The head of historic British church York Minster has contacted police after receiving hate mail, intensifying the row over where the recently-discovered remains of King Richard III should be buried.

York lawmaker Hugh Bayley told parliament that the Dean of York, Vivienne Faull, had been caught in the crossfire between those who want the former monarch buried in York, and those who wish for him to be interred in the central England city of Leicester, where his remains were found.

"I received many letters and emails from members of the public about this, supporting burial in York," Bayley said.

"Most are thoughtful and well argued and based on scientific facts but some are frankly inflammatory and talking yesterday to the Dean of York, some that she has received at the minster are so extreme that she has referred the correspondence to the police.

"I would say to everybody - 'calm down. Let's all respect the memory of a former king of our country'," he added.

Scientists confirmed in February that a skeleton found under a car park was that of the controversial king, in a bizarre end to a 500-year-old historical mystery.

DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the king's sister, while the skeleton had the twisted spine and battle injuries consistent with contemporary accounts, said researchers from the University of Leicester.

Nine of his descendants urged the government to return the remains of the king to York, his royal house, for a "formal and ceremonial" burial.

But the government has said the decision lies with the University of Leicester, who said he will be interred at Leicester Cathedral.

Richard grew up near the northern city of York and funded part of the city's gated walls.

A spokesman for York Minster said: "York Minster has received a number of letters about Richard III, a small number of these have been abusive.

"These have been passed to the Minster Police, and they continue to monitor the situation closely."

The discovery has caused huge excitement among historians, as it provides firm evidence about a monarch whose life has been shrouded in controversy since his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

According to historical accounts, Richard's body was transported naked and bloody on the back of a pack horse to Leicester before being buried in an unmarked grave at Greyfriars, a Franciscan friary.