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Coventry Cathedral

 

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Other Information

  • Coventry Cathedral is a post-war replacement for the bombed church that stands next to it, still ruined, which the porch practically adjoins.
  • Basil Spence was chosen after a competition which saw 219 architects enter designs to a brief that after much theological wrangling decided the liturgical end of the church should be on the eastern part of the site. A chapel was also required, attached to the cathedral but separate called the Chapel of Unity.
  • The building was constructed with a basic concrete shell although this is concealed behind the brick. Concrete that is visible such as the nave walls is actually the result of value engineering - they were originally to be sandstone.
  • The fleche that stands on the roof was actually airlifted onto it by helicopter, partly as a publicity stunt to demonstrate the new technology.
  • The cathedral contains several monumental works of art, the largest of which is The West Screen, a huge glass screen at one end of the church that is engraved with biblical images by John Hutton with structural input from Ove Arup. So precise is the structure that the nave columns rest on manganese bronze pins only 8cm square.
  • Next to the entrance is a sculpture by Jacob Epstein of St Michael and The Devil which features the devil vanquished at the feet of the saint. It was the sculptor's last large commission and one which Basil Spence was simple enough for everyone to understand without having knowledge of how to read a church.
  • Dominating the area behind the high altar is the Sutherland Tapestry, a monumental screen containing an image of Christ surrounded by gold and green. Between his feet is a man, woven to scale to show the size of the artwork to the keen-eyed.
  • The baptistery window is a huge curving stained glass window that has the 198 pieces of glazing placed between the stone creating a chequered mix of light and dark.
  • Culminating in the attempts to create great works of art was the music played the consecration in 1962 when Benjamin Britten's War Requiem was played for the first time. This piece of classical music was intended to evoke the horrors of war, and the unity of man that may grow from the peace that follows, the same mission that Spence had had during the design and construction of the cathedral itself.

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Architect
Sir Basil Spence
Sculptor
Sir Jacob Epstein
Structural Engineer
Arup Group

Reference Data

Reference No.
6868
First Uploaded
21-02-2014
Last Editorial Date
30-09-2014
 

Building Location

Address
Priory Street, Coventry. CV1 5FB
Council
City of Coventry
County
West Midlands
Region
West Midlands
Country
United Kingdom

Building Specification

Status
Complete
Proposal date
1951
Construction start date
1956
Completion date
1962

Pinnacle Height (AGL)
54.00
Pinnacle Type
Spire
Roof Height (AGL)
28.00

Market Data

Primary Use
Place of Worship


Metres > Feet