Dominic Smee is involved in research into making armour for Richard III given his scoliosis.
In 2013 Dominic Smee took part in a Channel Four documentary entitled Richard III: The New Evidence. This followed on from the previous two documentaries, The King in the Car Park, made after the discovery of Richard III’s remains under a Leicester car park.
Dominic has an almost identical type of scoliosis (curvature of the spine) as Richard III and the programme set about researching into whether it would be possible to make armour for someone with scoliosis, given that we have contemporary evidence to show that the king was an accomplished commander and soldier.
Swedish armourer, Per Lillilund Jensen, was commissioned by Channel Four to make armour using Dominic as a ‘body double’. However, due to the time and budget constraints not all the pieces could be made.
Following airing of the documentary in 2014 staff at The Tithe Barn at Bosworth Battlefield Centre decided to fund-raise in order that the rest of the armour could be made. The project got off to a great start with a medieval banquet in November of that year. Since then donations have poured in via the Dominic Smee Armour Fund Facebook page. Sometime later the Richard 111 society launched their own appeal which boosted the funds considerably.
It is important to note that the purpose of this project is to continue the research into armour made for someone with scoliosis with particular emphasis on the type and style of armour around in Richard III’s day.
The first thing made was a bespoke arming doublet. Dominic had worn arming doublets that had been adapted for best fit during the programme and we wanted to see how such a garment could be made to fit the asymmetry of Dominic’s body.
Ninya Mikhaila, the renowned Tudor Tailor, was given the challenge. The resulting garment was based upon a contemporary image and used fabric favoured by high status individuals.
Some of the funds have been used to make repairs to the armour and adjustments to ensure a better fit.
Enough money has now been raised to start the remaining pieces. The project has been put temporarily on hold pending negotiations with a suitable armourer.