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The Cathedral
Cathedral
Church of St Michael, commonly known as Coventry Cathedral, is the seat of the Bishop
Bishop
of Coventry
Coventry
and the Diocese
Diocese
of Coventry, in Coventry, West Midlands, England. The current (9th) bishop is Christopher Cocksworth
Christopher Cocksworth
and the current Dean is John Witcombe. The city has had three cathedrals. The first was St Mary's, a monastic building, of which only a few ruins remain. The second was St Michael's, a 14th-century Gothic church later designated cathedral, that remains a ruined shell after its bombing during the Second World War. The third is the new St Michael's Cathedral, built after the destruction of the former.

Contents

1 St Mary's Priory 2 St Michael's Cathedral

2.1 First structure 2.2 Present structure

3 Theological emphasis 4 The Charred Cross and the Cross of Nails 5 Music

5.1 Organ 5.2 Directors of Music 5.3 Assistant organists

6 Dean and chapter 7 Burials 8 Gallery 9 See also 10 References 11 External links

St Mary's Priory[edit] Main article: St Mary's Priory and Cathedral The first cathedral in Coventry
Coventry
was St Mary's Priory and Cathedral, 1095 to 1102, when Robert de Limesey moved the bishop's see from Lichfield
Lichfield
to Coventry,[1] until 1539 when it fell victim to Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. Prior to 1095, it had been a small Benedictine
Benedictine
monastery (endowed by Leofric, Earl of Mercia
Leofric, Earl of Mercia
and Lady Godiva
Lady Godiva
in 1043),[2] Shortly after 1095 rebuilding began and by the middle of the 13th century it was a cathedral of 142 yards in length and included many large outbuildings.[3] Leofric was probably buried within the original Saxon church in Coventry. However, records suggest that Godiva was buried at Evesham Abbey, alongside her father confessor, Prior Aefic.[4] St Michael's Cathedral[edit] First structure[edit]

The roofless ruins of the old cathedral.

St Michael's Church was largely constructed between the late 14th century and early 15th century. It was one of the largest parish churches in England when, in 1918, it was elevated to cathedral status on the creation of Coventry
Coventry
Diocese.[5] This St Michael's Cathedral now stands ruined, bombed almost to destruction during the Coventry Blitz of 14 November 1940 by the German Luftwaffe. Only the tower, spire, the outer wall and the bronze effigy and tomb of its first bishop, Huyshe Yeatman-Biggs, survived. The ruins of this older cathedral remain hallowed ground and are listed at Grade I.[6] Following the bombing of the medieval cathedral in 1940, Provost Richard Howard had the words "Father Forgive" inscribed on the wall behind the altar of the ruined building. The spire rises to 90 m (295 ft)[7] and is the tallest structure in the city. It is also the third tallest cathedral spire in England, with only Salisbury and Norwich cathedrals rising higher. Present structure[edit]

The new cathedral as seen from the tower of the old cathedral.

The interior of the new cathedral.

The current St Michael's Cathedral, built next to the remains of the old, was designed by Basil Spence
Basil Spence
and Arup, built by John Laing[8] and is a Grade I listed building.[9] The selection of Spence for the work was a result of a competition held in 1950 to find an architect for the new Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral; his design was chosen from over two hundred submitted. Spence (later knighted for this work) insisted that instead of re-building the old cathedral it should be kept in ruins as a garden of remembrance and that the new cathedral should be built alongside, the two buildings together effectively forming one church.[10] The use of Hollington sandstone for the new Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
provides an element of unity between the buildings. The foundation stone of the new cathedral was laid by Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II
on 23 March 1956.[11] The unconventional spire (known as a flèche) is 80 feet (24 m) tall and was lowered onto the flat roof by a helicopter, flown by Wing Commander John Dowling in April 1962.[12] The cathedral was consecrated on 25 May 1962, and Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, composed for the occasion, was premiered in the new cathedral on 30 May to mark its consecration.[13][14]

