Wednesday 1 August 2012

The lost prince

Down a winding road, there is an unmarked smaller lane; at the end of this, an old church in ruins.

The graveyard has old stones, most of which are difficult to read and some overgrown.

One of the graves has a fascinating story.

This is a close up of the inscription
Reputed to be the tomb of Richard Plantagenet. 22 December 1550.

Who was Richard Plantagenet? 

The story goes that he was the son of Richard III. He was brought up outside court but brought to see his father on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth, aged about 16. Richard III told his son that if the battle was lost, he needed to disappear and never be known as a King's son. Richard III lost to Henry VII so Richard Junior "disappeared", effectively and for many years.

Tradition has it that one day the owner of the local manor, Eastwell in Kent, noticed that one of the older bricklayers was reading Latin in his lunch break- an odd and unexpected behaviour in a labourer, in those days. He enquired and gradually the story came out. Apparently, the landowner then had a cottage built for Richard so that he could live out his remaining days in peace. Richard lived on until the beginning of the reign of Edward VI.

Apparently, Richard's death entry in the church records is noted with a mark against it that was used for denoting aristocracy.

How true is this? I don't know but a story that has fascinated me for years, and that I enjoyed retelling to my children.


  1. Wow, I didn't know the grave existed! Have you read the Mantlemass novels? I read some of them as a child and one of them (Harrow and Harvest perhaps?) tells the story of Richard Plantagenet.

  2. I think that I read some of the Mantlemass novels (by Barbara Willard, I think) when I was in school but haven't read that one. Must try to get hold of it-might make a good read aloud after seeing the grave.