Coventry is situated in the West Midlands, 18 miles east of Birmingham and 12 miles northeast of Warwick. Springing from a Benedictine monastery founded by the Earl of Leofric in the C11th, Coventry, in the ensuing centuries, has experienced rise, decline and more recently, re-generation.

From monastic roots, Coventry flourished and thrived. By the C14th, fuelled by a vital role in a brisk and growing cloth trade, Coventry was England’s fourth largest city. By the late C19th, Coventry was once again a leading light in English manufacturing industries, becoming the principal centre for bicycle and then later motorcar production.

Tragically, during WWII, Coventry’s economic significance and its role in arms and engine manufacturing became a cause for its devastation. Heavily and consistently bombed by the German Luftwaffe, little of Coventry’s historic architecture survived and much of the city centre, including the magnificent medieval cathedral, was devastated in a particularly ferocious night bombing on the 14th November 1940.

In the 1960’s, architects, conforming to contemporary modernist design principles that sought to efface the old and celebrate the new, started to rebuild Coventry. As economic and social decline accelerated after the War, such 1960’s architecture, often denigrated and defined as ‘brutalist’, has been criticized for its contribution to the break down of social and economic coherence. The new Cathedral, built by Basel Spence in 1962, was the embodiment of such modernist ideas and continues to attract controversy and architectural debate.

Recently, many millions have been spent on regeneration projects in attempts to revive the economic and social vitality of the city. Some of these multi- million pound ventures have attracted much applause and celebration, the most notable and ambitious of which is the Pheonix Project, a project that focuses upon the creation of visually attractive public spaces and that includes the incorporation of sculpture and modern art into the urban environment.

In addition to cars and cathedrals, Coventry is remembered as the city that spawned a legend and two popular expressions. Lady Godiva, living in the C11th and wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, is said to have ridden on horseback naked through the town centre in order to win a bet with her husband and thus secure lower taxes for the people of Mercia. The man who looked was ‘peeping Tom’. The expression ‘sent to Coventry’ is thought to have originated during the Civil War when Coventry’s predominantly fiercely Parliamentarian population was believed to have taken a very dim view of the Royalists amongst them.


Coventry offers several attractions to entertain and interest the first - time visitor.

During the course of its history, Coventry has spawned no less than three cathedrals. The earliest was built around 1043 by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and was dedicated to St Mary. The second, St Michael’s, was a magnificent medieval structure built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Unfortunately, the church was reduced to rubble during the War. Plans to rebuild were immediate and adjacent to the old ruins has arisen Basil Spence’s new and controversial creation, completed in 1962. Benjamin Britten’s famous War Requiem was first premiered in the new Cathedral in memory to the past and as a celebration of hope for the future. The official location of the Cathedral has never changed and so the old site still remains sacred.

Although some have bemoaned what they perceive as excessive modernism, others have staunchly defended Spence’s purpose and design and it is worth visiting the cathedral if only but to form a personal opinion upon this controversial structure.

For more information on interesting aspects of the new and old Cathedrals including the Ministry of Reconciliation and the Cross of Nails visit the website

Being the center of the motorcar industry for so long, it is no surprise to learn that Coventry possesses the largest and arguably the best transport museum in the country. Located in the city centre, it houses 240 motor vehicles, 100 motorbikes and 200 cycles, all displayed and distributed throughout a series of well designed galleries. Recently an additional 6.9 million pounds has been spent on providing four new galleries with added features and attractions.

Those with historical interests may enjoy a visit to St Mary’s Guildhall. Built in the 14th century, St Mary’s Guildhall has played host to a number of infamous historical characters throughout the centuries including Henry VI, Mary Queen of Scots who, it is believed, was imprisoned here for a while, George Elliot and William Shakespeare. The Great Hall houses a 15th century tapestry woven for the arrival of Henry VII in 1500 amongst other items of historical interest.

If traveling with small children or merely seeking a more alternative or nostalgic diversion, you may wish to consider a visit the Toy Museum, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Residing in the charming 14th century Whitefriars Monastery Gatehouse the museum possesses an eclectic range of toys dating from 1740-1951 and is open most days.

If equipped with a vehicle you will have the ability to travel outside Coventry and should therefore consider a visit to Warwick Castle, only a short car ride from Coventry. Extensive and imposing and scenically situated beside the River Avon, it has been listed as one of the top ten visited places in the UK and possesses an impressive array of rooms and artifacts testifying to its colourful history. The enormous grounds include a Victorian rose garden, conservatory and Peacock Garden.


As with most major cities in the UK, Coventry possesses a range of high street and independent shops to suit most tastes and budgets. The city centre is pedestrianised so most are easily accessible by foot and within convenient distance of each other.

Eating Out

There are plenty of places to eat out in Coventry and you will not suffer from a lack of choice. Restaurants of an English, European, Middle Eastern or Indian character that offer good food at reasonable prices can all be found within or close to the city centre. In addition, recent years have seen a rise in the number of bistros available that cater to a youthful and trendy crowd. The more adventurous and ambitious might also consider traveling only a little further afield to Leamington Spa where a number of award-winning restaurants with creative and eclectic menus are located.


Coventry’s nightlife provides largely for a young and energetic student crowd with a number of clubs and bars, often equipped with extensive dance floors, playing popular rock, pop and house music at high volumes until the early hours of the morning. If wanting to go clubbing you could try Jumpin’ Jaks located within the SkyDome Complex or alternatively the Coventry Colosseum situated on Primrose Hill Street. Both have recently been rated highly by the general public in the regional Godiva Awards.

If merely seeking a place to drink and chat you could try Browns. After 9pm on Friday and Saturdays the restaurant and bar transforms itself into a lively thriving drinking spot, staying open until and providing a range of music and visuals to entertain. Alternatively, you could try the Pheonix Bar and Club, award-winning, very popular with a local crowd and likely to be buzzing at the weekends.

Equally there are a number of quieter bars and cinemas for those desiring a more relaxed and less hectic evening out.

For a more unique and cultured experience you might wish to travel to Stratford – upon – Avon, a mere 8 miles from Warwick, to take in a play by William Shakespeare in the town of his birth.

Tourist Information

  • 4 Priory Row, Coventry, CV1 5EX
  • Tel: +44 (024) 7622 7264
  • Fax: +44 (024) 7622 7255
  • Email:
  • Website:


Coventry Airport is a small airport 5km south of Coventry that has flights to popular European holiday destinations.

Birmingham airport is the nearest International Airport. It is close to Junction 6 of the M42 and Coventry city centre is an approximate a 20 minute drive by car. The city centre is further easily accessible by coach and rail from the airport with regular services between the two.

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