Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Coventry Cathedral


Thanks for popping in.

I've always wanted to visit Coventry Cathedral and now I have and I wasn't disappointed.  John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens created the Baptistry stained glass window, which was why I was so keen to go.  I've written lots of posts on other windows by them, do have a look at the label above, as they are fantastic (the windows not my posts!)

Isn't the window just wonderful. It's 85 ft high 56 ft wide and has 195 lights.  The bright sunburst has so many meanings to me - a reminder of the Blitz, the Cathedral on fire, the positive sunlight of a new day, rebirth, hope , New Light, new life, Peace

St Michael's used to be one of the largest parish churches in England, founded in the 12th Century, rebuilt in the 15th and made into a Cathedral in 1918. Sadly in November 1940 it was devastated by the Blitz and only the outside walls and tower remain. The decision to build a new Cathedral was made by people standing in the burning embers - not as an act of defiance but as a sign of faith, trust and hope for the future of the world.

The Old Cathedral, open to the sky.  Plenty of places to sit and contemplate.
Two roof timbers fell into the shape of a cross which were placed on the Altar.  The original is now in the New Cathedral, a replica in the Old.
Sir Basil Spence, the Architect of the New Cathedral, wanted visitors to journey from the destruction of war and conflict in the ruins to the light and life of the New Cathedral which was consecrated in 1962.

The New/Old link together

The two Cathedrals are linked together, the glass front screen of the New, which has saints and angels etched on it, also gives a view of the Old. The vast space opens up as you enter - straight ahead is Graham Sutherland's enormous tapestry of Christ as a carpenter seated in majesty. To the right is the wonderful Baptistry window, floor to ceiling, dazzling in its colourful brilliance. Great stone tablets, carved by Ralph Beyer, using the lettering of the catacombs in Rome adorn the walls. Walking down the Nave, you can see the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane in the distance with a beautiful wrought iron Crown of Thorns designed by Sir Basil Spence.

Jacob Epstein's statue of St Michael and the Devil is striking on the outside of the New.
Graham Sutherland's tapestry fills the huge space
The amazing Crown of Thorns, ceiling, etched glass screen, orignal roof-timber cross, Swedish windows, the plumbline and City sculpture

Collage of details of John Piper's Baptistry window

Once you reach the altar and turn round to face the congregation, amazingly 10 more floor to ceiling stained glass panels blast with light, 5 on each side of the Nave. These were designed by the Royal College of Arts, namely Lawrence Lee, Geoffrey Clarke and Keith New. I just couldn't photograph the whole effect to do it justice, but it was absolutely fantastic!

Collage of details of the Nave stained glass windows

There are also separate chapels including the Chapel of Unity which is used by all Christian denominations, the Millennium Chapel, the Chapel of Christ the Servant which had a display of photos of Cathedrals around the country and the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane.
Chapel of Unity
A cafe - Rising Café from the rubble - serves delicious snacks at ground level. I thought it was quite amusing to hear the waitress laden with sandwiches calling out enquiringly "Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra" - just the names of the sandwiches, not the people eating them!  The café is run by the charity Betel (UK) with staff  who have suffered from homelessness or substance abuse.

Decorated in a cosy vintage style, I couldn't resist one of their cheese scones.
I'm afraid I took so many photos of the Cathedral, I just couldn't stop!



  1. You certainly took us on a wonderful tour, most enjoyable.

  2. A fabulous post. I really enjoyed it. So special that they left the ruins and linked them to the new cathedral. Sad that I didn't have time to visit at the weekend. B x

    1. If only I had scheduled the post for last week, you might have been able to pop in. x

  3. Wow, there is a lot of love and work in all those decorations. The tapestry is huge! What a fantastic combination of the two cathedrals. Your photos are great.

    1. Thanks, so glad you enjoyed seeing it, of course it's so much better in real life. :-)

  4. I love the windows they are amazing. I like the way old and new cathedrals are linked too:)

  5. Thanks for sharing, as I've only ever seen the new cathedral from the outside. As well as also posting about a cathedral today, I've another link for you. Whilst in Cologne, we visited the Antonite Church which has Barlach's Floating Angel and a prayer plaque featuring large iron nails that were found in the wreckage of the original Coventry Cathedral. Really poignant. xx

    1. Thanks Alison that was really interesting. It must be great to see the floating angel, something that makes you think. x