In The Area: Coventry Cathedral

Jun 18, 2018

Coventry’s cathedrals have become a symbol of peace and reconciliation the world over, with one standing only as rubble and ruins following the intense bombing of the Warwickshire region during the Second World War.

St Michael’s, originally a 14th century Gothic church, stands as ruins in Coventry‘s city centre. Alongside it is the new St. Michael’s Cathedral, a modern replica built in the years after the armistice of the Second World War.

The first St Michael’s was all but destroyed during the Blitz years, with the industrial nature of Coventry making it a prime target for German bombers during the conflict.

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The Cathedral, with a spire amongst the highest in the UK, was hit by a series of incendiary bombs on the night of 14 November 1940. The worst night of the Coventry Blitz, 515 German Luftwaffe destroyed 4300 of the city’s homes, as well as much of its infrastructure, industry and community services.

By morning 568 people were dead, with over 1000 injured. Much of the city was ash and cinder, including the Cathedral, which now stood only as a shell. It was decided that the Cathedral would be rebuilt, or rather a new iteration, as early as the following morning.

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Amidst the rubble, the cathedral stonemason, Jock Forbes, came across two burnt roof timbers that had fallen into the shape of a cross. The Charred Cross became one of the symbols of Coventry’s recovery from the bombings. Erected in the ruins atop a mound of rubble, the crossed remains of the former roof timbers are situated near the inscription ‘Father Forgive’.

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The ruins of Coventry’s former cathedral have since become a symbol of peace and reconciliation around the globe.

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