of the battle itself is really good and managed to explain the tactics extremely well.
We all enjoyed trying out the bow and arrow (Robert was the best) and there were some fascinating side exhibits, including one very gory one on barber surgeons. I also loved seeing the artefacts on display, especially the remarkable and tiny silver boar badge which is believed to have been given to one of Richard’s knights before the battle began.
We all liked it and Robert, aged 11, was especially impressed. Here are his thoughts:
“The exhibition had so many cool, interactive things to do from watching videos from different people’s point of view or seeing how far you could shoot an arrow. I loved watching through the eyes of a warrior in the battle and playing games on either Richard or Henry’s team. One of my favourite activities was looking for the secret fact: when you saw a special symbol you had to look out for the hidden information. They were in secret compartments, on the ceiling and even inside the wall! I really enjoyed going to the exhibition as I learnt lots from the displays and also had fun with the different Battle of Bosworth related things to do.”
Bosworth Battlefield and Heritage Centre are located in Sutton Cheney, Nuneaton, Leicestershire. Tickets for the Heritage Centre cost £7.95 per adult and £4.85 for children aged 3 to 15. There are often special offers (including a leaflet on the website) which offer a kid’s ticket free with an adult one. . A ticket for a family of four is £21.50.
We visited Bosworth after staying at the wonderful Dandelion Hideaway and glamping! It’s just a quick drive away.