Joint Liturgical Study 81
When the bones found under a carpark near Leicester cathedral were identified in 2013 as those of King Richard III, buried there in haste after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, enormous public interest followed the find. There was already a longstanding debate as to whether the king was the villain depicted by Shakespeare, or the near- hero lauded by the Richard III Society. There now arose a new (and somewhat passionate) debate as to where his bones should be most appropriately re-buried. When this latter was by Judicial Review decided in favour of Leicester cathedral, then, in the midst of the continuing active life of the cathedral, the Dean and his colleagues had to produce an overall plan for this virtually unprecedented event. What kind of procession or other public airing should lead to it? What kind of dignity, what kind of historical sensitivity, should accompany this leading? Where would even hints of a precedent be found?
Tim Stratford, the Archdeacon of Leicester and a member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, led a core group to organize this whole sequence of events. In this Study he brings together the accounts of four key members as to how their particular expertise contributed to the total re-interment story. In the process they brought detailed historical research into live harmony with the perceived needs – and opportunity – of this contemporary public Christian event. The Study places on record a story fascinating in itself, and yet a rich resource for the future.