Richard III Museum
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Housed within one of York's medieval gateways, including a chamber built by King Richard himself
Monk Bar is the tallest gateway in York's historic city walls and over the centuries has served as a guardhouse, prison, and police house. In 1992 the medieval chambers within the Bar were converted into the museum, partly in an attempt to balance the slanted view taken by most historians towards King Richard and redress the balance by presenting the other side of the story.
A major section of the museum is devoted to a special exhibit called The Trial of Richard III, where you can hear the evidence, both pro and con, and decide if the king in the dock actually did kill his nephews, the unfortunate 'Princes in the Tower'. Relive the entire controversy through mock medieval tabloid newspapers.
The second chamber houses a display on executions ordered by Richard while he was king. Elsewhere in the Bar is perhaps the smallest prison cell in the world, where an unfortunate Catholic named Alice Bowman was incarcerated during the Elizabethan period.
Try your hand at raising an authentic working portcullis - the original portcullis inside Monk Bar was used to control traffic through the gateway beneath. The mechanism still works and you can raise and lower it - with a bit of muscle power!
The Richard III was the brainchild of Michael S Bennett, a former York tour guide. Bennett was fascinated by the story of King Richard and determined to set the historical record straight over this much-maligned monarch. He wrote and performed a play entitled An Audience with King Richard III, a DVD of which is available in the museum gift shop.
Bennett has also authored several manuscripts, including Shakespeare's Richard III, Fact and Fiction, a scene-by-scene analysis of Shakespeare's play about Richard. All of which information is included just to drive home the point that he knows what he's talking about when it comes to Richard III!
NB. Mr Bennett was manning the till when we visited, and I found him friendly and entertaining.
The museum is fascinating and well worth a visit. It will help give a glimpse into a corner of York's history that is perhaps in need of more illumination!
About Richard III Museum
Address: Monk Bar, York, Yorkshire, England, YO1 7LQ
Attraction Type: Museum
Location: Within Monk Bar, at the junction of the Lord Mayor's Walk and Monkgate, about 3 blocks north east of York Minster. Currently open all year.
Website: Richard III Museum
Phone: 01904 634191
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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