Historic image of King Richard III at Blue Boar Inn to be made available to public

Posted by er134 at Jan 13, 2014 09:55 AM |
Image depicting King Richard III on eve of the Battle of Bosworth to be unveiled at University of Leicester and copy presented for display at Visitor Centre

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 13 January 2014

PHOTOCALL: Tuesday 21 January at 4.30pm, Council Chamber Ante-Room, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester. Unveiling of painting and presentation of copy by Dr Frank May MBE to City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby

Contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk to request images

An historic image depicting King Richard III at the Blue Boar Inn on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth is to be made available for the public to view.

Thanks to the generosity of retired local businessman and philanthropist Dr Frank May MBE, the University of Leicester acquired the 19th Century painting of King Richard III on horseback outside the Blue Boar Inn in Leicester.

Now Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess has arranged for the original painting to go on display at the University of Leicester and a copy of the oil painting to be presented to City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby for display in the new Richard III Visitor Centre.

The painting will be unveiled, and copy presented to the Mayor, by Dr May on Tuesday 21 January at 4.30pm in the Council Chamber Ante-Room, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester.

Professor Burgess said: “I was delighted that the University of Leicester acquired this work of art thanks to the generosity of Dr May who has been a lifelong supporter of the University of Leicester.  A picture of Richard III at the Blue Boar Inn was a ‘must have’ for the University, especially as it was painted by a local artist, and is an accurate portrayal of the Inn and links to our world class research.  We are delighted to make the image available for the wider public to view.”

Dr May added: “This historical painting of Richard III on horseback is a just reward for the dignified manner in which the University has conducted affairs over the archaeological search for Richard III.

“I wish this most enviable exhibition great success. I feel proud to have personally made a contribution to the legacy of Leicester by donating this painting to the University and a copy to the city.”

The painting, by John Fulleylove, exceeded the £3,000 bid expectation and sold for £7,300 in February last year. The signed and dated 1880 oil on canvas, 97 x 90 cm, was auctioned at Gildings in Market Harborough.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist in the University’s Dig for King Richard III, added:  “In my view, Fulleylove has really brought to life the departure of Richard III from the Blue Boar on the morning of 21 August 1485.  Although he could not have painted the inn from life, as the building had been demolished 40 years previously, Fulleylove based his picture on engravings by John Flower which are now known to be accurate representations of the building.  The picture also shows All Saint’s Church in the background and gives an impression of what the other buildings of Leicester’s medieval High Street may have looked like at this time.”

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Although this picture was painted some 40 years after the Blue Boar Inn was demolished, we know that John Fulleylove based his painting on historic engravings, which are now known to be accurate representations of the building.

“I’m therefore delighted that we’ll have an image in our new visitor centre that captures a sense of how Leicester’s High Street may have looked to Richard III in 1485 – and I’m extremely grateful to both Dr May and the University of Leicester for donating a copy of this important work to the city of Leicester.”

John Fulleylove was an English landscape artist and illustrator, born in Leicester in 1845. Originally training as an architect for local firm “Shenton and Baker”, he eventually became an artist in watercolour and oils. His work was exhibited widely in England from 1871, at prestigious London venues such as the Royal Academy, Royal Society of British Artists, Fine Art Society, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, as well as in many other regional towns and cities. He died at the age of fifty, on 22 May 1908.

The painting depicts King Richard astride a white horse resplendent with his coat of arms, arm held aloft wielding his sword. In the background is the magnificent Blue Boar Inn and the street is thronged with well-wishers.

While the church of the Grey Friars was the last resting place of Richard III, the last place where he actually rested was the Blue Boar Inn, a large, modern (for the time) establishment on Leicester’s old High Street.

After riding from Nottingham, Richard stayed at the Blue Boar on the night of 20 August 1485, reputedly in his own bed which he had brought with him. The next morning he rode out of the town, spending the night of 21 August under canvas before meeting his destiny the following day at Bosworth Field. His body was brought back to Leicester for burial in the Church of Grey Friars where he remained for over 500 years before being discovered by the University of Leicester archaeological team.

The Blue Boar itself was constructed in the mid-15th century and was a large coaching inn, providing food, drink and accommodation for wealthy travellers. On his previous visits to Leicester, Richard had stayed in the Castle, but by 1485 that was starting to fall into disrepair.

In 1836 the Blue Boar was demolished and a new pub of the same name built 200 yards away on Southgate Street. The site of the original building is now, appropriately, a Travelodge.



More information on the Blue Boar Inn here: http://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/history/blueboarinn.html

An image of the painting can be downloaded from http://www.dropbox.com/sh/7m0mf5swwy6ympw/umnJsDcn5q

Caption: John Fulleylove Richard III outside the Old Blue Boar Inn, Leicester signed and dated (probably) 1880 oil on canvas 97 x 90cms. Credit: University of Leicester


Frank May has been an active and enthusiastic supporter of the University, serving on Court, Council and numerous other committees. In 1982 he established the ‘May Fund’, which provides Degree Day Prizes in a variety of subjects, including History, Archaeology, Engineering, and Biochemistry; he funded a room to accommodate the Centre for Holocaust Studies; and since 1983 he has also been Trustee, Chairman and first ever Life President of the Medical Research Foundation (Medisearch), which was set up in the late 1970s to support research within the Leicestershire teaching hospitals and the Medical School.

To encourage and reward medical research within the Leicester Medical School, Frank May established an annual prize lecture, as well as a biennial lecture given by a national or international speaker to an invited audience. These have attracted some of the most prestigious medical scientists to the University, including Professor Hugh Pennington and Dame Carol Black.

Although a dedicated supporter and fundraiser for medical research, the arts have also played an important part in Frank May’s life and he campaigned tirelessly to raise funds for the Richard Attenborough Centre, now Embrace Arts.

Dr May was awarded an MBE in 1994 and given the Freedom of the City of Leicester in 2001. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester in 1992, followed in 2005 by the Distinguished Honorary Fellowship, the highest honour the University can bestow.

In the same year, the Frank and Katherine May Lecture Theatre was named after Dr May and his wife in recognition of their inspirational support and commitment to the University.

Blue Boar Inn timeline

· Mid 15th century – The Inn was built on Leicester’s High Street. According to some sources, it was originally known as the White Boar Inn, and changed name after the battle of Bosworth to avoid any connection with Richard III’s badge

· August 20, 1485 – Richard III is believed to have stayed the night at the Inn. His bed is said to have been brought up from Nottingham, and remained there after Richard left for Bosworth.

· August 22, 1485 – Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth. His body is thought to have been returned to Leicester and buried at the Grey Friars church. Richard’s bed is said to have remained at the Inn.

· In 1605, legend has it that Mrs. Clark, landlady of the inn, was murdered and robbed of £300 in gold coins of Richard's reign, said to be part of the king's treasure, hidden in the bed.

· 1826 – Leicestershire artist John Flower made two drawings of the building. It is thought architect Henry Goddard – who made several collaborations with Flowers – may either have made his architectural notes about the building at the same time, or just before it was demolished ten years later

· 1836 – The Blue Boar Inn was demolished, and a pub of the same name was opened on Southgate Street

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