COVENTRY Archeologists have uncovered major finds in Coventry City centre in recent times. What has been uncovered is the site of the Benedictine Cathedral and Priory of St Mary, Originally founded in 1043 AD, by Leofric Earl of Mercia and Lady Godiva herself. The structure is vast. It measures some 425 feet long 1016 A nunnery dedicated to St Os burg was sacked by the Danes in 1016 1043 The first sign of Godiva. Her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, founded a Benedictine Monastery on the site of the sacked St Os burgs Nunnery. 1057 Leofric died 1067 Death of Godiva.
nb there is much that surrounds Godiva that is not at all clear. Some say she lived to a great age. Other say that she was much younger than Leofric. These stories do not tie in at all with the dates for her and her husbands death. 1086 Domesday Book records 69 heads of families in Coventry. So it wasn't a very large place for Godiva to ride through then was it? 1090-1100 Coventry castle built.
1136 Coventry castle razed by King Stephen 1154 Henry II grants permission for an annual fair in Coventry 1066 The Norman Conquest of England 1068 William I (1066-1087) abolishes the earldom of Mercia after meeting no resistance in the area. Coventry placed under the Earls of Chester 1068 William I starts the (re-) building of Warwick Castle 1086 Coventry in the Domesday Book is little more than a village. Rugby is called Rocheberie 1120 Kenilworth Castle started by Geoffrey de Clinton - the town begins to grow 1122 The Austin ian Priory founded in Kenilworth 1123 William II (1087 -1100) creates the earldom of Warwickshire 1133 First mention of the Chapel of St Michael, later formed part of Coventry Cathedral 1145 Coventry sides with Empress Matilda against King Stephen in a dynastic war. King Stephen (1135 -1154) seizes Coventry Castle as a result 1150 Coombe Abbey started to be built on the edge of present day Coventry in the district of Smith am 1173 Coventry sides with the Barons against Henry II (1154-1189) in their revolt. Henry II cancels Coventry's privileges 1177 Henry II grants new privileges to Coventry 1180 Coventry Castle falls into serious disrepair and eventually into ruins, though traces of the castle remained until the 1500's 1182 Further privileges granted to Coventry by Henry II COVENTRY castle Ask anybody in Coventry where the castle is and they are liable to give you a quizzical look.
It is only relatively recently that the existence of a castle has been discovered or at least recognised. Coventry castle was built in the 11 th century by one Ranula Mes chines who was the earl of Chester. The castle was razed to the ground in the 12 th Century and then rebuilt again. After a lot of warring and fighting in the mid 12 th Century the castle fell into disrepair. It has even been suggested that the crumbling hulk of the castle was used as a quarry for stone to built other town structures and the city wall. Excavations by archeologists have found the defensive ditch to the castle.
This is referred to as the Red Ditch. The castle ditch was up to 20 feet deep by a similar width. Gosford Green and Far Gosford St The road to Gosford Green - now far Gosford St - was a medieval route leading out of the city towards the East. As early as the 13 th Century there were houses fronting the street. Holy Trinity Church COVENTRY Holy Trinity church - which together with St Michaels, and Christ Church spires makes up the three spires of the city of Coventry skyline - was built on the site of a former older church around the late part of the 12 th or the early part of the 13 th centuries. Note though that the North Porch contains stonework from the time of Leofric and Godiva which was possibly sourced from the earlier church.
When Holy Trinity was built (for the tenants of the Northern side of Coventry - The priory lands) the hill top on which is was built was dominated by the Benedictine friary that became the original (first Cathedral) of St Mary's. St Michaels (which became the second, and now ruined, cathedral) was built slightly later to serve the tenants of the Earls lands. This serves to explain why so many churches built so closely together. Holy Trinity is the most original Medieval church in Coventry and, being some 72 metres (237 feet) high to the top of the spire and 59 metres (194 feet) long, it is almost "cathedral" size.
The church has seen many changes in it's life in fact It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1257. So it has seen much redecoration over the years. St George and COVENTRY There is a tradition that the Patron Saint of England, Saint George, was borne in Coventry and was buried at nearby Caludon castle. Early seals of the city show the elephant and castle on one side with a St George like figure on the other. The dragon slayer connection is also echoed by the use of the elephant itself.
In medieval days, in the bestiary stories, the elephant had connections with dragon slaying also. In their booklet on Far Gosford St (2000) the City Council through their author state that... 'Guy, Earl of Warwick, was sometimes said to have been one of St Georges three sons! Another old tradition claims that St George was born in Coventry - at Caludon Castle! (He was actually born in Cappadocia in the third century) ' It seems widely accepted that St George existed. That he lived in the 3 rd Century and that he was probably martyred in Palestine. That seems to be about all that is known. What became Coventry may not have existed at that time throws doubt on the assumption that St George was from Coventry.
As to him being the father of a medieval nobleman... So much of History is myth and legend and cannot be proven. Perhaps a leap of faith is required. St Michaels COVENTRY In 1086 the city was granted to the Earls of Chester and Bishop de Lyme say became abbot of the priory.
Under him the City became dived in two. The Priors Half and the Earls Half. At first the Priors half was more powerful and subsequently the church of Holy Trinity became the parish church for the Priors half. St Michaels was the parish church of the Earls half of the city and was used by his tenants These two churches are both in the Centre of the City not more than 50 yards apart and both sitting on the hilltop. This explains why there are two churches so close together. (The first Cathedral of St Mary's was a monastery too and so did not survive the ravages of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries).
The overall is some 300 feet in height standing on a base of around 30 feet square. There is a stone staircase which you can use to climb to the top of the tower. A well worth while climb though breathtaking for reason of exercise too.