Mistress Agnes Loose in Leicestershire – in search of Richard III

I’ve received a strange request. Could the photograph I took at Bambrough last year be used as a background for a visualisation by wind farm protestors? Flattered  though I am, I can’t help wondering why they don’t just take their own. I do say yes but I am a bit ambivalent as I am, in general, a fan of wind energy. The trouble is, the wind farms need to be in the right place. Sadly, any proposal is always in the wrong place for some.

Off in the new-to-us caravan again. Chris has rediscovered the blueberries that went missing on the last trip. That was six weeks ago. I am not a great observer of ‘best before’ dates but even I have to admit that they are now a little past their best. Bowling along the M5 we see a chicken on the hard shoulder. At this point in time it is an alive chicken. This is perhaps taking ‘free range’ to extremes.

We arrive at our Leicestershire destination with comparatively little incident – just a minor detour at the very end. The camp site is hidden from view by some serious looking security gates. Chris has to speak through an intercom for them to be opened remotely, allowing us to enter. We are now in a field in the middle of nowhere, next to a very impressive new property that appears to rate two gardeners. We are wondering if we will ever be able to get back out through the security gates, or if we have been kidnapped for nefarious purposes. If we do manage to escape, what happens if we want to return and there is no one to press the ‘open sesame’ button?

Chris is trying to get a TV signal. This caravan is all singing, all dancing, full of technical gadgets but lacking in instructions as to how these might work. We now have an external TV aerial – the previous caravan didn’t rate one of these. Chris needs his reading glasses to look at small print on an awkwardly positioned control box. It seems his glasses are in a cupboard with a sliding door. In transit, something has fallen down, covering the channel inside the cupboard into which the door needs to slide. The cupboard now seems to be irretrievably hermetically sealed. A bit of judicious jiggling with a kitchen knife and we have gained entry and are back on task.

After a certain amount of head scratching and plugging numerous aerial cables in to the aforementioned awkwardly positioned box affair, in various combinations of sockets (Krypton Factor here we come), no television. I am not so bothered as I am too busy being excited by the discovery that, despite the remote location, I have achieved an internet connection. Not too sure whose connection I am hijacking. It appears to have the narrowest bandwidth in the world but it is an internet connection of sorts. Meanwhile, Chris has solved the lack of television. It seems that some incompetent (ok me) has plugged the aerial in the wrong socket in the television itself and the cables in the inaccessible box were right all along.

Next day and we are off to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre. We have already established, thanks to Tripadvisor, that this is not actually on the site of the battlefield at all, so that won’t be a disappointment. In fact the received wisdom concerning the exact battlefield location has changed over the years. It is raining, quite a lot, so we do the indoor bits first. The exhibition has obviously had serious money thrown at it and is interactive and impressive. The story is told through the eyes of three fictional characters and Thomas Stanley. One is ‘Colette’, allegedly the wife of a French mercenary, who sound as if she has stepped out of ’ello ’ello. She does stop short of saying ‘I will say this only once’ but only just.

6 September 2013 View of Bosworth field

We linger in order to avoid a school party that is being supervised by Joyce Grenfell. We throw ourselves in to the interaction with gusto. A surprise discovery, apart from an attempt by Genghis Khan, carrier pigeons were not used until the nineteenth century. My son in law has obviously been here. An interpretation board referring to ‘less than 1000 knights’ has been corrected to ‘fewer’. We can’t resist trying on armour. These are a more realistic weight than our seventeenth century versions. Chris does an impression of man in the iron mask and is surprised by the lack of vision from the helmet. Then a chance to see how good we are at pulling a long bow (2 fingers only allowed for this). I have done archery before but I am amazed that my pull equates to a 220 metre range. The maximum, which Chris achieves, is 240 metres. Maybe it is rigged to improve visitors’ self esteem. The Battle Story presentation brings it home just how critical the role of Thomas Stanley was in determining the outcome. The terrain clearly played its part as well.

We then venture outside, where the rain has abated somewhat. We follow the 2km Battlefield Trail, wondering why the advice is that this takes and hour. This takes us through Ambion Wood – a corruption, apparently, of Anne Beame.

Then on to Leicester itself to see if we can find THE car park. We find A car park. Not, it turns out, THE car park. Further investigation round the old part of Leicester takes us to the Cathedral. The gravestones have been rearranged, rather strangely, one behind the other, with only a few inches’ gap between them. This makes reading them difficult and photographing them impossible. We see the Guildhall, parts of which date back to 1393. Finally, THE Greyfriars car park.

6 September 2013 Gravestones at Leicester Cathedral

Back in the van and my shoulder is hurting. I suspect a longbow related injury. I really should be less competitive.


One comment on “Mistress Agnes Loose in Leicestershire – in search of Richard III

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles says:

    Another interesting post to read from Janet aka Mistress Agnes

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