Godiva Statue Coventry

Lady Godiva

Coventry developed as a manufacturing town during the 19th century. Its influence on the car industry began with the opening of the Alvis, Daimler and Humber factories. Many of these plants were turned over to armaments production during the war, making the city a prime target for the Luftwaffe. On the night of November 14, 1940 most of the city centre, including the 14th-c Cathedral, was reduced to rubble. Consequently the centre was completely rebuilt, providing it with a well laid-out contemporary feel today.

If shopping is your scene then the large pedestrianised shopping precinct has plenty to offer, including a wide choice of independent retailers, branded stores, restaurants and eateries. There are cinemas, theatres and a large modern Arts Centre at the University of Warwick, just to the south of the city.

Coventry owes its origins to a 7th-c. Anglo-Saxon convent. Later during the 11th-c, a Benedictine abbey was established by Leofric, Earl of Mercia. It is said, that in order to reduce the burden of taxes levied on the town, the wife of Leofric, Lady Godiva, bravely rode naked through the city streets. This famous legend is commemorated by a bronze statue outside the Broadgate shopping centre. Despite the extensive WWII damage, the three medieval spires of Christchurch, Holy Trinity and St Michael's are still visible across the city skyline. Much of Coventry's medieval connections can also be found around the Cathedral precincts and in the timber-framed buildings lining Spon Street, many of which have been preserved there from other areas of the city.

Medieval Spon Street
Medieval Spon Street © Travel About Britain

The parish church of St John the Baptist (circa 1344) stands at the near end of Spon Street. It has had many uses over the centuries other than a place of worship, including a stables, a market and a cloth mill. However, its use as a prison during the English Civil War is believed to have coined the English phrase 'Sent to Coventry'.

Places of Interest to Visit in Coventry

Coombe Abbey Country Park

Located to the east of the city centre. The estate comprises around 400 acres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland, woodland and lakes, surrounding a medieval abbey. The abbey is now a hotel but the parkland is open to the public and is very popular with visitors all-year-round.

Opening times: all year, daily - Free entry to grounds (parking charges apply)
Location: Brinklow Rd, Binley, Coventry CV3 2AB
Tel: 02476 453720
Website: coventry.gov.uk
Image Credit: AdeDayo (CC0)

Coventry Cathedral

Coventry Cathedral

The war bombed ruins of the Cathedral Church of St Michael still stand proudly next to the modernistic rebuild of 1962, created by Sir Basil Spence. The new Cathedral's floor to ceiling stained-glass windows direct light towards the altar, behind which hangs the famous 'Christ in Glory' tapestry, by Graham Sutherland.

Opening times: Mon to Sat, 10 am to 5 pm
Location: Priory St, Coventry CV1 5FB
Website: coventrycathedral.org.uk
Image Credit: Ian Kelsall (CC0)

Coventry Canal Basin

Canal Basin

The canal begins at a large basin to the north of the town centre. The old wharfs have been restored as studios, arts & crafts workshops, tearooms and a heritage centre - with plenty of narrowboats moored alongside. A five mile towpath trail, leading to the outskirts of the city, feature over 40 works of art.

The basin's disused pumping house was once used to raise water into the canal from an artesian well. Its Newcomen-type atmospheric steam engine, called 'Lady Godiva', is now in the Dartmouth Museum.

Location: St Nicholas St, Coventry CV1 4LY
Website: canalrivertrust.org.uk
Image Credit: E Gammie

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

Extensive exhibits detailing the history of the city through the ages, covering its arts, crafts and industries. The gallery has works by Lowry, Turner and Constable.

Opening times: 10am to 4 pm (12 to 4pm Sundays) - Free Entry
Location: Jordan Well, Coventry CV1 5QP
Website: theherbert.org

Lunt Roman Fort

Set on high ground in the village of Baginton, to the south of Coventry, is the 'The Lunt'. The site of an impressive turf and timber Roman fort, that was constructed here after the Iceni tribe's uprising of AD 60. There is strong evidence to suggest it was a training ground for military horses. The main gateway and part of the ramparts have been reconstructed, using traditional methods and materials.

Opening times: Feb~Nov, Monday - Friday, 10am - 15:30pm - Admission Charge
Location: Coventry Rd, Baginton, Coventry CV8 3AJ
Tel: 02476 237522
Website: luntromanfort.org
Image Credit: E Gammie

Midland Air Museum

Set within the grounds of Coventry Airport at Baginton, the air museum has a large collection of jet fighters, jet engines and historic aircraft. An exhibition is also dedicated to the Coventry born Sir Frank Whittle, a pioneer of the jet engine.

Opening times: 10am to 4:30pm - Admission Charge
Location: Coventry Airport, Rowley Rd, Baginton CV3 4FR
Tel: 02476 301033
Website: midlandairmuseum.co.uk

St Mary's Guildhall

Coventry's ancient Guildhall is a very fine example of medieval timber-framed architecture. The building has a rich history, during which royalty has been entertained and numerous city Mayors appointed. King Henry VI imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots in its tower and William Shakespeare is said to have staged plays in the courtyard. The interior is a medieval treasure-trove of ancient tapestries, carved oak furniture, suits of armour and such like. The magnificent Great Hall is now a venue for a range of contemporary events, conferences and corporate hospitality.

Opening times: Mar ~ Oct: Sun to Thur, from 10:00am to 4:00pm - Free Entry
Location: Bayley Ln, Coventry CV1 5RN
Tel: 02476 833328
Website: stmarysguildhall.co.uk

Transport Museum

One of the largest displays of British built vehicles in the world. The museum charts the development of the motor car from its early beginnings to the present day, with many famous and unique models on display, including cars once owned by Royalty. Key exhibits are 'Thrust 2' and 'Thrust SSC'. Two famous British jet-propelled cars that broke the world land speed record.

Opening times: daily 10am to 5pm - Free Entry
Location: Millennium Place, Hales St, Coventry CV1 1JD
Tel: 02476 234270
Website: transport-museum.com
Image Credit: Emslichter (CC0)

Priory Visitor Centre

Coventry Priory Ruins

The Priory Visitor Centre is built over the ruins of the first cathedral site in Coventry. It features exhibits from archeological excavations that were orchestrated by Channel 4's Time Team in 1999 and 2001.

Opening times: Thu-Sat: 11am to 3:30pm - Free Entry
Location: 6 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX
Tel: 02476 552242
Website: coventrypriory.co.uk

Map of Coventry


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