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January 7, 2014 By Andy Ross

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A visit to Coventry Cathedral

Have you ever been to Coventry to see the Cathedral? I had not until last week and now have fallen completely in love with the building. This is why.

Conventry sits right in the middle of England,  and has long been established as a place of pilgrimage and worship. We visited because of the events of the Second World War and what happened subsequently. Coventry itself has some very interesting buildings aside from the Cathedral; here is a pdf about the uses of concrete with some great pictures of the buildings that helped to shape the city.

Ruins of the old cathedral Ruins of the old cathedral There is much written about the history of the area and the cathedrals but for us, the pertinent facts are that on the night of the 14th November 1940, Coventry was bombed and the cathedral was destroyed. The very next day, a decision was taken to rebuild the cathedral in a spirit of reconciliation, hope and forgiveness. What we have today is the very best of British design, art and craft in one building and it is truly stupendous. The ruins of the old cathedral were kept as a reminder of what had happened (picture left) while the new building rises up next to them.

If you would like to learn more about Coventry Cathedral, a simple Google search will turn up lots. These are my own pictures of the visit and for me, this was a wonderful visit, inspirational, affirming, and totally captivating with a sadness about what had happened in that place to create this building. One day I hope to sing in the space... I will let you all know when I do. As one of my favourite composers, Benjamin Britten, is connected with the building through his War Requiem, it would only be fitting that I perform one of his pieces....

The interior of the building is flooded with light and shade from the stained glass, some  by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens.

 

 

 

The font in the front of the magnificent window is made of stone brought from Jerusalem as a gift to the cathedral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At opposite ends of the cathedral are a glass screen etched with angels and saints by John Hutton, and an awe-inspiring tapestry by Graham Sutherland.

 

The side chapels are also full of beautiful sculptures, fittings and images, mosaics and tiles, ironwork and wood. A crown of thorns encircles a cross above an altar. Tiled floors in the Chapel of Unity.

Mosaics in the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane.

The building has a Jacob Epstein sculpture, St Michael (below) towering over the fallen Devil.

But possibly the most poignant piece is this small statue of Christ, in the ruins of the old building. A second cast in concrete from a statue in Blundell's School, Devon, the statue was created by Alain John who was 18 at the time. Alain was killed when he was 23 and the statue was recast to those who lost their lives in the war. It is a sombre and sad reminder of the war that inspired this great memorial to forgiveness.