England West Midlands city - Coventry & Warwickshire has a wealth of local attractions to inspire the visitor! In Coventry you can delight in castles, cathedrals and churches, family attractions, wonderful landscapes, mediaeval guild-houses and outdoor art parks. The city has different important historical places in the region, and there still can be found some attractive historical buildings in Coventry.
14th century Coventry was the largest and most important town in the Midlands of England. Coventry got its prosperity due to trade in wool and textiles. A bit later it became the England main centre for the manufacture of watches, bicycles, and then cars. Today the service industries, light engineering, and telecommunications have obtained the leading position in Coventry industry. Coventry is famous for its great impact in the British motor industry, its Cathedral, Holly Trinity Church, the legendary exploits of Lady Godiva and many other sights.
Don't know where to start? We propose to have a little virtual tour of Coventry's most notable places of interest.
One of the oldest habitations in Coventry was founded in 1011 nunnery, near the present town centre. Between 1020-1043, on the site of the nunnery there was founded a Benedictine Abbey. This Abbey was founded by the Saxon Earl Leofric and his wife, Lady Godiva. Owing to Leofric and Go diva's extensive estates it soon became one of the richest foundations in the midlands. In 1102 the abbey church became Coventry's first Cathedral, and the abbey became a Priory. In 1540 the original Cathedral and its priory were demolished under the orders of Henry VIII.
Today's visitors of Coventry may be confused viewing remains of 4 very large churches all together in the centre of the city: the Cathedral of St Mary and its Priory, Holy Trinity Church, New Cathedral Church of St Michael and Old St Michael's Cathedral.
The Cathedral of St Mary and its Priory is the oldest and grandest church from those four listed above. The territory occupied by this Cathedral is rather vast - some 425 feet long. Unfortunately there is very little of the original buildings above ground. Parallel to the Cathedral of St Mary is a very large church, Holy Trinity Church. This is a 12th parish church for the West side of the centre of Coventry. Holy Trinity is the most original medieval church in Coventry and, being some 72 meters (237 feet) high to the top of the spire and 59 meters (194 feet) long, it is almost "cathedral" size.
Nowadays Coventry Cathedral manages to combine magnificent mediaeval ruins with awe-inspiring modern buildings and artworks, as a symbol of resumption and reconciliation.
Built in the 1960's the New Cathedral Church of St Michael is at the East end of the Priory Cathedral of St Mary. At the South end of the New Cathedral is the shell of the Old St Michael's Cathedral dated from the early 13th century. Originally it was a parish church that was given the cathedral status in 1918. The Old St Michael's Cathedral was destroyed during the Second World War bombing raid (14 November 1940). After the bombing raid there was left only the mediaeval St Michael's Cathedral's Tower that offers spectacular views over Coventry. During the post-war years the New Cathedral Church of St Michael was built alongside the ruins of the old one. It was designed by Sir Basil Spence.
Except Coventry Cathedral and its Priority, in Coventry there are several churches that are worth seeing.
One of them is St John's Baptist Church founded by Queen Isabella in 1344, as a chapel in memory of her dead husband, King Edward II. The church was completed and consecrated in 1350. During the civil war, namely in 1648, the building was used as a prison for captured Royalists. The church became a parish church in 1734. St Andrew's Parish Church has been established in the heart of Rugby since mediaeval times. The most outstanding feature of this church is two sets of bells hung for Change Ringing. The old building of the church is enlarged with the present building, designed by William Butterfield, completed in 1879.
One of the finest examples of 16th century architecture is Ford's Hospital - an almshouse for elderly men and women. It was William Ford who found this charitable institution in Coventry. In Coventry there are several institutions of this kind, such as Thomas Bond's Hospital and John Hale's Grammar School.
Another one Coventry sight is its walls and gates. The construction of the town wall began in 1355 and lasted over 40 years until it was complete. The total length of the wall was nearly three miles long, eight to nine feet thick and had a defensive ditch on the outside. In 1662 Charles II ordered the town wall demolition. Nowadays there is very little of the town wall. Among 12 original gates there is only one best preserved - the Cook Street Gate.
This gate is considered as a national historic monument. Another two gates that escaped the demolition are the simple gates of Swanswell and Cook St. The heart of Coventry there is St Mary's Guild Hall built between 1340 and 1460. The various trades were organized into guilds. It is among the finest examples of a medieval guild hall in the country. Visitors have the possibility to see the portraits of England kings represented at the stained glass windows around the hall. At the far end of the hall you can see life-size paintings of the kings of England.
There are too many of places of note in Coventry to list them, but there are few more worth visiting: Cheylesmore Manor House (remains of a Royal Palace dated back to 1250), Kenilworth Castle (one of the largest castle ruins in England), Lunt Roman Fort (a partial reconstruction of a First Century Roman Fort) and Toy Museum (a collection of toys and games dating from 1740 - 1951).
Coventry and its sights are waiting for you!