Christ in Glory tapestry by Graham Sutherland

Coventry's modernist design caused much discussion, but on opening to the public it rapidly became a hugely popular symbol of reconciliation in post-war Britain.[citation needed] The interior is notable for its huge tapestry (once thought to be the world's largest) of Christ, designed by Graham Sutherland, the emotive sculpture of the Mater Dolorosa by John Bridgeman in the East end, and the Baptistry window designed by John Piper (made by Patrick Reyntiens), of abstract design that occupies the full height of the bowed baptistery, which comprises 195 panes, ranging from white to deep colours. The stained glass windows in the Nave, by Lawrence Lee, Keith New and Geoffrey Clarke, face away from the congregation. Spence's concept for these Nave windows was that the opposite pairs would represent a pattern of growth from birth to old age, culminating in heavenly glory nearest the altar — one side representing Human, the other side, the Divine. Also worthy of note is the Great West Window known as the Screen of Saints and Angels, engraved directly onto the screen in expressionist style by John Hutton. (Although referred to as the West Window, this is the 'liturgical west' opposite the altar which is traditionally at the east end. In this cathedral the altar is actually at the north end.) The foundation stone, the ten stone panels inset into the walls of the cathedral called the Tablets of the Word, and the baptismal font were designed and carved by the émigré German letter carver Ralph Beyer.

Theological emphasis[edit]

St Michael's Victory over the Devil, a sculpture by Jacob Epstein.

As the cathedral was built on the site of a Benedictine
Benedictine
monastery, there has always been a gentle Benedictine
Benedictine
influence on the cathedral community. A number of the cathedral staff become third order (lay) Benedictines
Benedictines
and there are often cathedral retreats to Burford Priory. Since the opening of the new cathedral in 1962 there has been a gentle evangelical emphasis. This has been strengthened by the former Dean, John Irvine, who was involved in creating the Alpha Course
Alpha Course
and previously served at Holy Trinity Brompton, and also as vicar of the first Brompton church plant, St Barnabas, Kensington. The cathedral has a strong emphasis on the Bible[citation needed] and aims to be a centre for good preaching and training for the diocese. It runs regular mission events such as the innovative Spirit of Life days where over 2,000 local residents are encouraged to explore their faith in God through Christian spirituality. The cathedral is also known for innovation in its services. As well as the expected traditional services (on Sundays, Cathedral
Cathedral
Eucharist at 10.30 a.m. and Choral Evensong at 4.00 p.m.), there is a 6.30 p.m. Sunday service with contemporary music, preaching and prayer ministry. The Cathedral
Cathedral
Youth Work runs Goth church and Urban Church outreach congregations for local groups of young people, an equipping and supporting cell group for youth workers within Coventry
Coventry
churches as well as a number of other regular groups. There continues to be a strong influence of reconciliation within the theology (both vertical: reconciling people to God; and horizontal: reconciling individuals and groups). This is present throughout the ministry of the cathedral but is most clearly seen in the International Centre for Reconciliation and the International Network of Communities of the Cross of Nails. The reconciliation work exists locally in reconciling churches and community groups but also internationally (predominantly in the Middle East and central Africa) working with terrorists and dictators as well as local churches, tribes and gangs. Justin Welby
Justin Welby
(then a canon of the cathedral) established a special day for bereaved parents in the cathedral after the death of his own daughter. There is now an annual service commemorating the lives of children who have died. A book with the names of lost children is on display in the cathedral and anyone who has lost a child under any circumstances can ask for their child's name to be added to the book.[15]

The Charred Cross and the Cross of Nails[edit]

Charred cross

Cross of Nails donated to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

The spire of the original St Michael's Cathedral
Cathedral
remains to this day.

