Eastwell Parish Church owners welcome plans to dig for Richard III son
Is this the tomb of
Richard III's illegitimate son at Eastwell, near Ashford?
Following the discovery of King Richard III’s remains, the
owners of the Eastwell parish church said they would welcome
similar works to uncover his son.
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester used DNA from a
relative to confirm a skeleton found under a Leicester car park was
that of the English monarch on Monday.
However what is little known is that King Richard (pictured
below) apparently had an illegitimate son, known locally as Richard
of Eastwell, who died on the Eastwell estate, near Boughton
There is still a tombstone in the grounds of the ruined St
Mary’s Church at Eastwell (pictured left), which reads: “Reputed to
be the tomb of Richard Plantagenet 22 December 1550.”
The tale is that Richard was brought up without knowing his
parents but was boarded with a schoolmaster who taught him Latin, a
sign of someone being educated according to his status.
When he was older, one day he was brought to the Bosworth
battlefield where the king embraced him and told him he was his
After the King, Richard III was killed in battle, his son fled
and ended up at Eastwell, working as a gardener and bricklayer for
Sir Thomas Moyle, who was the lord of the manor.
It is thought he lived an inconspicuous life because people
claiming to be descendants of the royal family were executed during
the reign of the Tudors.
Matthew Saunders, director of the Friends of Friendless Churches
which took over the church in 1980, said: “It’s a fascinating story
even if it’s not true - although I think it is.
“The person buried there was called Richard Plantagenent and
that was pretty clear.
"The thinking is it was probably the bastard son of Richard III
who, when his father was killed, was adopted and became a gardener
for the owner of Eastwell Manor.
“He lived for decades beyond the death of his father and was
buried in the churchyard there.”
He added that he would support excavations or testing to see if
Richard was a descendant of the king.
“One of the ways to be certain about it would be to take a DNA
test of the bones,” he said.
“It would be an enormous task as that churchyard is probably
full of 2,000 bodies, unless they do a localised search under the
“If they wanted to try and find him we would be delighted.”
The remains of Richard
III were discovered underneath a car park by archaeologists.
Picture: University of Leicester
Cllr Winston Michael, borough councillor for Eastwell and
Boughton Aluph, said he would be contacting the University of
Leicester to invite them to identify who Richard Plantagenet
"I think there's a great opportunity here to find out if it is
actually Richard's son," he said.
people may say they don't want to spoil the myth but that's the
risk of the task.
"I think I would rather we pursued it a little bit rather than
leave it with a question mark.
"It would be useful to be able to say if it was Richard's son or
"It would be good for Ashford which has lost a lot of its
history and its market. There might be an opportunity for some
tourism as well."
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