Richard III could have decided fate of Newport ship
HIS reign was immortalised by Shakespeare and there were national headlines this week when remains found in a Leicester car park were confirmed as those of the last Plantagenet king Richard III.
And now it appears he could be the man responsible for the mystery of why the Newport ship survived on the banks of the River Usk for 550 years.
After experts this week confirmed bones found in Leicester belonged to the monarch, killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, a historian called for Newport to be included in any future heritage trail in search of Richard III.
Caerleon-based Bob Trett, the former curator at Newport Museum believes there is a good chance that it was the king who was responsible for work stopping on the ship, meaning it was left on the banks of the Usk until the Riverfront Theatre was built in 2002.
Mr Trett said the damaged ship came to Newport in 1469, with a letter written by the Earl of Warwick stating he wanted to see it rebuilt in the city.
However, he died at the Battle of Barnet in 1471 and from that year until 1473, the future Richard III, the Duke of Gloucester, was given control of the lordship of Newport. During this time, he seized castles in South Wales and was chief justice.
Mr Trett said: "There is nothing to say he personally came to Newport, but he was the man in authority and made the ultimate decision on what to do with the ship. I’m guessing they suddenly stopped working, with it possibly too difficult to repair."
However, this opens a new mystery. After work stopped, the process of demolishing the ship began.
Mr Trett said: "The odd thing is, they only destroyed half of it and left the rest. The iron nails were worth a fortune and the timbers could have been re-used, so it wasn’t the kind of thing you left lying around.
"The decision to simply abandon it could only have come from the person in authority. And at the time, that was Richard III."