|A view of the Cathedral showing the back of the building with|
the zig-zag walls. . .
|. . . And part of the front.|
|Sections of the outer wall of the old Cathedral|
still stand, and when the sun shines through
the empty window there's a certain beauty.
|This is the original Charred Cross,|
with the Cross of Nails in its centre.
The scheme also came to represent the regrowth of the city, but it was ten years before the dream started to take shape, and at least that long again before work was complete. Architect Basil Spence won a design competition, but his vision was hugely controversial, for instead of reproducing the ornate Medieval edifice, he opted for a simpler and starker building, with clean-cut geometric lines. And instead of rebuilding on the old site, he placed his new Cathedral at the side of the ruins, clad the exterior in local red sandstone to match the remains, and linked old and new with a porch that pulls them into a unified whole.
|The Jacob Epstein statue shows|
St Michael poised in victory
above the defeated Devil.
I'm not usually a fan of mid-20th century architecture, but I think Coventry Cathedral is an absolute triumph. The blend of ancient and modern works incredibly well, while the concrete interior uses traditional Christian themes and symbols in the most awe-inspiring way . The whole thing takes your breath away.
|The Baptistery Window, designed by John Piper,|
symbolises the glory of God flooding into the world.
You walk inside, and stop, stunned by a huge, abstract, stained glass window. Designed by John Piper, it stretches from floor to ceiling, and light pours through the golden yellow sunburst at the centre, surrounded by rich reds, blues and greens. It is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and as you look and gasp in wonder and amazement, you realise there other abstract glass panels, five on each side, all equally vibrant and colourful, each set into a zig-zag angle of the walls, each rising tall and thin, like a kind of spire, from the floor to the vaulted ceiling.
|The great West Screen. The darker areas of|
glass are the ruined walls of the old Cathedral.
And there is the stupendous West Screen, a great glass wall, looking out on to the ruins, which seem to form part of the design. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it is, but I'll try. It is engraved with angels, prophets and saints, some standing in rectangular 'homes' formed by the grid which holds the glass in place, others flying across the surface. If you look hard you can find St Michael doing battle again, this time with a dragon. The window reminds me of the West Front of Lichfield Cathedral, which is covered in stone figures, and I think it's a nice link with the past, because Lichfield and Coventry were once part of the same bishopric.
from the screen and windows is directed towards the High Altar and
the tapestry behind it. Christ in Majesty was designed by artist
Graham Sutherland and is (according to the Cathedral's information
booklet), the size of a tennis court. It was woven in France, took 10
years to complete, and you could write a book on its symbolism. But
the same could be said for almost every object inside the Cathedral.
Everything seems to be a work of art, and everything seems to have a
|In this close-up you can see some of the engraved figures,|
and the turreted edge of part of an old wall.
|The Graham Sutherland tapestry is an|
incredible piece of work.
It's three years or so since I last visited, and an £8 entry fee has now been introduced. I have mixed feelings about places of worship doing this, because whilst accepting that cash is needed for maintenance and restoration, I feel they should be accessible and free.