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Richard III's tomb unveiled at Leicester Cathedral

image copyrightPA
image captionWhile the dark plinth was already in place, the limestone block was inched into position overnight

The sealed tomb of King Richard III has been unveiled in Leicester Cathedral.

The king's coffin was lowered into a vault below the cathedral floor during a reinterment service on Thursday.

The two-tonne block of pale Swaledale fossil limestone bears a deeply incised cross, while the darker plinth has his name, dates, motto and coat of arms.

Following a Service of Reveal, the doors opened to the public at 15:00 GMT.

The last Plantagenet king was killed at Bosworth in 1485 and remains were found beneath a Leicester car park in 2012.

image copyrightDe Montfort University

The original tomb

The newly unveiled monument is, in fact, the second tomb under which Richard has lain.

Days after his death, Richard was hurriedly buried in a roughly cut grave in the small church of the Greyfriars.

But 10 years later Henry VII paid sixty pounds and ten shillings for a tomb to be built over the site, possibly to placate an upsurge in Yorkist sympathies.

Surviving records indicate it was made of "variegated" or "mingled colour'd" alabaster (as shown in the computer image above) but the size and design are uncertain.

It was almost certainly destroyed when the church was dismantled after 1538 and no trace of it was found by archaeologists.

His reinterment in the city's cathedral was delayed by legal action which challenged the choice of resting place.

About 35,000 people saw a procession on Sunday which took the remains to parts of the county associated with Richard's last days, and more than 20,000 people queued to see the coffin in the cathedral earlier this week.

image copyrightPA
image captionThe tomb plinth bears the king's motto "Loyalty binds me"

The service contained traditional hymns and prayers and also a dance performance from the nearby Curve theatre.

Phil Stone, chair of the Richard III Society, said: "The tomb is something else. I had been worried about the design - the depth of the cross incised within it.

"But when you look at it, the stone is very special.

"I think for a medieval king reburied in the 21st Century, it's a fitting place."

The Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Lady Jennifer Gretton, said: "We have had three wonderful services and to end on a service like that is fantastic.

"This was more of a celebration and every service has caught the spirit that we needed at that time."

The redesigning of the cathedral's interior, along with the various events, were budgeted at £2.5m, with fundraising continuing.

In the evening, 8,000 candles were lit in the city's Jubilee Square and Cathedral Gardens ahead of a fireworks display on the cathedral roof.

Tim Stevens, the outgoing Bishop of Leicester, said: "It has been a wonderful week for Leicester Cathedral but more importantly it has been a wonderful week for the city and county.

"I feel like we have been touched by God and I hope and believe the area will make the most of the opportunity."

The cathedral remained open to view the tomb until 19:30 and will reopen at 09:30 on Saturday.

image captionThe week ended with 8,000 candles lit as a commemoration of Richard III

Related Topics

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Leicester

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