2015 has been Richard III’s year – or at least his best year yet since his death: so before the year comes to a close we should include a post on a remarkable cheese named after him.
In 2012 Richard was, somewhat ignominiously, discovered in a car park. Shakespeare did a fairly thorough hatchet job on his reputation but since the discovery of his skeleton things have been looking up for Richard – the cities of York and Leicester have been vying over his remains, and historians have been re-examining the evidence to consider just how immoral he really might have been.
In particular, Josephine Tey wrote a cracking detective book on the subject, Daughter of Time. Although further research (by the respected scholar Alison Weir), unfortunately for Richard III, shows that he probably after all ‘dun the dastardly deed’ it’s still an excellent piece of detective fiction – highlighting as it does, just how misleading history, and politicians and journalists, can be.
Murderer or no, Richard certainly did some good things. He was the first king to swear his coronation oath in English, and also the first to record Acts of Parliament. He was genuinely committed to fair and impartial justice and he developed an early form of Legal Aid. He removed trade restrictions on books. And, as David Horspool, author of Richard III, A Ruler and his Reputation, comments, “it’s unlikely he died looking for a horse to escape the battlefield”.
Additionally he has also given his name to a rather fine cheese – moist, creamy, and with a gorgeous light honey flavour. The cheese was first made to a traditional pre-war recipe by Suzanne Stirke, with the business being taken on in 2011 by Andy Ridley. It’s made with cows’ milk – originally – some thousand years ago – it was made with sheeps’ milk.
It’s a Wensleydale, but not mass produced and with lower acidity than most Wensleydale cheese. It’s sold young – just a month old.
Why is it called Richard III? Because Suzanne Stirke’s dairy was situated near Middleham – Richard III’s childhood home. Read Daughter of Time to find out more about that.
Shakespeare’s Richard III trailer – a star-studded cast