List of entries |  Feedback 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(306,000 in 1991)
City and district of the West Midlands. It grew up around a *Benedictine monastery founded in 1043 by Leofric, the earl of Mercia, and his wife Godgifu, better known in legend as Lady *Godiva. Its medieval prosperity was based on cloth-making. The 14C St Mary's Hall, built for the Merchant Guild, has in its great hall the Coventry Tapestry which is believed to commemorate the visit of Henry VII and his queen in 1500.

In modern times transport has provided the basis of the city's industry. James Starley (1830–81), known as the 'father of the cycle industry', invented here the tensioned wire spoke which made possible the *penny-farthing. In 1896 Coventry pioneered the British manufacture of cars, with the 3-wheeled Coventry Motette appearing in that year and the first English Daimler in 1897.

Coventry has been known as the city of three tall spires. One still has its church attached, the 14–16C Holy Trinity. The second is all that remains of the church of the Grey Friars, destroyed in 1539. And the third is the only part of the medieval cathedral to have survived Coventry's night of destruction, 14 November 1940, the first instance of the carpet-bombing of a city. The shell of the old building has been kept as a memorial beside the new cathedral, designed by Basil *Spence, which was consecrated in 1962. A wealth of art was commissioned for it, most notably the bronze sculpture of St Michael and the Devil on the exterior by Epstein; the glass entrance screen engraved by John Hutton (1906–78); the stained glass in the baptistry window by John Piper; and above the altar the great tapestry of Christ in Glory by Graham Sutherland.

The phrase 'sent to Coventry' (meaning shunned or not spoken to) is of unknown origin. In *Clarendon's History of the Great Rebellion some prisoners are taken in Birmingham and are 'sent to Coventry'. This verbal coincidence is often quoted, not very convincingly, as the origin of the phrase. But perhaps the incident stuck in the public mind and later became adapted to its present meaning.

A  B-BL  BO-BX  C-CH  CI-CX  D  E  F  G  H  IJK  L  M  NO  P  QR  S-SL  SM-SX  T  UV  WXYZ