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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Fighting for the tourist trade
By Greig Watson
BBC News Online, Nottingham

Battle reenactment
The battle ushered in the Tudor dynasty
Britain is not short of history, with great castles, stately homes and bulging museums.

So those wishing to put Bosworth field more firmly on the tourist map, face a challenge.

The last major investment in the site was in 1985 and visitor numbers have dropped by 40% since.

The site cafe, known as the Buttery and housed in a temporary cabin, was condemned on safety grounds.

Rebellious nobles

On top of this, dispute still rages over whether the battle even took place at the traditional location at all.

Plus - of course - it is basically just a field.

But a 1.25m investment programme could be the key to turning it into a national attraction.

Bosworth redevelopment
Medieval chapel
It's an attempt to tell the story - but it has to be the real story
Duncan Bainbridge, English Heritage
This part of Leicestershire, just off the A447 near Sutton Cheney, became the centre of the world on 22 August 1485.

Here King Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor, supported by a raft of rebellious nobles.

This replaced the Plantagenet dynasty with the Tudors, ended the Middle Ages in England and changed the course of history in two, blood-stained, hours.

But the question of what to do with these fateful yards had been proving a thorny problem for those responsible for the nation's past.

Duncan Bainbridge, of English Heritage, said: "This is an attempt to restore the battlefield to what it was in antiquity.

"The landscape has changed a great deal since the 15th Century, with new buildings, different types of agriculture features like ponds being created and lost.

Understanding history

"This new development seeks to give visitors the ability to look past that, to what the area was like at the time of the battle.

"The key element is to investigate the site properly, to relate what is there now to what was there originally.

"This has never been attempted before. It's an attempt to tell the story - but it has to be the real story.

"We hope people will get a greater understanding of their history. We are looking to Leicestershire County Council's work as a beacon."

Rosemary Mills, Country Parks Manager at Leicestershire County Council, said: "The time has come to upgrade the site, particularly the exhibition.

National Importance
Traditional site of the battle
Bosworth, along with Hastings and the Battle of Britain has always been recognised as one of the three most decisive battles in British history
Rosemary Mills, Leicestershire County Council
"We hope to rehouse the Buttery in a tythe barn taken from the edge of a quarry in Derbyshire. If things go to plan it could be in place by the end of this year.

"The site itself is not just a field. There is the exhibition centre and we want to upgrade this with new displays, a small cinema and a classroom. We are planning to have these by 2005.

"Along with the film theatre, interpretation will be aided by two battle trails, one short, the other longer, each with a walk around tape which will explain what visitors are looking at.

"We want to bring the exhibition up to date in a sensitive manner. The site has not become over developed and we wish to continue that.

"We will look at the landscape, which includes the remains of the deserted medieval village of Ambion, and try to preserve it.

Differing interpretations

She accepts there are still major differences between enthusiasts and historians as to exactly where the battle took place.

The latest theory uses contemporary accounts and topographical anaylsis to suggest the armies clashed eight miles away near the village of Atherstone.

Ms Mills said: "There are a number of interpretations of how the battle went. The general view is that Richard camped on Ambion hill but after that opinions differ.

"We will present one interpretation in the centre and aim to explain others throughout the battlefield."

She added: "Bosworth, along with Hastings and the Battle of Britain has always been recognised as one of the three most decisive battles in British history.

"We must show why this area is so significant to the history of England and of course give people an enjoyable day out."


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