Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


WHAT WOULD Richard III drive? Or would this last of Britain’s Plantagenet kings prefer advanced self-driving technology? Astonishingly enough, these hypothetical questions have historical as well as timely relevance.

Richard III, 1452-1485, the last English king of the House of York; also the first to be discovered buried beneath a Brit car park.

Richard III and the Motor Car. Richard III has already appeared here at SimanaitisSays in “My Kingdom for a Parking Space.” Shakespeare had Richard utter the fateful words, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” at the Battle of Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485.

The king was killed there in the last significant battle of England’s War of the Roses, waged between the House of Lancaster (red rose) and House of York (white rose). The victorious red-rose guy was Henry Tudor (the first of his dynasty), who became Henry VII.

Stained glass at St. James Church, Sutton Cheney, England. Image by John Taylor at Luminarium.

Remarkably enough, Richard III lay in an unmarked grave until September 2012, when excavation of a Leicester, England, parking lot unearthed the remains of a “deformed” and “unfinish’d” skeleton. DNA extracted from teeth and a thigh bone matched that of two modern relatives descended from Richard’s sister. The DNA and Richard’s known deformities confirmed identity. It was indeed Richard III, who has since been reburied in Leicester Cathedral, September 2015.

Richard III’s Memory Still Not Freed of the Motor Car. If being buried beneath a car park wasn’t indignity enough, The Telegraph, August 26, 2018, reported a new “Battle of Bosworth Field: Historians Fight to Stop Construction of Test-track Where Richard III Died.”

Horiba is a Japanese-owned specialist in automotive test equipment, and Horiba Mira Ltd applied to the Hinkley and Bosworth Borough Council to build a £26 million 27-acre test track for evaluating autonomous cars.

Above, the proposed test track. Image from Insider Media Limited. Below, Horiba Mira Ltd already has a facility nearby, though its proposed test track would overlap the historic battlefield. Image from The Telegraph, August 26, 2018.

The overlap is part of Historic England’s Bosworth Field registered battle zone. The Telegraph wrote, “Historians claim it would destroy an important area, as well as blocking the view from where Henry Tudor first saw the army of Richard III.”

Said Kelvin van Hasselt of The Battlefields Trust, “Who wants to climb a hill and just look at industrial buildings?”

Agreed, it would be every bit as galling as parking one’s car directly atop Richard III.

A 21st-century Battle of Bosworth Field. Initial opposition to the Horiba Mira plan came from Historic England, The Battlefields Trust, the Richard III Society, and some 15,000 petition signers.

“The development encroaches on the south-western tip of the battlefield…. About 27 acres—around 1 percent of the battlefield site—is to be built on.” Image and details from BBC News, December 8, 2018.

According to BBC News, December 8, 2018, “Richard III Society Declares Peace Over Bosworth Track Plans.” The group will back a survey leading to creation of a 3D historical map. Sally Henshaw, secretary of the Richard III Society, says, “The [new digital map] will show the battlefield as it is now and then be able to go back to 1485 before the hedges and fences were there and give you an idea of how Henry and Richard would have seen it.”

On the other hand, BBC News reports, “The Battlefields Trust said it ‘remains disappointed’ the plans were approved.”

And people are still signing that petition at “Stop Plans to Build a High Speed Test Track on Bosworth Battlefield!”

This Just In. Posting this today, January 27, 2019, I note the petition’s website now reads “16,013 signed. Let’s get to 25,000!” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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