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Historians pull funding for van Heyningen and Haward’s Richard III tomb

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Members of the Richard III Society have withdrawn their support for van Heyningen and Haward’s proposed tomb for the recently discovered remains of the 15th-century king

Phil Stone, chair of the Richard III Society initially described the design, which will sit in the chancel of Leicester Cathedral, as ‘utterly inspired’.

However the designs have since come under fire from other members of the society, with some pulling their funding for the tomb.

Archaelogist and society member Philippa Langley said the £96,000 proposal was ‘unfit for a medieval warrior king’.

Speaking to the BBC Langley said: ‘Members of the society think it is a very difficult design. The feeling is that it is too modern and stylised, and designed with a cathedral in mind not a medieval warrior king.’

The society had originally pledged £40,000 towards the tomb, but several members have now asked for their money back.

The remains of Richard III, who died in battle in 1845, were discovered under a Leicester car park back in September 2012.

The raised tombstone, which will be constructed from Swaledale limestone and carved with a large cross, will sit on a floor inlaid with a large Yorkshire white rose.

The name of the king, the dates of his birth and death, his personal motto, and his badge will be carved into the dark circular band on the floor around the tomb. 

The project includes a £1.3 million scheme to refurbish and masterplan the cathedral to accommodate the King’s remains. Improvements to the inside of the cathedral will include opening up the area beneath the tower to make the tomb more accessible to visitors. Externally a scheme is underway to create a new public space outside the cathedral. Work on the cathedral gardens project is expected to begin next month.

The proposals now sit with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission, who will make a decision about whether the plans will go-ahead.

James McCosh, partner at van Heyningen and Haward commented: ‘We are delighted to have reached a point where our proposals for the tomb for Richard III can be submitted to the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, demonstrating the cathedral’s commitment to honouring him and the quality of his resting place at Leicester’.

Plans for Richard III’s burial in Leicester are also facing a judicial review. A group of the king’s distant relatives, calling themselves the Plantagenet Alliance, want to see the remains buried in York.

The dean of Leicester, the very reverend David Monteith, said: ‘We fully respect the process of the Judicial Review which will ensure the procedure leading to the re-interment is correct. While this takes its course we must, as would any cathedral in this position, seek planning permission for the detailed and costly changes which need to be made to the building.

‘The overall concept is regal and respectful in its elegant simplicity, as befits the final resting place of a King of England. By placing the tomb in our chancel, we are giving King Richard the same honour as did those friars more than 500 years ago.’

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