Leicester Cathedral

You may recall (perhaps as one of those can-it-be-serious items at the end of the news) that within the last couple of years, the bones of King Richard III were found under a car park in Leicester. But visiting Leicester last week, the reality of this mysterious circumstance soon became apparent. The city is covered with posters of Richard, particularly an atmospheric picture (from the National Portrait Gallery) in which this ever-puzzling figure is for some reason placing a ring on the little finger of his right hand.

Meanwhile, the interior of Leicester Cathedral is being extensively re-modelled to include the tomb in which Richard’s remains will be re-interred next March. Three Cathedral services will mark this extraordinary event (I will be providing a couple of minutes’ new music for one of them) ; as clergy and music staff at the Cathedral pointed out, the re-burial of a king (let alone such a famous, dramatic one) is an unknown event for which there can be few precedents. They also feel the reappearance of the body is something of a miracle, for which they feel called to create an appropriate response.

A stylish new study centre has been built above the former car park (which earlier on, long before the dawn of car parking, was a Franciscan friary, probably explaining why Richard’s remains were found there). The precincts of the Cathedral have also been opened out and replanted, looking rather impressive. Formerly without opinions about the Richard III legend, I felt almost a sense of resurrection as I walked around the downbeat city centre on a grey afternoon.

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JUDITH WEIR

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