The Charred Cross and the Cross of Nails were created after the cathedral was bombed during the Coventry
Coventry
Blitz of the Second World War. The cathedral stonemason, Jock Forbes, saw two wooden beams lying in the shape of a cross and tied them together. A replica of the Charred Cross built in 1964 has replaced the original in the ruins of the old cathedral on an altar of rubble. The original is now kept on the stairs linking the cathedral with St Michael's Hall below. The Cross of Nails was made of three nails from the roof truss of the old cathedral by Provost Richard Howard of Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
at the suggestion of a young friend, The Rev. A.P. Wales. It was later transferred to the new cathedral, where it sits in the centre of the altar cross. It has become a symbol of peace and reconciliation across the world. There are over 330 Cross of Nails Centres all over the world, all of them bearing a cross made of three nails from the ruins, similar to the original one. When there were no more of these nails, a continuing supply have come from a prison in Germany. They are co-ordinated by the International Centre for Reconciliation. One of the crosses made of nails from the old cathedral was donated to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
in Berlin, which was destroyed by Allied bombing and is also kept as a ruin alongside a newer building. A replica of the cross of nails was also donated to the Chapel of Reconciliation (Kapelle der Versöhnung) which forms part of the Berlin
Berlin
Wall Memorial. A copy of the Stalingrad Madonna
Stalingrad Madonna
by Kurt Reuber that was drawn in 1942 in Stalingrad
Stalingrad
(now Volgograd) is shown in the cathedrals of all three cities (Berlin, Coventry
Coventry
and Volgograd) as a sign of the reconciliation of the three countries that were once enemies. A medieval cross of nails has also been carried on board all British warships who subsequently bear the name HMS Coventry.[16] The cross of nails was on board the Type 42 destroyer
Type 42 destroyer
Coventry
Coventry
when she was sunk by enemy action in the Falklands War. The cross was salvaged by Royal Navy
Royal Navy
divers, and presented to Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
by the ship's Captain and colleagues.[17] The cross was subsequently presented first to the next Coventry
Coventry
in 1988 until she was decommissioned in 2002, and then to HMS Diamond, which is affiliated to Coventry, during her commissioning ceremony on 6 May 2011 by Captain David Hart-Dyke, the commanding officer of Coventry when she was sunk.[18] BBC
BBC
broadcast a documentary in 1962 entitled Act of Faith, narrated by Leo Genn, detailed the history of Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral, its destruction and rebuilding.[19] Music[edit] The precentor of the new Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
at the opening service was Joseph Poole.[20] The service was televised and watched by many. Organ[edit] The cathedral has a pipe organ by Harrison & Harrison dating from 1962. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register. Directors of Music[edit]

Year Name

ca. 1505 John Gylbard[21]

1733–1749 Thomas Deane

1750–1790 Capel Bond

1790–1818 ??? Woodroffe

1828–1885 Edward Simms

1886–1892 Herbert Brewer

1892–1898 Harry Crane Perrin (afterwards organist of Canterbury Cathedral)

1898 Walter Hoyle (first organist of the cathedral)

1928 Harold Rhodes

1933 Alan Stephenson

1961 David Foster Lepine

1972 Robert Weddle

1977 Ian Little

1984 Paul Leddington Wright (now Assistant Director of Music)

1995 David Poulter (subsequently organist of Chester Cathedral
Cathedral
and Director of Music at Liverpool Cathedral)

1997 Rupert Jeffcoat (subsequently director of music and organist at Brisbane Cathedral)

2005 Alistair Reid (acting director of music)

2006 Kerry Beaumont

Assistant organists[edit] This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Allan Hawthorne-Baker 1934–39 Michael Burnett Robert George Weddle 1964–72 (then organist) J. Richard Lowry 1972–76 Ian Little 1976–77 (then organist) Paul Leddington Wright 1977–present Timothy Hone

Chris Argent David Poulter 1990–1995 (then director of music) Daniel Moult 1995–2002 Martyn Lane Alistair Reid 2004–11 Laurence Lyndon-Jones 2011–13

Dean and chapter[edit] As of 12 January 2018:[22]

Dean — John Witcombe (since 19 January 2013) Canon Precentor
Precentor
and Sub-Dean — David Stone (canon since 5 September 2010;[23] sub-dean since April 2014) Canon Pastor
Pastor
— Kathryn Fleming (since 31 May 2014) Canon for Reconciliation — Sarah Hills (since 14 September 2014)

Burials[edit]

Gerard la Pucelle, Bishop
Bishop
of Coventry
Coventry
(1183–84) Huyshe Yeatman-Biggs, Bishop
Bishop
of Coventry
Coventry
(1918–22) — a bronze effigy of him, commissioned by Hamo Thornycroft, was the only artefact to survive the bombing of the old Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
in 1940

Gallery[edit]

Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
visiting the ruins of the old cathedral in 1941.

The surviving tower and steeple, which functions as a working bell tower.

Effigy and tomb of Huyshe Yeatman-Biggs, first Bishop
Bishop
of Coventry.

Josefina de Vasconcellos' statue Reconciliation in the old cathedral's nave.

The baptistry window by John Piper from inside the cathedral.

The font, a boulder from Bethlehem.

The top of spire of the new cathedral.

Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane, mosaic by Steven Sykes

See also[edit]

Dean of Coventry
Coventry
Chronological list of Provosts and Deans List of cathedrals in the United Kingdom Grade I listed buildings in Coventry Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, its German counterpart in Berlin

References[edit]

^ Nicolas, Nicholas Harris (1825). A synopsis of the peerage of England: exhibiting, under alphabetical arrangement, the date of creation, descent and present state of every title of peerage which has existed in this country since the conquest... J. Nichols and son. p. 862. ^ Page, William (1908). The City of Coventry: Churches: Introduction. A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8: The City of Coventry
Coventry
and Borough of Warwick. ^ Vail, Anne (2004). Shrines of Our Lady in England. Gracewing Publishing. p. 56. ISBN 978-0852446034.  ^ McGrory, David (1 October 2003). A history of Coventry. Phillimore. p. 17. ISBN 978-1860772641. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Pepin, David (2004). Discovering Cathedrals. Bloomsbury USA. p. 58. ISBN 9780747805977. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Historic England. "Ruined Cathedral
Cathedral
Church of St Michael, Coventry (1076651)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 December 2012.  ^ Demidowicz, George (2003). Buildings of Coventry: an illustrated architectural history. Stroud: Tempus. p. 28. ISBN 978-0752431154. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ "Sir Basil Spence". The Guardian. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2017.  ^ Historic England. " Cathedral
Cathedral
of St Michael, Coventry
Coventry
(1342941)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 December 2012.  ^ Mansell, George (1979). Anatomy of architecture. A & W Publishers. p. 178. ISBN 978-0894790430. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Thomas, John (1987). Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral. Unwin Hyman. p. 129. ISBN 978-0044400110. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ "Wing Commander John Dowling". The Daily Telegraph. 28 July 2000. Retrieved 31 March 2012.  ^ Havighurst, Alfred F. (15 September 1985). Britain in Transition: The Twentieth Century. University of Chicago Press. p. 643. ISBN 978-0226319704. (Subscription required (help)).  ^ Roncace, Mark; Gray, Patrick (5 November 2007). Teaching the Bible Through Popular Culture and the Arts. Society of Biblical Lit. p. 60.  ^ Lutwyche, Jayne; Millington, Karen (9 November 2012). "The new Archbishop of Canterbury: 10 lesser-known things". BBC
BBC
News. Retrieved 9 November 2012.  ^ "Cross of nails recovered from wreck of HMS Coventry
Coventry
goes to Royal Navy's newest warship". Coventry
Coventry
Telegraph. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2017.  ^ The Army quarterly and defence journal, Volume 113. West of England Press. p. 229. ^ "Navy's newest ship will carry a poignant reminder of the past". The Portsmouth News. 7 May 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2011.  ^ Baker, Simon; Terris, Olwen, eds. (February 1994). A to Z: A for Andromeda to Zoo time : the TV holdings of the National Film and Television Archive, 1936–1979. British Film Institute. p. 3.  ^ "St Michael". English Cathedrals Music. 14 November 1998. Retrieved 31 August 2017.  ^ Stephens, W B, ed. (1969). "The City of Coventry: Churches, Churches built before 1800". A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry
Coventry
and Borough of Warwick. London: British History Online. pp. 321–361. Retrieved 31 August 2017.  ^ Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
— Our leadership team (Accessed 12 January 2018) ^ " Cathedral
Cathedral
Eucharist Sermons". Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2013. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral.

Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral
Cathedral
official website Further reading about Coventry's three Cathedrals Virtual tour of both the new cathedral and the ruins The Cross of Nails website Flickr images tagged Coventry
Coventry
Cathedral Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register Photograph of interior prior to destruction Article about the cathedral's medieval stained glass[permanent dead link]

v t e

Cathedrals of the Church of England

Province of Canterbury

Birmingham Bristol Canterbury Chelmsford Chichester Coventry Derby Ely Exeter Gibraltar Gloucester Guildford Hereford Leicester Lichfield Lincoln London, St Paul's Norwich Oxford, Christ Church Peterborough Portsmouth Rochester St Albans St Edmundsbury Salisbury Southwark Truro Wells Winchester Worcester

Province of York

Blackburn Bradford Carlisle Chester Durham Liverpool Manchester Newcastle upon Tyne Peel Ripon Sheffield Southwell Wakefield York

v t e

Provosts and Deans of Coventry

Provosts

Cyril Morton Richard Howard Harold Williams Colin Semper John Petty

Deans

John Petty Stuart Beake John Irvine Tim Pullen John Witcombe

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 140692775 LCCN: n50074841 GND: 43868

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