Members learning about the history of Coventry
Date Published: 22/03/2023 | Blog category: Northern
Members' Visit to Coventry - Written by MCC member, Elaine Dean.
MCC members Elaine and Paul acted as the couriers for the Central Co-op members from the Derby area went on a Heritage Visit to Coventry and were very lucky that despite the forecast it didn't rain and spoil the day.
On the coach they had a talk firstly about the legend of Lady Godiva riding naked through the streets in an attempt to get the taxes lowered by Leofric her powerful husband. Nice though this story is, our members learned that it was almost certainly a myth which only emerged over 100 years later. Even then, Coventry was only a hamlet so the ride would have lasted only seconds and Godiva never actually lived there. This was back in the 11th century so no really accurate records.
The other talk was about 'being sent to Coventry' and how this saying came about for being ignored by everyone. One story is that it was because it was a place of execution and no-one wanted to be sent there for that but the more likely story probably dates to the 17th century when soldiers were billeted there. The local townspeople were not happy and found them rowdy and chasing after their daughters and so nobody spoke to them.
Another popular story from the Civil War is when Oliver Cromwell sent Scottish royalist prisoners to Coventry and imprisoned them and no-one spoke to them when they were out exercising in the streets because Coventry was a largely parliamentarian town.
The new Cathedral replaced the old one which was bombed out by the Luftwaffe during the Coventry Blitz of November 14th 1940. Amazingly the spire remained virtually intact and is still the 3rd highest spire in the country after Salisbury and Norwich.
The foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid by Queen Elizabeth II on 23rdMarch 1956 and the building was consecrated on 25th May 1962. Sir Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, composed for the occasion, was premiered in the new cathedral on 30th May 1962.
Everyone went into the Cathedral and looked at the magnificent windows with their multi colours and engravings and the superb tapestry by Sir Graham Sutherland. They also admired the Charred Cross, the Cross of Nails and the many monuments to peace and reconciliation. The juxtaposition of Sir Basil Spence's design connecting the ruins of the earlier cathedral with the new is very powerful and many photographs were taken. The steps up to the ruined cathedral were quite steep and many but our members went up there to get some great photos and to sense the ambience.
Some members wandered round the old part of the city, some went to the transport museum, some went shopping but all stopped somewhere for lunch.
On arriving back at the coach they all declared it was a wonderful day and they are looking forward to the next Heritage visit in June to Liverpool.