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Answer 68. The skeleton of King Richard III was discovered in a Leicester car park in August 2012.

Richard was killed at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. His body was stripped naked and his wrists were tied together. He was then taken on horseback to nearby Leicester and thrown into a grave in Greyfriars Friary.

The friary was later demolished and the site built over. Research half a millennium later suggested that the grave now lay under a council car park. When Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society saw a large R (for Reserved) painted on the tarmac, she took it as a sign that Richard was buried underneath.

She was right. A dig by the University of Leicester found his skeleton almost immediately. ‘A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!’ Wounds to the skull suggested that Richard had been on foot and helmetless when he died.

All that was needed for confirmation was a DNA test. Unfortunately, the Royal Family doesn’t do DNA tests. The constitutional implications would be awful if it was discovered that, far from being descended from William the Conqueror, they were actually all descended from Rollo, his wife’s good-looking footman.

Nevertheless, a test was carried out. Mitochondrial DNA from the skeleton’s bones matched the DNA from two 17th generation descendants (female line only) of Richard’s sister, Anne of York. The skeleton really was King Richard’s.


DickensEnough of Dick the Bad. This is a photograph of 26 Wellington Street, near Covent Garden. Charles Dickens had a publishing office here from 1859 until his death 11 years later.

Dickens was keen to make a fresh start in 1859 after dumping his wife for a young actress. He had decided to publish a weekly magazine All the Year Round. He got the venture off to a good beginning by writing the weekly serial for it himself.

The first full issue of the new magazine came out on 4 June 1859, with the first chapter of Dickens’ new novel on the front page. He had written much of it in his flat on the top floor. After wrestling with various titles – Buried Alive? The Thread of Gold? – he had settled on a completely different name instead.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 69. What was the title of Dickens’ new novel, first published from this address?

Five Days that shocked the World Cover








Five Days That Shocked the World

‘Riveting’ – Daily Mail
‘Fascinating’ – The Times
‘Outstanding’ – Midwest Book Review
‘Utterly absorbing’ – Macleans