The architecture of Richard III

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The eighth in a series of talks about the history, heritage and culture of the small market town of Barnard Castle and its medieval church

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It is not a generally known fact that Richard, Duke of Gloucester was Lord of Barnard Castle before being crowned King Richard III. Before he left the North, he spent a considerable amount of time in the town and ordered significant improvements to be made both in the castle and in St Mary’s church, one plan being to build an ecclesiastical college and a chantry.

However, with his early death in 1485, not many of his visions had been realised. Several boar carvings all around the town, some of which have since been lost, are a small reminder of what could have become of Barnard Castle if Richard III had survived the battle at Bosworth. Today, Richard’s white boar is depicted in the town’s coat of arms. He provided St Mary’s church with a grant and the building underwent significant improvements, structural as well as ornamental, most of which are still visible today and made the building bigger and lighter.

Join James Wright as he explores this overlooked perspective of Richard’s life – his achievements as an architectural patron. By considering his building projects at sites including Middleham, Warwick and Sudeley this study looks at the context of his sacred and secular architecture in late mediaeval England, and gives us a rare and detailed glimpse into the architectural world of Richard III - setting his building projects in their wider 15th century context.

James Wright is an award winning buildings archaeologist. He has two decades professional experience of ferreting around in people’s cellars, hunting through their attics and digging up their gardens. He hopes to find meaningful truths about how ordinary and extraordinary folk lived their lives in the mediaeval period.

The talk will take place at St Mary's church for a limited audience and will be live-streamed. If Covid-19 restrictions will not allow in person attendance at the venue, the entire talk will be live-streamed.

About Windows To The World:

This talk is the eighth in a series of talks for the NLHF funded 'Windows to the World' project. Originally planned to be held at St Mary’s Parish church every first Wednesday of the month, the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19 mean that some of the talks will take place online.

St Mary's Parish has an eventful history, going back over 900 years. Alongside the church's ongoing restoration, we are delving into the archives and uncovering the hidden gems from its past.

The talks will cover the eventful history and cultural peculiarities of St Mary’s Parish, Barnard Castle, and their wider surroundings. 900 years is a long time and you are bound to learn things you didn’t know before!

Other dates in the series:

Wed 07 April 2021 / Michael Lyons on the folklore of Teesdale and Weardale:

Wed 05 May 2021 / Christine Hartas and Elizabeth Conran on the life and work of Douglas Pittuck:

Wed 02 June 2021 / Beverley Pilcher on Barnard Castle during the Cholera Epidemic of 1849:

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Organiser DigVentures

Organiser of The architecture of Richard III

DigVentures runs crowdfunded, collaborative archaeology projects in the UK and beyond, with the aim of increasing opportunities for people interested in the past to take part in archaeological research. You can follow all of our excavations live online at



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