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Tony Grist

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Bosworth Field [Apr. 28th, 2006|09:57 am]
Tony Grist

At the time they called it the Battle of Redesmoor. Which rather suggests that it was fought, not on Ambion hill where the visitors centre stands, but in the marshy lowlands to the south, between Ambion hill and the village of Dadlington, where many of the dead were buried and where Henry VII established a chantry chapel.  It's odd; Bosworth Field is one of the two or three decisive battles in English history, but we know very little about it- much less (for example)  than we know about the Battle of Hastings four hundred years before.

Later historians called it Bosworth after the nearby town of Market Bosworth to the north. The battle didn't impinge on the town, but its spire is the local landmark, and is visible from most quarters of the presumed battlefield.

It's a mild, unspectacular  Midlands landscape. Tiny villages, a railway line, a canal. Birdsong. Pretty much as I imagined it  in the first purchas book. (Phew!)

Anyway, here are some pictures:

The Church at Market Bosworth

Market Bosworth on its ridge, viewed from Ambion hill.

Looking South from Ambion hill, towards the likely site of the battle. There wasn't a wood there in 1485.

From Ambion Hill looking west

King Richard's Well. Legend has it that Richard III drank from this well before the battle. The fancy pyramid is the work of a late 19th century American Richardian. 


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-28 03:55 am (UTC)
Without the pyramid, it would just be a muddy hole in the ground. Not very appetising. I guess something's happened to the water table since Richard's day.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2006-04-28 07:34 am (UTC)
I can't get enough of those old cemeteries. Last year while visiting a friend in Boston I was bewildered to see tombstones from the 18th century. In Arizona the population is so migratory you're lucky to spot one from before 1940.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-28 08:09 am (UTC)
In Leicestershire in the 18th and early 19th centuries they used slate for making tombstones (I suppose the stone is available locally) and the carving is still as crisp as if it had been cut yesterday.
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[User Picture]From: karenetaylor
2006-04-28 07:40 am (UTC)
And yet again you have forced me to change my wallpaper.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-28 08:03 am (UTC)

Which one are you using?
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[User Picture]From: karenetaylor
2006-04-28 07:22 pm (UTC)
From Ambion Hill looking west...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-29 01:28 am (UTC)
Ah yes; that's my favourite too.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2006-04-28 06:37 pm (UTC)
Are you sure about that late 19th c American Ricardian? I only know of one in that time period, Henry Cabot Lodge, and I don't think he did it. I think the 19 c Ricardian in question was an antiquarian, and one of your own.

Michael Bennett, The Battle of Bosworth, says the cairn was erected in 1813. That puts it closer to the time of the reprint of Hutton's Battle of Bosworth. In fact, J. N. Nichols, in his preface to the 1813 reprint, quotes one S. Parr as saying "...It was in dirty, mossy ground, and seemed to me in dange of being destroyed by the cattle. I therefore bestirred myself to have it preserved....... Now Lord Wentworth, and some other Gentlemen, mean to fence the place with some strong stones, and to put a large stone over it with the following inscription; and you may tell the story if you please. Yours, &c. S. Parr


The current inscription suggests that the bit about the American Ricardians may be correct, but at a somewhat later date and as a restoration of the original. Here is a translation:

"Richard III, King of England, slaked his thirst with water drawn from this well when engaged in most bitter and furious battle with Henry, Earl of Richmond, and before being deprived of both his life and his sceptre on the morning of 22nd August A.D. 1485. Those who came afterwards have re-built this structure, damaged as it was by the passage of time. A.D. 1964"

I have some friends who recall shimmying under fences and clambering through weeds to see the cairn in the late 1960s and mid-1970s. How times change...

For more information, including a link to the Battlefield Centre site, see

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-29 01:38 am (UTC)
I'm not sure. I'm reporting what was written on the information board beside the well and I may have misread or misunderstood. What I should have done is take a photo of it so I could refer back to the text.

I think it's possible that the structure over the well has gone through several versions. What's there now isn't a cairn (in my book) because the stones are mortared together.

Thanks for the link. It makes me want to hurry back and see all the things I missed on our flying visit. Ah well, there will be other opportunities...
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From: senordildo
2006-04-28 07:20 pm (UTC)
The pictures were a shock, since I still have strong memories of Olivier's Richard III. Sir Larry shot the battle in Spain, so I was subconciously expecting parched golden fields instead of clouds and greenery.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-29 01:41 am (UTC)
It's a very damp corner of the world....
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[User Picture]From: currawong
2006-04-28 11:21 pm (UTC)
So that's Bosworth Field, eh?

As much as I love Shakespeare, his Stanley connections really prompted him to do a hatchet job on poor old Richard III.

I know, I know ...the princes in the tower ... but what wronged claimant to the throne wouldn't have done the same in those days? Edward IV really was a bastard who's daddy was a handsome archer ( his mother produced a strapping, handsome giant who looked like no-one else in the family and besides, daddy was absent in the wars for many months when young Edward was conceived). The present rightful claimant now resides in the small Australian town of Gilgandra ... his heir/prince goes by the wonderful name of Jet! ... so move over Betty Windsor, you come from a long line of upstarts!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-29 01:46 am (UTC)
I agree. Richard did what any medieval prince would have done- and as medieval princes go he was one of the best. I don't exactly regret the triumph of the Tudors (a colourful bunch) but I have a tenderness for Richard.

I'm sure Prince Jet would manage things better than the present heir to the throne. He could hardly manage them worse!

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[User Picture]From: currawong
2006-04-29 03:34 am (UTC)
Richard was certainly wildly popular in his home dukedom of York which is more than can be said of any of his contemporary high nobles. Colourful he may have been, but Henry VIII was a psychopath who was responsible for the death of more Englishmen than any other British historical personage.

As for Charles, one is aware of the difficulties one encountered during one's extremely chilly upbringing, but when one allowed one's self to have one's highly inappropriate fiancee foisted upon one, and then for one to humiliate one's wife for years until one had driven her completely nuts, then one has to seriously consider whether one is fit for one's future role, wuoldn't one say?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-04-29 06:05 am (UTC)
Henry VII was a pretty good king and his grandaughter, Elizabeth, was a little belter. Two generations out of three ain't bad.

Bluff King Hal was (and remains) oddly popular. I blame Hans Holbein and Charlie Laughton.

Charles (Windsor not Laughton)is tiresomely opinionated and self-regarding. When he was younger (much younger) I had some sympathy for him, but his treatment of Diana alienated me completely

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