A Conversation for Coventry, West Midlands, UK
Corrections & Addenda
Madent Started conversation Jun 19, 2003
Godiva - one explanation of the ride of Godiva is in the difference in meaning of words from 1,000 years ago. It is supposed that riding naked may mean that Godiva rode through the city without her jewellery, other accoutrements and escorts, wearing simple garments. This would be considered a shameful act, a dishonour to Godiva and to Leofric, except that by doing so she earned the respect and honour of the citizens.
True Blue - a cross reference to A656804 might be in order.
Camera Principis - the literal translation is just "Chamber of the Prince"
A period of calm - the collapse of the silk trade and watchmaking are correctly attributed to the industrial revolution and increasing cheap imports, but the resurgence of the city during the 20th century is not simply attributed to the motor trade. The city was also the centre of the Courtaulds man-made fibre business (which alone employed almost 10% of the local population), had a major part to play in the machine tool sector (Churchill, Herberts, et al) and was the birth place of the jet engine (there is a plaque on Hearsal Common indicating that Sir Frank Whittle got his inspiration from events there).
Part of Coventry's significance is down to its position, near enough at the centre of England, on the cross roads from London to Holyhead and Exeter to York. Coventry was a major market town and stop over.
At one point the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield was the third most important in England, after Canterbury and York.
Few people understand that Coventry was, until the industrial revolution, one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the UK. Even now, few still realise just how large the city is. This was a walled city a little over a mile across with not one or two, but four massive churches (three with spires) within yards of each other as well as numerous other churches (including St Osburga). The largest, St Mary's, was destroyed by King Henry VIII has only recently been excavated and has provided a rich trove of archaeological significance.
While the extent of the damage done during WWII and the subsequent reconstruction to the city's architectural heritage was massive, there remain significant buildings the match of any elsewhere in the country; St Mary's hall, Bablake School, Council House, the Cathedrals, Holy Trinity, Christchurch, Greyfriars, Spon Street, Coombe Abbey, etc.
The city stills enjoys a major role in the automotive industry and is the home of Jaguar, the UK home of Peugeot and still provides a significant proportion of the work force for Rover & Land Rover at Solihull. The Museum of British Road Transport also deserves a mention.
Coventry not only has two universities which are world renowed (particularly Coventry for Automotive Design), but also has two of the best independent schools in England (Bablake and King Henry VIII).
And that's just a few things off the top of my head.
Corrections & Addenda
McKay The Disorganised Posted Jun 19, 2003
Thanks for taking the trouble to read my entry in such detail. I'm a Coventry kid and one problem I had was that all I could find on Coventry on H2G2 was negative - except for the Holy Trinity piece by Demon Drawer, and I decided to do something about it.
I'll go through your comments one by one.
Godiva - there are indeed alternative suggestions as to what was meant by 'with her glory displayed' it has been suggested that this would mean with her hair unbraided, something that would only be seen by her husband normally, and was considered highly erotic in these times, however the 200 year gap before the reporting of the story suggests it to be a mixture of legends. For example there was a tradition in Southam for a naked woman to ride a horse through the town as part of a fertility festival each year.
True Blue - there is a link.
Period of calm - True there were many other facets to the City which I've simplified, indeed the sheer inventiveness of the populace almost defies description, but a line had to be drawn somewhere, and I took the popular conception of Coventry as a motor town. I used to work for Coutaulds and whilst waiting for a snooker table would sometimes chat with the pensioners in the social club. The story they told of having worked for Courtaulds for 50 years or more, living in a company house, holidaying with their workmates on company arranged coaches, and marrying girls from another part of the factory was like a fantasy story to someone born in the 1950s. The story of the jet engine is a little more contraversial, there is an arguement for Sir Frank having taken a great deal of his inspiration from the developments at the Mescherschmidt factory, but indeed the first engine were assembled just outside Coventry from parts made in the city.
Missed opportunities - I overlooked the geographic significance of Coventry's position, and how this would have exposed the city to ideas and events from other parts of the country. I'll agree that few people realise how important Coventry was. I do mention several areas of its importance, including the royal visits and the fact of Coventry being a county. Perhaps I should also have emphasised this meaning it would also have its own jail, court, etc.
When I was creating the entry I knew it would be linked to the BBCI timewalk feature, which Covers many of the major architechtural features, as they knew more than me, I left them out.
I did miss out currrent activities in the city, the entry was originally entitled Coventry - A Brief History, but got changed to the Guide format, there is an arguement that there is a gap for an entry on Coventry today.
Henry VIII and Bablake do get a mention thought not their standing today. I threw in some old boys of Henry VIII, because its my old school, but confined myself to a mere mention of Bablake.
Thanks for your comments, its nice to know someone has looked at the piece since it appeared on the front page.
Corrections & Addenda
EaterOfMarmite Posted Aug 28, 2003
Cofa's Tree is preferred, as Coventry was once in the Forest of Arden and it is assumed there was some form of tree worship.
Er, I think not. From what I've heard Cofa's tree was where you were taken to be hung by the neck - execution.
If you were being sent to Coventry you were being sent to be executed, if your dead no-one can speak to you. Hence being sent to Coventry = being given the silent treatment. No-one could be quieter than a corpse.
Corrections & Addenda
McKay The Disorganised Posted Sep 2, 2003
Hi - yes I mentioned further down the entry about covin tree being a place of execution.
People want to find nice explanations for things, but too often its the darker side of human nature that remains in our minds.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to post
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