Things to see in Coventry
Okay, to be honest, wasn’t massively thrilled with the idea of going to Coventry. I didn’t think there would be that many things to see in Coventry. I only knew two things about Coventry having never been there before.
- Number one the fact the lady Godiva rode through it
- the cathedral got bombed out during World War II
So that’s why wasn’t keen on visiting. As I said I knew been bombed heavily during World War II so I just imagine it was full of 50s 60s newbuilds and no history.
Well, to a certain extent that’s true, but there are some really old buildings if you fancy having a look! Turns out it’s just my ignorance! It is actually a pretty nice place to spend a day. The bits that interested me I have listed below may can all be found in an around the Cathedral area. See the Google Map at the bottom of the page.
The first thing I knew about Coventry was lady Godiva now, is a bit of a legend in the first known reference to her ride through the town was in the 13th century. And this is where, at least we think, the name ‘Peeping Tom’ for a voyeur originates. In the later versions of this legend and man named Thomas watched her ride through the town and was struck blind or possibly dead.
Thing is, lady Godiva is said to have taken pity on people Coventry due to a husband’s oppressive taxation. She appealed to her husband who just kept refusing to lower the taxes. She kept banging on about it and in the end, he said he would grant her request to lower the taxes if she was stripped naked ride on a horse through the streets of the town. At this, Lady Godiva said right you are and issued a proclamation all persons should stay indoors and shut their windows then she rode through town, in the nip. Also, this is where Tom legend comes in as he’s said to be the only person who looked.
Now, this tale does not stand up to much scrutiny in my opinion. As a student of people, and I don’t think I’m being duly unfair but if it did happen I’m guessing a lot of teenage boys would have been looking out the windows as a woman rode by in the nuddy. Hey, I may be being unkind or at least judging by my own standards but just one person in the whole town had a look? Not a chance.
Or should I say Coventry Cathedrals? Because, the shell of the old one stands next to the new one. A lot has been written about that night in 1940 so I’ll only touch on the basics that I learnt from the signage in the roofless cathedral. It happened on November 14, 1940.
A massive bombing raid by the German forces on the City of Coventry actually gave the Nazi propagandists a new word. Coventrieren, which meant to raise the city to the ground. Indeed, the raid lasted for 11 hours involved nearly 500 bombers.
Coventry was targetted because the factories of Coventry were very important to the war effort. It was also said that Hitler ordered the raid as a revenge attack for the RAF bombing of Munich . The Luftwaffe dropped 500 tons of high explosives and over 30,000 incendiaries. Interestingly, in the spirit of reconciliation Coventry was twinned with Dresden in 1956.
As I said there is so much available to read on the Coventry bombing raid but I just mention the highlights here. But as you can see below, just the walls stand. It has benches inside it now an offers an open contemplative space.
Next to the cathedral is the Guildhall in Bayley Lane. It is said to be one of the finest surviving mediaeval guildhalls in England built in the 1340s has great mediaeval interiors. Or at least this is what I read. On account of it being closed for the winter when I was there! It is apparently free when it is open, and certainly, the outside of it looked impressive.
According to the plaque outside the building is scheduled as an ancient monument. If ever back again looking for things to see in Coventry, I shall definitely check it out.
Next on the list are the Lychgate cottages. They named after the Lychgate, which is where funerals once entered the Holy Trinity graveyard, the church, next to the cottages the building has been tree ring dated to 1414 and is the only surviving priory building today.
Also, the Priory remains can be seen next to it. The building was restored and extended in 1856. Indeed, they are really good examples of the old timber frame buildings. Unsurprisingly the cottages escaped unscathed during the 1940 bombing raid. Cottages were originally all one building but they’ve been divided into three separate cottages since.
Next of the cottages are the Priory Gardens
These are the remains of the Priory that stood here until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the early 16th century. Its origins date back to 1016 when King Canute, him holding back the tide fame, rocked up to Coventry and destroyed the Saxon Nunnery among many other things.
The Earl of Murcia and his wife Lady Godiva rebuilt on the remains of the Nunnery to found a Benedictine monastery in 1043. 1102 Papal authorisation turn the monastery into Priory and the Cathedral subsequent rebuilding and expansion of some areas was completed about 125 years later.
Things to see in Coventry – Map
As you can see from the map above, everything mentioned is pretty close together. Also, you can click on the map to open it in Google maps to find out more.
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