MIDDLEHAM – ON THE TRAIL OF ‘NOT SO TRICKY DICKY’
In the news of late has been the discovery of the body of Richard III who was killed during the battle of Bosworth in 1485.
His victor was Henry VII who then established the Tudor dynasty.
Richard’s remains were found under a car park in Leicester and his DNA has been compared to that of known descendants to prove this was indeed the king.
Richard’s power base was in Yorkshire and especially in the little town of Middleham now famous for its racing stables.
So I decided to go to see Middleham’s Castle and to see if this King was indeed the ‘tricky Dick Dickie hunchback’ as Shakespeare had shown him.
START at the church of St Mary and St Alkelda, Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III) set up a collegiate college when the church for the training of priests.
He was much loved – and still is – in Middleham and many will be pleased to find his skeleton revealed he was not a little hunchback. He did have a slight twist to his back but was 5 foot 8 inches in height which was slightly above average for his time.
From the church cross the A6108 and ascend the road to reach the town square on the left.
FROM the square look for the Nosebag cafe and the Richard III pub. Between the two find a narrow alleyway to walk through.
ON meeting a track turn right to reach the castle ruins. This belonged to Richard, who trained there as a knight. He was, by all accounts a ‘bonny fighter’ and was the last English king killed in battle. Now that his remains have been found it has been proved he died from blows to his head. The Castle is open to the public. Pass by the castle and its now-dry moat on the right.
AT a metal gate look to the right to see horses grazing. Look for a substantial earthworks to the right. This is William’s Hill where there was an earlier effort by the Normans to build a castle on top of an Iron Age fort. Follow an uphill path , then descend across fields leading to the River Cover.
AT the river turn left and continue parallel with its banks. From the woodland negotiate a stile and pass South Lodge on the left.
AT Chapel Fields the footpath sweeps to the left. You now retrace the obvious route back to the starting point.
This little town echoes to the sound of racehorses and a last reminder of Shakespeare’s play, which sees Richard III utter his with his dying breath “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”.