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Continuing the Richard III theme; it has been interesting seeing the vast number of white roses strewn along roads, draped over statues and offered in honour of the King from the House of York. Beautiful creamy white blooms decorated the coffin of the King when it was first carried out of Leicester University at the beginning of the journey to the cathedral, and all along the way there people waved and threw the flowers along the way. Yet I wonder how many people realized that these white roses are modern hybrids, rather than the roses of Richard’s time.


The heraldic badge of the White Rose – the emblem of the House of York – holds a clue as to the origin of the flower.


It’s clear when you look at the emblem that this is a stylized representation of a very simple rose shape with five-petalled simplicity. Modern hybrid roses with their complex array of petals did not exist back then. Poetry from the middle ages onwards celebrates wild roses, like the briar rose, or the dog rose,  which grew in woodland and hedgerows. Wild white roses look like this.

Dog Roses in Flower by Niels Peter Rasmussen

The simple five-petalled form of this wild rose shows clearly where the shape of the heraldic badge comes from. I love this picture of this simple little rose which gave rise to such a powerful emblem. It’s my white rose offering in memory of the King.