09-04-2007 18-55-50_0004

An appreciation of Dorothy Mitchell
(1926 – 2007)

Sandra Wadley

I first met Dorothy over thirty years ago at a meeting of the Richard 111 Society. I like many others had heard of Richard 111 through Shakespeare. I decided to find out the truth for myself. Dorothy was the only person who spoke to me that night, we became friends right away. We decided after several of the meetings, that more could be done for Richard in York, after all it was his city. We broke away from the Richard 111 Society and set up The Friends of King Richard 111, with Dorothy at the helm nothing could stop us from promoting Richard in York, As you can imagine I have many memories of Dorothy, so I will pick out just a few. In 1981 Dorothy persuaded her students and members of the Society to participate in “Richard’s Royal Entry to York”. Dorothy played Queen Anne, and one of her students, Richard. Unfortunately it rained for most of the day, which didn’t do much for our lovely costumes and henins. But we still had a marvellous time.

Memories come back of the fairs and plays put on by Dorothy in St Williams College. One special play was put on in the Treasurers House. In this Dorothy’s favourite pupil, John Lacy-Coulson played Richard, as well as performing the famous speech by Henry V. It didn’t stop at plays inside, we then took part in the Lord Mayor’s Parade on back off a lorry, then walking round York in costume, via the public houses, for the Sheriff of York’s Assize of Ale. I have some lovely photographs of Dorothy unveiling two plaques, the first one to Edward of Middleham, on Minster Library, to celebrate his investiture as Prince of Wales. The second one, unveiled in the Guildhall, was for Richard, to mark his connection to York.

I also have lovely photographs as well as memories of my visit to Bruges with Dorothy, Sandra and Margaret. The four of us shared a very small cabin, as well as our biscuits. We took along our lovely costumes, as we were allowed to take part in the Procession of the Holy Blood. These had to be approved, all passing inspection, of course before we could take part. Unfortunately for the first time in twenty five years the full procession was cancelled due to the very bad weather. Still we all had a great time, looking at the museums, churches, carriage and canal rides. We got lost a few times, but by doing this we did find some of the most lovely places for Margaret to have her cup of tea.

Most of our Richard 111 weekends were lovely, however the one to Lincoln proved otherwise, as far as the accommodation was concerned. Dororthy was very upset at this because she had organised the visit. However she made sure that nobody else would have their enjoyment of Lincoln spoilt. The Tourist Information Office got a few telephone calls, as well as letters telling them what she thought of their recommendation.

There have been so many memories over the last thirty years, but I think that the two that stand out because of the time and commitment put in by Dorothy, on behalf of The Friends of Richard 111, must be the beautiful window in the Duke of Wellington Chapel in the Minster, and last year the donation made by the Society for two stones, one in Richard’s memory, and one in memory of Anne and Edward.