Richard III’s Bed and Fabled Treasure Led to a Murder… and Some Say a Very Persistent Ghost

The English City of Leicester has had a Blue Boar Inn Since the Middle Ages. While its latest incarnation is a micropub selling craft ales situated down a side street, the original Blue Boar Inn was a much grander affair. The medieval equivalent of a luxury hotel, the first Blue Boar Inn was situated along Leicester’s Medieval High Street where it offered food and accommodation to the ordinary townsfolk, wealthy travelers- and royalty.

For Leicester’s, Blue Boar Inn was the last Inn to play host to Richard III as he made his way to do battle at Bosworth Field.  Expecting to return, the King left his bed behind-as well as a secret, fabled treasure hidden within it. The bed and treasure remained at the inn long after his death, leading to the murder of the Blue Boar’s landlady in 1604. And so began one of Leicester’s strangest ghost stories. For not only did the ghost of the murdered landlady, Agnes Clarke returned to her former home and business, but it also demonstrated an unusual attachment to the name of the Inn.

Richard III. National Portrait Gallery. Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

Richard III and The Blue Boar Inn

 On August 20, 1485, Richard III began his journey to Bosworth Field from Nottingham. Rather than travel the distance in one day, he decided to pause and spend the night in Leicester. Richard had visited Leicester several times as the town’s Castle was part of the Royal estates. However, by 1485, Leicester Castle was not fit for habitation by the monarch. So, instead, Richard and his entourage commandeered the best Inn in Leicester.

The name of that Inn at the time was The White Boar. Whether this was by coincidence or design is not known- for the white boar was also Richard’s personal emblem.  Less than fifty years old, The White Boar was Leicester’s premier coaching inn. For although it’s Great Hall catered as a tavern for the locals, The White Boar also provided comfortable catering and accommodation for wealthy travelers.  It was the medieval equivalent of a grand hotel. Visitor’s horses were stabled in the lower courtyard at the back of the inn while those who could afford it would take rooms on the first floor.

Richard III’s bed, now at Donington le Heath Manor, Leicestershire. Google Images.

Although each room was large enough to accommodate four people, naturally King Richard had one all to himself. It was the best room in the house. It had a view of the street; a large fireplace and its exposed rafters were decorated in painted red, black and yellow scrollwork rather than left bare. King Richard, however, did not use the furnishings provided by the inn. For he was very fussy about where he slept. So, his own bed, which traveled with him was assembled and made up in his appointed room. Here he spent the night before riding out of Leicester the next morning. Meanwhile, the bed was left in place, to await his return.

Richard never slept in his bed again. He spent the night of August 21 camped outside Bosworth. Then, on August 22, he was killed in battle. Later that day, the last Plantagenet monarch did indeed return to Leicester- but as a naked, mutilated, corpse that was left on public display in the Church of St Mary of the Annunciation. Meanwhile, the Landlord of the White Boar Inn was conscious that it wouldn’t do to associate closely with the old regime. He set about repainting the white boar blue- and changing the Inn’s name. And so, The White Boar Inn became The Blue Boar, after the symbol of John de Vere, the Earl of Oxford- and the new King, Henry VII’s general.