There must be hundreds of medieval halls in England, and I’ve visited dozens of them. Here I’ve chosen just three because of their links with Richard III.
Gainsborough Old Hall, in Lincolnshire, was built in the 15th century by Sir Thomas Burgh.
It’s on record that Richard III spent a night here on October 10th, 1483, and the Great Hall is set up as it might have been for Richard’s visit, so of course I sat where the king would have sat!
Donnington Manor House in Leicestershire. is one of the oldest houses in Britain, built around 1290, and used as a family home for nearly seven centuries. It was abandoned around 1960, became almost derelict and used as a pig shed until it was ‘rescued’ and restored by Leicestershire County Council.The most interesting item (for us anyway) was ‘King Dick’s Bed’ – traditionally the bed in which Richard III slept at the Blue Boar Inn in Leicester before he and his army marched out to Bosworth. Legend has it that the widowed landlady of the Blue Boar was murdered in 1604, apparently for a quantity of gold coins discovered in an old bed. It was rumoured that these had been hidden there by Richard. While the upper part of the bed dates from the 16th century, the lower parts with ropes fastened across it to hold a straw mattress could date from the 15th century. That's the origin of the phrase 'Sleep tight' i..e. with the ropes fastened tightly across the bed base.
Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire was the home of Francis Lovell, one of Richard III’s most loyal friends. After Richard’s death at Bosworth, Francis fled abroad, but returned to England with Lambert Simbel, thought by some to be the Earl of Warwick, son of Richard’s brother George. However, they were defeated by Henry VII’s forces at the battle of Stoke in 1487. One record states that Francis was killed at the battle, another that he escaped by swimming across the river and went into hiding in a cellar at Minster Lovell. In 1708 it was reported that an underground room had been discovered at the house, with the skeleton of a man, sitting at a table on which were books, a pen and parchment. Was this Francis Lovell? We shall never know! The hall was abandoned in the 18th century and is now in ruins but it must have been a beautiful place in the 15th century, overlooking the River Windrush.