Rutland mason plays key role in King Richard III reburial
Today will be hugely important for a Rutland stonemason as the remains of King Richard III are moved into a tomb of his making.
James Elliott, who works in Market Overton, was asked to build the final resting place of the monarch after several recommendations.
Since then James and his team have spent months sourcing the stone, and designing and building the tomb and an altar to place in Leicester Cathedral.
The complex structures have now been installed in the cathedral and the remains of King Richard III will be placed inside the tomb later today (Thursday).
For James, a marble specialist of almost 30 years, the significance of his latest work has not yet sunk in.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said yesterday. “I’m more focused on lifting the tomb and getting it installed.”
The tomb and altar are made of English alabaster and were sourced from a mine that no longer produces the material. Extracting it was a long process.
“They donated the block to the cathedral but it was still part of the rock face,” said James. We spent a long time underground getting it out.
“It’s been very technical and very complicated.”
James added: “The altar is the most complicated job I have ever done.”
James’ work has been documented by Oakham photographer Elli Dean, although the photos cannot be released until after the reinterment.
The village of Fotheringhay also has a part to play in the proceedings. John Gould, owner of the Fotheringhay Castle site where Richard III was born, was asked to provide a sample of soil from the historic location for the reburial service.
The soil, alongside samples taken from other sites significant to Richard III’s life, was blessed in a private ceremony.
The monarch’s skeleton was discovered under a council car park in Leicester in September 2012.
The service of reinterment will take place at Leicester Cathedral at 11.30am today. Channel 4 will broadcast live from 10am. Visit kingrichardinleicester.com.
Related: from the Sleaford Standard Lincolnshire stone fit for Richard III’s last resting place