previous design for the tomb was unveiled in November but put on hold amid the legal challenges the reburial has faced. The original plans called for a budget of £1.3 million. The original design was to be carved in Swaledale fossil limestone and laid upon a large inlaid pavement in the shape of a rose surrounded by a black band in which the king's motto Loyaulte me lie would be inscribed. Only £96,000 of the original total estimated budget was actually slated for the vault and tomb; the project also includes a relocated crossing-altar and wooden parclose screens; it appears the low-laying tomb will actually be occupying the cathedral's old chancel. A new garden area outdoors seems to be part of the budget as well. An even earlier plan recommended a simple flat slab incised with a cross, but this proved so disappointing that several backers withdrew their support. The revised design retains the core element of the composition, a skewed, vaguely Brutalist block of marble incised with a cross. It dispenses with the oversized, rather kitschy inlaid rose on the floor (described by one cathedral official as "not universally liked") for a quieter step of black stone inlaid with the royal arms in full color. Despite this simplification, the budget has now risen to £2.5 million.
Given that the latest and greatest exemplar of British Gothic revival, Stephen Dykes-Bower, was practicing up to his death in 1994, in a style both characterized by a vigorous imagination and a careful understanding of the sources, and his work was completed with the stupendous new Gothic crossing-tower built at St. Edmundsbury by Warwick Pethers within the last decade, that the public should have this mute slab foisted upon it, and upon the memory of a complex and perhaps misunderstood monarch, is inexplicable, and shows both a lack of artistic courage and historical imagination.
Instead, I applaud the historian who has commissioned a splendidly medieval funeral crown for the body, as well as the gentlemen of the Richard III Society who unveiled a somewhat restrained but handsome and historically-informed concept for the tomb themselves early last year. The past is not dead; it's not even past. What is needed here is not postmodern timidity or even archaeological exactitude but the ability to think, breathe, and yes, pray, like a medieval man, and translate that passion, beauty and life into funereal cold stone. It is a pity that nobody in England appears up to the task.