There will be no grand tomb marking the final resting place of King Richard III, cathedral chiefs say.

The design brief for Richard's tomb has been revealed by Leicester Cathedral's chapter, which states its preference for "a place of simple dignity".

The brief will guide architects and sets out how Richard's remains will be re-interred on the spot where a memorial stone commemorating the king currently sits, in the cathedral's chancel.

richard iii

The long lost remains of England's King Richard III, missing for 500 years

In the chapter's design brief it is stated that their preference "is to mark the place of burial with a ledger stone", possibly with a "decorative border".

The proposal of a ledger stone, which sits flat to the floor, goes against the suggestion of the campaign group

The Richard III Society which had recently published its design ideas for a raised tomb, embellished with marble, metal and the late king's symbols.

However, the chapter's design brief appears to rule out any grand memorial, stating: "While other forms of grave, tomb or memorial cannot be ruled out prior to consultation, it is unlikely that a large table top tomb or effigy would be acceptable to the chapter or the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE)."

The brief further states the chapter "would be reluctant to site a large memorial in the cathedral which would assume disproportionate significance in a modest building.

"While the remains of an English king are of historical significance, it should not be forgotten that Richard demonstrated both the honourable and dishonourable characteristics of human beings.

"Opportunities for prayer and reflection should focus on themes of sin and redemption, justice and peace."

The cathedral chapter is to commission the work, but says it is working closely with the University of Leicester, the city council, the mayor's office and the Richard III Society, to determine the final design.

The first stage of the consultation is expected to finish in July, with work beginning on the tomb in January, 2014.

The cathedral is estimating the formal re-interment of the king's remains will take place in May next year, with a large memorial service.

Human remains were dug up in a council car park in Leicester city centre on the site of the old Greyfriars church last year.

In February 2013, experts from the University of Leicester revealed DNA testing had positively identified the remains as those of Richard III, who fell at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, bringing to an end the Wars of the Roses.

A cathedral spokesman said it was not ruling out any other design proposals, but pointed out the building was simply too small for "a tomb which fills a large space".

As it stands, the preferred location of the tomb in the cathedral's chancel means at least part of the existing wooden seating which flanks the memorial stone - known as the Canons' Stalls and dating from 1926 - will need to be removed.

The brief also sets out how the tomb's visitors will be able to see the finished memorial.

The spokesman added: "There are many ways of making sure that people treat the space with respect and do not walk all over the burial place - even if it is marked with a flat stone rather than a raised memorial - and we do not anticipate this being a problem.

"There are important ledger stones in the chapel at Windsor and Westminster Abbey and some of our most famous monarchs are remembered in this way."

The cathedral will not charge an entrance fee for the finished memorial, but will instead rely on public donations both to fund the work and the upkeep of the tomb.

Discussions have also started about King Richard's remains "lying in state" at the cathedral before being formally re-interred.

A cathedral spokesman said no detailed plans yet exist, "but we hope there will be a period of days when Richard III's coffin will rest in the cathedral prior to burial when the public will be able to pay their respects".

The King's coffin will also be made to "the highest conservation standards", to make sure his remains are preserved for the future.

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  • "hole in the head" - University of Leicester

    "hole in the head" - University of Leicester

  • "hole in the head" - University of Leicester

    "hole in the head" - University of Leicester

  • "rib" - University of Leicester

    "rib" - University of Leicester

  • "hip bone" - University of Leicester

    "hip bone" - University of Leicester

  • "The skeleton being excavated, showing the curve in the spine." - University of Leicester

  • "The complete skeleton showing the curve of the spine." - University of Leicester

  • "The complete spine" - University of Leicester

  • "We can now reveal a picture of the empty grave." - University of Leicester

  • "Here’s a world first; an image of the in situ remains discovered by University of Leicester archaeologists." - University of Leicester

  • "Archaeologists begin to carefully remove the remains of modern buildings to reach medieval archaeology beneath." - University of Leicester

  • University of Leicester undated handout photo of the skull of the skeleton found at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester, potentially that of King Richard III. (Credit: PA/University of Leicester )

  • Undated handout photo issued by the University of Leicester of the earliest surviving portrait of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, as archaeologists involved in the hunt for the remains of Richard III have released the first image of a battle-scarred skull which could be that of the 15th century ruler. (Credit: PA/University of Leicester)

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Jo Appleby, a lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, at University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who led the exhumation of the remains, during a dig at Leicester's Greyfriars car park, speaking at the university, as tests have established that a skeleton found under the car park, is that of King Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Jo Appleby, a lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, at University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who led the exhumation of the remains, during a dig at Leicester's Greyfriars car park, speaking at the university, as tests have established that a skeleton found under the car park, is that of King Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Jo Appleby, a lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, at University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who led the exhumation of the remains, during a dig at Leicester's Greyfriars car park, speaking at the university, as tests have established that a skeleton found under the car park, is that of King Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    University of Leicester lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, speaking at the University of Leicester Council Chamber building, as tests have established that a skeleton found under Greyfriars car park in Leicester is that of King Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Jo Appleby, a lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, at University of Leicester, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who led the exhumation of the remains, during a dig at Leicester's Greyfriars car park, speaking at the university, as tests have established that a skeleton found under the car park, is that of King Richard III.

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Dr Jo Appleby, Professor Lin Foxhall and Professor Kevin Schuerer attend a press conference at University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, speaks at a press conference at the University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, speaks at a press conference at the University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: A general view of the human remains displayed on a television screen during a press conference at the University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley (L), Dr Jo Appleby, Professor Lin Foxhall and Professor Kevin Schuerer attend a press conference at University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, speaks at a press conference at the University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Dr Turi King from Leicester University gives Michael Ibsen, a 17th generation great nephew of Richard III, a DNA swab at Greyfriars car park in Leicester during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Claire Graham uses ground penetration radar (GPR) at Greyfriars car park in Leicester watched by actors dressed as Knights from Historic Equitation Ltd during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    File photo dated 24/8/2012 of Claire Graham using ground penetration radar (GPR) at Greyfriars car park in Leicester during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III. Archaeologists searching for the lost grave of the medieval king have discovered human remains.

  • Archaeologists in Richard III dig

    Claire Graham uses ground penetration radar (GPR) at Greyfriars car park in Leicester during an archaeological search for the lost grave of Richard III.

  • University Of Leicester Makes Announcement Following Discovery Of Human Remains Which Are Possibly King Richard III

    LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Members of the media attend a press conference at University Of Leicester as archaeologists announce whether the human remains found in Leicester are those of King Richard III on February 4, 2013 in Leicester, England. The University of Leicester has been carrying out scientific investigations on remains found in a car park to find out whether they are those of King Richard III since last September, when the skeleton was discovered in the foundations of Greyfriars Church, Leicester. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)