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The Car Park King

Review of Richard III Visitor Centre

Cover created at Canva.com

The Tudors have always been a part of British history that I've been fond of. I enjoy the stories of the kings and queens and found the tales of love, betrayal, and scandal very interesting. The Tudors brought the birth of the new Church of England and the golden age. But none of that would have been possible if it wasn't for the War of the Roses and the defeat of Richard III. 

Richard III's reign was one that I didn't know much about and I felt we didn't really study it enough at school as the Tudors played a big chunk of our history learning at school. I think we all know of Shakespeare's version of Richard III as the evil hunchback who slaughtered his nephews. That image has been etched in our minds for centuries, and it's going to take a while for it to go away — if it ever fades at all. If we can learn anything from this, it is that the winners are the ones that write history.

When Richard III's remains were discovered in a car park in Leicester, my interest in him peaked. I always felt there was more about him than meets the eye. I wasn't sure if I did believe that Richard III really murdered his nephews, as a part of me would like to believe that he was innocent. What happened to the princes in the tower is something I think that we will never know.

On my four-day trip to Leicester, I had this gut instinct that I had to go to the Richard III Visitor Centre. It was almost as if his spirit was calling me to come. I was in Leicester for a convention at one of the universities. The convention was quiet, so I decided to have a look around the city centre. I found the Richard III Visitor Centre easy to find by following the town signs. I really liked the city myself, and I wouldn't mind going again.

The Richard III Visitor Centre is really close to Leicester Cathedral, which is now Richard III's new resting place. And entering the cathedral itself is free, but to enter the visitor centre is £8.95 and the ticket is valid all year, and I think that's good value. I couldn't believe how busy both the cathedral and the visitor centre was. In fact, I think there were more people here to see Richard III then there were for the convention that I went to.

And if I'm honest, I enjoyed the Richard III Visitor Centre more than the convention. I thought it was brilliant because it was really well spaced out and really organised. The cafe looked really nice, even though I didn't go in. I've always had a keen interest in history, so I thought it was really worth the money.

When you go in, they've got the tiny gift shop. In the gift shop, they have a lot of things that you would expect from the gift shop like stationary, books, reproduced coins and films. I was actually quite impressed with the book selection. I found a lot of the books interested me. There were books from historians and also historical novels. They had a book about Anne Neville, Richard III's wife. I managed to buy a few stuffs for my family. I got some pens, a coin, and a keyring for them.

I gave my mum a fridge magnet, cause that's what she likes. I only ended up buying one thing for myself in the end from there which was a hardback of The Fox and the Ghost King by Micheal Morpurgo. I read that in once in the library a few months back, and I really enjoyed it. So I'm quite happy to have it on my bookshelf now.

I thought what they had on in the exhibition centre was really good. When you go in, you're greeted by this throne with a rose on it and there's a projection of actors and I think they're quoting stuff from Shakespeare's play, but I can't say for sure as I haven't read that play yet (I'm planning to, though).

On the left, there was this red room, and I thought it was really cool how they had this huge model of cards stacked up high and on these cards had the important people from the War of the Roses. I also liked how they had these stands shaped as books, and they gave you information. I found it both visually pleasing and very informative. Downstairs had all the medieval information, whilst upstairs there was more information on the actual hunt for Richard III's remains and how they managed to find his remains. I liked both floors equally. I particularly enjoyed the interactive stuff upstairs.

I think I spent a good hour at the visitor centre, and it didn't take me long to have a look around. I was impressed with the enthusiasm the staff had, especially when showing us the part of the car park where his remains were discovered. They were happy to answer questions and show pictures. I can see the influence it has on Game of Thrones.

I'm glad I went to the centre. I would go again. I feel that I know another side to Richard III other than the atrocious villain as Shakespeare painted him to be. I would like to see what different events they would have and what the cafe is like next time.