York’s new Richard III exhibition looks afresh at king and country

Curator Natalie McCaul looks over the skeleton of a Battle Of Towton soldier at the Yorkshire Museum. Photographs: Richard McDougall
25 Mar 2015 @ 12.27 pm
| History

Only a day after Richard III is laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral, a new exhibition will open in York to challenge our image of this most colourful of kings.

Yorkshire Museum

From Friday, March 27

Free to York Card holders and children, otherwise £4-£7.50

Yorkshire Museum website

Richard III: Man & Myth opens at the Yorkshire Museum on Friday (March 27). From a skeleton to a feast, it brings together a collection of objects and documents which enable visitors to look afresh at the life and times of this short-lived monarch.

“King Richard III’s reign only lasted three years but he has probably received more attention than any other British monarch,” says Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology at the museum.

“A number of accounts written after Richard’s death portrayed him as a tyrannical murderer. Yet for many, especially in Yorkshire, the image of a fair, benevolent figure, much maligned, endures.”

What you can see

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You can build up more of an idea of what both the king and country were like through the contemporary items and documents on show in the exhibition.

These include:

A skeleton from the Battle of Towton in 1461, which led to the crowning of Richard III’s brother, Edward IV, as the first Yorkist King

Details of a feast in 1448 which would have been similar to that which was eaten when Richard was a guest of York. On loan from the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the supplies included:

  • six dozen sparrows
  • six pigs
  • seven lots of animal feet
  • more than 21 gallons of wine
  • and four dozen and four gallons of ale.

Shakespeare’s first folio, which includes his play Richard III, on loan from Brotherton Library

Documents from City of York Archives revealing information about Richard’s relationship with the city, such as

  • the first gift the city gave to Richard, when he was only 16 years old
  • a list of his friends and allies
  • how the city prepared for his visit
  • and how they reacted to his death.

Weaponry from the period on loan from York Castle Museum.

Stunning: the Middleham Jewel
Stunning: the Middleham Jewel

Yorkshire Museum objects on show include the Middleham Jewel, a gilded spur, the Ryther Hoard (817 medieval coins, many of which were struck in York), and a number of boar badges worn by supporters of the king.

There will also be a display depicting the feast, with tableware from the period and taxidermy from the natural history collections.

Using treasures from our own collections and loans from across the county, we hope people will come and form their own opinions on Richard, his relationship with York and his short reign as king.

– Natalie McCaul