Leicester Cathedral has announced that the remains of King Richard III will be laid to rest on Thursday 26th March 2015.
The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens said in a statement, “Our cathedral has been consistently committed to providing a fitting, dignified and memorable ceremony for the reinterment of King Richard. We can now see how this works out in detail and our city and county look forward to all the events of next spring.”
This service will form part of a seven-day programme of events in Leicester and Leicestershire, centred on Richard III. On Sunday 22nd March the University of Leicester – whose team discovered King Richard III and formally identified him after extensive research – will transfer the mortal remains into a lead-lined coffin, and will travel from Leicester to Bosworth, remembering the life the King lost and his journey in 1485. Villages related to Richard III’s last days will be included, remembering key moments of King Richard’s last days.
Returning to the city with honour and dignity, accompanied by a dignified cortege and as befitting a king, the coffin will arrive at the Cathedral in the early evening and be transferred to the care of The Church during a service of reception.
For three days King Richard III will lie in repose, in his coffin covered with a commissioned pall, for any who wish to pay their respects. Special arrangements will be in place to allow as many as possible who wish to visit to do so.
The Very Revd David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester, added, “King Richard’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral will proclaim afresh his Christian hope in the resurrection. We are now preparing with great care to offer him lasting sanctuary and peace.”
The service of reinterment will be broadcast live on Britain’s Channel 4 with a programme of highlights shown that evening. Channel 4 Commissioning Editor John Hays commented, “Having been there at the start of this extraordinary story, we’re proud to be working with our partners in Leicester to bring this, its culmination, to the country and the world. I simply cannot think of any comparable event and so am hugely looking forward to what promises to be a unique national moment.”
Meanwhile, the building work to create a space for the tomb of King Richard III has begun this week. Contractors Fairhurst Ward Abbots have long experience in conservation works, having worked on Buckingham Palace, Ely Cathedral, Leicester’s Magazine Gateway and most recently Chatsworth Hall in Derbyshire.
They will start by carefully screening off the entire area of works, before moving on to the major tasks. This will begin with the careful dismantling of existing wooden screens and removal of furnishings, and the taking up of existing stone floors, much of which will be relocated within the new arrangements. Later in the works the new grave space will be dug and lined. The main above ground works for the tomb itself will be added in after this phase of work is completed.
Matt Webster of FWA said, “We are delighted to have the privilege of being part of the Richard III story. It is a great honour to be asked to create a resting place for a king, especially in Leicester’s delightful Cathedral.”
There will be an opportunity for the public to view the works as they proceed by means of observation windows cut into the main screening – and Channel 4 will be installing a time-lapse camera to record the entire process from start to finish.