Richard III, the Last Plantagenet King of England.

King Richard III, lived in a time intertwined with intrigue, intimidation, infamy, treachery and treason. Harsh times as portrayed by William Shakespeare play "Richard III", depicting Richard as a wicked King, which was also a view held by Thomas More but there are some that do not agree with this.

The man who become King Richard III of England was born in the reign of Henry VI on 2nd October 1452 at Fotheringhay, Northamptonshire to his parents Edward the Prince of Wales and Ann Neville, (Edward was the son of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou).

At a time referred as, “The Wars of the Roses”, Henry VI (1421 -1471) was crowned King of England in 1429, and ruled England from 1422 to 1461, but a regency council ran England until 1437 when Henry was considered old enough to rule, later Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou in 1445.

During 1453 the king suffered a mental breakdown, he recovered in 1455 but civil war had begun between faction of the Yorkist and that of the Lancastrian. While the king was sick possibly poisoned, Richard, Duke of York was made Protector, and became the main figure in the Wars of the Roses on the Yorkist side. Margaret, Henry’s queen fought the Lancastrian cause.

At the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, Richard Duke of York was killed, his son took over the fight, defeating the Lancastrians the following year at Towton, and crowning himself, Edward IV.
Henry fled into exile, he returned from exile only to be captured by Edward in 1465. The Earl of Warwick a supporter of Edward, until in 1470 when he switched sides and restored Henry to the throne in 1470. Edward then went into exile and returned and destroyed the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury in May 1471. Edward of Lancaster, the heir apparent, the only son of King Henry VI of England and Margaret of Anjou, was killed in the battle. Henry VI was taken an imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was murdered .Edward IV reigned as King of England for the second time from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483. Edward had two younger brothers George, Duke of Clarence, married to Isabel Neville, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester married to Anne Neville. Isabel and Anne were daughters of Warwick by Anne Beauchamp.

In 1478, George was sent to the Tower of London, having been found guilty of plotting against Edward and was privately executed on 18th February 1478. According to tradition, George, the duke of Clarence was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.

In 1478, George was sent to the Tower of London having been found guilty of plotting against Edward and was privately executed on 18th February 1478. According to tradition he was drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine. Edward’s health began to fail, and fell fatally ill and died on 9th April 1483, in his will he named his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, as Lord Protector of the realm for Edward’s son and successor his twelve-year-old son, Edward V of England. On 19 May 1483 Richard escorted the 12 year old, to his lodgings in the King's quaters in the Tower of London, who was joined on 16 June by Edward’s younger brother Richard, Duke of York. Arrangements were made for Edward's coronation on 22 June 1483. The coronation did not take place because Edward’s father’s marriage to his mother Elizabeth Woodville was declared invalid, making their children illegitimate. Robert Stillington, Bishop of Bath and Wells infomed Richard that he had married Edward IV to Lady Eleanor Talbot some years before the marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, daughter of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewbury, (Eleanor Talbot died on 30th June 1468 aged 34). Elizabeth Woodville marrage to Edward was said to be done in secret on 1st May 1464, at her family home in Northamptonshire, and was crowned Queen on 26 May 1465.

An assembly of lords & commoners, endorsed the claims that the children were ineligible for the throne on 25 June, and the next day Richard, Duke of Gloucester began his reign, and crowned Richard III of England, on 6th July 1483. It was claimed that the two sons of Edward IV and Elizabeth were not seen in public after August 1483, which resulted in accusations were made that the boys had been murdered giving rise to the legend of ‘The Princes in the Tower.

King Richard III of England, the last king of the House of York the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, he ruled from 6th July 1483 to his death in the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22nd August 1485, the decisive of the battle of the “Wars of the Roses”.

Henry Tudor’s forces outnumbered Richard’s at the Battle of Bosworth, also Richard was abandoned by Sir William Stanley, Earl of Derby and 'Henry Percy' the 4th Earl of Northumberland. Richard led the cavalry charge deep into the enemy ranks in an attempt to end the battle quickly by striking directly at Henry Tudor. In the account of the battle, King Richard is said to have fought bravely and ably, unhorsing Sir John Cheyne, and killing Henry’s standard bearer Sir William Brandon, and coming within a sword’s length of Henry Tudor before being surrounded by Sir Stanley’s men, and as the legend implied a Welsh Lancastrian 'Rhys ap Thomas', while Richard’s horse was stuck in marshy ground, he struck the death blow with a halberd so violently that the king’s helmet was driven into his skill. Another tradition or myth tells that it was foretold to Richard that, “where your spur should strike on the ride into battle, your head shall be broken on the return”. On the ride into battle, his spur struck the bridge stone of Bow Bridge in the city, the legend states that Richard’s naked body was collected from the battlefield and as his corpse was carried from the battle over the back of a horse his head struck the same stone and was broken open.

Richard and Anne had one son, born between 1474 and 1476, ‘Edward of Middleham’, who was created Earl of Salisbury on 15th February 1478, and was created Prince of Wales on 8th September 1483. Edward died at Middleham Castle in April 1484, at the age of ten.

Richard acknowledged two illegitimate children. John of Gloucester (Also known as “John of Pontefract) born in 1470, who was appointed 'Captain of Calais', on 11th March 1485. John did not have descendants, and was executed in 1491 at the age of twenty-one. The other illegitimate child was "Katherine Plantagenet", born in 1468, who married William Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke in 1484 at the age of 16, it appears that she had no children. On the Orders of Henry VII she was arrested at Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire in June 1487. By November that year, she was dead, at the age of nineteen years.

