Published: 00:01, 23 July 2016
Historians fear that tomb raiders brandishing crowbars have prised their way into the final resting place of King Richard III’s son.
According to research Richard Plantagenet was the illegitimate son of the last Yorkist king who fell at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
During a recent visit to the ruins of Eastwell Church historian and novelist Paul Crampton said he found the tomb had been disturbed.
Mr Crampton said: “I went to see the tomb and on this occasion it looked like the stones had been levered off. They were loose and had been moved back into place. I suppose the motive was to see if there was anything inside.
“The tomb at Eastwell is a bit of a hidden secret, but it should be better treated. I think the disrespect by the vandals is sad.
“If the tomb is continually broken into, there won’t be anything left to see. This piece of history is important, it fires the imagination.
“I suppose many more people are now aware of the history and atmosphere at Eastwell but there is a danger more people might attempt to interfere with the tomb.”
The body of King Richard III was discovered under a car park in Leicester in 2012, and his body was interred at the city cathedral in March last year.
Mr Crampton said there is solid evidence that the story of the king’s son holds true, with parish records recording the death of Rychard Plantagenet on December 22, 1550, and his tomb recognised at Eastwell Church, which has been a ruin since 1951.
In 1485 he was told to watch the battle from a safe vantage point, with the king promising to acknowledge him in victory, but warning him to hide his identity and flee if defeated.
The victorious Lancastrian forces were led by Henry Tudor, who brought an end to the Plantagenet dynasty and the Wars of the Roses to become King Henry VII.
Richard Plantagenet, still only a teenager, fled to Eastwell where he lived out his days as a reclusive bricklayer.
He only aroused suspicion because a nobleman found him able to read Latin, and allowed him to build his own cottage on the estate.
More by this authorAidan Barlow