Coventry Cathedral, commonly referred to as the Cathedral Church of St Michael, is the Dioceses of Coventry. It is located in Coventry City, West Midland, England. The city of Coventry has hosted three cathedrals; St Mary’s, St Michael, and the new St Michael’s Cathedral which was constructed following the destruction of St Michael’s. it is built next to the remains of the old cathedral. The cathedral was designed by Basil Spence and built by John Laing. Spence was selected in a completion held in 1950. The construction of the new cathedral began on March 23, 1956, and was completed in 1962 with its consecration taking place on May 25, 1962.
The first cathedral to be established in the city of Coventry was the St Mary’s. It was established between 1095 and 1102 when the bishop’s see was moved from Lichfield to Coventry by Robert de Limesey. It was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539.
St Michael’s Church, the second cathedral in Coventry, was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. It was among the largest churches in England upon changing its status to a Cathedral following the formation of Coventry Diocese in 1918. The cathedral was bombed to almost destruction in 1940 in the Coventry Blitz by the Germans. It now stands ruined with the ruins remaining consecrated ground and listed at Grade I. The old St Michael is considered the tallest structure in Coventry at 295 feet and the third tallest cathedral spire in England.
The designing of the new St Michael Cathedral was done by Basil Spence while it was constructed by John Laing. It is built adjacent to the ruins of the old St Michael’s. Spence’s design was selected in a 1950 competition to find an architect for the new cathedral. The foundation for the new cathedral was laid on March 23, 1956, by Elizabeth II and the consecration six years later on May 25, 1962.
The Coventry Cathedral boasts a modernist style which was initially a source of discussion but has since become one of the great symbols of reconciliation in Britain. The interior of the cathedral is known for the huge tapestry of Christ which was thought to be the largest in the world. The tapestry was created by Graham Sutherland. Other notable features on the interior include the emotive sculpture of Mater Dolorosa and the Baptistry window which comprises of 195 panes. The stained glass windows in the Nave face away from the congregation. Worth noting is also the Great West Window often referred to as Screen of Saints and Angels which is directly engraved onto the screen in an expressionist style.
The new St Michael’s Cathedral is largely intact with no major damages to the building. The cathedral only undergoes the normal periodic maintenance and repairs of minor breakages and damages. The tapestry, which was woven in France and consists of over 900 colors, has been cleaned on several occasions with the last being in 2001. Its detailed assessment was initiated in late February 2015.
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