2020 applicants
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Our tribute to Dr John Ashdown-Hill

  • Date

    Tue 22 May 18

Dr John Ashdown-Hill receives his honorary degree in 2014

Our Department of History has paid tribute to Dr John Ashdown-Hill who played a central role in the rediscovery of Richard III's burial place.

Dr Ashdown-Hill completed his MA in Linguistics and PhD in medieval history at Essex. He also received an honorary degree from Essex in 2014. He was a longstanding supporter of the Department of History and maintained close links with the University throughout his life.

His death was announced on his website at the weekend.

Professor Alison Rowlands said: "I was extremely sad to hear the news of John's death. I have known John since 2004, when he began his PhD in our Department of History at Essex, and had the honour of delivering his oration when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Essex in 2014.

“John was a prolific author, a leading historian of the Yorkist dynasty, and a real gentleman, who combined a genuine gentleness of manner with an immense enthusiasm for the solving of historical mysteries. This enthusiasm was best exemplified in the absolutely pivotal role that John played in pinpointing the location – and confirming the identity – of the remains of King Richard III in 2012. Without John’s research into the fate of the King’s body after the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and into the mitochondrial DNA of Richard’s descendants, it is unlikely that this major discovery could have been made."

Professor Rowlands continued: “John was also a great supporter of our local history activities and twice gave our annual Dudley White Local History Lecture – his 2013 lecture was so popular that the lengthy queue for admission looked more like that for a pop concert than a history talk!

“I was in regular contact with John over the months before his death; even though he was terminally ill, John was determined to keep working on his final book (on the mystery surrounding the Princes in the Tower, who were supposedly murdered by Richard III), which will be published later in 2018 and promises more ground-breaking revelations about late 15th/early 16th century English history. With his death we have lost not only a leading scholar of the House of York but also a longstanding friend of our Department of History. He will be greatly missed.”