A historian has urged the people of Northampton to grab the chance to stand eye-to-eye with the “face that launched a thousand myths” during the town’s ‘Royal visit’, which begins this week.
The now world famous reconstructed head of Richard III, one of England’s most infamous and controversial monarchs, is to arrive in Northampton for an 11-week stay tonight (Thursday).
The head will then go on show at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery until January 5.
Talking to the Chronicle & Echo ahead of the visit, Dr Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, said the Yorkist king’s strong links to Northamptonshire meant the town was a vital stop off in the head’s limited tour.
He said: “The main link to Northamptonshire is obviously that in 1452, on October 2, Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle.
“He probably didn’t live there for many years because we know he was at Ludlow at the age of seven.
“We know he was captured at Ludlow, but having abused his mother, they let him go.”
However, Richard returned to Northampton in 1483 when he was meant to meet the young King Edward V, in the town, to take him to London for his coronation.
Thereafter started one of the most infamous episodes in British history, ending with the apparent murder of the two ‘Princes in the Tower’ and resulting in Richard III being demonised, particularly by William Shakespeare.
Dr Stone said: “One of the things we are noticing now is people no longer think of Richard as the Devil incarnate.
“I would urge people to go to see the exhibition, look at the face, look at it and think: ‘Is this the face of a ‘bloody tyrant and a homicide?’ as Shakespeare called him.
“I think most people will look at it and say ‘no’.”