About Coventry

Afterwards I then turned to Coventry in general to see if any of it’s history would link to my work interests and being that Coventry is an area that I haven’t ventured into much it still has a newish feel. So I decided to look to see what stood out as an interesting aspect. My first thought for this was to visit the local tourist centre. To see what leaflets they had based on the history and what attraction features are suggested for visitors to go to. This was  the most informative and reliable place as it is a key resource for many visitors plus it would tell people where to venture for something to do while in Coventry.

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On top of this I also sourced websites including Coventry City Council and Coventry’s Local History.

All in all I found many interesting facts, which I jotted down so to compare with my interests.

Notes

  • Coventry was an area based on Saxon nunnery, from this it had a prominent religious aspect.
  • This religious aspect split Coventry into two halves. One (the north) being run by the wealth of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and the other (the south) being ran by the monks from the religious parishes that had been given so to support them.
  • Coventry castle was the main focus of the area with kings living in it at points, many travelling royalties and parliament staying there and being hidden away there when in danger. Due to this the markets were also built up around the castle.
  • Around the outskirts of Coventry there was a wall to keep out any invaders making it the safest place to be in the eye of royalty.
  • Due to it’s importance to royalty Coventry was made capital of England and even made to be a country on it’s own with it’s own being ran by a mayor chosen by it’s residents.
  • During the wars though, while under Saxon order the Romans invaded and destroyed the Saxon nunnery. When the Lord of Mercia and his Wife took over they rebuilt it for the monks to live in. This was later changed by Bishop Robert de Limesey into a priory and cathedral at a later date.
  • Lady Godiva is a famous folk tale believed that the Lord of Mercia was charging to much tax to the people. In a bid to stop this she begged her husband who remarked that he’s only stop if she rode on her horse throughout the streets naked. She agreed to do so and wrote to everyone previously to ask them to stay indoors while she did so.
  • One person didn’t follow these orders and in viewing the naked Lady Godiva he was made blind by her beauty. He became known as Peeping Tom.
  • Over the years Coventry has been a flourishing business industry with many factories being based here and part being founded here. These include:
  1. Transport – Makers of Londons Black Cabs
  2. Wool
  3. Cotton
  4. Metal
  5. Ribbon
  6. Textiles – True Blue Cloth
  7. Silk
  8. Clocks and Watches
  • The industry knowledge also meant that artillery and ammunition was largely made in Coventry. This was the reason as to why Coventry was bombed during the war.
  • Due to the changes in times over the years though Coventry goes from being a flourishing business to being in a recessive outlook. This recessive outlook was portrayed through the video “Ghost Town” by “The Specials”.
  • There are also many woods in the area, many of which are in close proximity to each other. Yet the area is seen as being mainly grey due to the industrial outlook that is mainly situated around the center.
  • During the Civil War, royalist prisoners were detained inside Coventry’s Walls until they were burned at Little Park. Growing hostile attitudes from the residents to the prisoners or troops who were based there became known as being “Sent to Coventry”.
  • The first real police force was founded here in 1836. While an ambulance service started in 1902.
  • Nowadays Coventry is seen as being part of a rough area with it being dangerous to be out and about in some areas on your own due to it.

The ones that stood out to me the most were that of the music-based piece for the song “Ghost Town” by “The Specials”.

Although I didn’t want this piece to become music orientated, as in my mind I have created the idea of a documentary piece of work based on the urban landscape. The part that stuck out to me was the emptiness and the quote for the city council’s site…

Its image, once so vibrant and leading edge, coarsened and it began to suffer an accelerating brain-drain”. 

This made me think about looking for run down areas and considering the decay of that part. These images would then be captured in colour but later turned to being de-saturated so to enforce the quote and songs thoughts.

Also interesting was how Coventry had so much history of law enforcement and in control from being run by people with hierarchy over the country. Being used as a way of detaining offenders, having the first police force etc. Yet nowadays it has a repetition of criminal behavior due to council estates. This interests me as it links with my background of growing up on a council estate that has had the same repetition when I was young.

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