Cathedral Church of St. Michael - Coventry, UK

Basil Spence
Date Built
1956 - 1962
Priory Street

Coventry's 14th Century St. Michael's cathedral was destroyed on the night of November 14th, 1940 during a massive bombing raid targetted on the city.  The decision was made in the 1950s that the old cathedral would not be rebuilt but would be kept as a memorial and a new building would be erected beside it.  A canopy supported by stone pillars connects the two churches.

The foundation stone for the new cathedral was laid by Queen Elizabeth II on March 23rd, 1956.  A little over six years later the building was consecrated, on the same day that the modern replacement for Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was also consecrated.

The website dedicated to Sir Basil Spence describes the building as follows, "
The main body of the new building is constructed of red sandstone. Projecting out are the circular Chapel of Unity .....

    ............   and the Chapel of Industry. "

"Zigzag walls let angled windows direct light down the nave towards the altar."

At the end of the nave hangs Graham Sutherland's 74 foot high tapestry of "Christ in Glory". 

Approximately the size of a tennis court, this work of art took twelve weavers three years to complete.  Facing Sutherland's tapestry at the other end of the nave is a great glass wall in which Tim Hutton has engraved a "Screen of Saints and Angels." 

To one side is the font,
made from a three-ton boulder from a hillside near Bethlehem, and behind it stands John Piper's Baptistry window made up of 195 panes of stained glass bathing the stone font in a pool of colour.  

Outside Jacob Epstein's spectacular bronze sculpture of "St. Michael Subduing the Devil" stands beside the stairs that lead up from Priory Street to the entrance.

In the ruins of the old Cathedral is this statue of Reconcilliation.  It is a copy of a statue originally entitled "Reunion" that was presented to Bradford University in 1998.  The sculptress Josefina de Vasconcellos, who created it said, "The sculpture was originally conceived in the aftermath of the War. Europe was in shock, people were stunned. I read in a newspaper about a woman who crossed Europe on foot to find her husband, and I was so moved that I made the sculpture. Then I thought that it wasn't only about the reunion of two people but hopefully a reunion of nations which had been fighting."  This copy is one of a number that have been donated to important historical sites including Hiroshima and the Berlin Wall Memorial.

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