A team from the University of Leicester has reconstructed models of the Blue Boar Inn -- reputed to have housed King Richard III before the battle of Bosworth -- following the discovery of a notebook in a private collection containing a measured survey of the iconic local timber framed building.
The survey was made shortly before the inn was demolished in 1836 by Henry Goddard, but was never drawn up and has remained forgotten for over 170 years.
Using the survey notes, the Inn has now been brought back to life not only as a computer model, but also a physical model produced on the University's 3D printer.
The Blue Boar Inn -- which was located partly on the site of what is now Leicester's Travelodge -- was the medieval borough's 'Grand Hotel' and housed the King on his way from Nottingham to Bosworth where he met Henry Tudor in battle.
The Blue Boar Inn, a large and elaborately decorated timber building, is believed to have been constructed in the mid-15th century on medieval Leicester's High Street -- now Highcross Street.
Richard Buckley, co director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said: "The Blue Boar Inn was one of medieval Leicester's principal inns -- a place where aristocrats and wealthy merchants would stay when moving around the country. I suppose it was like the Grand Hotel of its time.
"The Blue Boar Inn is where Richard III is believed to have stayed on his way to Bosworth from Nottingham. He is said to have come down to Leicester from Nottingham at sunset on the 20th of August, and stayed the night in a large first-floor chamber. The inn probably had several wings surrounding a courtyard, with a hall, a kitchen and stabling for horses.
"Legend has it that Richard did not like sleeping in strange beds, so had his own brought down from Nottingham in 'knock-down' form so it could be put together at the inn. Of course, he never returned to claim it -- so the bed became a bit of a tourist haunt in the succeeding centuries and eventually ended up in the collections of the county museum service at Donington le Heath Manor House
"In March 1836, the Inn was demolished -- and until now, the only evidence for what it looked like consisted of a pair of engravings made by Leicestershire artist John Flower in 1826."
Richard Buckley came across new evidence when looking through the notebooks of 19th century architect Henry Goddard -- a member of important Leicestershire architectural dynasty the Goddard family.
One notebook contained extensive notes and measurements of a large timber frame building which Richard immediately recognised as the Blue Boar Inn.
Richard said: "When I was looking through this notebook, what was thrilling about it was that the drawings were so detailed. They showed how the building was put together -- the timber framing, the joints, pegholes -- all annotated with measurements in feet and inches.
"It made me think that perhaps we could produce a reconstruction of the Blue Boar Inn to modern standards. It was then a question of finding somebody who could do it."
Richard asked Steffan Davies, an architect with experience in historic building drawings, if he could put together computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of the buildings based on Henry Goddard's plans.
Steffan agreed, and put together a series of drawings as well as a 3-D computer model.
This was then passed to the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy and converted into a scale model using the Department's 3D printer.
The model shows all the timber framing, the jointing, the moulding of the timbers, the fireplaces and the chamber in which Richard III was said to have stayed.
The team hopes to exhibit the model to the public in due course.
The University of Leicester, in association with Leicester City Council and the Richard III Society, is leading the Search for Richard III.
The Search for Richard III is also the subject of a Channel 4 documentary being made by Darlow Smithson.
Blue Boar Inn timeline
- Mid 15th century -- The Inn was built on Leicester's High Street. According to some sources, it was originally known as the White Boar Inn, and changed name after the battle of Bosworth to avoid any connection with Richard III's badge
- August 20, 1485 -- Richard III is believed to have stayed the night at the Inn. His bed is said to have been brought up from Nottingham, and remained there after Richard left for Bosworth.
- August 22, 1485 -- Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth. His body is thought to have been returned to Leicester and buried at the Grey Friars church. Richard's bed is said to have remained at the Inn.
- In 1605, legend has it that Mrs. Clark, landlady of the inn, was murdered and robbed of £300 in gold coins of Richard's reign, said to be part of the king's treasure, hidden in the bed.
- 1826 -- Leicestershire artist John Flower made two drawings of the building. It is thought architect Henry Goddard -- who made several collaborations with Flowers -- may either have made his architectural notes about the building at the same time, or just before it was demolished ten years later
A video about the University of Leicester work is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnyYLIdR3bc
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