It was whilst on a visit to York that Arthur Woodgate discovered the link between Bridport and Richard the Third, popularly known as “The King in the Car Park.”
Now plans are afoot to commemorate the visit of the much maligned monarch. In the riverside gardens by East Bridge an information notice board identifies the location of the Priory of St John the Baptist just across the road, but gives no indication that this is where Richard is considered to have stayed.
“Nor will you find any mention of this anywhere in Bridport,” commented Mr Woodgate, “but I’m pleased to say that this is about to change.”
With the Town’s information boards due for renewal, it has been agreed that the display in the riverside gardens will now state:
On 5th November 1483 King Richard the Third stayed overnight in Bridport on his way to Exeter to deal with the remnants of the rebellion led by the Duke of Buckingham. It is likely that he stayed at the Priory of St John the Baptist (founded circa 1240 and dissolved in 1547) which was situated directly across the road on the other side of the bridge. A three sided oriel window from the Priory may be seen facing the river on the building opposite.
Remains of the Priory may also be seen inside the Masonic Hall, and Mayor Sandra Brown, together with Town Councillors Maggie and Martin Ray, accompanied Arthur on a recent visit.
“I have been interested in Richard and his unfair bad press ever since school,” said Sandra. “My history teacher put most of the blame on poor old Shakespeare, who was only keeping in with those Tudors!”
It is thought possible that further remains of the Priory exist in the Masonic building in East Street, and it is hoped that further research may help to rediscover these.
Commerative Stone Competition
A competition to design a commemorative stone is being planned in partnership with the Sir John Colfox Academy, thus involving young people in a little known episode in the history of their own Town. The creator of the winning design will work with stone mason Karl Dixon towards producing the memorial.
An appeal for donations towards the cost of the stone has been launched, and is supported by the Richard the Third Society, whose Executive Committee “hopes that a permanent record can be installed in the Town.” The Society has also donated funding towards the appeal
Cheques should be made out to “BYPAT” (Bridport Young Persons’ Action Trust) and sent to 27 Coneygar Close, Bridport DT63AR.
More information from firstname.lastname@example.org or by ‘phoning 01308 423767.