HIDDEN history has been uncovered linking west Dorset to Richard III.

Evidence has been found which shows the ‘king in the car park’ – whose body was dramatically discovered in Leicester – visited Bridport 530 years ago.

Bridport history buff Arthur Woodgate discovered on a trip to York that the much-maligned monarch, recognised now as a victim of effective Tudor propaganda, had an association with the town.

Lynda Pidgeon, from the Richard III Society, confirmed the visit, based on documentary evidence drawn from both local contemporary records and records of the Royal Court.

Richard III visited Bridport on November 5, 1483, on his way to Exeter to mop up the remnants of the Duke of Buckingham’s rebellion.

It is thought he stayed overnight at the Priory of St John the Baptist which was in East Street.

Records show the king paused to deal with urgent matters, including the need to relax: “13 shillings and 4 pence at Bridport for King’s wine” is noted. With the national focus now on Richard, Mr Woodgate felt that the only visit to Bridport of a reigning British monarch should be recognised in some way.

He said: “Even if it is a bit late in the day. Why has it never been officially recognised before? Possibly because of the effectiveness of Tudor propaganda – a classic case of the ‘victor’ looking to demean and defame what has gone before in order to justify their own actions.

“And of course they had Shakespeare on their side – not that he could afford to be anywhere else.

“I think it’s likely that people have chosen to avoid any association with such a supposedly evil and malformed monarch. Contemporary records tell a different tale, although they are not always unbiased either.”

Emily Hicks, Bridport Museum curator said: “Well done to Arthur for unearthing a ‘hidden history’ of Bridport.”

Find out story of the visit

The historians Philippa Langley and Michael Jones are coming to Bridport to reveal the story behind their discovery of Richard’s remains in an event at The Bull at 2.30pm on Thursday November 14 as part of the Bridport Literary Festival.

Mrs Langley said: “Previously Richard’s appeal was because of Shakespeare but now that we have found his remains he is even more fascinating because we have been able to blow a lot of the myths away.

“We now know the levels of ‘spin’ on Richard’s story and that has been absolutely fascinating.”