Leicester’s statue of King Richard III was supposed to begin its journey on Monday to its new home in the heart of the city’s Cathedral Quarter, but it proved to difficult for restorers to remove the statue which is currently located at Castle Gardens. After trying for many hours to remove the monument even armed with a mini digger with a pneumatic hammer the restorers had to call it a day and try again the following day.
On Tuesday they successfully removed the statue, and transport it to Hirst Convention in Lincolnshire where it will undergo specialist cleaning and restoration. As part of the restoration, the King will be armed with a new sword; this will be cast in bronze by Lockbund Sculpture from the original designs for the statue by Sculptor James Butler MBE RA.
Once the restoration process is complete the statue will be reinstated at is new location outside Leicester Cathedral which means it will be situated opposite the new King Richard III Visitor Centre, where it will stand just a few steps from where the King’s remains were discovered.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby, said “Moving the statue really marks the beginning of a really exciting period in the work currently underway on Cathedral Gardens and the new King Richard III Visitor Centre”
“The statue will leave the city for just a short while. It will be carefully restored to its full glory, complete with a sword befitting a king, before being transported back to its new home in the heart of city’s cathedral quarter where it will be seen and enjoyed by many thousands more people.
Pete Hobson, acting Canon Missioner at Leicester Cathedral, said: “We’re excited that this iconic statue of Richard III is now beginning its journey to Cathedral Gardens, where it will take its rightful place, midway between the resting place of Richard’s remains for the last 500 years and their presumed final resting place, in a location of honour in the heart of our Cathedral.”
The cast-bronze statue was commissioned and given to the city by The Richard III Society in 1980. The society has welcomed the plans to relocate the statue. Dr Phil Stone, Chairman of the Richard III Society, said: “I’m sure that many members of the Society will be as pleased as I am to see the statue moved to a place where it can be seen more easily and admired, somewhere close to where Richard III’s remains were found.’’
The plans have also been welcomed by the artist who designed the statue. James Butler said: “I am very pleased with the plans and that the statue is to be so well looked after.’’
“The move presents a wonderful opportunity to return to my original design which had Richard bearing the full length ‘hand and a half’ sword. It appears historically, that this is the weapon that a brave, fighting king would have used – and it seems a fitting reminder that Richard III was our last king to die in battle.”
The restoration of the statue is expected to take around four to five week, and the statue is due to arrive at its new home by the cathedral in mid-June. The new public gardens will open to the public with a weekend of entertainment and activities from Saturday, July 5. Castle Gardens will be closed to the public as a safety precaution while work to prepare the site and remove the statue takes place.