A MEMORIAL to commemorate King Richard III’s visit to Bridport in 1483 was unveiled by Philip Williams, the High Sheriff of Dorset, exactly 533 years later on November 5th.
Created by local stonemasons Karl and Christine Dixon out of white Portland stone, the memorial has been placed by the River Asker at East Bridge, opposite the bay window, which is a remnant of the medieval Hospital of St John the Baptist where the King is believed to have lodged.
Organiser Arthur Woodgate expressed his pleasure and appreciation that more than 60 people – including six former Bridport mayors – turned out to take part in the ceremony.
He said: “It was an exciting, moving and uplifting moment when Sir Philip unveiled the beautifully crafted memorial.
“The fact that so many people had taken the trouble to be there and demonstrate their interest in this little piece of history, remembered and now commemorated, made it all the more special.”
Town crier John Collingwood’s informative and amusing introduction opened the proceedings and this was followed by Mr Woodgate explaining how he had discovered, or ‘rediscovered’ as he put it, the link between the king and the town whilst on a visit to York.
With the details confirmed through contemporary court records by the Richard III Society, Arthur approached the museum and spoke to a number of people about what appeared to be a forgotten episode in the history of the town.
He added: “To my amazement nobody seemed to know anything about a visit to their town by a reigning monarch and, if you happen to be taken in by the Tudor propaganda, one of the most notorious figures in British history – but then history is almost always written by the victors.”
With the support of town councillors Maggie & Martin Ray and Sandra Brown, a campaign was started to raise the funding needed to create a lasting memorial.
Donations came from the Richard III Society and from people in and beyond Bridport – including Mike Gresk, the Mayor of Wheaton, Illinois in the USA.
Apart from those already mentioned, Mr Woodgate would like to thank town surveyor Daryl Chambers, Ray Travers of the Bridport Freemasons, Amanda Smith, Bob Smith of the Bridge House Hotel, John Saunders of the Ricardian Bulletin and Lynda Pidgeon, research officer for the Richard III society.