Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°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

Archant

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

shares

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.

shares

0 comments

Langham cottage fire. Photo: Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

A blaze at a thatched cottage in a village near the Suffolk/Essex border was tackled by firefighters for around seven hours overnight.

Gena Moore from Nelson’s Journey with Simon and Anne Beckett-Allen of Rosedale Funeral Home

A funeral home with branches in north Suffolk has continued its support for local bereaved children by commissioning a doll’s house style church to help support workers explain what happens at a funeral.

Felixstowe Road Runners

Runners from Suffolk and Essex will once again be flocking to the Capital, this weekend, to take part in the 35th staging of the London Marthon.

Man wanted in connection with a burglary at Playford Court in Sudbury

CCTV images of a man wanted over thefts from properties at sheltered housing complexes in Sudbury.

Cyclists taking part in the Suffolk Sunrise 100 bike ride for children's charity Action Medical Research in 2012

More than 1,300 cyclists are expected to line up for the start of a fundraising ride through the Suffolk countryside in just over a fortnight.

MRSA rates revealed

Drastic measures to tackle potentially life-threatening bugs have significantly reduced outbreaks in our hospitals, an investigation has found.

Haverhill High Street

A man was stabbed in Haverhill in the early hours of this morning.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie

A Victoria Cross recipient credited with turning defeat into victory at Gallipoli will be honoured in his home village this weekend – 100 years after he died in battle.

Julie Myerson

It was World Book Night this week. We asked some of our favourite local authors for the three books they’d most want on a desert island. Would you choose the ones they did?

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans

Ipswich Town’s Supporters Club has said it is “great news” that owner Marcus Evans’ wealth has gone up almost 10% – to £765million.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages