A HIDDEN link between west Dorset and Richard III has been uncovered.

Now the little-known fact that the infamous monarch stayed in Bridport is to be broadcast to every visitor.

Arthur Woodgate found the evidence showing the ‘king in the car park’ – whose body was dramatically discovered in Leicester – visited Bridport 530 years ago.

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.

Now plans are afoot to commemorate the visit of the much-maligned monarch. In the riverside gardens by East Bridge an information notice board identifies the location of the Priory of St John the Baptist just across the road, but gives no indication that this is where Richard is considered to have stayed.

Mr Woodgate said: “Nor will you find any mention of this anywhere in Bridport but I’m pleased to say that this is about to change.”

With the town’s information boards due for renewal, it has been agreed that the display in the riverside gardens will now state:

On 5th November 1483 King Richard the Third stayed overnight in Bridport on his way to Exeter to deal with the remnants of the rebellion led by the Duke of Buckingham.

It is likely that he stayed at the Priory of St John the Baptist (founded circa 1240 and dissolved in 1547) which was situated directly across the road on the other side of the bridge.

A three sided oriel window from the Priory may be seen facing the river on the building opposite.

Remains of the Priory may also be seen inside the Masonic Hall, and Mayor Sandra Brown, together with town councillors Maggie and Martin Ray, accompanied Mr Woodgate on a visit there.

Bridport Mayor Sandra Brown said: “I have been interested in

Richard and his unfair bad press ever since school. My history teacher put most of the blame on poor old Shakespeare, who was only keeping in with those Tudors.”

A competition to design a commemorative stone is being planned in partnership with the Sir John Colfox Academy, thus involving young people in a little known episode in the history of their own town, said Mr Woodgate.

The creator of the winning design will work with stone mason Karl Dixon towards producing the memorial.

An appeal for donations towards the cost of the stone has been launched, and is supported by the Richard the Third Society, whose executive committee hopes that a permanent record can be installed in the town.

Cheques should be made out to “BYPAT” (Bridport Young Persons’ Action Trust) and sent to 27 Coneygar Close, Bridport DT63AR. More information from a.c.woodgate@btinternet.com.