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A former Suffolk schoolteacher, whose research led to the discovery of Richard III’s bones beneath a council car park, has called for the king to be given a Roman Catholic funeral.
Dr John Ashdown-Hill taught languages at Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge, before embarking on the Looking For Richard project, which found the lost grave in Leicester in 2012.
He has backed a petition calling for the monarch to be given Catholic observances when placed in a coffin.
Dr Ashdown-Hill, who now lives in Lawford, Essex, believes the remains of the pre-Reformation king, who was an active member of the Catholic Church, should be prepared for burial in a religious venue instead of a science laboratory.
There is a petition running to ask for Richard III to be interred in a Roman Catholic chapel before the reburial. If you agree, you can sign the petition here. The poll closes on Sunday night.
In a letter to The Independent published on Wednesday, the "Looking for Richard Project" slams the “cavalier disregard of the legal process” over the university’s desire to sequence the king’s genome. The group, part of the Richard III Society, which in 2012 began the search for his remains in conjunction with the university and Leicester City council, said the tests “raise serious questions of propriety and ethics”.
The authors add: “There has been no independent verification that these tests are either ethical or necessary. Indeed, the university has, in effect, authorised itself to conduct tests that are far from essential and will add very little to our useful knowledge of England’s last Plantagenet king.”
The project’s Phillipa Langley, who led the search two years ago and co-authored the letter, also accuses the university of not honouring her contract with the University of Leicester Archaeological Services(ULAS). The letter said that “any remains positively identified as Richard III would be transferred to her as custodian to be placed in a prayerful environment to await reburial”.
A historian has accused the University of Leicester of destroying parts of Richard III's skeleton.
Dr John Ashdown-Hill says it is ethically wrong to continue testing the remains as part of research to find out more about the king's genetic make-up.
The academic, who traced the king's living relations after the bones were discovered underneath a city centre car park in 2012, conceded that a small sample of the 528-year-old remains was needed for identification purposes.
However, he said he did not agree with the latest project to map the former Plantagenet king's genetic make-up.