Richard III signed book goes on show at Longleat

This Is Wiltshire: The book containing the signature of Richard III The book containing the signature of Richard III

A rare book signed by King Richard III went on public display at Longleat this week for the first time since it was written 550 years ago.

The book, which was written on vellum and features tales by Chaucer, was given to Richard III as a teenager and is part of a new exhibition about the king.

It is one of only 13 of Richard III's books that are known to still exist and it is especially valuable as he signed it R Gloucester - as he was the Duke of Gloucester as a young man.

The news comes just a month after it was confirmed that a skeleton discovered by archaeologists underneath a Leicester car park last August was that of the former monarch, who was killed in battle in 1485.

Dr Kate Harris, curator at Longleat House, said: “It is a fascinating piece of history. His handwriting is extremely competent, which shows he was highly educated.

“Within the book are tales of daring heroism, as well as classical Greek and Rome. Most of the books of the time were in French and Latin, so the fact that this one is in English is also unusual.”

The book has been kept at Longleat since 1709 when it was purchased by Thomas Thynne, the First Viscount Weymouth, as part of a collection of medieval manuscripts.

As well as the signed book, the new exhibition, The King’s Body: Richard III King of England 1483-1485, features portraits of the king alongside his two predecessors on the throne, brother Edward IV and nephew Edward V, as well as his successor Henry VII.

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