Did Richard III visit Whithorn?

Richard III was devoted to Saint Ninian
Richard III was devoted to Saint Ninian

Whithorn-based sports clubs will be looking for the same remarkable success experienced by Liecester City after a link was discovered between the town and Richard III, the ‘King in the Car Park’.

And researches are fairly certain the King, who was a devote of St Ninian, would have visited Whithorn.

The forthcoming Whithorn Trust Lecture at the Book Festival at Wigtown in the autumn will focus on exciting new research which has revealed a close connection between the notorious English King and Whithorn.

Philippa Langley MBE led the quest for the King’s remains, which eventually led to their discovery in a car park in Leicester, which was followed by a remarkable reversal in the fortunes of the town’s football club. Research by the Richard III Society has revealed further amazing facts about Richard III’s private devotion to the Whithorn saint: his own prayer book, kept purely for personal use, reveals a much more private Richard, far from the Shakespearean villain, intensely preoccupied with the health of his immortal soul and demonstrating a devotion to St Ninian. A prayer in Latin to the Saint is copied in Richard’s handwriting to the first page of this prayer book, which was found on the battlefield at his death. It is now kept in the Lambeth Palace Library, but the Whithorn Trust has been given permission to reproduce the prayer and images for an interpretation board to be unveiled on 27th August by Philippa Langley.

A spokesperson for the Whithorn Trust said: “We are very excited at this new discovery and grateful to the Richard III Society and Philippa Langley for sharing research, offering to give the lecture and to unveil our new interpretation board. We knew that St Ninian was the “heid sanct” of Scotland in the Middle Ages, but we did not know that one of England’s most famous Kings discovered the cult of the saint when Warden of the Western Marches at Carlisle as a young man. He evidently felt a personal devotion, as the prayer book was a private document and not for political consumption. We’re excited, as is the Richard III Society, to think that he might actually have visited Whithorn, and because of that we hope to have someone from the Church to recite the prayer at Whithorn when we unveil the new interpretation board. Richard went further and founded several altars to St Ninian as far away as York, which traditionally has a connection with Whithorn dating back to Northumbrian times.”

The Whithorn Trust Lecture on Richard III by Philippa Langley MBE will take place on Sunday 25th September at 1.30pm during the Wigtown Book Festival. Philippa Langley wrote the Official Account “Finding Richard III” and “The King’s Grave: Finding Richard III”.

The unveiling of the Whithorn Trust interpretation board will take place after a visit by the Richard III Society on 27th August, at around 4pm.