The Shed’s experiences include a bit of how news organisations work and the enthusiasm which greeted the identification of Richard lll’s remains did remind us that there is a rule against letting facts get in the way of a good story – and the better the story, the harder it is to break the rule.
We were therefore interested in, and have tucked away for reference, Dominic Selwood’s reminders, in Telegraph 21.3.15, of the doubts which remain …
However, The Shed’s Richard lll files did already include the following interesting story by David Boyle …
Some years ago, I came across an old newspaper cutting that included a letter from a distant relative of mine. It was written in 1919 and said that she had it, on the authority of an eyewitness, that Richard III was no hunchback. The story came from the author’s grandfather, born in 1784. He told her father that his uncle’s grandfather had danced with the Countess of Desmond, who is supposed to have died falling out of a cherry tree at the ripe old age of 140. (Bear with me on this.) The countess, it seems, had danced with the young Richard III at a court banquet when she was a girl, and said he was very handsome and had no signs of deformity.
The Shed liked the story because it illustrated the amazing reach of family memories. It also, of course, tends to support the argument that the Leicester body was Richard’s because although it and he had scoliosis, it would not necessarily have been obvious. Interesting, too, that the family belief in its own eye-witness outlasted the official rewrite of Richard’s reputation.