Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 7°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Essex/Suffolk: Ex-high school teacher finds Richard III

08:00 06 February 2013

Dr John Ashdown-Hill helped unearth the remains of Richard III

Dr John Ashdown-Hill helped unearth the remains of Richard III


A FORMER Suffolk teacher has helped rewrite history by playing a key role in one of the most important archeological discoveries of our time.


Dr John Ashdown-Hill, from Lawford, Essex, taught languages at Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge, before embarking on a journey that would lead to the remains of King Richard III.

After losing the hearing in one ear, the 63-year-old left a career in teaching to advance his knowledge and enthusiasm for history, gaining a PhD in the subject at the University of Essex.

In 2004, Dr Ashdown-Hill’s interest in Richard III, and his reputation as a usurper, led to him to a skeleton found in Belgium, thought to belong to the king’s sister, Margaret of York.

A DNA sample turned up a direct descendent in Canada who would eventually help identify bones found in a council car park in Leicester as those of the notorious king.

Dr Ashdown-Hill said: “The discovery in Belgium gradually provided more and more evidence which opened a lot of new doors.

“An all-female line was traced from the sister to a lady in Canada who very sadly died in 2008. We had become friendly and I wish she had been around to see the discovery but her son, Michael Ibsen, gave us the most recent sample.

“There was a well-established story that Richard’s bones had been tipped into the local river - but that story seemed to have come from a 17th Century map-maker who had been looking in the wrong place.”

Dr Ashdown-Hill then found the financial accounts of Henry VII detailing money set aside for Richard’s tomb at Leicester’s Choir of Greyfriars church.

Working with the Richard III Society and archaeologists at the University of Leicester, he located the site of Greyfriars - now a car park belonging to the city council - where an unearthed skeleton’s DNA matched that of Mr Ibsen.

Dr Ashdown-Hill, author of The Last Days of Richard III, hopes the discovery might help change public perception of a much-maligned king, accused of locking his nephews in the Tower of London and stealing the throne. He said: “There is a lot more work to do on Richard III. I think history needs to be rewritten in this case.

“Shakespere plays a big role in it, but he wasn’t trying to write history - he just wanted a good story. He had to use the material available at the end of a Tudor dynasty that ousted Richard.”

Dr Ashdown-Hill, who has written extensively on Richard III and also published a book on mediaeval Colchester, will not stop researching as a result of the discovery.

In fact, he plans to investigate a set of bones in the West Country, thought to be those of Richard’s brother the Duke of Clarence, who was supposedly drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine.

Dr Ashdown-Hill even hopes to uncover the truth about allegations of murder against Richard III by tracing the DNA sequences of Richard’s nephews from a strand of Henry VIII’s sister’s hair.



The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne delivers his joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review. Photo: PA Wire

Chancellor George Osborne said councils could put up council tax bills by an extra 2% if the increase was reserved to cover social care costs as he delivered his Autumn Statement today..

Kieron Dyer on I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! 2015. Photo:  ITV/PA Wire

Former Ipswich Town midfielder Kieron Dyer shocked fans tonight when he quit ITV programme I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here’, before making a U-turn decision.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne delivers his joint Autumn Statement and Spending Review to MPs in the House of Commons, London. PA Wire

Families receiving tax credits and bobbies on the beat were given a reprieve as the chancellor moved to quieten his critics with an unexpected cuts U-turn.

Two people were taken to Colchester General Hospital for further treatment

An elderly man had to be freed from his vehicle by fire crews in Wix, near Manningtree, this evening after a collision on the A120.

Don't leave it til the day before, start preparing your Christmas treats now

Does the mention of Christmas bring you out in a cold sweat? All that shopping, cooking and cleaning.

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere at the former sugar beet factory site off Sproughton Road.

A new Enterprize Zone involving 10 development sites across East Anglia, with the potential to create 18,500 jobs, was announced by Chancellor George Osborne today.

Nick Alston, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, pictured with Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh. Picture: Su Anderson.

Police chiefs in Essex gave a cautious welcome yesterday to the Chancellor’s announcement there would be no further cuts to policing.

Police at the scene of the robbery

Two men have been arrested in connection with a robbery at a One Stop convenience store in Claydon, Suffolk, on Sunday.

Police enforced a cordon at around 3pm

Two suspected unexploded mortars and ammunition, found in a building site in Colchester, saw a 100m cordon enforced in Mersea Road afternoon.

Police joined forces with partner agencies for the operation

People were arrested and vehicles seized in a series of police checks carried around in Ipswich and Thetford this week.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24