Leicester Cathedral has announced that the appeal to cover its share of the costs of the reinterment of King Richard III is now officially closed, having met its target in full.
The appeal, for a total of £2.54m, was launched in May last year, immediately following the news that Richard III would be buried at the cathedral. The funds have been raised from a variety of places, including grant-giving bodies and trusts, including the Richard III Society; individual donors, local businesses, and a community appeal to the people of Leicester and Leicestershire. The names of all donors, whatever the size of their gift, have already been published on the Cathedral’s Appeal website, and are soon to be inscribed in a Book of Recognition that will be on display in the cathedral and St Martins House.
Some two-thirds of the money raised – £1.6m – has been spent on the tomb and the alterations to the cathedral to create the new space towards the east end where it sits, between the central sanctuary and the newly created Chapel of Christ the King. Other expenditure is on the interpretation boards and displays, along with the creation of new part-time posts of education officer and volunteer manager for the cathedral as we move into the immediate new future, with greatly increased visitor numbers. A grant from the diocese of Leicester of £500,000 got the appeal off to a flying start and this has more than covered the administrative costs of the project, such as core staff salaries and fundraising costs.
The Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, who together with the Dean of Leicester, Very Revd David Monteith, led the Appeal, said, “It has fallen to Leicester and its cathedral to lead the nation in providing a fitting place for the final resting place of King Richard III, and the nation has responded with enormous generosity to our appeal. Our cathedral has risen to this challenge with great skill and sensitivity, and the continuing stream of visitors bears testimony to the welcomes given and received in this place.”
Dean David Monteith added, “Raising £2.5m in under a year was always going to be a really big challenge. But we are so grateful to the generosity of our many donors that has enabled us to raise every last penny needed to reinter the king with the dignity and honour that we set out to achieve. This has in no small degree been an achievement of the people of Leicester and Leicestershire, and has enabled us to put our cathedral, and our city and county on the map. We now continue with our day job of living out the gospel in our prayers, our words and our deeds within the communities we are proud to serve.”
With the reburial now complete, the Cathedral is now turning its attention to providing people with an improved experience when they come to visit the church and learn more about the history and legacy of Richard III’s life and death. The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided £94,100 towards a £189,000 project that will offer:
- New information panels telling Richard III’s story;
- Guided tours led by well-trained and professionally supported volunteer guides;
- A new guide book;
- On-line information;
- Workshops and resources for schools, supported by an Education Officer and;
- Display of the Coffin Pall, processional banners and the ceremonial crown from the reinterment service.
“Leicester Cathedral, whilst maintaining its distinctive Christian presence, has a unique role to play in a city of many faiths and views, a natural place for gathering, celebration, mourning and storytelling,” addeed David Monteith. “We are delighted to work with many partners on this project that will enable us to tell the story of Richard III to those visiting Leicester Cathedral from our unique perspective and dovetailing with the other two visitor attractions in the county.”