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York's most impressive gatehouse, now containing a museum dedicated to one of England's most unpopular Kings

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Execution Chamber
Richard III Museum
Working Portcullis
For nearly two millenia, York has been defended by its city walls. At major junctions along the 2.5-mile-long structure, there are several imposing gatehouses - which are often known as bars. These durable fortresses were used to control traffic, charge tolls, or as defensive positions in times of war. There are four main bars left, and of these, the largest and most impressive is Monk Bar.

Monk Bar
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In the present day, the gatehouse is always open - but back in the 14th century, when it was built, its closed iron portcullis must have seemed impregnable. Monk Bar is a full four stories high, and features the most elaborate detailing of all York's gates.
Of course, the city is no longer at war, and the gatehouse has been transformed into the Richard III Museum. Visitors will learn about one of England's most unpopular kings - in fact, he only managed to wear the crown for 26 months before Henry Tudor overthrew him! As time moved on, Richard was remembered as one of the most evil kings ever to rule. His most infamous crime was the murder of two young Princes, who posed a threat to his claim to the throne. He locked them in the Tower of London, and they were never seen again.
The two young boys became known as the Princes in the Tower, and their murder was mourned across the country. It helped the rebellions gain momentum, and eventually, at the Battle of Bosworth, Richard III was betrayed by several of his men, and killed. His body was paraded through the streets of Leicester, and Henry VII became King. In the following years, the terrible stories about Richard continued. He was depicted in many Shakespeare plays as an evil villain, and condemned for his murder of the two royal children.

The gift shop and Richard III Museum, inside Monk Bar
But it's only lately, in the last few decades, that historians have begun to doubt much of the evidence which had previously been used against King Richard. The possibility emerged that he might have been innocent after all! Did he really kill the Princes in the Tower? And was he really such a terrible monarch? The Richard III Museum asks its visitors to decide for themselves, in an unusual and innovative way. You become the jury in a mock trial, and are presented with the evidence, one piece at a time. You'll hear from the prosecution, and the defence, and after all the facts have been laid out, you must consider carefully, and cast your verdict: was the King guilty, or innocent?
The museum has several other items to see, such as a working portcullis, a replica execution chamber, and what is possibly the world's smallest prison cell! But it's the main attraction which is the best reason to visit. There are very few other museums that tell their stories so well. And by the time you leave, you may just have changed your mind about one of the country's most infamous monarchs.
Visitor Information
The Richard III Museum is open daily 9am to 5pm (9.30am - 4pm in winter). Entry costs around £3. Tel: 01904 634191

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