The hero of our story (apart from King Richard III himself, of course) is Matthew Wansford, known to his friends as Matt. He is a 12 year old page at Middleham Castle. Of course there are no photographs of Matt as he lived more than 500 years ago – no painted portraits either, as he wasn’t an important person like a king or a queen. But he tells us a great deal about himself in his words. And one of the first things we discover about him is that he was born in the great city of York.
York was an ancient city even then, and the most important city in England after London. Its greatest church is called the Minster, which is 800 years old, and its tall towers can be seen from miles away.
Until he became a page, Matt lived with his family very close to York Minster on a street called Stonegate, which is still there today. It’s a street full of historic houses, many of which Matt would have known – perhaps his family’s house is still there… A famous street in York that has hardly changed since his time is called the Shambles and isn’t far from Stonegate. (Many of the old streets in York are called ‘gates’ – the ancient city gates themselves are instead called ‘bars’, such as Monk Bar – where there is today an exhibition about King Richard III.)
All that is left of the castle at York is the keep known as Clifford’s Tower, atop its tall motte (or hill). And not too far from these landmarks, so close to the River Ouse that it is frequently flooded, is an ancient inn, called the King’s Arms, which proudly bears the portrait and heraldic arms of King Richard III.