King Richard III Visitor Centre
The discovery of the fallen king’s remains in the Grey Friars car park has drawn both national and international visitors to the area along with high profile media coverage. We responded by acquiring the vacant former Victorian school building adjacent to the grave for the visitor centre.
In July 2013, just 10 months after the discovery, work commenced to convert the building to a world-class visitor centre which incorporates the grave area as originally excavated by archaeologists. The centre opened to the public in July 2014 and has had over 30,000 visitors. Its frontage has been designed as integral to the Cathedral Gardens scheme. To complete the area, the statue of King Richard III was relocated from Castle Gardens to Cathedral Gardens.
The development of the visitor centre created 14 new jobs within the city and the use of local suppliers to source materials was beneficial to the local economy. The visitor centre has had more than 30,000 visitors since it opened in July 2014. This has had a dramatic impact on tourism within the city. It is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors in its first year.
At the heart of this project is the historic significance of this site and the need to tell its story. The creation of a visitor centre encompassing the grave, within a new build extension to a historic building, has been delivered through careful design, and conservation experts involved in delivering this complex project. The sensitive conversion of a vacant heritage building within the conservation area and bringing it back into economic use demonstrates our commitment to the heritage assets of the city, and provides an example for others to follow. The visitor centre demonstrates the quality of good design bringing together contemporary new build elements with the historic fabric of the Victorian building.