Philippa Langley of ‘The Richard III Society’ carried out her research into Richard III and went on a search for his remains, which lead her to a parking lot in Leicester city centre and a spot marked “R” on the tarmac.King Richard III is found. In 2012 human remains found under the spot she had a feeling about and those remains belonged to King Richard III of England. The King in the Car Park. This was confirmed by a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with that of two matrilineal descendants of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York, DNA which could help find locate the remains of his son. In 2015 Richard III was given a funeral fit for a King, his remains are now rest in King Richard III's tomb in Leicester Cathedral.

In April 1484 of Richard and Anne’s son “Edward of Middleham” Prince of Wales died. Anne Neville effectively adopted a nephew Edward, Earl of Warwick and Richard regardless of the boy being described as “simple-minded” made the boy his heir presumptive while Anne Neville was alive. Overwhelmed and heartbroken at the loss of her son she fell gravely ill and died in Westminster, London on 16th March 1485 at the age of 28 years. After Anne Neville died, Richard promptly named another nephew, ‘John de la Pole’, Earl of Lincoln as his heir presumptive. Rumours circulated that Richard III had poisoned Anne in order to marry his niece Elizabeth of York, in order to stop the rumours he sent Elizabeth away from court to Sheriff Hutton and refuted the rumours on March 30, 1485, while other mistresses remained close at hand. Papers emerged later that Richard’s ambassadors looked at a marriage after the dead of Anne, to Portuguese King’s sister Joanna of Lancastrian descent.

In a time of intrigue, conspiracy and deception fighting and murderous plotting between the House of York and the House of Lancaster, it was rumoured of a cunning plan to keep an alleged son of the King of England safe. Besides the claims of Perkin Warbeck who apparently was hanged in Tyburn, London on 23rd November 1499. A Kentish myth was built up around a man known as “Richard Plantagenet” or “Richard of Eastwell” who claimed to be a son of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England.

The Kentish Legend of Richard of Eastwell.
A few miles inland from the coast, there is a 500 year old mystery that could be solved now that Richard III’s remains have been found and his DNA taken, there is a local tale around a grave in the small hamlet of Eastwell set in 3,000 acres of woodland and parkland in the borough of Ashford, that locals refer to as the grave of King Richard III’s son.
Richard boarded with a Latin schoolmaster until he was 15 or 16. He did not know who his real parents were, but was visited four times a year by a mysterious gentleman who paid for his upkeep. This person once took him to a “fine, great house” where Richard met a man in a “star and garter” who treated him kindly. At the age of 16 the gentleman took the boy to see King Richard III at his encampment just before the battle of Bosworth. The King informed the boy that he was his son, and told him to watch the battle from a safe vantage point. The king told the boy that, if he won, he would acknowledge him as his son. If he lost, he told the boy to forever conceal his identity. King Richard was killed in the battle, and the boy fled to London. He was apprenticed to a bricklayer, but kept up the Latin he had learned by reading during his work. Around 1546 the bricklayer, by then a very old man, was working on Eastwell palace for Sir Thomas Moyle. Moyle discovered Richard reading and, having told his story, offered him stewardship of the house’s kitchens. Richard was used to seclusion and declined the offer. Instead, he asked to build a one-room house on Moyle’s estate and live there until he died. This request was granted”. A building called “Plantagenet Cottage” still stands on the site of the original. It has recently been suggested this Richard Plantagenet could have been Richard, Duke of York, one of the missing Princes in the Tower. Wikipedia.

[Richard the Duke of York, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ was not Richard’s son, but the son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Perhaps he might have looked upon him as an adopted son instead of ‘John de la Pole’ which he could have changed his mind about before the battle of Bosworth. Richard III was known to have more than two illegitimate children seemly his illegitmate children could have been called ‘Richard’ after his father]

The record of Richard’s burial was re-discovered in the parish registers around Michaelmas 1720, Heneage Finch, 5th Earl of Winchilsea, came across it when researching his own family. The burial record in the Eastwell Parish Register is a 1598 transcript of the original and dated 22 December 1550. The handwriting is consistent and not considered a forgery.

The register entry reads “Rychard Plantagenet was buryed on the 22. daye of December, anno ut supra. Ex registro de Eastwell, sub anno 1550.”

From Wikipedia.

In 1861, John Heneage Jesse published his Memories of King Richard III states:

Anciently when any person of noble family was interred at Eastwell, it was the custom to affix a special mark against the name of the deceased in the register of burials. The fact is a significant one, that this aristocratic symbol is prefixed to the name of Richard Plantagenet, At Eastwell, his story still excites curiosity and interest.... A well in Eastwell Park still bears his name; tradition points to an uninscribed tomb in East well churchyard as his last resting place; and lastly, the very handwriting which, more than three centuries ago, recorded his interment, is still in existence. A rubble-stone tomb with modern pointing, within the floor plan of the now ruined church of St Mary’s Eastwell, has a plaque with the following words:
Reputed to be the tomb of Richard Plantagenet, 22 December 1550.

Interested in searching for King Richard III‘s son? A project which looking at the costs of finding connected with finding King Richard III, this Richard might cost around a million pounds.

This quest might find the remains could be just a waste of time and money, but put to rest a local Kentish myth.

If interested in this Historic quest? Please make contact by sending an email to:-

St Mary's Church, Eastwell & the tomb of Richard Platagenet

If the remains of Richard's son are found at Eastwell it could be a profitable Kentish tourist attraction.

The Guardian Holidays advertises Richard III Cultural Tours: