A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Churches Built Before 1800 (fn. 1)
HOLY TRINITY, Coventry, and its Chapels. (fn. 2) Holy Trinity was in existence at least by 1113 as a chapel claimed by Coventry Priory and serving the tenants of what was by then the Prior's Half of Coventry. (fn. 3) It was mentioned again, as a church, in 1139, when, at the desire of Bishop Roger de Clinton, it was confirmed to the priory by Innocent II together with half the rental (census) of Coventry, and this confirmation was repeated by Lucius II in 1144. (fn. 4) According to a more detailed confirmation issued by Bishop Gerard Pucelle in 1183-4, which listed Holy Trinity among the priory's dependent chapels, the prior and convent were to find a suitable priest to minister there. (fn. 5) In contrast with St. Michael's, Holy Trinity appears to have been held by the priory without disturbance in the late 12th and for most of the early 13th century, except for a brief period in 1236 when, during the current dispute between the priory and Bishop Alexander de Stavensby, (fn. 6) the confirmations of popes Innocent and Lucius were renewed in the bishop's favour. (fn. 7) In 1259 the church was formally appropriated to the priory, (fn. 8) and in 1264 a vicarage was ordained. Ralph of Sowe, the first vicar, was thereupon presented by the prior and admitted by the bishop. (fn. 9) At the Dissolution the advowson was taken into the king's hand and subsequently remained with the Crown, the right to present being exercised on the Crown's behalf by the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 10)
According to the ordination of the vicarage in 1264 the vicar was to receive all oblations, obventions, tithes, and other profits of the church and of its chapels of Holy Cross, Coundon, Willenhall, and St. Nicholas, with the exception of the tithes of corn, hay, mills, lambs, and wool, and all principal mortuaries, rents, and services of the church's tenants which were apportioned to the priory; the latter was also to receive £5 yearly from the vicar for the Sunday offerings. (fn. 11) In 1346 the prior brought a case at Common Pleas against John de Holland, the vicar, to enforce his claim to the yearly sum which had not been paid for the previous seven years. The prior's claim was successful, (fn. 12) and in 1410-11 payment was being made normally. (fn. 13) The terms of the original ordination seem to have been slightly varied in 1456 by an agreement between the vicar, John Meneley, and the prior whereby the vicars of Holy Trinity were in future to render the 100s. annually in return for the small tithes of the parish and its existing chapelries (fn. 14) and of any other chapels that might be founded in the parish outside the priory's precinct. (fn. 15) In 1546-7 the receiver answered for a pension of 100s. received annually from Holy Trinity vicarage. (fn. 16)
In 1291 the church was valued at 20 marks and the vicarage at two marks; and these sums remained constant in 1340-1 and in 1454. By 1522 the vicarage was worth £25 and in 1534 its net value had risen to £26 5s. 6½d., but in 1546 it had decreased to £15 6s. 8d. Four years later the incumbent, William Bennett, in order to stabilize his stipend, leased the vicarage to two inhabitants of Coventry for seven years in return for a fine of 20 marks and an annual rent of £6 13s. 4d., but by 1553 the profits of the benefice had dropped to £3 19s. 10½d. (fn. 17)
In 1565 the corporation bought the rectory from the Crown, (fn. 18) thus becoming recipients of the great tithes and chargeable for repairs to the chancel, as well as having the right to certain pews in the church. The corporation as rectors also claimed the tithes of the dissolved St. John's Hospital during the minority of its owner, John Hales, since these had been payable to the priory as the appropriators of Holy Trinity. Anyone refusing to pay tithe was brought before the council by the alderman of his ward (fn. 19) and the corporation was able from time to time to lease out the tithes to individuals for a fixed annual sum. (fn. 20) At first the corporation carried out its duties in paying for repairs to the chancel, but by 1639 objections were being made and in 1654 an agreement was reached between the corporation and the vestry that the city should make an annual payment of £2 to Holy Trinity for the corporation's seats, but that the repair of the chancel should be the burden of the parish. (fn. 21) There were, however, frequent occasions when the council voted a contribution to the fabric; the corporation, moreover, showed some interest in the appointments of incumbents and in the sufficiency of their stipends.
As the value of the vicarage decreased it became clear that a proper provision must be made: in 1557-8, when the seven years' lease of the vicarage came to an end, an Act was passed for the payment of tithes in both Holy Trinity parish and St. Michael's, which was experiencing similar difficulties. (fn. 22) Although church attendance had decreased and payment of tithes could not be enforced, the incumbent had found a way of ensuring some sort of income, but by this Act a rate was to be levied on all those paying rent in the two parishes, on each a tithe of his rent - 1s. on 10s., 2s. on 20s., and so on; complaints were to be heard before the mayor and council, with appeal to the Lord Chancellor. In 1647 the tithe of house rents was bringing in £55 and this, together with various small payments and £8 6s. 8d., from the Crown, as arranged in 1568, gave the vicar a stipend of £74 3s. 4d. The Act for the payment of tithes was repealed in 1779 and replaced by an Act for the better providing of a maintenance for the vicar. (fn. 23) The previous Act had resulted in much litigation and the income of the vicarage had decreased considerably. The new arrangement was to supersede payment of all tithes and other ecclesiastical dues within the city. and suburbs, except endowments, bequests and stipends bestowed on the vicar, and surplice fees; it was to consist of an annual rate of 1s. in the £ on all houses, gardens, and buildings, with the exception of houses under the value of £6. (fn. 24) In 1851 the incumbent's position was comparatively good: he assessed his income from all sources at £670 7s. (fn. 25) The shilling rate was exacted until 1883, when the vicar's rate leviable in the parish of Holy Trinity was abolished by Act of Parliament. (fn. 26)
The abolition of the vicar's rate was the result of a long and bitter campaign waged by the corporation and by prominent nonconformists against this hated levy. A test case occurred in 1838, when the opinion of Sir Frederick Pollock was sought as to whether payment of the rate could be enforced. Since payment could be enforced by distress and sale of goods, unless appeal was made, the magistrates were at this point unable to proceed further. (fn. 27) The corporation, however, found good grounds for objection in 1866 to rates charged that year for the first time on market tolls and great fair tolls, on the Smithfield Market, and on the water mains in St. Nicholas Street. (fn. 28) The real crisis took place in 1882 when the vicar, Francis Morton Beaumont, issued thirteen demands for payment of the rate. Ten of the thirteen persons concerned, who objected to a compulsory payment for religious purposes, appealed to the mayor and magistrates for protection; it was rumoured that their goods, which had been seized by the police, were to be sold privately. An attempt was made to sell, but local opposition had been underestimated and the sale was a failure. Meanwhile the Anti Vicar's Rate Association, whose president was a member of the city council, was holding meetings and issuing pamphlets which provided strong evidence on the injustice of the system. A meeting summoned by the mayor resulted in the formation of a committee to collect subscriptions for a campaign for abolition. Before the end of the year Holy Trinity vestry had agreed to promote a Bill for the abolition of the vicar's rate provided that £4,200 was raised to pay debts and the costs of the Act. The money, including £100 subscribed by the Bishop of Worcester, was collected and the Act for abolition was passed in 1883. After Easter 1883 the vicar was to receive £500 a year out of the estates of the church and £100 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 29)
The number of priests attached to Holy Trinity cannot be ascertained before 1522, when there were, besides the vicar, eleven priests and two chantry priests; eleven years later there were a vicar, eight priests and two chantry priests; in 1547 there were only two priests but in 1560 the number had risen to seven. (fn. 30) Before the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries there appear to have been eight altars besides the high altar, each with its chapel and chantry: the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Jesus altar, the Trinity altar, the Corpus Christi altar, the Holy Cross altar, and the altars of All Saints, St. Thomas, and St. Andrew. There was a chantry in the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr in 1298; (fn. 31) it had been founded, probably in 1296, by William de Allesley for one priest to sing mass daily. (fn. 32) The chaplaincy was in the gift of the priory (fn. 33) and in 1534-5 the net value of the chantry was £4 17s. (fn. 34) The chapel, with its altar, lies east of the north porch. In 1564 seats for the general use of the congregation were placed in the chapel. (fn. 35)
William Celet had, during his lifetime, constructed a parclose screen between the Corpus Christi Chapel and the church; this chapel probably occupied the south transept. (fn. 36) After his death provision for his chantry was made by Richard de Solihull, priest, who granted land in 1329 to John de Caldicote, priest, and his successors in the chapel, who were to reside and were to undertake no other office which might in any way impede them in their duty. The living, which was in the gift of the priory, was for a time usurped by Queen Isabel, but reverted to the priory under the tripartite indenture of 1355. (fn. 37) The chapel in the south transept has also been identified as the Jesus Chapel; perhaps the dedication was altered when the Jesus Mass was introduced in Holy Trinity in 1478. The Jesus altar was still in existence in 1558, but was removed within two years, the chapel being used to store the dismantled organ. (fn. 38)
The Percy chantry at the altar of All Saints was of two separate foundations, one being made in 1349 when Nicholas Percy, John de Fillongley, and Henry Molling gave property for the support of one priest to sing mass daily for various members of the Percy family, including Nicholas and John Percy. (fn. 39) By 1372 there were two priests and the chantry was divided into distinct moieties, both of which were in the presentation of John Percy. (fn. 40) In 1411 and 1449 the prior held the right to present. (fn. 41) The position of this altar and chantry is unknown.
In 1356 a chantry was founded at the altar of the Holy Cross within the church (fn. 42) by William de Daventry and twelve others, for two priests to sing mass daily for the good estate of the king and queen, their children and Queen Isabel, the founders and the brethren and sisters of the fraternity of the Holy Cross. (fn. 43) This guild is otherwise unknown, unless the grant in 1363-4 by Richard de Fillongley, butcher, one of the founders of the chantry, and his wife, of property in the parish to four men (fn. 44) (three of whom were fellow founders) was in fact a gift without licence in mortmain to the guild.
The chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary was in existence in 1364 and in 1392 two foundations were attached to its altar. An agreement was made between the Corpus Christi Guild and the churchwardens of Holy Trinity regarding the position of the guild's priest, who was to sing mass daily at St. Mary's altar and attend divine service on Sundays and double feasts and all offices used in the church; he was to be known as St. Mary's priest and was to be appointed by the guild, but he was closely connected with the church for, if the guild failed to provide a priest, it was to pay 8 marks a year to the churchwardens. (fn. 45) In 1404 it was granted further property for the support of a priest to sing Our Lady's Mass at St. Mary's altar, and additional property in 1492 for the same purpose. (fn. 46) The second foundation was of a chantry for Roger de Lodington and his widow, Alice; Alice herself added to the chantry's endowment in 1402. (fn. 47) From time to time other gifts were made for the upkeep of the altar, and in 1477 forty days' indulgence was granted to all hearing mass or praying there for benefactors, or contributing to the upkeep of lights and ornaments. Vestments were still being used by the Corpus Christi Guild in 1543, but St. Mary's altar was either damaged or allowed to fall into disrepair, probably after the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries, for, just before the death of Queen Mary, a gift was made for its repair or rebuilding. The chapel is thought to have been situated at the east end of the north chancel aisle; (fn. 48) this is the most likely position and equivalent to that of the Lady Chapel in St. Michael's. (fn. 49)
The chapel of the Holy Trinity in 1423 had its own chaplain who also served the chapel of St. Thomas; (fn. 50) little more is known of it than that it was sufficiently important for the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield to grant forty days' indulgence to all hearing mass or praying there for benefactors, or contributing to the upkeep of lights and ornaments. It was apparently situated in the south aisle. A chapel dedicated to St. Andrew is known to have existed in 1566. A late chantry was that founded by Richard Marler in 1526-7 in a newly-built chapel east of the north transept; only two priests served this chantry, the second being appointed by the city wardens (fn. 51) and the lands and revenues being administered by the Drapers' Company. (fn. 52)
Certain guilds have so far been noticed as having connexions with certain altars and chapels: the Holy Cross Guild (perhaps the butchers' company) with the altar of the Holy Cross, and the Corpus Christi Guild with St. Mary's Chapel. The fact that stairs are mentioned in connexion with the Dyers' Chapel (fn. 53) has suggested its identification with the two-storied St. Thomas's Chapel. If Holy Trinity Chapel was in the south nave aisle it may have served the tanners' company which maintained a priest there. (fn. 54) Otherwise, the whittawers' company is known to have kept one obit in the church (fn. 55) and the mercers' company to have had a chapel there. (fn. 56)
Evidence for the early history of Holy Trinity is scantier than that for St. Michael's. (fn. 57) The church and parish lay outside the main stream of the town's development; Holy Trinity was connected with the Corpus Christi Guild, St. Michael's with the Trinity Guild - indubitably the more important of the two. Holy Trinity was the church of the Prior's Half, appropriated to the priory, serving the needs of the prior's tenants, reflecting the life of the Prior's Half, which was not as highly developed as the Earl's Half. (fn. 58) So close was the bond between priory and church that the Vicar of Holy Trinity had been accustomed to administer the sacrament in time of need to servitors and other laymen attached to the priory and to others who repaired there until 1391, when this duty was ordered by papal indult to be performed by the sacristan, subprior or other fit monk. (fn. 59) It was also said that the prior had intended to denounce John Grace, the Lollard hermit, from the pulpit of Holy Trinity Church in 1424. (fn. 60) Several of the incumbents were, however, members of the Trinity Guild. (fn. 61) Nicholas Crosby obtained papal licence of absence to go to the university, a year after his presentation, for a period of five years and again in 1429 for another five years. (fn. 62)
Of considerable importance and most illuminating are the constitutions drawn up in 1462 for the deacon and the second deacon of Holy Trinity Church. (fn. 63) Their duties were of three kinds, connected respectively with the cure of souls, with the church ornaments and vestments, and with the fabric. As deacons, probably preparing for the priesthood and to have the cure of souls, they were to sing in the choir at high mass and for the daily offices. On Sundays, holy days, or double feasts they were rectors of the choir, and they were also to arrange for the reading of the gospel and the epistle at high mass on Sundays and holy days. The parish was divided into two wards, for each of which one of the deacons was responsible; he looked after weddings and funerals for his own ward, accompanied the priest when he took the sacrament to the sick, and carried holy water to each house in his ward every Sunday, receiving his 'duty' quarterly. Between them the deacons were responsible for all books, ornaments, and vestments in regular use, for keeping the church clean both inside and out, and for providing the decorations and observing all other proper ceremonies at special seasons in the church calendar.
The clergy of the church lived in a common hall called Jesus Hall, which was founded by the vicar, Thomas Bowde, and built on land conveyed to him by Thomas Grey, Marquess of Dorset, in 1499. (fn. 64) It lay to the south of the church, adjoining the south wall of the south transept and consisted, in 1693, of a hall and dining room, stairway and chamber over. Next door was the vicarage, which was probably part of the original building. Witness to its foundation was the inscription over the windows: Orate pro anima Thome Bowde, hujus vicarii fundatoris. Thomas Bowde devised Jesus Hall to the church in 1508 and at the same time founded his own chantry, for which the vicar was to be responsible. The priests of Holy Trinity Church lived there in common, under one of their number, who was called the archmaster, until the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries. (fn. 65) The hall was then let out from time to time to some of the craft companies (fn. 66) and, after being leased to Samuel Gibson, the vicar, who gave up his lease for the use of the parishioners, it was leased in 1622 to Humphrey Burton. The latter, after several improvements had been made, (fn. 67) acquired it in 1658, and from him it descended to his son Simon. (fn. 68) Nathaniel Wanley (who married Humphrey Button's daughter) occupied the house during his vicariate while Simon Burton lived next door. (fn. 69) The latter devised Jesus Hall in 1693 to the Vicar of Holy Trinity and his successors, but within fifty years it was pulled down and a new vicarage house built on the site. This did not last for long as it was demolished in 1826 to make way for extensions to the gaol. The new vicarage house was erected in St. Nicholas Street in 1839. (fn. 70)
William Bennett, in 1550, at a time when the church's finances were at their lowest ebb, had leased his vicarage house, and other properties, for seven years so that the money thus saved might be used to pay an assistant curate. (fn. 71) In spite, however, of his obvious care for the church and parish in his charge, he was deprived at Mary's accession because he was married. The fact that he had also been zealous in the sale of the church's twenty copes had probably militated against him. His successor, George Brooch, restored vestments and ornaments, but in 1560 and in the ensuing years the plate was sold, the high altar and rood were dismantled, and 'superstitious' symbols painted out, under the auspices of both Brooch and his successor, George Cheston. (fn. 72) The best known of the Elizabethan vicars is Humphrey Fenn, who was appointed in 1578. He was a Presbyterian and a member of the Warwickshire classis, (fn. 73) who in 1584 refused to subscribe to Archbishop Whitgift's six articles. (fn. 74) It was said that, on his suspension, a Welshman, one Griffen, became vicar, that there was some strife between them as to who should hold the benefice and that when Fenn was restored there was much rejoicing in Coventry. (fn. 75) He did not stay for long, for he was again suspended on his citation before the Star Chamber for having subscribed the Book of Discipline and for his membership of the Warwickshire classis. (fn. 76) Although he was released from the Fleet and probably returned to Coventry, he was not restored to the vicarage again and his successor, Richard Eyton, was attacked by the Puritans for negligence. (fn. 77) After the incumbency of Samuel Bugges, who was also Vicar of St. Michael's, Henry Carpenter proved a popular vicar, to whose stipend the parishioners were willing to add £10 a year rather than that he should go to a better living elsewhere. (fn. 78) But he went, and it was during his successor's incumbency that the altar was restored to the easterly position and raised on three steps. (fn. 79) This measure, carried out at the order of the chancellor of the diocese, was opposed, and after another five years opinion had hardened. The church was in financial difficulties and poverty was a good excuse for dispensing with the organist and then for selling the organ; (fn. 80) but, although strong representations were made to the chancellor to reimburse the vestry for its outlay on moving the altar in 1636 and to provide funds for restoring the communion table to its 'ancient position' as required by order of Parliament, the money was paid out of the estates. (fn. 81) On Robert Proctor's death, the parishioners petitioned for Julius Herring to be given the vicarage, but he appears not to have satisfied Parliament, for John Bryan was appointed. (fn. 82) The latter was popular with his parishioners and respected by his opponents; he left a more lucrative living to come to Coventry. (fn. 83) Bryan was a convinced Presbyterian and stripped the church of the rest of its ornaments. The font was taken down in 1645 and the eagle lectern was relegated to the vestry. (fn. 84) At the Restoration, in common with the Vicar of St. Michael's, he was urged by the bishop to conform, but similarly he refused and his last signature occurs in the vestry minutes on 1 April 1662; (fn. 85) the council continued, however, to make payments to him (fn. 86) and he went on living in Coventry until his death in 1676, when his funeral sermon was preached by his successor, Nathaniel Wanley. (fn. 87)
The revenues of Holy Trinity came mainly from rents of lands and buildings, with additional sums from pew rents, bell-ringing, and graves; out of this had to be found the clerk's wages and the organist's salary, repairs to the church and vicarage, and other small miscellaneous expenses. (fn. 88) There were four churchwardens, appointed by vote of the vestry, (fn. 89) who were responsible for the administration of the estates and for the keeping of accounts. (fn. 90) In 1652 they were empowered to lease pews. In 1627 Humphrey Burton, later town clerk, was appointed churchwarden and kept the accounts most assiduously. The vestry minutes of his period are mainly in his meticulous hand. In 1642 Robert Proctor, the vicar, tried to impose his own churchwardens, but the vestry was adamant and the wardens of the previous year were continued in office. By 1672 there was a head-churchwarden, the three others being appointed for the three wards of the parish, Cross Cheaping, Butchery, and Bishop Street. It is likely that the preservation of the church records is partly due to the care of Humphrey Burton. (fn. 91) Appointments of parish clerks and sextons are entered in the minutes; the sextons had taken over the duties relating to the fabric of the church, which formerly belonged to the deacons; they were also responsible for the custody of church goods and accounted to the wardens. (fn. 92)
At the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries the church was deprived of its staff of priests and little money was available for the payment of stipends beyond that of the vicar; but various lectures and sermons were founded by benefactors, of which the Friday lecture, in existence by at least 1611, carried during the 17th century a salary of £2 yearly. (fn. 93) Three yearly sermons had already been founded by Thomas Warren, by his will proved in 1530, and after the Dissolution further small endowments for a total of twelve sermons were provided under the wills of Thomas Wheatley (proved 1567), John Tallants (proved 1573), Christopher Davenport (proved 1629), Richard Baron (c. 1658), Nathaniel Wanley (1681), William Jelliff (proved 1684), and Samuel Frankland (1692). Three more sermons were endowed by John Cockesonne, by deed of 1566, and two by the gift, in 1817, of Mary Pollard. From 1562 onwards a payment of £1 10s. a year is recorded in the churchwardens' accounts for the preaching of three sermons connected with the name of Henry Boteler who about 1490 had also endowed three sermons at St. Michael's. Several of these sermons have survived to the present day, (fn. 94) but at some periods sums considerably in excess of those originally laid down were paid for them, either to a permanent lecturer who then acted as the vicar's assistant, or to the vicar himself to augment his stipend. (fn. 95)
On the deprivation of John Bryan at the Restoration, Nathaniel Wanley was appointed vicar. The living was still poor and Wanley's stipend was cut just before he died in 1680. During his vicariate several reforms were introduced: the parish plate was no longer to be lent out to private persons and stricter regulations were issued for the burial of the poor. Considerable repairs were carried out on the fabric of the church. When the tower and spire fell in 1666 rebuilding was completed in under three years. (fn. 96) Wanley was succeeded by Samuel Barton who stayed only a few months, then by Jonathan Kimberley, an outstanding preacher, (fn. 97) whose gifts won him an extra £30 a year from the council. (fn. 98) On his preferment as Dean of Lichfield in 1712 the church sank into a period of apathy.
Kimberley was succeeded by his son, Samuel. John Davies, appointed in 1811, was a well-loved incumbent, who gave much of his time to preaching at the workhouse. The outstanding vicar of the 19th century was Walter Farquhar Hook, who made a great impression on welfare and education in the parish as well as on the fabric of the church; he left Holy Trinity to become Vicar of Leeds in 1837. (fn. 99)
The following modern ecclesiastical parishes have been created wholly or partly out of Holy Trinity in the 19th and 20th centuries: St. Peter (1842), St. Thomas, Keresley-with-Coundon (1848), All Saints and St. Mark (1869), and St. Nicholas. Radford (1912), which had been built as a chapel of ease to Holy Trinity in 1874.
A mission room to serve the area of Willenhall, a detached part of Holy Trinity parish later known as Holy Trinity Without, was opened in St. James Lane, Willenhall, in 1884. It was eventually replaced in 1957 by the new, permanent church of St. John the Divine, Willenhall, to which Holy Trinity Without was assigned to a parish in 1958' (fn. 100) The old Free Grammar School building, formerly the church attached to St. John the Baptist's Hospital (fn. 101), was bought by subscription in 1885 and conveyed to the vicar and churchwardens of Holy Trinity for use as a mission room, (fn. 102) which was subsequently called St. Katherine's mission room Hales Street. (fn. 103)
The parish church of the HOLY TRINITY stands at the junction of Broadgate and Priory Row. It is basically cruciform in plan, having an aisled nave, an aisled chancel, north and south transepts and a central tower with a tall spire. On the north side a porch and three chapels obscure the projection of the transept. The chapels are separated from the church by arcades, and virtually add second north aisles to both nave and chancel. At the east ends of both chancel aisles are low self-contained chapels, now used as vestries. The external walls of the church have been rebuilt or refaced with different types of stone at various periods so that little original work remains. (fn. 104)
There is apparently nothing left of the Norman building which was destroyed by fire in 1257. (fn. 105) Work of the 13th century, however, survives in considerable quantity, and its distribution gives some idea of the extent of the rebuilt church. The most easily recognized part of this fabric is the twostoried north porch. Internally the ground floor has a quadripartite vault springing from angle shafts with foliage capitals; similar shafts flank the deeplymoulded arch to the doorway into the north aisle. The wall surrounding the doorway has been pierced with several rectangular openings, communicating with the upper room of the porch and the staircase leading to it. The continuation of this wall eastwards, above the later archway to St. Thomas's Chapel, has at least one blocked lancet window which evidently belonged to the mid-13th-century north aisle. Owing to the addition of chapels on both sides of the porch, its east and west external walls are now enclosed inside the church; the north wall has been rebuilt. The original porch walls contain masonry of the 13th century and some which may be even older. (fn. 106) There is also 13th-century walling in the upper part of the north wall of the north nave aisle, in a similar position in the north chancel aisle, in the lowest 4 ft. of the outer wall of the south chancel aisle, and in the north wall of the north transept. In addition 13th-century arches, or parts of them, have survived as abutments to the piers of the crossing in the chancel and transepts. The extent of this work makes it possible to establish that, by the later 13th century, a large cruciform church was in existence, having a central tower, transepts, an aisled nave, an aisled chancel, and a two-storied north porch.
The first addition to this building was St. Thomas's Chapel, a two-storied structure filling the space between porch and north transept. It probably dates from about 1296 when Allesley's chantry was founded. A former doorway from the porch, consisting of two trefoil-headed openings with early Geometrical tracery in the arch above, is now partly glazed. (fn. 107) The arch between the chapel and the north aisle has late-13th-century mouldings and is without responds.
The chapel to the west of the porch, known either as the Archdeacon's Chapel or the consistory court, (fn. 108) was probably added before 1350. Its two-bay arcade has a tall octagonal pier and semi-octagonal responds. High up in the east wall is a contemporary five-light window, now blocked, which was evidently above the original eaves level of the porch; it consists of an arched head filled with reticulated tracery. The other windows in the chapel are later insertions.
A rebuilding of the nave arcades appears to have taken place during the later 14th century. They are of four bays, supported on composite piers of lozengeshaped plan. The easternmost bays contain halfarches, probably because these gave greater support to the piers of the crossing; a similar halfarch is found at the junction of south nave aisle and south transept. The re-casing of the crossing piers and the rebuilding of its arches followed the work in the nave. Three of the four arches to east and west of the crossing were not, however, completely rebuilt; each retains a 13th-century respond with a typical 'waterholding' base.
It is known that in 1391 the chancel was in poor repair, and that it was to be rebuilt with an extension to the east of 24 ft. (fn. 109) The present chancel, however, has no recognisable features of this date. It must be assumed that a later reconstruction took place, perhaps partly in post-Reformation times. At the west end of the arcades two 13th-century arches have been left in position although their jambs have been rebuilt; probably here, as elsewhere, the motive was to avoid disturbance to the piers supporting the tower. Plain stretches of walling between these arches and the crossing contain blocked doorways to the former rood-loft, taken down in 1560.
Late-15th-century work in the church includes the fine stone pulpit adjoining the south-east pier of the crossing. The nave clerestory also belongs to this period; the earlier church had a lower and more steeply-pitched roof, the line of which is visible on the east and west faces of the tower. The nave clerestory has two-light square-headed windows with stone panelling filling the space between their sills and the arcades. Between each pair of windows wall shafts rise from arcade level to support the arched braces of the tie-beam roof. A curious feature, for which no adequate explanation has been offered, is that the clerestory bays do not fit those of the arcades below. The chancel clerestory is of the same type but plainer than that of the nave. It appears to be contemporary with the arcades beneath it but, like the rest of the chancel, cannot be dated with certainty. Nearly all the windows in the church are Perpendicular in style and some were probably first inserted in the 15th century.
The building of Jesus Hall against the south transept c. 1500 (fn. 110) blocked the way round this side of the church. It was probably at this date, therefore, that a public footpath was cut through the transept from east to west. The transeptal chapel, thought to be that containing the Jesus altar, was raised above the vaulted passage and given external access; its piscina can be seen high up in the transept's south wall. The so-called 'Jesus passage' survived until 1834, when the transept was reopened to the church. (fn. 111) Blocked entrances to both passage and chapel are still visible externally.
The last addition to the church before the Dissolution was the Marler Chapel, assumed to have been built in 1526-7. (fn. 112) It lies east of the north transept and is of three bays. Its windows and the arches separating it from the north chancel aisle have fourcentred heads; there is a piscina in the north wall and the carved oak roof is original.
In 1666 the spire and the upper part of the tower fell as the result of a great storm, much of the surrounding masonry being also destroyed. (fn. 113) Funds for rebuilding were rapidly collected and the corporation gave trees from Hawkesbury and Coundon, as well as stone from a quarry 'without New Gate'. (fn. 114) In two years and nine months the restoration was complete and the weathercock set in position. (fn. 115) The new spire was octagonal and taller than the original one, the total height being 237 ft. (fn. 116) The tower was needing attention again by 1674 and continued to do so during the 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 117) In the last quarter of the 18th century the east wall of the chancel was refaced and many of the windows in the church were replaced, the architect for most of the work being Samuel Eglinton. (fn. 118) Refacing of the tower masonry was begun in 1826 and a thorough restoration of the whole exterior in Bath stone, including a new west front, was carried out between 1843 and 1849 under R. C. Hussey of Birmingham. (fn. 119)
Work on the interior during Hook's incumbency (1829-37) revealed wall paintings of the Crucifixion and the Last Judgement; the former was not preserved and the latter has now largely disappeared. In 1833 alterations were made to the communion table and altarpiece and the pulpit was 'restored'; Thomas Rickman was evidently employed as architect. (fn. 120) A complete internal restoration by George Gilbert (later Sir Gilbert) Scott was started in 1855. Galleries in the aisles and an organ gallery across the nave were removed. A new organ chamber was built in the westernmost bay of the south chancel aisle. Box-pews were cleared away, the church was reseated, and medieval stalls were moved to the chancel. The tower lantern was opened up by removing the floor of the ringing chamber. Owing to doubts about the stability of the tower, the bells were transferred to a newly-built wooden belfry in the old graveyard to the north of Priory Row. (fn. 121) Soon afterwards alterations were again made to the chancel and it was then considered that the altarpiece and furnishing might be taken as 'an excellent specimen of moderately high-church taste'. (fn. 122) In 1863 the first surpliced choir in Coventry since the 16th century occupied this chancel. (fn. 123)
Between 1915 and 1918 the facing masonry of the tower, again decayed, was removed and replaced with Woolton stone. Measures were also taken to strengthen the transepts and the piers supporting the tower; the architect was Sir T. G. Jackson. (fn. 124) In 1935 a new north-east vestry was built. (fn. 125) The church was damaged during air raids in 1940 and 1941. On the first occasion incendiary bombs were extinguished by the vicar, Canon G. W. Clitheroe, and the curate; on the second the reredos and part of the east window were destroyed by blast. (fn. 126) After the Second World War an appeal was launched for £10,000, and the total of over £12,000 that was eventually raised was applied to the renewal of the roof over the sanctuary, the Archdeacon's Chapel, and the south transept. A new west window was inserted in 1955 and an east window, of seven lights instead of six, was completed in 1956. (fn. 127)
The octagonal stone font of 15th-century date was re-coloured in 1855. (fn. 128) The brass eagle lectern is a fine example of late-15th-century work. Three of the choir-stalls are medieval, others have original carved miserere seats, some of which are thought to have come in the first place from the Whitefriars church, but were brought to Holy Trinity from the Free Grammar School in 1885. (fn. 129) There is an Elizabethan pedestal alms box and, in the Archdeacon's Chapel, a medieval banner cupboard. In 1775 the ancient glass was removed from the window over the south door; this included, among other figures, those of Leofric and Godiva. (fn. 130) Most of the glass was later taken to a house in Worcestershire, where it was destroyed by fire in 1784, but the remaining fragments were re-inserted in 1779 in another south window. They were subsequently transferred, after 1855, to Marler's Chapel, and again, in the early 20th century, to the Archdeacon's Chapel. (fn. 131) The earliest recorded organ was built by John Howe and John Clymmowe in 1526; its dismantled parts were sold in the late 16th century. Others were set up in 1631 and 1684. (fn. 132) An organ by Thomas Swarbrick, dating from 1732, was replaced by a new instrument (by Foster and Andrews) in 1861; this was rebuilt in 1900 by W. Hill and Sons, with some of the earlier work incorporated, and restored by a local builder in 1923 and 1933. It was rebuilt a second time after the Second World War by the firm of Henry Willis. (fn. 133)
A number of monuments in the church disappeared during the restoration of 1855, and others were moved to the Archdeacon's Chapel. (fn. 134) The latter include a late medieval canopied tomb, much worn and without brasses or inscription, and a mural tablet with brasses to John Whitehead (d. 1597), mayor. (fn. 135) A tablet commemorating Dr. Philemon Holland (d. 1636) bears a Latin epitaph composed by himself; this has been copied from a former monument in the chancel. Among later tablets are two with portrait busts, one to John Bohun (d. 1691), his wife, and daughter, the other to the Revd. John Davies (d. 1828). Also in the chapel are three early medieval stone coffins, two of them with coped lids.
The church possessed at least three bells in 1462; the two deacons then appear to have been largely responsible for the ringing and maintenance of them. (fn. 136) The 'sanctus' bell is referred to in 1563 and 1573. In the latter year the corporation sold to the parish the 'great bell', one of two from the church of the dissolved house of Whitefriars. (fn. 137) A bell was recast at Leicester in 1577, another in 1579, three, in 1588, 1595, and 1613, at the Leicester foundry of the Newcombe family, (fn. 138) and two by Watts of Leicester in 1616 and 1617. There were five bells in 1625-6 when Watts also recast the tenor. This bell seems to have been out of use by 1654 but had been replaced by 1658 when the number of bells was raised to six by the gift of a treble from the mayor. (fn. 139) In 1776 a new ring of eight bells was cast by Pack and Chapman of London of which four became cracked and were removed from the tower sometime before 1855. During the restoration of 1855-6 nos. 1 to 7 were recast by C. and G. Mears of London and the bells rehung in a wooden belltower in the churchyard. The old tenor was cracked in 1891 and was recast by J. Taylor and Co. of Loughborough in 1898. (fn. 140)
Chimes were set up in the steeple in 1623; a sixth bell was added to them and the tune altered in 1659. They were apparently not used after 1755. (fn. 141) In 1606 a clock was installed in the steeple; it was replaced in 1737-8. (fn. 142)
In 1559 the church plate included two pyxes, four gilt chalices, one of which was broken, and four patens, (fn. 143) but some, at least, of the plate was sold the following year. (fn. 144) Two chalices and patens had been acquired by 1589 when one pair was stolen. Another chalice with a paten was bought in 1607, and six pewter flagons in 1633. (fn. 145) The plate now consists of two silver gilt chalices and patens, all hall-marked 1587 but the chalices both inscribed 'made in ANNO DOM 1590'; two silver gilt flagons, with a hallmark of 1614, which were given to the church in 1695 by Sir John Dugdale, Kt., and his wife Elizabeth; a silver gilt alms dish of 1699, and a silver gilt paten of 1774. (fn. 146) The registers date from 1561 and are complete. The entries include those of the burial in 1602 of Bartholomew Griffin, thought to be the same as the late-16th-century poet who wrote Fidessa, and the marriage in 1773 of William Siddons and Sarah Kemble. (fn. 147)
A chapel dedicated to the HOLY CROSS was in existence in 1183-4 when it was among the possessions confirmed to Coventry Priory. The exact site of the chapel is not known but it and Holy Trinity itself were then described together as lying in the cathedral graveyard (infra cemiterium sitis). (fn. 148) Holy Cross was included among the chapels of Holy Trinity in the ordination of the vicarage in 1264 (fn. 149) and in the agreement of 1456 concerning the payment of small tithes to the vicar, (fn. 150) but no mention of it was made in 1535.
There was a chapel of ST. CHAD in Coundon from at least 1221, when it was among the possessions confirmed to Coventry Priory, (fn. 151) but there is no evidence about the nature of the building or how it was used. The profits of the chapel were said to belong to Holy Trinity Church in 1264, and the building seems to have been still in existence in 1410-11. (fn. 152) One of the two pieces of land owned by Holy Trinity in the 19th century was a house and small field in the hamlet at Coundon Court, (fn. 153) which may represent the site of the 13th-century chapel. The Priestsfield which belonged to Holy Trinity Guild in the 15th century was a croft and field in Little Coundon held of Coventry Priory by customary rent of 1s. 10d. There was also a croft called Clerksyard in the priory's estate. (fn. 154)
The tithes of Coundon were appropriated to the priory in 1259-60. (fn. 155) In the account given in 1410-11 of the agreement between the prior and John Hastings, lord of Allesley, on Hernerswaste and Bradnokwaste, the prior was to have the great tithes in those wastes, and Hastings the small tithes. (fn. 156) According to the agreement of 1456 the small tithes of Coundon were included among those to be paid to the Vicar of Holy Trinity. (fn. 157)
There is some discrepancy in the accounts of the tithes at the Dissolution. According to Jeaffreson's summary, the lease of the Moathouse to Michael Bold in 1538 included the tithes of wool and lambs. (fn. 158) According to other evidence, however, the tithes, that is all the tithes, of Keresley and Coundon were leased in the same year to Henry Over, for the life of Henry Alicock and 60 years thereafter, for £3 3s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 159) The tithes were not granted to Coventry corporation with the Moathouse, but in 1542 to Richard Andrewes and Leonard Chamberlain. (fn. 160) The tithes of Coundon were later separated from those of Keresley, and by 1641 had come into the hands of Simon Norton, who in that year left them in trust to provide an annuity of £13 6s. 8d. and for charitable purposes. (fn. 161) There were then also several pieces of land in the common fields 'enjoyed with the said tithes'. (fn. 162) However, the charitable trust was never effective, and the tithes again became private property. In 1841 the great and small tithes were worth £245, and were owned by G. R. P. Jarvis of Doddington Hall (Lines.). (fn. 163)
In 1848 Coundon became part of the ecclesiastical parish of St. Thomas, Keresley-with-Coundon. Parts of the modern housing estates of Coundon were included in the parish of St. George, Barkers Butts Lane, created in 1935. (fn. 164)
The chapel of ST. JAMES, Willenhall, was in existence by 1183-4 when it was confirmed as the property of Coventry Priory. (fn. 165) It was appropriated to Holy Trinity in 1259, (fn. 166) and the profits of the chapel were said to pertain to that church in 1264. (fn. 167) In 1410-11, however, the chapel was derelict, the graveyard being worth 20d. for grazing. The site of the chapel was clearly indicated in the survey, being north of the cottages at the corner of London Road and St. James Lane, and south of the later Chapel Farm. (fn. 168) The income of Holy Trinity vicarage in 1535 included 2s. from the chapel yard of Willenhall, (fn. 169) and 13s. 4d. from the same in 1647. (fn. 170)
The prior was declared to be rector in 1410-11, and had a tithe barn south of the graveyard. (fn. 171) The tithes of grain of both Willenhall and Whitley, and the hay of Whitley, all worth £2 13s. 4d., were brought here for the priory's sacrist, and the tithes of wool and lambs, and the heriots, for the steward and the treasurer. The tenants of Willenhall were paying £1 4s. to the steward for their tithes of hay. (fn. 172) In 1456 it was agreed by the prior that the small tithes of Willenhall among the other chapelries of the parish should be paid to the Vicar of Holy Trinity. (fn. 173) In 1535 the sacrist was said to be receiving £1 from the tithes, (fn. 174) and in 1539 the tithes of grain, hay, lambs, and wool were being leased by a tenant for £2. (fn. 175) The tithes passed to John Hales after the Dissolution, and descended with the Hales estate. (fn. 176)
For all ecclesiastical purposes, Willenhall was a detached part of Holy Trinity parish from the 14th to the 19th centuries; the modern parish was created out of Holy Trinity in 1958. (fn. 177)
A chapel on Gosford Green was first mentioned in 1425 when the leet ordered the chamberlains to lease the grass and garth belonging to it. (fn. 178) It appears to have been attached to or even identical with the hermitage, said to be outside Gosford Gate, the occupants of which were, by order of leet in 1429, to be installed by the mayor. (fn. 179) In 1446 the leet granted the hermitage to John Thorpe, tailor, on condition that he should keep it in repair. (fn. 180) According to the agreement of 1456 the Vicar of Holy Trinity was to receive inter alia the oblations and obventions of ST. MARGARET'S Chapel, 'newly erected at Gosford Green', (fn. 181) and in 1535 a sum of 2s. from the garden 'commonly called the chapel yard of the chapel or hermitage of St. Margaret' was included among the profits of Holy Trinity vicarage. (fn. 182)
The chapel was apparently still in existence in 1538, (fn. 183) but by 1647 had been converted into a tithe barn from which Holy Trinity vicarage then received £1 13s. 4d. (fn. 184) The Hermitage Barn, or the Trinity Tithe Barn, as it was later called, (fn. 185) disappeared sometime after 1837. (fn. 186) Later in the century the site on Gosford Green was described as a garden known as 'Trinity tithe barn piece'. (fn. 187)
The origins of the church of ST. NICHOLAS are obscure. An anonymous annalist claims that c. 1003 it was the parish church of Coventry. (fn. 188) Dugdale mentions no more than the graveyard, (fn. 189) the church itself having ceased to exist before his time or during his very early years. No parish can with certainty be assigned to St. Nicholas, unless it was the area which came within the jurisdiction of the Bishop Street leet. The church was, during the greater part of its existence, a chapel of Holy Trinity and certainly lay in that parish, within the Prior's Half, (fn. 190) and on the hill which Dugdale suggests was the site of the first settlement of Coventry; close to it lay the parcel of ground called Medelborowe and the fields called Bannepece and Stripe. (fn. 191) Scanty though it is, the evidence suggests that St. Nicholas was the church of an early settlement of Coventry and that, when the centre of habitation moved towards the area of the castle and the priory, St. Nicholas's Church and parish were absorbed by the church of the Prior's Half. In 1183-4 it was listed among the chapels belonging to Coventry Priory, (fn. 192) and by 1264 it was a chapel of Holy Trinity to which church it remained thenceforward attached. (fn. 193) It is tempting to suppose that the clerks and chaplains who appear as witnesses to transfers of land in the area of St. Nicholas Street and who held land close to the church did in fact serve it: these were Gladewin, priest, at some period between 1154 and 1187, Robert de Repindon, Hugh, Alan, Thomas Seled, John le Bel in the mid 13th century, and Robert de Sweppeston in 1411. (fn. 194)
St. Nicholas was also closely connected with the Corpus Christi Guild (the guild of the Prior's Half) which was founded in 1348 and licensed to maintain a chaplain. (fn. 195) In 1368 licence was granted for the alienation of £5 in mortmain for the support of two chaplains to officiate in St. Nicholas's Church. (fn. 196) So far it has proved impossible to link this grant with the guild: its wording is suggestive, but it appears to be a simple foundation of a chantry for John Damasce and his nine co-founders. Although the original licence of 1348 was confirmed in 1381, (fn. 197) the guild seems not to have received the wherewithal for the support of its chaplain until 1392. (fn. 198) Presumably the chaplain officiated daily in St. Nicholas's from that time, for by 1410-11 the guild was also known as St. Nicholas Guild. (fn. 199) The connexion between church and guild is well documented at a later date: in 1493 the guild inventory included two chalices belonging to St. Nicholas, which were kept by Thomas Owr who assisted the priest; at the turn of the century the guild made two separate payments for repairs to the church, and it also celebrated the church's dedication. (fn. 200)
Although the guild was apparently still meeting at St. Nicholas for services and celebrations in 1541-2, (fn. 201) the church had already, in 1535, been described as 'in decay and ruin'. The profits of 5s. from the graveyard were then being received by Holy Trinity. (fn. 202) The members for Coventry appealed in Parliament in 1547-8 against the forfeiture of the guild and chantry lands to the Crown, (fn. 203) but although Coventry corporation was allowed to purchase the bulk of these lands in 1552 (fn. 204) the two guild churches of St. Nicholas and St. John the Baptist (the church of the Trinity Guild) ceased to be used as places of worship. St. John's was eventually restored, (fn. 205) but by 1560 St. Nicholas seems to have been turned into a storehouse by the churchwardens of Holy Trinity (fn. 206) and it is mentioned for the last time in 1610. (fn. 207) Nothing is known of its appearance but it is described as a 'fair church' in a note in Stow's collections. (fn. 208) The graveyard was included, as 'one close or pasture', in a lease for seven years of Holy Trinity vicarage in 1558, and a sum of £2 10s. from 'Nicholas Churchyard' formed part of the income of the vicarage in 1647. (fn. 209)
The actual site of the church and graveyard is uncertain, but both seem to have lain somewhere to the west of St. Nicholas Street, between it and Radford Road. (fn. 210) In 1410-11 the street was said to run from the corner of Dog Lane (Leicester Street) by Bishop Gate to the 'further wall' of the graveyard of St. Nicholas's Church and to the little lane leading from the graveyard to Radford Road. (fn. 211) By the 19th century, however, it was apparently thought that the graveyard had lain on the other side of St. Nicholas Street. (fn. 212) This belief was strengthened by Fretton's assertion that the new vicarage house for Holy Trinity parish, which was built on the east side of St. Nicholas Street in 1839, lay on the site of St. Nicholas's graveyard, (fn. 213) and by his identification of foundations, found in the process of building, with the remains of the church. (fn. 214) It was perhaps on the authority of these statements that the site of the church has been marked to the east of the street by the Ordnance Survey. (fn. 215)
ST. ANNE by the Charterhouse was a chapel or hermitage in existence at least by 1381 since the first party of Carthusian monks is said to have lived in it for seven years while their own house was being completed. (fn. 216) The chapel, which then belonged to the Trinity Guild, was described in 1393 as a messuage called St. Anne's Chapel, with a house, garden, and land, the whole surrounded by a moat, and lying near Langley Grove. (fn. 217) This grove may have been the same as the Little Grove which stood on the west bank of the Sherbourne between Bisseley Mill and New Mill. Since certain early-14th-century deeds (dealing with property of the Langley family in this area) which mention Little Grove have been endorsed De grava iuxta Coventr' ad capellam Sancte Anne (fn. 218) the chapel mayhave originated considerably earlier than 1381.
In 1460 both the chapel and the domus of St. Anne are referred to (fn. 219) and in 1485-6 the guild was receiving a rent of 13s. 4d. a year de capellano Sancte Anne. (fn. 220) In 1518 the leet drew up regulations for the playing of bowls at 'St. Anne's by the Charterhouse' with fines for any infringement, to be paid by 'him that keepeth the place'. (fn. 221) In 1526 the Trinity Guild leased the chapel to the Charterhouse for 99 years in exchange for some pasture land and the Charterhouse Leys (fn. 222) and for a yearly rent. (fn. 223) After the Dissolution the chapel was included among property granted by the Crown in 1546 to Edward Watson, of Rockingham (Northants.), and Henry Herdson, skinner, of London. (fn. 224)
The Langley Grove mentioned in 1393, and again in 1487, (fn. 225) has been identified (fn. 226) with the wood called St. Anne's Grove in the 15th century and later, which seems also to have belonged to the Trinity Guild. (fn. 227) It was thought by Sharp that the site of the chapel was marked in his day by a house on the east side of the Sherbourne, next to the bridge carrying the approach to the Charterhouse from London Road over the river. (fn. 228) It is, however, much more likely, as already indicated, that the chapel stood on the west side of the Sherbourne, where a clump of trees in the field to the south of the approach was still known in the 1870s as St. Anne's Grove. (fn. 229)
ST. GEORGE by Gosford Gate. This chapel is first referred to in 1425 as one of the meeting-places of a number of journeymen, particularly those of the tailors' craft, who had banded together as the fraternity or fellowship of St. George of Coventry. (fn. 230) A similar fraternity, that of St. Anne, whose members were meeting at the priory and the other religious houses in the city in 1406 and again in 1414, was suppressed by royal order to the mayor and bailiffs on both occasions, (fn. 231) as had been the Nativity Guild, apparently the earliest of such journeyman organizations, (fn. 232) in 1384. (fn. 233) Although the fraternity of St. George was also ordered to be dispersed in 1425, (fn. 234) the original Nativity Guild was revived about 1439 when it was officially recognized as the guild of the shearmen (whose patron saint was St. George) (fn. 235) and fullers. Its members were then licensed to acquire property, consisting of the reversion of the site of St. George's Chapel, four messuages, and a mill, from the feoffees of Laurence Cook or Husy, (fn. 236) mayor in 1415 and 1429, (fn. 237) for the support of a chaplain and two poor men. (fn. 238) The chapel and the priest's chamber adjoining it had been built by Cook, (fn. 239) at an unknown date, and he and his wife Alice still retained a life-interest in the property in 1439. (fn. 240) In 1448, when the fullers withdrew from the guild (fn. 241) of tailors and shearmen, as it was called thenceforward, they released to the latter their right in the chapel and other property which Cook had granted to the guild. (fn. 242)
At the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries the guild's expenses included the chaplain's stipend of £4 a year and the yearly celebration of Cook's obit in the chapel as founder of the guild. It was also reported that 'many people of the suburbs . . . being very poor folks and the rather to avoid ill airs and the press of them do commonly use to resort to the same chapel to hear mass and other divine service, and not to the parish church [St. Michael's'. (fn. 243) Most of the guild's property - the mill, the mansion called 'le Lodge', and three messuages in Gosford Street - was sold to William Place and Nicholas Spakeman in 1550. (fn. 244) The chapel itself, which was certainly converted into tenements sometime after the Dissolution, may as early as 1552 have been turned into the two messuages in Gosford Street, formerly belonging to the guild, 'in which the poor now dwell', which were included in the sale of guild and chantry lands to the corporation in that year. (fn. 245)
The chapel adjoined Gosford Gate to the northeast. (fn. 246) It was built on the bridge which carried Calais Street (later part of Far Gosford Street) over the Sherbourne. At this point the river ran immediately outside the city wall and beneath the chapel itself. The building consisted of nave and chancel, both 20 ft. wide, and had a circular turret at its north-west angle. There was a north doorway in the chancel and a south doorway communicating with Gosford Gate, where a room was used by the tailors' and shearmen's guild. By the early 19th century the chapel had long been occupied as tenements and a timber-framed upper story, containing weavers' shops, had been added. In the north wall two three-light 15thcentury windows survived above the arch of the bridge; the south wall, which abutted on the street, also retained traces of medieval windows. The building was demolished in 1822 and the site absorbed in a row of new houses. (fn. 247)
ST. JAMES AND ST. CHRISTOPHER, a chapel by Spon Bridge, may have been in existence as early as 1395 as the 'church' of Spon (fn. 248) the site of which is roughly indicated in a description of the liberties of the city in 1399. (fn. 249) The 'church' stood near the end of a lane which ran from a point outside Greyfriars Gate, skirting Crabtree Field, (fn. 250) and which has been thought to have followed approximately the line of Queen's Road and the Butts (fn. 251) and so to have joined Spon Street near Spon Bridge. Confusion has occurred at various times between the chapel of St. James and St. Christopher and the chapel which existed at Spon in the 12th century and was then confirmed to Coventry Priory by the earls of Chester. (fn. 252) This chapel was subsequently endowed by Hugh (II), Earl of Chester (d. 1181), as a hospital for lepers (fn. 253) (dedicated to St. Leonard), (fn. 254) but it seems to have ceased to be so used by 1280, (fn. 255) and it later became a royal free chapel dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 256) From this point onwards it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between references to this chapel and to the chapel by Spon Bridge, particularly as the exact date and circumstances of the latter's foundation are not known. It may be the chapel by Spon Bridge which is referred to in the priory's rental of 1410-11 as the capella de Sponna (fn. 257) but from the topographical evidence given it might almost equally well be identified with the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 258)
The first clear references to the chapel of St. James and St. Christopher, as 'Christopher Chapel', occur in 1428 and 1431. (fn. 259) The chapel itself and the land surrounding it, between Spon Causeway and Spon Street, belonged to the members of the weavers' craft, (fn. 260) who had presumably been responsible for the founding of the chapel, possibly to serve their craft as St. George's Chapel (see above) served the tailors' and shearmen's guild. (fn. 261) The dedication to St. Christopher, which later in the 15th century was enlarged to that of St. Christopher and St. Julian (fn. 262) (a saint who is also associated with ferrymen and travellers) (fn. 263) suggests that the chapel might originally have been connected with the upkeep by the weavers of a ford across the Sherbourne. However, a 19th-century tradition that at one time the only approach to the city from the west was through the river and the gateway (see below) 'under' the chapel (fn. 264) may not be reliable as there seems to be a continuous history of a bridge over the river in that area. (fn. 265) The 'Parsonsfield of the Spanne', mentioned in 1423, lying by 'Somerlesowfield', (fn. 266) may have been attached to this chapel, but there is no record of any arrangement made for the support of a chaplain before 1439, when Joan, widow of Adam Dyer, weaver of Coventry, gave property in Cuckoo Lane to secure the payment after her death of a stipend to the chaplain to celebrate in the chapel of St. Christopher and St. Julian super pontem de Spon. (fn. 267) The chapel is first referred to as that of St. James in 1454, when Emot, wife of John Dowte, (fn. 268) gave one-third of a croft to the altar there, (fn. 269) and it is generally called St. James's Chapel from that date up to the mid 16th century. (fn. 270)
The chapel seems to have escaped all official notice at the time of the Dissolution and to have remained in the possession of the weavers', later known as the clothiers', company. It is not known when it ceased to be used as a place of worship (fn. 271) but by the 18th century at latest it was being leased by the company for private occupation. In 1761 the building on the site was described as a 'ruinous stone house or building', with an 'arch, gateway, or passage' leading through it, and a 'little messuage or tenement' adjoining it on the east side. (fn. 272) An early19th-century drawing (fn. 273) shows an L-shaped structure of which only the south wing was built of stone. This was apparently of 15th-century origin and had diagonal buttresses, three-light Perpendicular windows, and a wide gateway arch below its north end. Although this building is not correctly orientated, the presence of a piscina inside it suggests that it may have been the chapel. Fretton, however, believed that this part of the structure was a priest's dwelling and that the chapel had stood north of the arch, where, in his day, there were stone foundations to the later timber-framed wing. (fn. 274) By the mid 19th century the stone south wing had been converted into cottages, the archway blocked, and the tracery removed from the medieval windows, one of which had been altered to form a doorway from the street. (fn. 275) In 1936 the property was sold by the clothiers' company to the corporation and was subsequently uninhabited. (fn. 276) Plans for the preservation of the buildings were not put into effect and by the late 1950s they were in a ruinous condition. (fn. 277) The timber-framed tenement and accretions to the stone building were subsequently demolished and by 1964 only the shell of the latter survived, forming a feature in the garden of St. Christopher's Club for old people which had been built at the rear of the site in 1959-60. (fn. 278)
Several antiquarian writers have at times wrongly identified the chapel building, in their descriptions of it, as the remains of the leper hospital. The first to do so in print was probably Thomas Pennant, (fn. 279) who was followed by William Reader, (fn. 280) though Reader seems later (like Poole and Fretton after him) to have realized his mistake. (fn. 281) Certainly in a reissue of Reader's work on Coventry, published, with some additional information, about 1824, the chapel and the leper hospital are for the first time clearly distinguished from each other, and the buildings by Spon Bridge are correctly identified as 'St. James's Chapel'. (fn. 282)
ST. JAMES, Ansty. (fn. 283) Ansty and Shilton were among the chapels of St. Michael's restored to Coventry Priory by Ranulf de Gernon in the early 12th century. (fn. 284) However, Ansty and Shilton chapels, with Wyken and Allesley, had only recently been built by Earl Ranulf and Thurstan Banaster for poor people during the civil war; the tithes also were to be devoted to the relief of the poor. (fn. 285) There is some architectural evidence that Ansty and Wyken churches differed from, and were presumably built at a later date than, some of the other chapels in Ranulf de Gernon's grant. (fn. 286)
In the 13th century Ansty appeared in the list of chapels appropriated to the priory with St. Michael's. (fn. 287) But Ansty and Shilton are said to have been for a short time during the 12th century chapelries of Bulkington church and in the hands of Leicester Abbey, and to have been returned to Coventry Priory for an annual payment of £10 to the abbey. (fn. 288) Whatever the reason, it was recognised in the early 15th century that, although the prior was the rector, Ansty and Shilton were not within the rectory of St. Michael's, but were a separate rectory, with Ansty described as the principal chapel and Shilton the dependent chapel. (fn. 289) The priory was to provide a chaplain to serve the chapels three days a week and on the principal feast day. In the 12th century the Bishop of Coventry had insisted that burials should not take place in the graveyards of the newly founded chapels, but at St. Michael's. (fn. 290) In the 15th century this rule was said to be established by ancient custom. (fn. 291)
There had been a rectory house at Ansty before 1410-11, but by then it was disused. (fn. 292) A 'rector' of the late 12th century, Philip de Ramsey, was mentioned; the site for a house at Shilton, however, was only for a chaplain. The rectory site, and a grange and a croft, were used for storing the tithes of Ansty, Shilton, and Sowe Shortwood. Tithes were collected from the beasts ranging in the fields; several pieces of meadow were held in lieu of tithes of hay. The glebe consisted of a virgate and several other pieces of land, some of which may be identified with pieces held in the 17th century. (fn. 293) All the glebe seems to have been pasture in 1410-11; it was leased from the priory by John Smythier of Coventry. (fn. 294)
By the early 16th century the claim of Ansty to a rector and a rectory had been forgotten. In 1535 Ansty and Shilton each had a chaplain, as in the other chapelries of St. Michael's, removable at the will of the prior and paid £5 annually out of the small tithes, oblations, and other dues. The tithes of sheaves of both Ansty and Shilton were then worth £4 to the steward of the priory. (fn. 295) In 1546-7 the great tithes of sheaves, grain, wool, and lambs were out on a lease, dated 1538, at £8 annually for 80 years to John Bole and his son George, who had sub-let them to Michael Cameswell, (fn. 296) possibly a relation of the last prior, Thomas Camswell. (fn. 297) The chapel or church was leased by the Crown in 1539 to Michael Cameswell, and in 1554 to William Oldnale, each for 21 years; (fn. 298) this may have been merely a method of securing their titles to the great tithes. The right of presentation had by 1628 reverted to the Crown, (fn. 299) and is exercised on the Crown's behalf by the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 300) The great tithes later came into the hands of the Adams family. (fn. 301)
In the late 17th century the small tithes were commuted for 10s. annually from each of ten yardlands; (fn. 302) this may represent the £5 which had been allowed to the chaplain until the Dissolution. Shortly after, an attempt was made to assert that the small tithes should be paid in kind, and an elaborate list of titheable objects and other dues was made in the glebe terrier of 1705, (fn. 303) but the parish later reverted to the commutation. (fn. 304) After the Tithe Award of 1850 the vicar received £40 annually in respect of small tithes; (fn. 305) the whole vicarage was then worth £63 a year. (fn. 306)
The chaplain of 1535, John Oley, survived the Dissolution to become known as the first Vicar of Ansty in the early years of Elizabeth I. (fn. 307) He was followed by a succession of vicars at Ansty to 1644, and of chaplains at Shilton. (fn. 308) There was no chaplain at Shilton after 1632, and James Illidge, the blind Vicar of Ansty, served both churches up to his death in 1644. In 1636 he brought an action against Richard Barker and other tenants, who had combined, he said, to deprive him of his rights and income; (fn. 309) this was probably in connexion with the partial inclosure of that time. (fn. 310) There was no vicar between 1644 and the appointment of Benjamin Hallowes in 1650. (fn. 311) Hallowes was probably a protégé of Richard Tayler, the Parliamentarian tenant of the manor. Various changes were made, probably at this time, in the church: the floor of the nave was raised, a ceiling put in the roof, and window tracery removed. A regular succession of vicars began again in 1660. (fn. 312)
There was apparently a vicarage house at Ansty during the incumbency of James Illidge, who then occupied it, and the site of it was still recalled in the early 19th century as being on the south of Old Church Lane. The house continued, throughout the rest of the 17th century and in the 18th century, to be included, as the vicarage, in successive leases of the demesne estate, in each of which it was said to be occupied by the 'present Vicar of Ansty', (fn. 313) but from at least the early 18th century the vicars were in fact non-resident. John Million served both Ansty and Shilton as curate, often called vicar, to his death about 1719. He left his residuary estate to provide a school for the two parishes, and the money was used for the foundation of the school at Shilton in 1725. (fn. 314)
From 1754 to 1789 there were separate curates for Shilton, while the Vicar of Ansty remained nonresident. In 1784 Edward Nason, the curate of Shilton, became Vicar of Ansty; Nason was also curate of Bulkington church, and lived at Bulkington. (fn. 315) When a new vicar, T. C. Adams, of the family which had acquired the manor, arrived in 1809, there was no vicarage. A farm house was for a time used as a vicarage, and later the house called the Lodge was built, to the south-west of the churchyard, both as a vicarage and a residence for other members of the Adams family. (fn. 316) This was demolished about 1939. (fn. 317) T. C. Adams (1809-1851) and his son C. C. Adams (1852-86) were very active in the two parishes; C. C. Adams acted as curate for his father for some years before 1851. During the period, the two churches were extensively restored, and many gifts were made by members of the Adams family. (fn. 318) In 1884 the benefices were united, (fn. 319) and a grant was made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the building of a new vicarage at Shilton, (fn. 320) which is still in use.
The parish church of ST. JAMES, standing in a large graveyard to the north of the village, consists of nave, chancel, north aisle, and west tower. Nothing remains of the 12th-century fabric, but the difference in width between nave and chancel may have been a feature of the original chapel which survived subsequent rebuilding. The church was much restored and altered in the 19th century.
The chancel, of red sandstone ashlar, is of 13thcentury date. Although restored, it retains in the south wall one late-13th-century trefoil-headed lancet, a pointed doorway, and a mutilated piscina. A lancet in the north wall may also be original. The nave was evidently rebuilt in the 14th century but in its present form dates partly from 1876. The north arcade of three bays has pointed arches of two chamfered orders, supported on octagonal piers. The north aisle, of light-coloured sandstone ashlar, was built in the 15th or early 16th century. In the early 19th century there was an external gable near the east end of its north wall, suggesting that at one time a chapel or transept may have projected from it. (fn. 321) The windows are square-headed, of two and three trefoil-headed lights. At the east end of the arcade a four-centred doorway formerly gave access to the rood-loft stair.
The church was evidently reroofed in the early 17th century: a beam in the chancel is dated 1615, (fn. 322) and the aisle has two 17th-century roof-trusses with carved bosses. The gable-ends of chancel, nave, and aisle were formerly constructed of timber-framing. The only gable to survive in this form is that at the east end of the nave. (fn. 323)
Many changes were made during the incumbency of C. C. Adams, who became vicar in 1852. In this year a new three-light window was inserted at the east end of the chancel. (fn. 324) In 1856 a west tower was added to the church, replacing a small bell turret. (fn. 325) The tower was built in memory of Maj.-Gen. H. W. Adams (who died of wounds at Scutari in 1854) and was designed by G. G. (later Sir Gilbert) Scott. (fn. 326) It is of stone ashlar, having a square base which forms a west porch to the church. Above is an octagonal belfry, surmounted by a short spire. In 1876 the whole church was restored under the supervision of the same architect. The south wall of the nave was largely rebuilt and given four traceried windows of 14th-century design. Other new windows were inserted and older ones were restored. Between chancel and nave an elaborate timber screen was erected, incorporating the original studwork of the gable-end above. The pulpit, font, and lectern all date from this restoration, (fn. 327) as do the wall-paintings in the chancel and at the west end of the nave. The organ has been placed at the east end of the aisle; the west end of the aisle has been screened off to form a vestry.
The former bell-cote contained one bell, of 1707, by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston. Three additional bells, cast by John Warner and Sons of London, were given by Lady Adams in 1876. The plate is all of the 19th century, the oldest piece being a chalice of 1820 presented by John Adams in 1826 to replace an 'ancient cup'. The registers begin in 1589 and are complete. (fn. 328)
ST. JAMES, Stivichall. (fn. 329) Stivichall was mentioned in the 12th-century list of chapelries in the Coventry district appertaining to St. Michael's and so to Coventry Priory. (fn. 330) An undated but early reference says that the chapel was endowed with two carucates, apparently in Stivichall, and a close in Stoneleigh, and the chaplain and other inhabitants were enfeoffed with these lands. (fn. 331) The chapel was appropriated to the priory in 1259. (fn. 332) A graveyard was first mentioned in 1299. (fn. 333)
From at least 1313 a house and a virgate of land, said to appertain to the rectory of the chapel and called the church land, were being leased to laymen. (fn. 334) In 1410-11 this holding, which had once been called the glebe, was described as two great pieces of land in the fields, and a house at the Coventry end of the village; it was leased, as in 1366, to a John Clerk, of the Stivichall family of that name. (fn. 335) John Halome, chaplain in 1410-11, lived in a cottage in the village owned by the priory; there were also three other cottages and ten acres attached to the property. (fn. 336) The priory was to provide a chaplain to hold services three times a week; the chapel did not then have burial rights, and bodies were presumably taken to St. Michael's in Coventry. (fn. 337) The prior, as rector, had the great tithes including sheaves, hay, lambs, and fleeces worth £6 6s. 8d., and tithes of fish caught in the floodgates of Baginton fulling mill. The tithes of hay were collected from pieces of meadow allotted for that purpose. No specific income was mentioned for the chaplain, though he presumably had small tithes and dues; he was, however, lessee of the hay tithes. (fn. 338) A hermit is said to have had a cell at Stivichall in the 15th century. (fn. 339)
At the Dissolution the whole church, with the 'churchhouse' and garden, all tithes, and a barn, but apparently no arable land, was out on lease for £2 13s. 4d. The lessees were to find the chaplain to celebrate services throughout the year, and also to provide a soldier on behalf of Coventry Priory when necessary. (fn. 340) The lease, to William Neale and his wife, had been granted in 1534, and was for 75 years. (fn. 341) Later in the century, during a dispute, it was said that Neale had obtained a blank lease and forged a lease to himself and his successors, though his successors claimed that they had obtained a genuine, new lease from the queen. (fn. 342) In 1537 Coventry corporation held the freehold of the lease, but this was apparently later lost, (fn. 343) and in 1565 the corporation were granted the rectory of St. Michael's, (fn. 344) which still included dependent chapelries (see below).
By 1591 a dispute about the parish of Stivichall had broken out between the lessees of Stivichall church and the city of Coventry. (fn. 345) Various points were at issue; witnesses were asked whether Stivichall was a parish and whether it had been considered as a parish before the Dissolution. It was said that the Coventry motive was the acquisition of more grazing land. The immediate questions were whether Asthill and Horwell, between Earlsdon Lane on the east and Horwell brook on the west, were in Stivichall or in St. Michael's, and who collected the tithes there. The chamberlains of Coventry were said to have included this land only recently in their annual riding of the bounds at Lammas Day. Witnesses gave contradictory evidence of the payment of tithes from various fields; the truth seems to have been that tithes had been surrendered, here to one side and there to the other, as a result of persuasion. (fn. 346)
It was argued on the city's behalf that the successive lessees, William Neale, Robert Turner, Baldwin Hill, and, at that date, Bartholomew Tate, were farmers not rectors; the rectory was still that of St. Michael's, and the chaplains had never been called parsons or vicars. As for the boundaries, the Gregorys were said to have forged various documents to show that Asthill and Horwell were in Stivichall, and Bartholomew Tate was using these as his title deeds. (fn. 347) The corporation's case does seem to have been substantially correct and, after reference to the bounds and other entries in the priory's register, (fn. 348) was accepted by the diocesan court at Lichfield. (fn. 349) This was followed by an agreement in 1595 between Tate and the corporation, by which Warwick Lane (Kenilworth Road) was accepted as the boundary. Tate continued to collect the Stivichall tithes, and Stivichall was apparently recognised as a parish. (fn. 350) The rectory and advowson of Stivichall descended in the 17th and 18th centuries with Tate's and Bowater's manor of Whitley. (fn. 351) Doubts continued, however, and the various documents were inspected again in 1663 by Sir Christopher Fisher, and in 1676 by John Bowater. (fn. 352)
In 1659 the chaplain, like his medieval predecessors, was living in a rented cottage. (fn. 353) By 1693, however, there was a vicarage house with a garden next to the churchyard. (fn. 354) The only lands held by the vicar were a piece called Tithe Barn Close and the Tithe Hook, held in respect of tithes of hay. In 1701 the great tithes were valued at £30, from which the vicar (called the curate) was said to be paid £10 yearly by the impropriator; in 1711 he was also said to receive Easter dues and small tithes in kind. (fn. 355) In 1707 the value was reported as £2 13s. 4d. (fn. 356) It is not possible to reconcile these facts. The sum of £2 13s. 4d., later said to have been paid on the Gregory lands in Stivichall, (fn. 357) may represent commuted small tithes. The benefice received sums of £200 from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1739, 1749, 1766, and in 1783, when lands worth £200 had also been given in the previous year by Arthur Gregory. (fn. 358) These lands were presumably the 36 acres in Northamptonshire, called glebe lands, later mentioned in glebe terriers. (fn. 359) In 1823 a further gift of £200 by Col. Gregory was followed by a parliamentary grant of £300. (fn. 360) In 1850 the benefice, then described as a perpetual curacy, was said to be worth £90 a year, (fn. 361) and this remained the approximate value until 1930. The benefice, which from 1868 onwards was officially styled a vicarage, (fn. 362) was too small for a permanent vicar at the turn of the century: from 1899 to 1914 it was served by the Vicar of St. Mark's, Coventry, (fn. 363) from 1915 to 1923 by the Vicar of St. Michael's, Coventry, (fn. 364) and from 1924 to 1930 by the Vicar of Stoneleigh. (fn. 365) From 1930 there was a Vicar of Stivichall who was also curate-in-charge of the conventional district of Green Lane, outside the ancient parish, (fn. 366) until in 1938 this became the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, Finham, created out of Stoneleigh and St. John the Baptist, Westwood. (fn. 367) Since the Second World War there have been at times one (fn. 368) and occasionally two (fn. 369) curates at Stivichall.
The area of the parish has twice been altered in the 20th century; in 1938, with the transference to it of parts of the parishes of St. Anne and St. Michael, (fn. 370) and in 1957, with the creation of the new parish of Christ Church, Frankpledge Road. (fn. 371)
The church of ST. JAMES, which stands on the east side of Leamington Road, was completely rebuilt in the early 19th century and much enlarged in 1955. The first church was a Norman structure, probably similar to the other daughter chapels of St. Michael's, consisting only of nave and chancel. A view of the church before its demolition in 1810 shows that it had been considerably altered (fn. 372) but had retained its two 12th-century doorways. A priest's door to the chancel and three two-light windows in the south wall may have been 14th-century insertions. Alterations in the 15th century appear to have included a new east window, two square-headed windows in the south wall, a small west tower, and possibly the raising of the roof. The medieval church was demolished in 1810 and a new one, completed in 1817, was erected at the expense of the Gregory family. The builder was James Green, a Coventry stonemason. (fn. 373) It was built of stone in a late Gothic style and consisted of a nave of two bays and a small projecting chancel. In 1955 (fn. 374) a wide nave was constructed at the west end of the existing church and the former nave was converted into a chancel. The new addition included a projecting baptistery on the south side and a west porch, designed to form the base of a future tower. The architects were W. S. Hattrell and Partners of Coventry. A vestry and cloakrooms were added to the south of the chancel in 1958. (fn. 375) The only ancient fitting is an octagonal stone font, probably dating from the 15th century.
The single bell, dated 1778, and probably by Pack and Chapman of Whitechapel, is inscribed with proverbs. The church possesses a silver chalice and a silver paten, inscribed 1572 and 1576 respectively. Registers survive from 1648 and are complete. (fn. 376)
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST, Coventry. (fn. 377) St. John's parish was not established until 1734 when it was carved out of St. Michael's, but the church originated as a collegiate chapel in the middle of the 14th century. In 1344 Queen Isabel granted to the guild of St. John the Baptist a parcel of land at Bablake on which a chapel was to be built; it was first consecrated in 1350 and was subsequently enlarged. The adjoining buildings formed the College of Bablake, which, by the early 16th century, housed as many as twelve priests. The history of the college and of the medieval church has been dealt with elsewhere. (fn. 378) Bablake College was dissolved in 1548 and later that year the site and buildings were granted to the city. (fn. 379) The church itself was apparently dismantled and remained little used (fn. 380) until the early 17th century.
The church was restored as a place of worship in 1608 when the mayor, William Hancox, had it repaired and inaugurated a Saturday lecture there. (fn. 381) In the following year Saturday lectures were again ordered by the corporation and Mr. Oxenbridge was appointed lecturer at a fee of 5s. for each sermon. (fn. 382) In 1624 Humfrey Fenn was appointed to give the lecture, (fn. 383) and a few months afterwards he was assigned Bond's Gift of £13 a year as well as the annual allowance left by William Wheate in 1616 for a minister to preach at Bablake church; (fn. 384) in 1630 Fenn was granted £13 a year for preaching a Thursday lecture. (fn. 385) In 1648 a sermon was preached at the expense of the drapers' company; in 1650 this sermon was given by Obadiah Grew for a fee of 6s. 8d. (fn. 386) In 1658, when the church was standing 'vacant all the year except 1 May' (the date of this yearly sermon), (fn. 387) a small body of Congregationalists was authorized to meet there for worship under their pastor, Samuel Basnett. (fn. 388) In the following year the recorder, William Purefoy, asked that his own previous year's fee should be used for repairs to the church in order to assist Basnett's work. (fn. 389) The church had also been used, in 1648, to accommodate some of the Scottish prisoners brought to Coventry after the battle of Preston. (fn. 390)
The neglect of the church and of worship there first prompted the corporation to consider making it a parish church in 1726, and the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield lent weight to such a proposal in 1733. (fn. 391) By the Act of the following year (fn. 392) Spon Street ward was assigned as the new parish and, in recompense for losses of land which the Free Grammar School had suffered at the hands of the corporation, the master and the usher of the school were to be appointed as rector and lecturer of the parish. The corporation was to be patron and owner of the advowson. In 1836, under the Municipal Corporations Act, the patronage of the church and the management of the school were transferred to the Coventry Church Charity Trustees. (fn. 393) They in 1874 sold the patronage to Mrs. Jane Blakesley. (fn. 394) It passed to Alderman Joseph Edge Banks in 1894, (fn. 395) again, in 1901, to the Revd. A. G. Robinson (Rector, 1896-1918), (fn. 396) and finally, in 1925, to trustees. (fn. 397)
The Act of 1734 laid down that the income of the church was to be shared between rector and lecturer in the proportion of two-thirds to one-third. Apart from pew-rents, the income at first consisted of payments for certain tithes: these arose from Alderman Simon Norton's bequest to his son in 1641 of £13 6s. 8d. a year from lands and tithes in Coundon and of the profits of tithes on land at Biggin, in Clifton parish, to be settled upon the minister of St. John's should it ever become a parish church. In 1869 the annual payment for tithes in Coundon, Biggin, and Keresley amounted to £53 4s. 3d.; £19 19s. 3d. a year was received from Queen Anne's Bounty, and the pew-rents and surplice-fees were estimated at about £100 a year. This income was supplemented by payments arising from the separation of the rectorship from the headmastership of the school, as agreed between the trustees of the school and the headmaster in 1856 and confirmed by an Act of 1864. The sum of £420 a year was to be paid to the then rector by the trustees, and £200 a year paid to subsequent rectors. In addition, several small charitable gifts had been made at various times to pay for the preaching of sermons or the reading of prayers in the church. In 1833 these were represented by yearly sums of 6s. 8d. received from the drapers' company for the sermon already mentioned (payment had lapsed by 1854), £2 12s., being the allowance from Wheate's Charity, and £14 9s. 8d. payable under the wills of Nathaniel (1745) and Hannah Crynes (1774). A similar bequest of four guineas a year left by Joseph or Josiah Vernon (1742) had apparently been lost by about 1813. (fn. 398)
Four men held the rectorship and headmastership jointly. The first, in 1734, was Edward Jackson, the existing master of the school. He was succeeded at his death in 1758 by Thomas Edwards, (fn. 399) who had petitioned against the Act of 1734. (fn. 400) Edwards resigned in 1779 and was replaced by William Brookes, (fn. 401) and he at his death was succeeded by Thomas Sheepshanks in 1834. (fn. 402) Sheepshanks remained rector in 1857, relinquishing the headmastership of the school. (fn. 403)
Two modern parishes have been created partly out of St. John's: St. Thomas, Albany Road, in 1844, and St. George, Barkers Butts Lane, in 1935. (fn. 404)
The mission church of St. Saviour, Spon Street, a brick building in the late Gothic style, was dedicated and opened in 1899. (fn. 405) It ceased to function as a mission church in 1939, but from 1941 to 1944 it was used as a place of worship by the congregation of the Roman Catholic church of St. Osburg, Hill Street, whose own church had been seriously damaged by bombing in 1940, and it is still regularly used for parochial purposes, and for occasional services. (fn. 406) The Chapel of the Deaf and Dumb, attached to Hill House at the junction of Gas Street and Hill Street, was licensed in 1936. (fn. 407)
The parish church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands at the junction of Fleet Street and Hill Street. It consists of an aisled nave and an aisled chancel, both with clerestories, a central tower, and a north vestry. The ground plan is rectangular but at clerestory level the church is cruciform, the transepts being formed by the raising of a bay in each aisle to the height of the nave and chancel. Owing to the growth of the building by stages, few of the walls are parallel. The 14th-century church was almost entirely rebuilt in the 15th and early 16th centuries. A 19th-century restoration included the refacing of the walls, obscuring much original work. During this restoration W. G. Fretton was able to observe and record features belonging to the medieval church, including the foundations of earlier walls. (fn. 408)
The land given to St. John's Guild in 1344 appears to have had a frontage to Hill Street of 117 ft. and to Fleet (formerly Spon) Street of 40 ft. (fn. 409) The first chapel probably occupied the area of the present chancel, although it may have been even smaller. From the beginning there were collegiate buildings to the north of the chapel, both on the site of the present north chancel aisle (the Lady Chapel) and beyond it. In 1357 Queen Isabel made an endowment through William Walshman for finishing the chapel and for adding to it a new aisle of the same dimensions as the original building. Materials from an unfinished chapel at Cheylesmore were to be used for these improvements. (fn. 410) The new aisle can probably be identified with the present south chancel aisle (St. John's Chapel). A foundation wall, discovered in 1875, would represent its former west end. A second piece of land, granted in 1359 and measuring 60 ft. by 40 ft., may have been used for collegiate buildings. (fn. 411) Fretton, however, believed that it made possible a westward extension of the church, covering the area of the crossing and the easternmost bays of nave and aisles. A third possibility is that the complete nave and its south aisle were built on this ground: no structural 14th-century work has been found in the north aisle, while the three bays of the south aisle were evidently built as a single unit. Additional funds became available after 1365 and in 1375 some important building work was evidently put in hand. (fn. 412) By c. 1390 the whole site of church and college seems to have been acquired. (fn. 413)
The south wall of the south nave aisle, although much restored, is the only substantial part of the 14th-century church to survive; its buttresses and window-tracery are typical of the late 14th century. Elsewhere early masonry has been identified in the walls of St. John's Chapel, in part of the north wall of the Lady Chapel, and in the lowest 4 ft. of the west wall of the church. (fn. 414) Below the present floor level of the chancel and its flanking chapels, piscinae and traces of altars have been found, as well as the pier bases of an earlier north arcade. The two western piers of the crossing, against which altars formerly stood, are also probably part of the 14th-century building.
The remodelling of the church, begun in the 15th century, may have been fairly continuous until the suppression of the guild. The work apparently started at the west end, where the great west window is of early Perpendicular type. The nave and north aisle were completed first; their bays do not correspond with those of the earlier south aisle. The design of the 15th-century nave piers helps to give the interior of the church its strong vertical emphasis. Most of the windows are Perpendicular in character, but the clerestory above the north arcade has three windows containing 14th-century tracery. These may have come from the original nave and been re-used by the 15th-century builders. The rebuilding of the chancel and its chapels followed that of the nave. The floor was raised, the arcades rebuilt and new windows inserted. The north chapel was enlarged and a new doorway at the higher level was provided to communicate with the collegiate buildings. The outstanding feature of the chancel is the design of the square-headed clerestory windows, the vertical members of which are carried down to form a panelled treatment above the arches of the arcades. (fn. 415) The clerestory on the south side of the nave is similar, but less elaborate. There are late Perpendicular windows in the two stages of the central tower and in the upper part of both transepts. The cruciform arrangement at clerestory level appears to have been a comparatively late innovation. On the south side it is particularly noticeable that the large 8-light window of the transept bears no relation to the 14th-century aisle which lies below.
No structural alterations date from the period after 1548. By 1733 the church was said to be in a 'ruinous condition'. (fn. 416) Before its re-opening as a parish church, the interior was fitted with box pews, a gallery, and an 'unnecessarily large' pulpit. (fn. 417) The floor level was raised by over 3 ft., probably as a precaution against flooding; this led to the blocking of some doorways and the alteration of others.
In 1838 additional galleries were erected, and in 1841 the west window was rebuilt, the original being 'copied with scrupulous fidelity'. A restoration by George Gilbert (later Sir Gilbert) Scott was carried out between 1858 and 1861. Some of the walls, originally of grey Whitley stone, were refaced, and a new east window was inserted. A more extensive restoration under the same architect took place between 1875 and 1877. The lowering of the floors to their 15th-century levels enabled several ancient doorways to be reinstated. The vaulted ringing chamber of the tower was opened up and a new north vestry was built. Scott is said to have found structural evidence for the embattled parapets and flying buttresses which he added to the church. It is evident that Fretton's influence ensured more respect for the ancient fabric than was usual at this period. (fn. 418)
The churchyard was closed for burials in 1893. In 1900 the church was flooded to a depth of over 5 ft. and the organ was ruined; this organ dated from 1870 and replaced one of 1816. A new organ was installed in 1903, but this was destroyed by fire in 1945. The pulpit and reredos date from the restoration of 1875-7 and the font is a replacement of 1929. (fn. 419)
A morning mass bell and the Trinity bell are mentioned in the mid 15th century, and a 'rodemass' bell in 1519. One of these may have been the 'Bablake sermon bell' rung in 1648 in connexion with the drapers' company sermon. (fn. 420) There are now five bells. No. 3 is probably the work of a Leicester founder, and bears the name of Henry Dodenhale, mayor in 1365. No. 4, also of 14th-century date, is by John de Stafford; it was formerly known as the dyers' bell and until 1834 was rung daily at four in the morning. The treble and tenor are both by Henry Bagley: the treble was supplied in 1676 to replace the old cracked treble which had been recast the previous year for the new ring at St. Michael's, and the tenor, originally No. 4 in the new ring at St. Michael's, was later transferred to St. John's. No. 2, by Pack and Chapman of London, is dated 1778. (fn. 421) There was a clock by 1459, which was renewed in 1518, and chimes by 1461. The clock was apparently maintained by the city by 1584 and during the 17th century, and in 1681 new chimes were installed on the mayor's orders. (fn. 422)
ST. LAWRENCE, Foleshill. (fn. 425) Foleshill chapel first appeared among the list of chapelries granted to St. Michael's in the early 12th century. (fn. 426) It was appropriated to Coventry Priory in 1259. (fn. 427) The unusual font is all that remains of the Norman building. (fn. 428) A house and a piece of land which was apparently glebe were held by one of the priory's tenants in the early 14th century, and the mention of Brother William Bishop as the former occupant suggests that a monk may for a time have served the chapel. (fn. 429)
In 1410-11 there were references to the church, the graveyard, the chaplain's house and croft, and other pieces of glebe; there was also a road called Churchend and an open field called Churchfurlong. 'Procurators' of the chapel were mentioned but it is not clear whether these were lay churchwardens or religious supervisors. The priory had the great tithes, and the chaplain the small tithes and church dues. There is, however, no indication that there was in fact a chaplain resident in the village. (fn. 430) In 1535 there was a chaplain, William Amerson, who, like the other chaplains in the district, had to serve the church daily, and received small tithes and dues worth £5 annually. (fn. 431)
Since the Dissolution the right of presentation has been retained by the Crown and is exercised on the Crown's behalf by the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 434) The great tithes, leased first by the priory in 1545 and then by the Crown to William and Elizabeth Stoke, were sold in 1550. (fn. 433) In 1552 a sum of 13s. 10d. was reserved to the Vicar of Foleshill from the chantry land granted to Coventry corporation; this sum may have been a rent-charge on Partridge Croft, the origin of which was disputed in the 19th century. (fn. 434) This grant provides a clear reference to a vicar, though the witnesses in the tithe dispute of 1726 believed that the first vicar had been Tristram Diamond, (fn. 435) who was presented to Foleshill in 1629. (fn. 436) About 1593 both R. Bristow, the incumbent, and his living, were declared to be inadequate. (fn. 437)
In 1693 the living was called a vicarage or free chapel. There was then a vicarage house of three bays, a stable, and a close, but apparently no glebe. The vicar was said to receive various small tithes and a rate of 2s. in the £ from meadows and pastures. (fn. 438) The payment of small tithes had, however, been in doubt since the time of Diamond, who was said in 1724 to have been the last vicar to collect the tithes in kind. There was at first an agreement to commute the tithes for a payment of 2s. in the pound on unploughed land, but some tenants did not pay, some vicars still tried to collect tithes, and the whole system had fallen into confusion. Edward Jackson, the vicar in 1724, had on one occasion appeared with a churn and threatened to collect the milk himself. The parishioners were particularly reluctant to pay tithes, since they said that Jackson lived not in the vicarage but in Coventry and came to Foleshill only on Sundays, even when there were corpses waiting to be buried. (fn. 439) By a Chancery decree of 1726 the parish returned to payment in kind, (fn. 440) but Jackson's relations with his parishioners did not improve after the conclusion of the dispute. Shortly after the Chancery case, in 1727, he demanded in one instance four times the usual tithe. (fn. 441) The tithes on the open fields were commuted in the inclosure of 1775, and 37 acres of new glebe were allotted north of the church. (fn. 442) The annual value of the vicarage in 1850, after the Tithe Award of 1841, was £352. (fn. 443) Shortly afterwards it rose to £400, and remained at that figure until after the First World War when it was increased to about £700. (fn. 444) The glebe was farmed until about 1900, when most of it was sold. (fn. 445)
From the late 17th century onwards the nonconformist sects were influential in Foleshill, (fn. 446) more influential at some periods than the Church of England. There was certainly a larger number of nonconformists (10) reported there in 1676 than in any other parish in the neighbourhood of Coventry, with the notable exceptions of Allesley (67) and Bedworth (100). (fn. 447) About 1760 the parishioners in their petition to the bishop for a resident vicar stated that until about 1750 most of the inhabitants had attended the Church of England, but since the establishment of several dissenting meetings, 'chiefly with deserters from the church', its congregations had fallen to 30 or 40. This was not surprising as there had been no resident vicar for many years. Jackson, though responsible for the building of a school in the parish (fn. 448) and also the first vicar for a long time to attend the annual vestry regularly, (fn. 449) had been the active headmaster of the Free Grammar School since 1718, (fn. 450) and Rector of St. John the Baptist, Coventry, since 1734. (fn. 451) Even the curate lived in Coventry and had duties in St. John's parish. Since Samuel Brooks had succeeded Jackson in 1759 there had been more services but no real change. The petitioners pointed out that 'the deficiency in the ministerial offices . . . adds strength to dissenting interests' and asked that 'we may have a clergyman residing within the parish so far disengaged from other concerns that our customary duty may be performed'. They believed that there was no parish 'of the value and population of ours which has not had at least that attention'. (fn. 452)
Whether as a result of this petition or not, an outburst of activity followed. The school was enlarged in 1766, the vicarage was rebuilt, and the church extensively altered and modernized between 1782 and 1792. (fn. 453) But these measures, impressive though they might have been in a rural parish, were probably hardly noticed by the rapidly rising population of poor, unruly weavers in Foleshill, and the comments of the vicar, John Hewlett, on the crop return of 1801, though acutely observed, have a weary and almost cynical air. (fn. 454) It was perhaps because of these difficulties that in 1809 he wished to resign from the living to take the poorer one of Loxley. (fn. 455)
There was apparently a brief period of 'religious excitement' between 1815 and 1817 during the curacy of William Nunn, an enthusiastic evangelical preacher, who, owing to Hewlett's age and incapacity by that date, had to undertake all the duties of the parish. As a result congregations were attracted which overflowed the church and there was a marked increase in the number of Sunschool attenders. Nunn thereupon organized the raising of a fund sufficient to cover the enlarging of the church to almost double its former capacity and the building of a new schoolroom. Opposition arose, however, led by the vicar's wife, and in spite of a petition to the vicar to retain his services Nunn was dismissed in 1817. His successor, John Hughes, was also a zealous preacher, and several of the congregation favoured his appointment to the living after Hewlett's death, but their wishes were disregarded and thereafter the parish 'relapsed into its former state'. (fn. 456)
It must have been a striking contrast for T. C. Adams, who was in the 1830s Vicar of Foleshill, as well as of Ansty and Shilton, to drive from his family's manor-house in rural Ansty to the vicarage in industrial Foleshill. (fn. 457) In 1840 the spread of the nonconformist influence in the rural weaving districts was officially attributed to the Church of England's neglect of the area, since all the weaving parishes 'which are of good value, . . . are held by non-resident clergymen, officiating only by curates, frequently removing, who cannot have that permanent acquaintance with, or exercise that permanent influence upon, the mass of the population' which was thought to be necessary. (fn. 458) The Church's attempts to regain support met at first with little success. A library was opened at Foleshill church by the Religious and Useful Knowledge Society 'upon which the inhabitants generally, being Dissenters, look with disfavour', and an effort to exclude dissenters' children from the National School if they failed also to attend the Sunday school was similarly unsuccessful. (fn. 459)
In spite of these discouragements, however, a new district church, St. Paul's, for the south and west of Foleshill, was built in 1841. (fn. 460) It was then said to stand among green fields, but the building of a new church with accommodation for 1,000 people was itself an indication of the growth of the area. In the 1930s, before St. Luke, Holbrooks, became a separate parish in 1935, partly taken out of St. Paul's, (fn. 461) the latter was the most populous parish in Coventry diocese. (fn. 462) Other parts of the ancient parish were assigned to St. Thomas, Longford (formerly a chapel of ease), in 1908, (fn. 463) and to St. Chad, Woodend, in 1956. (fn. 464)
The parish church of ST. LAWRENCE stands in a large churchyard on the north side of Old Church Road. To the south is the vicarage, an 18thcentury house with substantial later additions. The schools (fn. 465) stand at the south-west corner of the churchyard. The church consists of nave, chancel, north and south aisles, south transept, south porch, north vestries, and west tower. The only ancient structural parts of the building are the tower and the north aisle. These are of grey sandstone ashlar and date from late in the medieval period. The tower has diagonal buttresses, a west window with Perpendicular tracery, two-light windows at the belfry stage, and an embattled parapet with angle pinnacles. The west doorway is a later insertion. In the aisle the three-light windows are square-headed and the north doorway has a three-centred arch. Although the original stone arcade between nave and aisle has been removed, its east and west responds are still visible; a squint between aisle and chancel has also survived. The timber roof to the aisle appears to be of early-17th-century date.
Alterations to the church are known to have taken place between 1782 and 1792 (fn. 466) and these may have included the rebuilding in brick of both nave and chancel. A small brick vestry on the north side of the chancel has a date tablet of 1812. In 1816 the south aisle was built and galleries were inserted in the church. (fn. 467) The galleries have been removed but the nave is still divided from the aisles by shafted cast-iron columns supporting lintels enriched with early-19th-century ornament. These columns probably represent the former gallery fronts. The south aisle, built largely of brick, has 'Tudor' windows of the same period. The stone south porch is a later addition.
The church was extensively restored in 1888-9, the architect being T. F. Tickner. The chancel was remodelled and the galleries were taken down. The floors were re-laid, the pews removed, and the wood used to make new panelled ceilings. (fn. 468) In 1904 a vestry, built of yellow brick, was added outside the door of the north aisle. (fn. 469) The south transept, forming a chapel on the south side of the chancel, is a stone addition in the Gothic style, built in 1927. (fn. 470) The church roof was destroyed by bombing in 1941, and for some years services were held in the church institute until the damage had been repaired. (fn. 471)
The 12th-century font is circular and decorated with primitive chevron ornament. (fn. 472) All the other fittings are of the 19th century or later. In 1908 a new organ replaced the one which had been installed in 1833. (fn. 473) A number of 18th-century mural tablets, all reset, include one to Edward Jackson, vicar (d. 1758), and several to members of the Parrott and Wright families of Hawkesbury Hall (1773-86).
There are three bells, all by Hugh Watts (II) of Leicester, of which no. 1 is dated 1635 and the other two 1616. (fn. 474) The plate consists of a silver paten of 1718 engraved with the Parrott arms and presented by a member of the Wright family, and two silver chalices of 1735 and 1829. (fn. 475) Complete registers of marriages and burials survive from 1564 and of baptisms from 1769. These were formerly kept in a 16th-century iron-bound chest with an elaborately engraved lock. (fn. 476)
ST. MARY MAGDALEN, Wyken. (fn. 477) Wyken chapel was one of the four said to have been built during the civil war of Stephen's reign by Ranulf de Gernon and Thurstan Banaster as a refuge for the poor. (fn. 478) It was one of the chapelries restored to St. Michael's, Coventry, by Ranulf de Gernon. (fn. 479) The chapels were not to have the right of burial, which was to be reserved to St. Michael's. (fn. 480) The chapel was appropriated in 1259. (fn. 481)
In the early 15th century the prior as rector had to find a chaplain to officiate three days each week and on the principal feast days. The chaplain received the dues and renders of the chapel, tithes of grain and hay worth £3 6s. 8d., tithes of wood and pasture, and of the mill on the Caludon estate. (fn. 482) The chaplain also held a quarter virgate in the fields from the prior. The restriction on burials was not repeated in the 15th-century survey, and had probably lapsed. (fn. 483)
In 1535 the arrangements were similar. The chaplains were then said to be removeable at will, and were to conduct services daily. Their income was £5 a year. There was then apparently a single priest, Thomas Jackson, for both Wyken and Stoke. The great tithes of the combined chapelry, paid to the priory's steward, were worth £4 16s. (fn. 484) After the Dissolution the advowson came into the hands of the lord of the manor, and descended with the manorial estate (fn. 485) until 1919 when it was transferred from the Earl of Craven to the new Bishop of Coventry. (fn. 486) In 1547 Hugh Hill was called vicar of the parish church of Wyken; his stipend was then £4 a year. The great tithes of Wyken had been leased to Thomas Trye with those of Stoke in 1538 for £5 6s. 8d., and descended with the Stoke tithes. The glebe had apparently disappeared. (fn. 487) In 1593 Sowe and Wyken were being held together. Feare, the incumbent, and his living, were both considered inadequate. (fn. 488)
In 1694 there was a vicarage house of two bays which was let for 8s.; the living was apparently already combined with that of Binley. The income was then £9 2s., paid by Henry Green, presumably in respect of small tithes. A further sum of £1 10s. was said to be due to the church, but had not been paid during the lives of the past two vicars. (fn. 489) The value of the living was returned as £5 10s. in 1707. (fn. 490)
In 1718 Henry Green gave a house and ten acres worth £200, to which another £200 was added by Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 491) By will dated 1729, Thomas Muston, Rector of Brinklow, gave property in Foleshill to the church of Wyken, subject to payments of £1 to the poor of Brinklow and 10s. to the poor of Wyken. (fn. 492) After the inclosure of 1774 the holding was worth £15 yearly, and an additional £1 a year was paid by the Coventry Canal Company for passing through the land. By 1775 Lord Craven was paying interest on £200 in lieu of the house and land given by Green. Craven's tenants and the freeholders were paying £4 12s. for commuted small tithes. The churchyard and a small plot, the site of the former vicarage, were let. The total value of the living, then called a curacy, was £33 10s., with, in addition, dues to the curate and the parish clerk. The furnishings of the church then included plate, vestments, and books, and a communion table given by Lord Craven. (fn. 493) In 1784 Craven gave another £200, which was also augmented by the Bounty. (fn. 494)
In 1824 the sources of income were unchanged, but the value of the land had risen to £92 10s., and the total value of the living to £107 17s. (fn. 495) In 1850 and 1875 the value was given as £115; the living was described in 1850 as a perpetual curacy, (fn. 496) but was officially styled a vicarage after 1868. Wyken continued to be held jointly with Binley until 1919, and the vicar lived at Binley; there was only a brick stable at Wyken for his carriage. (fn. 497)
During and after the First World War a succession of mission rooms and churches was provided for the munitions workers who were settled in the area and for the inhabitants of the suburban houses which began to cover the parish from 1920 onwards. These missions included St. Martin's, a hut in Wyken Way; (fn. 498) St. George's Hall, in Camden Street, acquired for the workers in the Ordnance factory off Red Lane about 1921 and sold to the Salvation Army about 1924; (fn. 499) St. Chad, Upper Stoke, which was transferred from Stoke parish to Wyken and re-licensed in 1924; (fn. 500) and, finally, in 1929, St. Alban, Stoke Heath, (fn. 501) to which St. Chad was subsequently assigned as a church hall. (fn. 502) Another mission church, that of the Holy Cross, Caludon, designed by N. F. Cachemaille-Day, was built in St. Austell Road in 1939 to serve the developing district between Wyken and Binley. (fn. 503) Wyken parish hall was built in 1935. (fn. 504)
A separate parish for St. Alban was created out of Wyken in 1939, and a further part of Wyken parish was assigned to the new church of St. Chad, Hillmorton Road, Woodend, in 1956. (fn. 505)
The parish church of ST. MARY MAGDALEN stands on the east side of Wyken Croft, where its graveyard occupies a slight eminence. The building, which consists of nave, chancel, west tower, and north vestry, is the only one of St. Michael's daughter chapels to retain substantially its 12thcentury fabric. It also has the distinction of being structurally the oldest surviving building within the modern city boundaries.
The nave and chancel, built of stone rubble, date from the 12th century. There is no chancel arch, but the nave (16 ft. 9 ins.) is about two feet wider than the chancel. (fn. 506) The nave originally had north and south doorways, both now blocked. The jambs of the former are visible externally; the latter was moved in the 19th century to the west wall of the tower. This doorway is of red sandstone and has a semicircular arch of two plain orders supported on attached shafts and surmounted by a billet moulding. There is a narrow 12th-century window with widely-splayed internal reveals to the east of the former north door, and a similar window in each of the north and south walls of the chancel. The east chancel wall evidently contained three such windows, but the insertion of a later east window destroyed everything except traces of the two outer ones.
Near the east end of the south chancel wall a twolight window was inserted in the late 13th century. The east window is of 15th-century date and other surviving medieval openings include three aumbries and a 'low side' window in the chancel, and a small window high up at the east end of the south wall of the nave; this last was probably inserted to light the rood.
The west tower, of grey sandstone ashlar with diagonal buttresses, was added in the 15th century. It formerly had a square timber-framed belfry stage, surmounted by a pyramidal roof. (fn. 507) The tall tower arch has been obscured on the nave side by the insertion of a later gallery. The nave roof, of four bays, also probably dates from the 15th century; only wall posts and arch-braced tie beams are visible below an 18th-century plaster ceiling.
The ceiling in the chancel is dated 1686 and other work to the chancel, including the installation of new communion rails, was done at this time. (fn. 508) By 1775 there was a west doorway in the tower, (fn. 509) although the Norman doorway had not then been moved. Two windows are said to have been inserted in the south wall of the nave in the 18th century. (fn. 510) A view of the church dating from c. 1800 shows a south porch, probably of post-Reformation date, leading to a doorway a little to the west of the Norman one, which was already blocked. (fn. 511)
In 1866 the church was altered and restored, the architect being G. Steane of Coventry. New stone windows in the Decorated style were inserted in the nave, the vestry was built, and the timber-framed belfry was replaced by one of more elaborate design. (fn. 512) The re-erection of the Norman doorway in the west wall of the tower is also of about this period.
The circular 12th-century font bowl is decorated with carved arcading; it resembles the font of similar date at Walsgrave-on-Sowe. (fn. 513) In 1956 a wall painting of St. Christopher, thought to be of 15th-century date, was discovered on the north wall of the nave. Included in the picture, which is in a good state of preservation, is a timber windmill on the river bank. The painting had been concealed by 16th-century plaster, inscribed with the Commandments, and this in its turn was covered with whitewash. (fn. 514) A carved 17th-century chair in the sanctuary is probably of Flemish origin. The fittings in the nave date from the 19th and those in the chancel from the 20th century.
The church possesses one bell thought to be by a local founder and of mid-14th-century date. (fn. 515) The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten of 1718. (fn. 516) The registers date from 1600 and are complete. (fn. 517)
ST. MARY THE VIRGIN, Walsgrave-on-Sowe. (fn. 518) Sowe chapel was on the ancient estate of Coventry Priory, and was not one of the Chester chapels granted to the priory in the 12th century. The font in the present church is the only visible survival of the Norman building. (fn. 519) The chapel was appropriated to the priory in 1259, as part of the arrangements for the endowment of Holy Trinity vicarage, (fn. 520) but the small tithes and dues were not given to the Vicar of Holy Trinity, as were those of Coundon and Willenhall, and remained in the hands of the chaplain. (fn. 521) There is no evidence of the status of the chaplain or chapel before this appropriation.
The original endowment of the chapel was probably the village and the open fields. The delimitation of the boundaries of the surrounding parishes on the waste was delayed by the absence of tithable settlements there, and by the fact that precise rules were unnecessary while the priory held the great tithes of nearly all the surrounding churches. In the early 15th century, for instance, the priory stored the tithes of Ansty, Shilton, and Sowe Shortwood in the derelict Ansty rectory, and other tithes from the waste in a tithe barn of the 'manor' of Hawkesbury. (fn. 522) The priory claimed, in its dispute about the tithes of 80 a. of the waste held by the lord of Caludon, that Sowe waste was in Sowe parish, as part of the ancient foundation of the priory, (fn. 523) but it is probable that this was not true, and that its parochial rights were only successfully asserted after the suit of 1337. (fn. 524) Even in the early 15th century there were pieces of land which were in no one parish. The Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, for instance, had a field described as both in Sowe Shortwood and in Ansty beside Ansty Park. (fn. 525) The priory had specific agreements with some of the tenants of the waste, including Zouche and Beauchamp, for the collection of tithes, (fn. 526) and found it necessary in the case of both Hawkesbury and Attoxhale to assert that these places were in Sowe parish. (fn. 527) It is probable that the parish boundaries were finally determined only when the great tithes of the various parishes came into the hands of laymen after the Dissolution.
In 1279 the prior was said to have the chapel in his own hands, with ½ a. of land appurtenant, (fn. 528) and in the early 15th century to be rector of Sowe hamlet, with tithes of sheaves, hay, and wood, and of the mill, and the mortuary offerings and livestock. (fn. 529) The chaplain could be removed at the will of the prior; he received the tithes of wool and lambs, and the small tithes, and had the graveyard, a house next to it, and 10 a. of glebe. There was also a house in the graveyard pro reclus'. (fn. 530) It is clear that the church, graveyard, and vicarage already occupied the positions they were to be in until the 19th century.
In 1535 the 'chaplain and curate' John Aston was said to be a stipendiary of the priory, and to have received an income of £5, made up of all the tithes and other revenues, except tithes of grain. (fn. 531) A salary or stipend of £2 was still being paid to John Aston in 1546-7. It was then said, probably mistakenly, that the chaplain had been accustomed to have all the tithes except those of hay. In fact at that date all the tithes and the income of the church were leased, with the tithe barn, to John and George Bole for 80 years from 1538 at £8 yearly. (fn. 532) A Crown lease of the church, for 21 years, was granted in 1539 to Michael Cameswell, (fn. 533) and a fresh lease (for the same term) to William Oldnale in 1554, (fn. 534) but this appears either to have been inoperative or to have been surrendered to the Boles. The church dues and small tithes were later recovered by the vicar, probably when the Bole lease expired. The advowson has remained in the hands of the Crown since the Dissolution and the right of presentation is exercised on the Crown's behalf by the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 535)
The chapel and chaplain are first called the church and the vicar in the early 17th century. The expiry of the lease of tithes and dues then coincided with the ministry of the active and litigious George Dale, who was Vicar of Sowe from 1609 to 1644. (fn. 536) In the glebe terrier which he compiled in 1635 Dale stated that he had built the vicarage on the south of the churchyard. (fn. 537) The medieval vicarage, however, had been next to the churchyard, and Dale may have been exaggerating what he had done. In a dispute with Francis Peyto which began about 1608, Dale had claimed a house, which Peyto said was his property, as the vicarage, had granted it to a tenant, and had then tried to evict Peyto. (fn. 538)
In the course of this prolonged dispute Dale was on one occasion chased by Peyto's bailiffs, and in retaliation had brought out the hue and cry on an order written in his own hand for the illiterate thirdborough; the case which finally reached the Star Chamber was brought against Dale for the forgery of this order, (fn. 539) but it is not known how it was decided. In August 1642 Nehemiah Wharton, then stationed at Coventry, wrote 'our horsemen sallied out as their daily custom is, and brought in with them . . . an old base priest, the parson of Sowe near us, and led him ridiculously about the city unto the chief commander'. (fn. 540) This must have been George Dale, at the unfortunate end of a long career.
In 1724 the tithes of grain, wool, and lambs were being paid in kind to the tithe owner, but one witness in the dispute of that year said that he had paid some wool and lambs to the vicar. (fn. 541) Possibly as a result of this dispute, the vicar was in 1726 receiving £26 yearly from all the landowners in lieu of small tithes; he was also getting £1 from the great tithes, a sum that probably represented the earlier stipend. (fn. 542) In the inclosure award of 1756 the vicar received an allotment of 37 a. in respect of glebe and the small tithes from the open fields, and 2 a. in respect of tithes worth £2 which had been paid by Craven, probably the stipend. (fn. 543) He continued to receive the small tithes from the waste, of which those on beasts were paid in cash in 1797, until 1843, when they were commuted for £80 yearly. (fn. 544)
In 1778 a petition was sent to the bishop, asking that the benefices of Sowe and Stoke should be united, on the grounds that their net values were only £80 and £90 respectively, that the services were already being performed by one clergyman (fn. 545) (though there had in fact been a curate at Stoke since 1763), (fn. 546) that the populations were small, the churches only three miles apart, and each church big enough for the congregations of both parishes. These arguments, most of them specious, were accepted, and the benefices united. (fn. 547) It is not certain whether or not the vicars were resident (fn. 548) before F. D. Perkins arrived at Sowe in 1817. (fn. 549) Perkins either enlarged-or rebuilt the vicarage (fn. 550) in Schoolhouse Lane, on the ancient glebe close called Norrit, and thereafter the vicar of the united benefice normally lived at Sowe, (fn. 551) and a curate (there were sometimes two) at Stoke. (fn. 552) The arrival of the conscientious Perkins in the disorderly parish marks the transition from the 18th to the 19th century in Sowe. During his ministry much work was done to the church, and the National and infant schools were begun. (fn. 553)
In 1866 the inhabitants of Stoke petitioned for its separation from Sowe, on the grounds that they had no resident vicar, and in 1867 it was agreed that their wishes should be met when a vacancy occurred in the benefice. (fn. 554) The vicar, Robert Arrowsmith, like Perkins an active and determined minister, (fn. 555) had a long ministry, lasting from 1856 to 1884, and the benefices were therefore not separated until the latter year. (fn. 556)
A mission church for the colliery district was licensed in 1859 and opened the following year at Hawkesbury, near the corner of Hawkesbury and Lenton's Lanes, and another church school started there. (fn. 557) This church is inside the parish of Sowe, but from 1908 onwards has been served from the parish of St. Thomas, Longford, (fn. 558) which was created in that year partly out of Sowe. The parish of St. Chad, Woodend, was created from part of Sowe in 1957. (fn. 559)
The parish church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN stands on the corner of Ansty Road and Hall Lane, at the main cross-roads of the village. The graveyard was levelled and turfed c. 1955. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, vestry, south porch, and west tower. It dates mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries, but retains its Norman font.
The chancel, of 14th-century date, is built of red sandstone. The buttresses, the east window and gable, and the upper parts of the walls have all been rebuilt or refaced. The east window contains cusped intersecting tracery. In the south wall is a priest's doorway flanked by two-light windows with forking tracery, hoodmoulds, and head-stops; there is a similar window in the north wall. Internally the south wall contains a piscina with a trefoil head. The character of the south nave arcade, of three bays, suggests that both nave and south aisle are of early14th-century date, but the chancel arch appears to have been inserted and the aisle entirely rebuilt in the late 15th or early 16th century. The south aisle windows are square-headed and the arch of the south doorway is four-centred, the door itself being original. At the east end of the south arcade there is a rood-loft stair with both upper and lower doorways in position. The north aisle is built of grey sandstone ashlar, patched with red; the two end gables have been rebuilt and these may originally have been timber-framed. (fn. 560) The aisle probably dates from the late 15th century and has square-headed windows and a four-centred north doorway, now leading to the vestry. The aisle's three bays are longer than those of the south aisle, so that the nave arcade is of two bays only and the third bay is built against part of the north wall of the chancel, where it probably formed a chapel. One of the original north chancel windows was blocked when the aisle was built and this has now been made into an archway. There is also a small doorway into the easternmost bay of the aisle, perhaps originally an external north doorway to the chancel. The tower is of grey sandstone and is of late-15th-century date; it is of two stages and has diagonal buttresses and an embattled parapet with angle pinnacles and gargoyles. There is a blocked west doorway, probably a later insertion. Above the doorway and at the belfry stage are Perpendicular windows. The stair-turret is at the north-east angle.
During the incumbency of F. D. Perkins (1817- 56) the church was expensively re-pewed, increasing the sittings from 130 to 296. The small north vestry was also built, and plans were prepared for the restoration of the fabric. (fn. 561) The church was thoroughly restored in 1865 under the direction of G. E. Street. (fn. 562) It was probably at this time that the nave clerestory, which formerly had square-headed windows, was altered, the nave and chancel were re-roofed, and the brick south porch was replaced by one of red sandstone. (fn. 563)
The 12th-century font is circular and is carved with arcading in shallow relief; it closely resembles the font at St. Mary Magdalen, Wyken. In the upper lights of the east window of the south aisle is some ancient glass, depicting angels carrying the arms of the Peyto family. (fn. 564) There is an oak chest in the church dated 1702 with initials 'IB' and 'TH'. The organ is housed in the east bay of the north aisle.
In 1552 there were said to be two bells and a 'little sacring bell', but according to a later note the largest bell was subsequently sold to meet the cost of repairs to the church. In 1910 there were five bells, nos. 4 and 5 of 1702 by William Bagley of Chacombe (Northants.), nos. 1 and 2 of 1843 by W. and J. Taylor of Oxford, and no. 3 of 1872 by J. Taylor and Co. of Loughborough. (fn. 565) In 1964 there were said to be six bells waiting to be re-hung. (fn. 566) There is a silver chalice and paten of the Elizabethan period and a modern set of plate. The parish registers, which begin in 1538 and are complete, (fn. 567) are very full and include a number of inventories of church goods.
ST. MICHAEL, Coventry, and its Chapels. (fn. 568) St. Michael's is first mentioned by name in a charter granted between 1144 and 1148, in which Ranulf (II), Earl of Chester, restored to Coventry Priory all the chapels (fn. 569) in his fee, in and outside Coventry, and all rights in them in tithes, oblations, and other benefits. Roger, the earl's chaplain, who was one of the witnesses, (fn. 570) was probably the incumbent of St. Michael's and maintained by the earl as one of his household. An exact date for the chapel's foundation has not been discovered, but it may have been serving the earl and his tenants in the Earl's Half by 1113, by which date Holy Trinity is known to have been in existence as the chapel of the Prior's Half. (fn. 571) Earl Ranulf's restoration to the priory was confirmed by his son, Hugh, (fn. 572) and by Bishop Gerard Pucelle in 1183-4. (fn. 573)
The advowson of St. Michael's became the subject of dispute after the acquisition of the priory by Bishop Hugh de Nonant who in 1190 expelled the prior and the monks and subsequently installed secular canons in their place. (fn. 574) He also presented one 'R., Clerk of Coventry', to St. Michael's, (fn. 575) presumably the same as Ralph, the earl's chaplain, to whom, and to whose successors as chaplains, Earl Ranulf granted the tithes of all his possessions in Coventry. (fn. 576) Although the monks were restored after the death of Bishop Hugh in 1198 (fn. 577) and the next bishop, Geoffrey de Muschamp, was ordered to revoke all alienations made by his predecessor, (fn. 578) the priory evidently did not at once recover its rights in St. Michael's, since de Muschamp confirmed Ralph, who was then referred to as Ralph Mainwaring (de Maisiulwarin), in the chapel at the earl's request. (fn. 579)
The next stage in the dispute, which continued intermittently for the following 50 years, was an appeal made by the priory between 1216 and 1223 to Pope Honorius HI who, however, evaded a judgment by merely declaring that the priory should present on the next vacancy if it could substantiate its claim. (fn. 580) This it seems to have failed to do since in 1241 Pope Gregory IX stated that the patronage belonged to the bishop and authorized him to appropriate the revenues. (fn. 581) Of these the bishop granted 30 marks yearly to both Coventry Priory and Lichfield Chapter, each of which was to pay 20 marks a year to Ralph Mainwaring, (fn. 582) who seems to have died or resigned the living then or shortly afterwards. Dispute over St. Michael's broke out afresh after the death of Bishop Hugh de Pateshull towards the end of 1241, and was complicated by the protracted disagreement between the priory and the chapter over the election of his successor. (fn. 583) The archdeacons of Coventry and Salop and the Precentor of Lichfield apparently tried to present to St. Michael's, (fn. 584) by what authority is not known, but the king, asserting his rights during the vacancy of the see, contested their claim, and, together with the pope and the priory, supported one Ralph de Leicester. His institution, however, was resisted with violence, though it is not clear whose interests this hostile element was representing. Roger de Weseham, after he had became bishop in 1245-6, excommunicated Ralph de Leicester and his followers for forcing their way into the church, whereupon the king rejoined by threatening to deprive the bishop of his temporalities. (fn. 585)
The king was evidently successful in removing opposition to Ralph de Leicester since the latter was holding the cure in 1248 when a settlement was eventually reached between all parties. In this the bishop recognized the priory's right to St. Michael's with its dependent chapels and their revenues. The priory was to present a vicar to St. Michael's and to provide priests to serve the chapels (after the deaths of their then incumbents) and sufficient maintenance for all of these, including a vicarage worth 24 marks for St. Michael's. The 30 marks a year formerly due from St. Michael's vicarage to Lichfield was in future to be paid out of the rectory of Southam. A vicarage was accordingly ordained, in 1249, by which time the priory had presented to the living. (fn. 586) This settlement was formally confirmed again by the bishop at the end of the same year, (fn. 587) and by Roger and Cecily de Montalt, the successors of the earls of Chester in Coventry, in their grant of a large part of their possessions there to the priory in 1250. (fn. 588) The appropriation of St. Michael's to the priory finally received papal recognition in 1399. (fn. 589) At the Dissolution the advowson of St. Michael's came to the Crown, which retained it (fn. 590) until 1907 when it was transferred to the Bishop of Worcester. It finally passed to the Bishop of Coventry in 1919. (fn. 591)
The terms of the ordination of the vicarage in 1249 were very similar to those of the vicarage ordained for Holy Trinity Church in 1264. (fn. 592) The Vicar of St. Michael's was to receive all the revenues except the great tithes, all principal mortuaries, rents and services of the church's tenants and the revenues from its chapels outside the city which were to go to the priory as rector. The vicar was also to pay the priory £5 a year for the tithes received with the Sunday offerings. (fn. 593) After the Dissolution the rectory passed with the advowson to the Crown. It was sold to Coventry corporation in 1565 (fn. 594) and from time to time thereafter was leased to farmers. (fn. 595) The vicar's tithes continued to be paid to him until in 1636 the corporation paid to the vicar, William Panting, £100 a year for three years in exchange for vicar's tithes and allowances, with the exception of the tithes of Keresley and Whitley and surplice fees and offerings. A lease to this effect was drawn up in 1640. (fn. 596) The tithes apportioned in 1249, however, were not by that time the only source of the vicar's income; the stipend was found to be insufficient and in 1557-8 an Act was passed for the payment of tithes both in Holy Trinity parish and St. Michael's. (fn. 597) Complaints were numerous, and it was recognized that the burden on the parishioners was too heavy; the Act was at last repealed in 1779 and a new Act for establishing certain payments to be made to the Vicar of St. Michael was passed on the petition of the vicar and parishioners. This required that 1s. on all houses, gardens, and buildings of the annual value of £10 and over, and 6d. on all of £6 and over should be paid to the vicar yearly. (fn. 598) It is probable that opposition to the payment of vicar's rates was more widespread than is apparent. There had been cases of Quakers refusing to pay levies for repairs to the fabric, (fn. 599) but it was not until 1836 (the year of the Act for the commutation of tithes) (fn. 600) that any extensive opposition is found. The assessors failed to make the rate within the appointed time and the vicar, Robert Simson, made it himself; several people objected and the magistrates, many of whom were Dissenters, were not disposed to enforce payment. (fn. 601) Objections to the vicar's rate were indeed inevitable in a parish where nonconformity was both deep-seated and widespread. In 1892 the vicar, James Robert Mills, who had been appointed in 1888, (fn. 602) was averse to receiving his income in this way; the vicar's rate had been abolished in Holy Trinity parish nine years earlier after a campaign by the Anti-Vicar's Rate Association and with the active support of the mayor. Mills's refusal to allow the rate to be collected failed to force the vestry's hand and he found himself without an adequate income. He thereupon instructed his solicitor to prosecute those who had not paid. Their goods were distrained upon and an attempt was made to auction their chattels. The auctioneer was pelted with rotten eggs and the vicar was chased by angry crowds and besieged in his church for several hours. (fn. 603) The vicar's rate remained, however, for another eight years, abolition being the result of a town's meeting which resolved that strenuous efforts should be made to raise £5,000 required to redeem the vicar's rate. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners agreed to endow the living with £300 yearly and the corporation agreed to include the abolition of the Act of 1778 in the Bill then being promoted by them in Parliament. (fn. 604)
As has been said, the vicarage of St. Michael's was ordained to the value of 24 marks and the tithes apportioned to that purpose in 1249. In 1291, however, St. Michael's and its chapels were valued at 50 marks, the vicarage being taxed at 7½ marks. In 1249 the vicar was to pay £5 to the priory, but this amount was taxed at £3 in 1291. (fn. 605) In 1340-1 and in 1453-4 the amounts remained the same. (fn. 606) By 1522, however, the vicarage was worth £60 yearly. (fn. 607) After deductions it was worth about £56 in 1534-5. (fn. 608) Although a tithe was levied on all households in the parish from 1557-8, the living was worth only some £47 in 1570, and in that year the Crown added £6 out of the city's fee farm. (fn. 609) The commutation of part of the vicar's tithes in 1636 by the corporation brought in £100 to which were added the tithes of Keresley and Whitley, surplice fees and offerings. (fn. 610) In 1647, however, the total was only £64 and the corporation agreed to make it up to £124. (fn. 611) There were, of course, numerous gifts by parishioners for special purposes; these were administered by the vestry, which paid an annual sum to the vicar. (fn. 612) In 1779 the vestry offered the vicar a fixed sum of £280 a year in lieu of all claims under the Act of 1557-8, to be raised by a parish rate, (fn. 613) and a new Act was introduced for the levy of a vicar's rate. (fn. 614) In 1835 vicar's tithes totalled £472 (fn. 615) and the vicar's rate was also being received. In 1851 John Brownrigge Collisson complained that the tithes had been despoiled by the Tithe Commissioners and that his net income, from fees, dues, Easter offerings, and other sources was less than £150. He refrained from mentioning the amount received from the vicar's rate. (fn. 616) In 1879 the vicar's income was £200. (fn. 617) In 1900, on the abolition of the vicar's rate, the income of the benefice was £300 arising from the endowment made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 618)
Numerous chapels, each supporting a priest, and chantries, each with its own staff of chaplains, were founded in St. Michael's from time to time, so that in 1423 it was possible for 20 priests to be supplied from the establishment for William Whitchurch's obit. (fn. 619) In 1522 there were, besides the vicar, eighteen priests and six chantry priests (fn. 620) and in 1533 a curate, thirteen priests, and an unspecified number of chantry priests. (fn. 621) At the end of the 15th century there appear to have been ten altars besides the high altar, each with its chapel and chantry; they were: the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Jesus altar, the Trinity altar and the altars of St. John, St. Anne, St. Katherine, St. Thomas, St. Andrew. St. Lawrence, and All Saints.
The earliest recorded foundation within the church is that of St. Mary's altar and chapel (probably for the use of the drapers' company) in 1300, when indulgences were issued to provide funds for building expenses; (fn. 622) the usual pious donations of wax for the light before the high altar were made, and in 1350 the Merchant Guild of St. Mary ordered that all its priests were to say the offices in the chapel of Our Lady. (fn. 623) A chantry for Henry Dilcock and his wife, Robert de Whatton and his wife, and William de Shepey and his wife was founded at this altar in 1371 and another for Henry Dodenhale three years later. (fn. 624) This was, after the high altar, the most considerable for, on the combination of the Guild Merchant, St. John's Guild, and the Trinity Guild in 1392, further lands and rents were granted for the support of a priest and his assistant priests to serve them there and detailed regulations on their qualifications and duties were framed. (fn. 625) The altars of Our Lady and the Holy Trinity were rebuilt in 1412 by John Preston for his two chantry priests. (fn. 626) In 1450, owing to the rebuilding of this part of the church, the two contiguous chapels of St. Mary and All Saints (which were on the north side of the former chancel) were dismantled by the parishioners and their site included in the new nave. The drapers' company had constructed another chapel, dedicated to St. Mary and All Saints, in a more easterly position and obtained papal confirmation of its possession of the new chapel and of the furnishings which it had transferred from the previous ones. (fn. 627) John Haddon, draper, who made bequests to all the altars in St. Michael's, provided the stipend of a priest and gave £5 for an ornament for St. Mary's Chapel. In 1534 the freemen of the drapers' company and their apprentices were ordered to sit in the chapel every Sunday. At the Reformation the company sold some of its altar vessels but, shortly after the accession of Mary, it bought a chalice, vestments, and an organ. In 1634 the chapel was fitted up for the consistory court, but it had probably been so used before. (fn. 628)
The earliest recorded chantry in St. Michael's was founded in 1323 by Hugh de Merynton for two priests to sing mass daily for the souls of himself and Agnes, his wife. He endowed it with rents to the value of £8, (fn. 629) which had increased to £8 3s. 4d by the time that the guilds and chantries were dissolved. At that time no chaplain is mentioned and the chantry is said to have been founded for one priest only. (fn. 630) Its position in the church is at present unknown. The first Shepey chantry was founded in 1330 by Lawrence de Shepey for one priest to sing mass daily at the altar of St. Lawrence for the souls of himself, of several members of his family, and of Adam Stanydelf and Alice, his wife; in 1344, 1383, and 1390 the chantry was augmented for other members of the family. The presentation was in the gift of the priory and in 1361 Richard de Wardon was presented by the king during a vacancy. (fn. 631) The chantry was perhaps situated to the west of St. Mary's or the Drapers' Chapel. (fn. 632) Haye's chantry was founded in 1388 by Henry del Haye, girdler, at the altar of All Saints. (fn. 633) As has been seen, the chapel of All Saints was dismantled at the same time as that of St. Mary, and a new chapel of St. Mary and All Saints was furnished at the east end of the north chancel aisle in 1450. (fn. 634) Preston's chantry, founded in 1412 by John Preston for two priests, was connected with the altars of Holy Trinity and St. Mary. (fn. 635) The site of the Holy Trinity altar is unknown. William Matthew appears to have been the last priest at this chantry, for in 1555 he had a pension; the presentation was in the gift of the prior. (fn. 636) Crosse's chantry was founded in 1412, after the death of John Crosse, by four of his friends, who made the mayor and commonalty the administrators of their foundation, which was to support one priest singing mass daily at the altar of St. Katherine. (fn. 637) The corporation fulfilled this duty until the suppression of the guilds and chantries. As the mercers' company kept its obits here, it may be presumed that this was also the mercers' chapel; (fn. 638) the mercers certainly had a chapel in St. Michael's until 1713, when they relinquished it because of bad acoustics. (fn. 639) The Trinity Guild (which incorporated St. Katherine's Guild) kept the feast of St. Katherine by burning a candle before her statue in the chapel. (fn. 640) Its position was in the south chancel aisle opposite the drapers' chapel. (fn. 641) In 1449 the smiths were paying a priest and, twenty years later, they had a copy of the Jesus Mass made for him; the smiths' chapel (probably the same as St. Andrew's) (fn. 642) must not, however, be confused with the Jesus altar, although neither can be sited with certainty. The smiths seem to have retained their ornaments longer than the drapers, and were having new vestments made in 1553. (fn. 643) The Jesus Mass was introduced in Coventry by John Pynchbek, mayor, in 1465, (fn. 644) but the Jesus altar was not erected until 1468 when the clothiers of the city founded it to deliver the inhabitants from plague. The pope relaxed penance for all those who visited the altar and gave alms for its upkeep at the three major feasts. A fraternity, not otherwise recorded, appears to have been instituted at the time as the Confraternity of Jesus; (fn. 645) it was probably short-lived, for there is a suggestion that the Jesus Mass was suspended in Coventry c. 1492. (fn. 646) It was, however, resumed, for bequests were made by various drapers or clothiers for the Jesus Mass or the altar (fn. 647) and in 1518 the leet ordered that the mayor's officers were to accompany him to the Jesus Mass before market every Friday. (fn. 648)
St. Thomas's Chapel, on the south side of the church and east of the central porch, appears to have been taken over by the cardmakers c. 1465. (fn. 649) The chapel followed the fortunes of the company, for from 1531 it was used by the cappers as well and in 1537 was taken over entirely by them. (fn. 650) Their ornaments were sold at the time of the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries. The cappers resigned their rights in the chapel to the parish in 1630 for the sum of £15 and thenceforth they had six seats reserved for them in the church at a rent of 2s. Subsequent references to the cappers' chapel presumably refer to the room over the south porch which the cappers had used as their hall and to which access was first obtained from their original chapel, then from the south gallery, and finally by a newel stairway from the ground. The dyers' chapel seems to have been situated to the west of the south porch; probably there was a chamber above it for their priest. Early in the 17th century it became known as the Mourners' Chapel and it is possible that the dyers had already vacated it, as they were paying rent for two seats in the church in 1599. St. John's altar is known only from the fact that William Pisford bequeathed £6 13s. 4d. for its upkeep, (fn. 651) but doubtless the chaplains of St. John's Guild celebrated there before the chapel at Bablake was built. (fn. 652) St. Anne's altar is likewise known only from John Haddon's bequest of 6s. 8d. for wax in 1518, and the Lekborne Chapel from a bequest by the same benefactor. (fn. 653) The date of foundation of Tate's chantry is unknown, as also its position in St. Michael's; its priest received a stipend of £5 6s. 8d. a year from the Dyers' Company of London, (fn. 654) the last occupant of the office being Thomas Elysson who was receiving a pension of £5 in 1555. (fn. 655) The girdlers' chapel lay in the north aisle, east of the north porch; their hall, containing their library, was probably above it. In 1725 the chapel was dismantled and the materials used for the erection of a gallery on the north side of the church. (fn. 656) Copston's chantry was originally attached to the cathedral church, but at the Dissolution it was translated to St. Michael's for the remaining nine years of its existence. (fn. 657) St Matthew's chantry was in existence early in the 16th century, but it is not certain whether it was attached to St. Michael's. (fn. 658)
During the 12th century St. Michael's was 'the earl's chapel' and was served by the earl's chaplain but in 1241 it began to be called a 'church'. (fn. 659) The early years of both chapel and church were dominated by the unseemly battle between the priory and the bishop over tithes and advowson which has already been described. (fn. 660) Guy de Tyllebroc, vicar during the latter part of the 13th century, was apparently a man of substance, for he gave the site on which St. Mary's Hall was built (about 50 years later) for the support of a lamp before the high altar; in 1350 the lamp was being kept for the Guild Merchant, (fn. 661) various gifts were made to the high altar and in 1430 the wiredrawers were responsible for the upkeep of the tabernacle. (fn. 662) From 1300 one of the chief features in the life of St. Michael's was its close connexion with the guilds. Many of the vicars were members of the Trinity Guild, the Corpus Christi Guild or of the craft guilds, (fn. 663) and, as has been seen, at least eleven guilds had chapels or altars in the church. Many of the incumbents obtained leave of absence to study at a university or to serve the pope or the king. (fn. 664) St. Michael's was very much in the midst of ordinary everyday life in Coventry, for cloth seems to have been sold in the porch until it was forbidden in 1455; and when, in 1495, there was trouble about aulnage, apprentices' fees, and the common lands, it was to the door of St. Michael's Church that rebellious verses were pinned. (fn. 665)
With the Dissolution of the Monasteries and of the Guilds and Chantries great changes became apparent in St. Michael's. John Rambridge was the last vicar to be appointed by the prior before the Dissolution; he retained his benefice for the time being, but he was removed for examination when he had made his accusation against Thomas Saunders for heresy. On his recantation of 'popish errors' he was restored to his living and in 1553 he was succeeded by Hugh Symondes, who was appointed by Edward VI. (fn. 666) In 1548 religious guilds, any chantries attached to guilds, and all personal chantries and obits came to an end, and their possessions passed four years later into the hands of the mayor, bailiffs, and commonalty of the city. (fn. 667) It has already been noted that certain of the guilds sold chalices and vestments in accordance with the temper of the time. On Mary's accession Hugh Symondes declared against her and was called before the Privy Council for 'wishing them hanged that would say mass'. He was given an opportunity (which he seems not to have taken) to recant, (fn. 668) but he was finally deprived because he was married. For four and a half years the parish remained without an incumbent, (fn. 669) while certain of the guilds returned to preReformation ritual, buying chalices and vestments and restoring their music. (fn. 670) It is not clear whether Symondes returned to the parish on the accession of Elizabeth, but developments were certainly in line with his declared opinions: vestments were delivered back to the city council, (fn. 671) a 'chalice' was re-made as a 'communion cup', and in 1569 feeling in the parish was running so high that the registers were destroyed because they savoured of 'popery'. (fn. 672) This attitude would seem to be one of deep conviction, for William Hinton (who was appointed Archdeacon of Coventry a year after his institution as Vicar of St. Michael's in 1583) (fn. 673) was opposed with some doggedness by a section of his congregation when he tried to restore the custom of kneeling to receive the sacrament. Seats were erected in 1610 for those who objected to kneeling, (fn. 674) but in 1611 the king supported Hinton. (fn. 675) In the end Hinton was reasonably successful in his efforts, for when inquiry was made in 1621 it was reported that all the magistrates conformed and that only about three persons of note persisted in sitting or standing. (fn. 676) Hinton got the living augmented by the city council, obtained an assistant for the Wednesday lecture, (fn. 677) and had galleries erected on either side of the choir. (fn. 678) In 1603 the king's arms were set up and an hour glass was bought in 1586 and two large ones in 1602. (fn. 679) On Hinton's resignation in 1624 (he remained archdeacon until his death), the city council certified to the bishop its approval of the appointment of Samuel Bugges, (fn. 680) who had already been presented by the Crown. (fn. 681) Two years later Bugges became Vicar of Holy Trinity Church as well. He probably had some previous connexion with Coventry, for he dedicated a sermon preached at Paul's Cross in 1621 to the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the city, and in the following year printed Philemon Holland's speech on James I's visit to Coventry. (fn. 682) He did not satisfy the more extreme of his parishioners, some of whom preferred to wear their hats in church. (fn. 683)
William Panting, the next incumbent, worked gradually and diplomatically to restore dignity in the face of extremism and put the vicar's stipend on a sounder basis, while refusing personal gain. He rescued a pall of cloth of gold, which had formerly hung about the pulpit, and used it as a cloth for the communion table, (fn. 684) but he met the reformers by having the Lord's prayer, the 'belief and the Commandments set up in the chancel. (fn. 685) He refused to receive the money due to him for delivering the Wednesday lecture, except as a gift of love. (fn. 686) It was during his incumbency that the communion table was placed altar-wise and raised on three steps; this met with immediate opposition and the bishop ordered it to be brought down again into the chancel. (fn. 687) Whatever his merits, Panting had shown himself to be of the Laudian party and his living was sequestrated in 1643. (fn. 688) A petition of the mayor and of some of the parishioners for a Mr. Viner to be appointed was unsuccessful (fn. 689) and the corporation invited Obadiah Grew, Master of the Free School at Atherstone and a declared Presbyterian, to be minister of the parish. St. Michael's was stripped of all indications of 'superstition', inscriptions were painted out, the brass eagle sold, the font taken down, and the cross on the mercers' chapel removed. Grew, however, was opposed to the regicides and showed personal sympathy to Panting in his misfortune. He was also an assistant to the Commissioners for Warwickshire for the ejection of ignorant and insufficient ministers and schoolmasters. He appears to have been a man of principle, not an extremist, but a convinced Presbyterian, who resigned his benefice on the promulgation of the Act of Uniformity, although urged by his bishop to conform. So greatly were his opinions respected that he was allowed to continue preaching in Coventry for some time. (fn. 690)
Bishop Hacket, who had urged Grew to conform, supported his successor, Samuel Feake, who petitioned for the living. (fn. 691) Thereupon the font was restored and the Royal Arms set up again, but by the end of Feake's incumbency the church was in a sad state of decay. (fn. 692) Meanwhile the corporation was maintaining payments to the late minister, Dr. Grew. (fn. 693)
With the Dissolution of the Guilds and Chantries, the opportunity for bequeathing money for religious purposes disappeared, and, at the same time, the churches lost their clergy. However, at St. Michael's, as at Holy Trinity, a solution to the two problems was found in the endowment of yearly sermons. Three had already been founded by Henry Boteler about 1490, and, after the Reformation, a total of 22 more were founded by the wills of William Hopkins (1570), John Tallants (proved 1573), Thomas Bentley (proved 1604), William Wheate (1616), Sampson Hopkins (1623), one Rogerson (in the 1620s), James Harwell (1631), Isaac Walden (proved 1632), Thomas Brownrigg (1634), and Thomas Jesson (proved 1636). Jesson also provided for a weekly sermon. Three more sermons were endowed by Sir Brian J'Anson, by deed of 1628, and one by the gift, in 1749, of Mrs. Anne Alison.
Thomas Bentley's bequest apparently never came into operation, and about half of the rest of these endowments was subsequently lost (at least by the mid 19th century), (fn. 694) but the sermons that survived were far more highly paid than their founders had intended. The sum normally laid down was 6s. 8d. for each sermon, but in practice, during the 17th century, the payment ranged from £5 to £25 yearly, (fn. 695) thus adding to the stipend of the vicar or assistant curate or providing a competence for an additional member of staff or lecturer.
In 1410-11 there is mention of a deacon in connexion with St. Michael's. (fn. 696) Just over a century later Richard Shirley was called curate (but he was not the incumbent), and similarly in 1533 Richard Singleton. (fn. 697) Again c. 1593 Humphrey Wilding was described as curate, though inadequate. (fn. 698) For most of the 17th century lecturers were appointed by the corporation to deliver the Wednesday lecture: in 1611 Mr. Drax, in 1613 Peter Gibson, in 1615 Mr. Greene, (fn. 699) in 1644 Gilbert Walden; and in 1676 John Nailer was appointed one of the lecturers in place of Thomas Allesley who had received preferment. (fn. 700) But in 1730 St. Michael's vestry chose Benjamin Dawson as lecturer to preach every Sunday morning. In the following year, when there was a smallpox epidemic, Dawson was to visit the sick and to do duty for the vicar if he fell ill. (fn. 701) An inquiry of 1852 showed that the remuneration for reading weekly prayers (one of the duties of an assistant) had been diverted into the vicar's pocket since Obadiah Grew took over the duty himself in the Commonwealth period. The vicar, John Brownrigge Collisson, was deprived of this extra £20, (fn. 702) but two years later he was allowed £80 to enable him to pay a second curate. (fn. 703) The difficulty was that Collisson was nonresident and only with the help of two curates could the Sunday evening service be continued. On the other hand Collisson was obviously discontented with his stipend and with the heating and seating arrangements. (fn. 704) Matters came to a head in 1857 when the grant made by the Curates' Aid Society was withdrawn; the vestry refused to pay more than £80 and stated that they were unwilling to help the vicar further until he resided in the parish; indeed they would stop the £80 unless he promised to appoint a second curate. The Pastoral Aid Society's grant, which paid a scripture reader, had also been withdrawn. (fn. 705) There had been constant friction between Collisson and the vestry and he was clearly considered unsatisfactory. He was succeeded in 1858 by Sidney Henry Widdrington, (fn. 706) who presumably was aided by one curate. There was still one curate in 1917. (fn. 707)
A 'close' vestry (fn. 708) dealt with both civil and ecclesiastical organization; two of its frequent duties were the leasing of church lands and the letting of pews; rents from the latter were set aside for beautifying the church in 1725, when it was agreed that they were not to be used for repairs or for the sacramental bread and wine, which were to be bought at the charge of the parish. (fn. 709) But from 1850 pew rents were to be used for the services of the church. (fn. 710) There was great competition for seats and in 1818 the vestry resolved that canvassing must not be allowed; proper application must be made to the accountant churchwarden or to the vestry clerk. The vestry was to allocate the seats. (fn. 711)
The vestry kept close control over the church's finances; it regulated its own administration and by 1770 some of its work was being carried out by committees; (fn. 712) in 1805 it appointed a committee which thenceforward met quarterly to inspect and conduct the church affairs of the parish. (fn. 713) From 1870 the vestry met once yearly at Easter. (fn. 714) It had been responsible for the appointment of officers, but in 1849 it delegated this duty to the churchwardens. (fn. 715) There were six churchwardens, one for each ward in the parish, and they were chosen by the vestry at its Easter meeting; (fn. 716) elections were not always fairly observed, for in 1780, although fifteen members voted for one candidate and ten for another, the latter was appointed. (fn. 717) There had been a separate accountant, but from 1800 the vicar's warden was to do his job and was usually called the accountant churchwarden. (fn. 718) When the church rate had got into arrear, it was decided in 1819 that each churchwarden should collect the rate from his own ward. (fn. 719) Disorderliness was becoming common in the city on Sundays and the churchwardens were charged in 1821 with the duty of seeing that order was kept throughout the city and particularly in the churchyard on Sundays. (fn. 720) In 1766 the sexton was a person of some importance; he was, for example, to keep the church, the vestry, and the churchyard clean, to see to the ringing of the bells, and to keep the clock and chimes in order; moreover he was to wear a gown and robe and carry a tipstaff in the manner of vergers at cathedrals. (fn. 721) In 1808 his wages were raised from £9 to £20 a year, (fn. 722) and he was given the further duties of looking after behaviour in church and of examining the fabric. (fn. 723)
In 1908, as a preliminary step towards the creation of the modern diocese of Coventry, (fn. 724) St. Michael's was made a collegiate church with the bishop as dean and the vicar as sub-dean and precentor. (fn. 725) Thereafter the chapter, which was composed of ten priest canons, seven lay canons, and a chapter clerk, gradually took over some of the functions of St. Michael's vestry. (fn. 726) In 1918, when the diocese was finally created, (fn. 727) St. Michael's became its cathedral, and early in 1919 the authority of the vestry was merged in that of the cathedral chapter. (fn. 728) Officials were appointed and a rota of preachers was drawn up, and it was fixed that the great chapter should meet quarterly and the smaller chapter monthly. No new constitution was then laid down and the canons were appointed by the bishop. In 1921 the parochial church council, the chapter, the vestry, and the churchwardens held a conference at which the decisions of 1908 were endorsed, with the proviso that both the parochial church council and the vestry should send three representatives to the chapter and that the chapter so enlarged should continue to be the authority for the conduct of the cathedral church and for the allocation of offerings. (fn. 729)
To some 1922 must have seemed a disastrous year, for the bishop, the sub-dean, and the archdeacon died within a few months of one another. For others it marked the start of a new era, for the rule of Yeatman-Biggs, the first bishop of the new diocese, had been a very personal and rather authoritarian one. The new bishop, C. Lisle Carr, was concerned about the position of the canons and about the lack of a constitution. The changes demanded by the creation of the diocese and the passing of the Enabling Act had been ignored and it was essential that the position should be rectified. A provisional constitution was drawn up in 1924 and the Cathedral Measures of 1931 and 1934 made legal a modification of this constitution. (fn. 730) The bishop was no longer dean, and the chapter consisted of the provost (the Vicar of St. Michael's), two archdeacons, not more than four residentiary canons, not more than four canons theologian, and not more than fifteen honorary canons, all appointed by the bishop. The cathedral council consisted of the bishop as chairman, the provost, the bishop suffragan or assistant bishop, the archdeacons, five churchwardens, the parochial treasurer, seven members elected by the parochial church council, five lay representatives of the diocese nominated by the bishop, and five lay representatives of the laity elected by the diocesan conference. The statutes gave the bishop the right to use the cathedral, on reasonable notice to the provost, for visitations, synods, ordinations, and confirmations, to celebrate communion or to preach at the greater festivals, and for diocesan services; he could also, in consultation with the provost, appoint a canon skilled in church music as canon precentor. (fn. 731) The constitution of the cathedral was slightly altered in 1951 by a scheme regulating the tenure of residentiary canonries. (fn. 732)
Apart from the creation of St. John's parish in 1734, a number of new ecclesiastical parishes were taken wholly or partly out of St. Michael's parish in the 19th and 20th centuries; these were St. Thomas, Keresley-with-Coundon (1848), All Saints and St. Mark (1869), Christ Church (1900), which had been built as a chapel of ease to St. Michael in the early 1830s, St. Barbara (1922), St. Mary Magdalen (1926), and St. Anne (1930), which had become a mission church of St. Michael's after the First World War. (fn. 733)
In 1861 the National school in Red Lane, then in a detached part of St. Michael's parish, was licensed as a mission chapel. (fn. 734) The building seems to have been partly converted at the vicar's expense into a place of worship which was known as St. Mary's Church and served from St. Michael's. (fn. 735) Services there were apparently discontinued in the late 1860s or early 1870s, probably after the opening of St. Mark's Church in 1869. (fn. 736) A second mission chapl,e in Whitefriars Lane, also known as St. Mary's and formerly a Baptist chapel, was bought and licensed for worship in 1869. (fn. 737) A chancel was added to the building about 1884 and it was thoroughly restored, to the design of H. Quick, in 1888. (fn. 738) It was used for services by the congregation from Christ Church from 1941 to 1955 (fn. 739) and was then lent for two years to Holy Trinity parish council. It was finally sold in 1958 (fn. 740) and has subsequently been demolished.
During the air raid on Coventry of 14-15 November 1940 the cathedral was largely destroyed by fire, only the outside walls and the tower being left standing. (fn. 741) The following account of the fabric, therefore, is based mainly on illustrations and published descriptions of the undamaged building. (fn. 742)
The former cathedral church of ST. MICHAEL consisted of an aisled nave of six bays, an aisled chancel of three bays with an apsidal east end, and a west tower. Beyond the south nave aisle a second aisle included two chapels and a south porch; on the north side of the nave there was an outer aisle of five bays. Two crypts lay below the inner north nave aisle and there were sacristies at a low level beyond the 5-sided apse. Owing to falling ground towards the north-east, the chancel floor was more than 12 ft. above street level. In its final form St. Michael's dated largely from the late 14th and 15th centuries. It was one of the largest medieval parish churches in England, and the height of the tower and spire (295 ft.) is only exceeded at Salisbury and Norwich.
Loose fragments of Norman stonework have survived, but there were no structural remains of the 12th-century church. P. B. Chatwin has suggested the middle of the following century. Even at the beginning the work was in the Perpendicular style, an unusually early example of its use in a parish church. The first new building was the tower, placed centrally on the west wall of the 13th-century nave. It dates from 1373-94 and the cost is said to have been largely borne by the brothers William and Adam Botoner. The spire was begun in 1432. (fn. 743) The tower is of five stages, surmounted by an embattled parapet and tall angle pinnacles. Its lavishly carved stonework includes niches with figures (replaced in the 19th century). Set behind the parapet is an octagonal lantern connected to the angle pinnacles by ogee-shaped flying buttresses. The spire rises a further 136 ft. in three stages.
The rebuilding of the body of the church was a complex process. Chatwin's theory as to how it was carried out, based on a detailed study of the fabric, (fn. 744) can only be briefly summarized here. The rebuilding that it consisted only of nave and chancel, and that it was comparable in size to its daughter chapels, some of which are still standing in recognizable form. (fn. 745) This is borne out by the traces of a pre-15th-century roof which are visible against the tower arch and which indicate a former nave width of 15 ft. 7 in. It is thought that the Norman church was enlarged in the later 13th century by the westward extension of the nave and the addition of aisles to both nave and chancel. Beyond the north chancel aisle a Lady Chapel, with a crypt or charnel house below it, is known to have been built c. 1300. (fn. 746) Later a smaller crypt, containing a piscina, was added to the east of the former one. These two crypts, and a south porch of about the same date, survived both the 15thcentury reconstruction and the fire of 1940.
A great rebuilding took place between 1373 and entailed major extensions both to the north and east, the presence of St. Mary's Hall making it impossible to expand southwards. Thus the south aisle of the rebuilt nave coincided with that of the 13th-century church. The scheme involved doubling the width of the old nave to include its north aisle and the building of a new north aisle beyond it. The new aisle would absorb the projecting Lady Chapel of c. 1300 and extend over the crypt beneath it. The eastward extension consisted of a large aisled chancel, of the same width as the new nave and designed to join it at approximately the eastern extremity of the old church. The new chancel was put in hand first, starting at the apse and leaving the rest of the church undisturbed. Although the style of the chancel was similar in date to that of the tower, it must be assumed that the latter, central on the axis of the old church, was well in hand before the scheme of a widened nave and chancel was thought of. (fn. 747) The chancel of the 13th-century church, and probably of the Norman church before it, had a slight inclination towards the north. This is proved by the angle of the existing crypts, built originally against the north wall of the 13th-century chancel aisle. If, as has been supposed, the east end of the old church was still in existence when the later chancel was begun, it might well have formed the guiding-line for the layout of the new work. This would account for the marked divergence between nave and chancel in the rebuilt church. Authorities differ as to how long a period of time elapsed between the completion of the chancel and the rebuilding of the nave, (fn. 748) but the whole scheme was probably finished soon after 1450. At this date it is known that the old Lady Chapel had been demolished and another Lady Chapel was being established further east in the new north chancel aisle. (fn. 749)
In general the new church, with its wide aisles, gave scope for the increase of separate chapels demanded by the growth of the guilds in 15thcentury Coventry. (fn. 750) The Dyers' Chapel and St. Thomas's Chapel, flanking the older south porch, were probably completed and in use by 1463 and 1465 respectively. (fn. 751) The outer north aisle, accommodating two chapels, is thought to have been built c. 1500, (fn. 752) thus representing the last notable preReformation addition to the church.
In spite of a change in style from early to later Perpendicular at the junction of nave and chancel, the interior of St. Michael's gave an overall impression of uniformity. Arches of wide span, slender piers, and large windows, particularly in the clerestory, contributed to the general effect of lightness and space. The only demarcation between nave and chancel was provided by a change in roof level and by side piers containing staircases to the roof and rood-loft.
In the late 17th and 18th centuries decay of the fabric was a constant charge upon the parish; in 1736 the Quakers refused to contribute towards a levy made on the parishioners. (fn. 753) In 1793 a meeting was called in the County Hall to discuss the raising of funds for repairs, particularly to the steeple. (fn. 754) By 1818 the condition of the tower was again causing concern and bell-ringing was suspended, (fn. 755) as it was again in 1851 for a time. (fn. 756)
In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries the interior of the church had acquired box-pews, wainscotting, a classical altarpiece, and many galleries - in Poole's words: 'such a wild spread and pile of incumbrances as no other church could have found room for'. (fn. 757) A plan of 1820 for refitting the interior, using a bequest of £1,000 from Richard Burgh (will proved 1813), came to nothing. A new scheme by George Gilbert (later Sir Gilbert) Scott was put in hand in 1849, when all the galleries were cleared away and new open pews were installed, the costs being met out of the capital of Burgh's bequest (£2,222) and voluntary subscriptions amounting to about £1,500. Two years later the internal stonework was stripped and restored. At the same time most of the monuments were moved, some disappearing in the process. In 1860 the wainscotting in the apse and the altarpiece were replaced by new stone arcading and a Gothic reredos, designed by James Murray. (fn. 758) Meanwhile, from 1854 onwards, a gradual renewal of the decayed external stonework of the aisles was taking place. (fn. 759)
The last major restoration was carried out between 1883 and 1890 under the direction of J. Oldrid Scott. This included the external re-facing with Runcorn stone of spire, tower, clerestories, and chancel, and the strengthening of the tower foundations. At the same time a vestry to the south-east of the apse, perhaps dating from the early 17th century, was demolished and a new one built to match the three medieval sacristies already in existence. (fn. 760) It was at this period that iron girders were inserted to strengthen the tie-beams of the roof. When the roof caught fire during the raid of 14 November 1940, the twisting of these girders in the great heat helped to bring down the masonry of the clerestories and arcades. (fn. 761)
Few original fittings had survived to the 20th century. In the Lady Chapel were portions of screens and fourteen carved miserere seats. (fn. 762) A brass eagle lectern of 1359 and a font of 1394 had been removed in 1645, but a Purbeck marble font bowl, probably of the 13th century, was preserved in the church. (fn. 763) A 15th-century pulpit was replaced in 1869. (fn. 764) The apse and clerestory windows contained fragments of stained glass, mostly re-set, which were probably the work of early-15th-century Coventry glaziers; these were taken out during the Second World War and have been preserved. (fn. 765) Among the many notable memorials in the church (fn. 766) were a floor slab with brass commemorating Thomas Bond (d. 1506), a carved stone altar-tomb to Julian Nethermyl (d. 1539) and his wife, a mid-16th century altar tomb with recumbent effigies and an inscription to Elizabeth Swillington, and another with its brass missing but thought to commemorate John Wayd, a mid-16th-century mercer of Coventry. There were also large monuments to Sir Thomas Berkeley (d. 1611), to the wife and children of Dr. Joseph Moore (erected 1640), and to William Stanley (d. 1640). Among later memorials was one with portrait busts to Richard Hopkins (d. 1707), his wife and son, one to Dame Mary Bridgeman and Mrs. Eliza Samwell (d. 1701 and 1724 respectively), and one by Chantrey commemorating the Hon. F.W. Hood (killed in battle in 1814).
The churchyard was enlarged in 1783-4 as a result of the demolition of a block of old houses at its south-west corner. (fn. 767) A new burial ground on a site to the north of New Street was consecrated in 1793. (fn. 768)
After the destruction of the cathedral in 1940 an altar of stones picked out of the rubble was set up in the apse in January 1941 and on it was placed a cross of charred beams from the ruins. One of the 'crosses of nails' was added some time later. The east crypt, which had been fitted up as a memorial chapel - the Wyley Crypt Chapel - in 1932, was immediately brought into use for services. In 1942 the south porch was converted into a chapel known as the Chapel of the Resurrection or the Friends' Chapel and daily services were held there. By 1945 the west crypt, holding a congregation of about 100, had been consecrated as a temporary Chapel of Unity; communion was still celebrated in the adjoining east crypt. Larger services were held in Holy Trinity Church until the end of 1945 and also, weather permitting, in the main body of the ruins. In 1947-8 the area inside the walls was cleared of rubble and laid out with paths and grass, while eight 'hallowing places' were constructed against the side walls, each one dedicated to a different branch of human activity. Further restoration work on the ruins took place in 1952-4, and in 1957 the room above the south porch was restored for use by the cappers' guild. (fn. 769)
Although there had been initially some uncertainty (fn. 770) whether the cathedral should be rebuilt at all or whether cathedral status should be conferred instead on Holy Trinity Church or St. Mary's, Warwick, the cathedral council decided in March 1941 that a new cathedral should be erected, on or near the site of the old, and this decision was supported by the Central Council for the Care of Churches. A rebuilding committee was appointed under the provost's chairmanship, and in 1942 Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was invited by the cathedral council to design the new building. However, the plans (fn. 771) which he submitted in 1944 and 1945, though approved by the council, were subsequently rejected by the Royal Fine Art Commission and he resigned at the beginning of 1947. The Harlech Commission was then set up, and, after a thorough examination of the ruins and a wide canvass of opinion, reported later in the year in favour of rebuilding in the Gothic style (a stipulation which caused some controversy) as nearly as possible on the old site but without incorporating the remains of the old structure which were declared to be insufficiently strong for re-use. The architect was to be chosen by open competition. A reconstruction committee was formed to prepare the terms of the competition, which, as they were finally published in 1950, omitted all restrictions on the style of architecture to be adopted. The results were announced the following year; the design chosen was that of Basil (later Sir Basil) Spence. The assessors reported that the design was 'of outstanding excellence' and that the author had 'qualities of spirit and imagination of the highest order'. The new cathedral was to be built immediately north of the old one and at right angles to it. The medieval tower and ruins were to be preserved in their existing form and an open porch, spanning St. Michael's Avenue, was to connect old and new. Because of its break with conventional styles of church architecture, the design met with opposition in some quarters, but at the same time created world-wide interest in the new project. The completed scheme incorporated all the main features of the competition design, although some modifications were introduced between 1951 and 1954. Among these were the removal of a structural wall between high altar and Lady Chapel, the raising in height of the porch, the enlargement of the glass screen between porch and nave, and the alteration of the main access from Priory Street. The licence for the erection of the new cathedral was granted by the Minister of Works in 1954. It was estimated later that the total cost of the cathedral would be about £1,350,000, of which £1,000,000 was provided by the War Damage Commission. The main contractors for the work were John Laing and Sons. The foundation stone was laid by Queen Elizabeth II in 1956 and cathedral services were transferred from the old west crypt to the new undercroft, the Chapel of the Cross, at the end of 1958. The cathedral was consecrated by the Bishop of Coventry, Dr. Cuthbert Bardsley, on 25 May 1962.
The new cathedral church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a structurally undivided nave and chancel, with a Lady Chapel at the north end of the building behind the high altar. The altar itself, with a vast tapestry representing Christ in Glory above it, is visible from the porch at the opposite end of the nave through a 'west' wall made entirely of glass. The side walls of nave and chancel are zig-zag in plan with five pairs of windows reaching from floor to ceiling and throwing light towards the altar. Slender columns divide the nave from passage aisles and support a high vaulted ceiling. Internally the walls, partly for acoustic reasons, are faced with absorbent plaster. On the east side of the nave is a baptistery and opposite to it is the entrance to the Chapel of Unity. This has a star-shaped plan and its tapering walls and buttresses were designed to resemble a 'crusader's tent'. Flanking the Lady Chapel to the east is the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane, its metal screen symbolising the Crown of Thorns. From this point a short cloister leads to the Chapel of Industry, or of Christ the Servant, a circular building below which lies the cathedral chapter house. Owing to falling ground to the north-east, it has been possible to accommodate vestries and administrative rooms in the undercroft of the main building. A refectory and verger's flat are situated to the north-west. The plain external walls of the cathedral are of pink Hollington stone and those of the Chapel of Unity of green Westmorland slate. Above the nave roof is a bronze latticework flèche, 90 ft. high; the bells are still housed in the existing medieval tower.
The new cathedral was always intended to give scope for the work of individual artists and craftsmen. The great tapestry, occupying the whole of the north wall, was designed by Graham Sutherland and made near Aubusson in France. The bronze figures of St. Michael and the Devil, placed on the external wall between the baptistery and the porch, were the work of Sir Jacob Epstein shortly before his death in 1959. John Hutton engraved the figures on the glass screen between porch and nave. The stained glass in the baptistery window was designed by John Piper, that in the windows at the entrance to the Lady Chapel by the Swedish artist Einar Forseth, and the windows of the Chapel of Unity by Margaret Traherne. The ten windows in the nave were designed by three artists from the Royal College of Art, Lawrence Lee, Geoffrey Clarke, and Keith New. The eight 'Tablets of the Word', stone panels set in embrasures in the side walls of the nave, were executed by Ralph Beyer. The font bowl is hollowed out from a rough boulder brought from a hillside at Bethlehem. Among many other individual contributions, the inlaid floor of the Chapel of Unity deserves special mention; this was designed by Einar Forseth, and given by the Church of Sweden.
The interest taken in music in the old St. Michael's has been maintained in the new. There was an organ in the church as early as 1392 and the priests of the Trinity Guild were required to be able to sing the office with or without organ. In 1505 John Gylbard, organist of St. Michael's, was admitted as an member of the Corpus Christi Guild. At the Reformation the drapers disposed of the organ in their chapel and little more is heard of music until the 18th century, (fn. 772) when there seems to have been an adult male choir with children from a charity school to sing treble. The vestry appointed the organist, sometimes on a competition, and regulated his duties. (fn. 773) The first modern organ appears to have been built about 1730, by Thomas Swarbrick. (fn. 774) Dr. Thomas Deane was the first organist, at a salary of £40 a year, (fn. 775) and, with the coming of an organ, it was possible for more parts of the service to be sung than hitherto. (fn. 776) A considerable amount of care was taken of the instrument, (fn. 777) and it was rebuilt in 1835. (fn. 778) In 1829 ten regular members of the choir were paid £2 a year and later £1 was set aside for the boy choristers. (fn. 779) About this time the idea of giving musical performances in church to raise money for enlarging the organ was introduced. (fn. 780) The organ of 1835 was taken down in 1885 during the large-scale restoration of the church and was replaced by a new instrument in 1886-7. (fn. 781) Some outstanding musicians spent part of their career as organist of St. Michael's, including Herbert (later Sir Herbert) Brewer, from 1886 to 1892, and Harold Rhodes, from 1928 to 1933. (fn. 782)
For nearly 20 years after the destruction of the old cathedral in 1940 a mixed choir took part in the services held in the west crypt. Some younger singers also created an independent body known as the Vacation Choir. In 1959, in preparation for the consecration of the new cathedral, it was decided to constitute a fresh cathedral choir. This, in its final form, was composed of twelve men, and 24 boys whose training was assisted by the establishment, between 1959 and 1961, of a corresponding number of choral scholarships at the King Henry VIII School. In 1961 a new organist and choirmaster was appointed who combined his duties in the cathedral with those of musical adviser to the city council. (fn. 783) The west crypt was refurnished as a song school for the choir and as the cathedral music library. (fn. 784) Particular care was taken over the acoustics of the new cathedral, and the device of movable choirstalls was introduced to permit the performance there of large-scale choral and orchestral works as well as to secure for the congregation a clear view of the altar during the communion service. The new organ, flanking the altar, is by Harrison and Harrison; its cost was largely defrayed by a gift from Canada. (fn. 785)
Bells were first hung in the tower of St. Michael's in 1429. In 1488, to celebrate the general peace that prevailed after the battle of Stoke in the previous year, 'a great bell' called Jesus Bell was added to them at the expense of the churchwardens and others, and from the mid 16th century, at least, a sum of 13s. 4d. a year was paid by the corporation for its repair. There was a ring of six bells in the 17th century and probably by 1607 when the 3rd and 4th were recast. In 1675 the existing ring of six was recast into one of eight by the two Henry Bagleys, elder and younger, of Chacombe (Northants.), who also used in the process the metal of the cracked treble from Bablake church. By about the middle of the 18th century it was thought that the weight of the bells was endangering the fabric and these fears were increased after Pack and Chapman had again recast the ring in 1774 and added two new trebles to it. As a result of an examination made in 1793 the bells were taken down and, after the tower had been strengthened, were rehung the following year in a wooden framework rising from the ground inside the tower but being structurally independent of it. (fn. 786) The tenor, which had been cracked in 1802, was recast in 1805 by Briant of Hereford and the bells were rehung on one level instead of two as formerly. (fn. 787) An effort was made in 1885, during the restoration of the church, to have a campanile built in the churchyard to the north of the church. This project came to nothing, (fn. 788) and the bells lay on the floor of the church until by 1895 sufficient funds had been raised for them to be hung again, in the octagon, by Taylor of Loughborough and adapted for chiming. (fn. 789)
There were chimes and a clock in the church by 1465. A new set of chimes and a clock were installed in 1778-9. (fn. 790)
The earliest reference to plate occurs in 1564 when a new communion cup was made out of an old chalice. In 1659 the plate included two silver gilt bowls, a silver flagon given by Henry Smith, and four silver bowls with covers bought with a bequest by Isaac Walden. A silver dish was presented by the bishop in 1683, but the following year all the plate was sold and a new set bought. This was stolen from the vestry in 1786 and not replaced until 1804 with a silver gilt set given by Mrs. Yardley. The present collection of plate consists of a silver alms-dish of c. 1619, a silver gilt chalice, two silver gilt patens, a paten-cover and an alms-dish all of 1717, a silver jug of 1770, a silver flagon, two silver gilt chalices, and two silver gilt patens all of 1826. (fn. 791)
Complete registers survive from 1698. Earlier volumes are said to have been burnt in 1569, because of 'some marks of popery in them', and others in a fire in the vestry in 1697. (fn. 792)
No chapelry of CALUDON was mentioned in the 12th-century lists. Ranulf de Blundeville was said to have given the tithes and dues of Caludon to Stephen de Segrave with the original grant of the estate, and a chapel was apparently included in the earliest house there. (fn. 793) It was first specifically mentioned in 1239 in the papal confirmation of the grant. (fn. 794) Ranulf's grant was confirmed by an agreement between Stephen de Segrave and Ralph Mainwaring, rector of St. Michael's. The chaplain presented by Segrave was to receive all the tithes of the park and three other fields, and the small tithes and oblations of the rest of the estate in Caludon. The rector was to be paid 6s. yearly, (fn. 795) a sum still being received by the priory at the Dissolution. (fn. 796) In the early 15th century there was a dispute between the priory and the farmer of Caludon who claimed that the tithes of the 80 acres of Sowe Waste in the estate belonged to the Caludon chapel. (fn. 797) Five chaplains were presented between 1335 and 1359. (fn. 798) A bell hanging in the chapel was mentioned in 1385. (fn. 799) It is not known when the chapel finally fell into disrepair. There were no references to it in the 16th century, and Dugdale said that it was ruinous in the 17th century. (fn. 800) Tithes in Caludon, formerly paid to the priory, were granted to Thomas Reve and Giles Isham in 1554, (fn. 801) and tithes presumably not pertaining to the chapel came into the hands of Coventry corporation in the 17th century. (fn. 802)
was included in the list of chapelries appurtenant to St. Michael's which were granted to Coventry Priory in the 12th century, but probably only a grant of parochial rights was intended, and there is no evidence of a chapel there in the Middle Ages. (fn. 803) A modern tradition that one of the monks of the priory served Keresley from a cottage called the Priest's House in Sandpits Lane appears to have no foundation in fact. (fn. 804)
In 1410 the prior claimed only to be the rector, having the right of burial, tithes of grain and hay, and the profits from the woodland. (fn. 805) At the Dissolution the tithes, leased to Henry Over, were acquired in 1542 by Richard Andrewes and Leonard Chamberlain. (fn. 806) The tithes passed through various hands until 1629 when they were bought by Coventry corporation and in 1633 the income from their lease was devoted to the payment of Wheate's, Stone's, and Gayer's charities. The income rose from £18 in 1628, to £22 in 1675, £30 in 1715, £40 in 1750, and £245 in 1833. (fn. 807) The great tithes were commuted in 1847 for £228; those on Troughton's and Lamb's farms were then said to have been merged. This sum was in respect of tithes of corn, grass, hay, wood, wool, and lambs; a sum of £1 12s. 6d. was to be paid to the Vicar of St. Michael's for small tithes. (fn. 808)
There was a full investigation into the methods of paying tithes in 1705, during a dispute between Humphrey Burton, the lessee, and a tenant. (fn. 809) A difficult situation had arisen, in the partial clearance of Thievestake Wood, over the tithes of faggots and other wood, and the tithes of crops grown there Some of the tenants had been compounding for many years at a rate of 18d. in the £ of annual value for tithes, but there was no regular arrangement, and Burton's servants were still collecting some tithes in kind. In 1815 the inhabitants of Keresley led by John Burton established that when sums were being raised for the repair of St. Michael's, Keresley had anciently paid a fixed sum of 30s. and not a rate. (fn. 810)
In the 1840s the Established Church was particularly concerned with the spiritual care of the Coventry citizens who were moving to country houses in Keresley and Coundon. Services began to be held in their houses, and especially at Keresley House which was the home of William Thickins (d. 1873), curate of Exhall, from 1828 to 1846, and first vicar or perpetual curate of Keresley. (fn. 811) The decision, taken early in 1842, to build a church (fn. 812) resulted eventually in the consecration of St. Thomas's Church in 1847 and the creation of the chapelry of Keresley-with-Coundon in the following year. (fn. 813)
was included among the chapels attached to St. Michael's which were recognized as belonging to Coventry Priory in the 12th century. (fn. 814) In 1222 Geoffrey de Langley obtained a licence from the chaplain of St. Michael's to found a chantry in his chapel at Pinley and further permission to have a chantry there was granted by the bishop and the Prior of Coventry in 1238. (fn. 815) There is no later documentary evidence of the chapel's existence. The derelict building, said to have been standing near Aldermoor Lane south of Bigging in the 1860s, which has been identified as Pinley chapel was more likely to have been connected with Bigging in Stoke. (fn. 816)
was also included, by its ancient name of 'Bisseley', (fn. 817) in the 12th-century list of chapels belonging to Coventry Priory, (fn. 818) but the only remains of chapel buildings which have been found in or near this area seem unlikely to be those of Bisseley or Shortley chapel. (fn. 819)
For the 12th-century chapel at SPON which was then attached to St. Michael's, (fn. 820) see pp. 135, 332.
There is no medieval reference, after the 12th century, (fn. 821) to a chapel at WHITLEY, and there is no reference to one in the description of the priory's rectorial income from the estate in 1410-11. (fn. 822) The great tithes, with those of St. Michael's, came into the hands of the corporation after the Dissolution, and the small tithes remained in the hands of the Vicar of St. Michael's until 1846. (fn. 823)
An 'old chapel' mentioned by Dugdale as still existing in his day (fn. 824) was probably a private chapel attached to the manor-house. In the 19th century there was an unreliable tradition that the site of this chapel was then occupied by the stables of Whitley Abbey. (fn. 825)
The chapel of ST. MARY, standing in the graveyard attached to the cathedral church, was included among the chapels belonging to St. Michael's that were confirmed to Coventry Priory in 1183-4. (fn. 826) It was later known also as the chapel of St. Mary de Monte, the capella super montem, or the 'chapel on the hill'. It is probable that St. Mary's Guild used this chapel since the Trinity Guild was responsible for its upkeep in the 15th and 16th centuries. The guild, in the last of its ordinances, directed that the chapel gates should be kept open during the hours of certain services in St. Michael's, but otherwise nothing is known of its relationship with the parish church. The chapel was still being used, for a burial, in 1532-3 and was last referred to in 1538-9. (fn. 827)
ST. MICHAEL, Stoke. (fn. 828) A chapel was in existence at Stoke in the early 12th century when it was listed among the chapelries restored to Coventry Priory by the Earl of Chester. (fn. 829) An agreement between Coventry Priory and Combe Abbey in 1253 was made in Stoke chapel. (fn. 830) The chapel was appropriated to Coventry Priory in 1259. (fn. 831)
In 1410-11 the chapel was called 'the chapel of the hamlets of Stoke and Bigging'. The priory was then to ensure, by ancient custom, that services were held on three days each week, but the absence of references to a chaplain at that time suggests that the chapel was served from Coventry. It was said that people from Binley, probably only the priory's tenants there, were accustomed to attend the chapel, but there is no other evidence that they did so. The only income then mentioned was 8s. 8d. from the rent of the glebe land, except Parsonsmeadow which was kept in hand. Tithes were mentioned only in passing, (fn. 832) and were presumably collected directly by the officers of the priory.
In 1535 the priory's steward was receiving £4 16s. from the tithes of Stoke and Wyken. There was then a chaplain of Stoke, Thomas Perte, receiving a salary worth, together with the church dues, £5 12s. annually; he was also receiving 8s. as keeper of a chantry at Holy Trinity. (fn. 833) In 1545 there was a chaplain, also called a vicar, William Henryson or Harrison, who received £2 annually. (fn. 834) The tithes, which had been leased (with those of Wyken) to Thomas Trye in 1538, (fn. 835) were granted in 1553 to John Wright and Thomas Holmes, (fn. 836) while the right of presentation remained with the Crown. It is exercised on the Crown's behalf by the Lord Chancellor. (fn. 837) A full list of chaplains or vicars begins in 1598. (fn. 838) About 1593 both the chaplain, then called a curate, and the living were said to be inadequate. (fn. 839) A church house, with land appertaining to it, was first mentioned in 1605. (fn. 840) In 1612 the living was worth £5, in addition to two sums, 13s. 4d., the rent of the house then called the rectory with a quarter virgate, and £1, the rent of another house. (fn. 841) In 1616 Coventry corporation gave part of a rent in Stoke for the repair of the church there. (fn. 842)
A complex dispute about the great tithes, then worth £30 a year, began in 1636 and lasted at least until 1657; it was between the owners, the Smith family and others, the lessee, Abraham Boune, and the sublessees, Henry Horne and Christopher Randle, farmers in the parish. In the course of the dispute Randle, 'a passionate old man', had attacked a man sent by the owners to prevent him collecting the tithes. (fn. 843)
On the arrival of a new vicar, Richard Adrian, in 1669, a new dispute began, primarily about the small tithes, but also involving the status of the church Adrian described how he had been presented by the Lord Chancellor, instituted by the Bishop of Lichfield, and inducted by the Vicar of St. Michael's, and he claimed that at his presentation he was told that the church had been a chapel of ease until the reign of Henry VII, a parochial church thereafter, and presentative since the reign of Elizabeth. On Adrian's arrival his income had been discussed at a parish meeting. Two-thirds of those present had agreed to pay sums in lieu of small tithes, but the others had been in favour of a permanent arrangement, presumably the investment of a lump sum. After the meeting, only those who had agreed in fact paid for their small tithes. The others refused, excusing themselves with arguments about whether all the parish was titheable and what exactly were great and small tithes; when evidence was heard in 1689, however, the witnesses in general said that only the land of the impropriator himself was free of tithes, and the great tithes were grain and hay. (fn. 844)
In 1698 and 1701 the total value of the living was not stated; the rents, worth £1 8s. 4d., including £1 for the vicarage, a building of two bays, and £1 5s. interest from a sum of £25, were spent by the churchwarden on repairs to the church. Otherwise, the vicar was said to have the church dues and a rate of 3d. in the £ on the parish in lieu of small tithes. (fn. 845) By his will dated 1715 Christopher Horne gave nearly 23 acres of glebe land to the incumbent. (fn. 846) In 1730 the vicar was receiving £15 annually from the impropriator out of the great tithes, a shilling rate from the other occupiers in the parish for small tithes, and another £1 annually, probably from a sum invested. (fn. 847) The £15 a year was still being paid in 1765 and 1775 out of the tithes of corn and hay, together with a composition of £6 for small tithes. (fn. 848) The annual value of the living was £80 in 1778 and again in 1830. (fn. 849) The tithes were commuted by an award of 1840. (fn. 850) The gross income of £198 in 1886 was made up primarily of commuted tithes, which amounted to nearly £100, and the rent of £85 from the glebe which was then reckoned at just over 23 acres. (fn. 851) The income was £200 in 1911, £400 in 1929, and £750 in 1946. (fn. 852)
From 1669 to 1778 the livings of Stoke and Sowe were regularly held by one vicar. (fn. 853) In 1701 Coventry corporation (presumably as rector of St. Michael's) wrote to thank Lord Archer for procuring the two livings for their nominee. (fn. 854) The list of curates begins in 1763; from time to time they are described as curates of both Stoke and Sowe. (fn. 855) In 1778 the two benefices were formally united, and so remained until 1884. (fn. 856) Some indication of the temper of the parishioners at this time is given by the events on the arrival at Sowe of the new vicar, F. D. Perkins, in 1817 (fn. 857) at the time of the 'Stoke Wake' in October which was then still kept as a riotous holiday. Perkins himself was the first of a new type of clergyman which was to characterize the 19th century: he made additions and alterations to the fabric of the church and was active in local affairs in the parish, in Coventry, and in Foleshill Union. He also took a leading part in organizing a petition within the Archdeaconry of Coventry against the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. (fn. 858) A Sunday school was opened at Stoke in 1818, partly as a reaction to the building of the Independent Sunday school in 1813. It was first held for a time in Biggin Hall, before being transferred to two rooms in the parish workhouse. In 1839 it was moved to the building formerly occupied by the National school. (fn. 859)
After Perkins's death, the new vicar, Robert Arrowsmith, made further extensive alterations and repairs to the church which had been reported to be in poor condition in 1844. (fn. 860) Although the Stoke vicarage building was disused and let as glebe land, and the vicars were living at Sowe, (fn. 861) Arrowsmith insisted that a curate should live in Stoke. In 1866 he and the parishioners agreed that the parishes should be disunited when a vacancy occurred, and for at least part of his ministry there were curates at both Stoke and Sowe. (fn. 862) Arrowsmith, like Perkins, was active in public affairs. The Education Act of 1870 aroused strong feelings. Arrowsmith opposed the Act and its implementation, though most of the parishioners and the National School Committee welcomed it. He agreed to serve on the school board, but after a difficult period of office he resigned in 1878. He left his curate, Charles Paterson, to carry on the fight for the church's interests, and Paterson's hostility led to the resignation of the clerk to the board in 1883. (fn. 863)
On the resignation of Arrowsmith in 1884, the benefices of Stoke and Sowe were divided, and T. A. Blyth became the first Vicar of Stoke alone since the 17th century. Blyth was a scholar and a prolific author on a wide range of subjects, and in 1897 he published a discursive history of the parish. J. B. Twist, the prominent Coventry solicitor who died in 1885, left £250 for the building of a vicarage in Stoke, (fn. 864) and a house in the Gothic style was completed in 1894. (fn. 865) The church was also restored at this period (fn. 866) and the Brays Lane Parish Hall was built in 1908 to replace the National Sunday school. (fn. 867)
In 1913 part of Stoke parish was assigned to St. Margaret, Walsgrave Road, then recently built as a chapel of Stoke. (fn. 868)
A mission church, St. Chad, Upper Stoke, a redbrick building with a red-sandstone porch, was begun in Stratford Road in 1915. (fn. 869) The mission was transferred to Wyken as the result of a change in the boundaries of the ecclesiastical parishes made in 1924 (fn. 870) and was replaced in the same year by the building of the mission church of St. Andrew, Copsewood, off Binley Road. St. Andrew's was enlarged in 1949 (fn. 871) and the name changed in 1962 to St. Michael's Hall. It is also used as a Sunday school and parish hall. (fn. 872) St. Catherine, Stoke Aldermoor, a hall church in the Pondfield, was transferred from St. Anne's parish to that of Stoke in a boundary alteration of 1959. (fn. 873) The building was being enlarged in 1964.
The parish church of ST. MICHAEL stands in its graveyard on rising ground to the north of Walsgrave Road. It consists of an aisled nave, a chancel flanked by organ chamber and north chapel, north vestries, south porch, and west tower. The tower, the three western bays of the nave, and the corresponding bays of the south aisle, represent the only medieval work in the church; there are no visible remains of the 12th-century building.
The three bays at the west end of the south aisle are built of grey sandstone with red sandstone dressings and date from the 14th century. From at least the 18th century, and probably earlier, this was known as Home's aisle (fn. 874) and this fact has led to the belief that it was built by a member of the Home family (fn. 875) whose connexion with Stoke is first mentioned in the 16th century. (fn. 876) The architectural evidence does not, however, confirm this dating. To the east of the south doorway is a three-light window containing reticulated tracery, typical of the mid 14th century; the other windows have interlacing tracery of the same period. The pointed arch of the south doorway has large headstops internally and the corbels which supported the original roof are still in position. The three westernmost bays of the nave are probably also of the 14th century, but have been much restored. The arcade between nave and aisle consists of pointed arches supported on octagonal piers. The tower, of grey sandstone ashlar, has diagonal buttresses and rises in three stages to an embattled parapet. The interlacing tracery in the west window of the lowest stage suggests that the building of the tower was begun in the 14th century. The windows of the belfry stage, however, are characteristic of the following century.
The first extant reference to alterations in the church concerns the removal of a gallery in 1734. (fn. 877) An organ was acquired and set in a gallery at the west end of the church in 1819, soon after the arrival of F. D. Perkins as vicar. In 1822 a brick-built north aisle of three bays was erected and a vestry was built on the north side of the chancel. (fn. 878) By 1829 the accommodation had been further increased by 114 sittings. (fn. 879)
A major eastward extension of the church took place in 1860-1 during the incumbency of Robert Arrowsmith; the architect was James Murray. The existing small chancel and north vestry were demolished, the nave and aisles were all enlarged by two bays, and a new chancel was built. This work was carried out in stone in the style of the 14th century, the buttresses and windows of the original south aisle being copied in its eastward extension. The design of the existing nave arcade was also reproduced. Also in the 1860s the organ gallery was removed, the base of the tower was converted into a vestry, and the whole church was re-pewed and re-roofed. (fn. 880) The building was extensively repaired and restored in 1894-5. (fn. 881) Further improvements made in the early 20th century included the construction of a stone screen at the west end of the nave. (fn. 882)
A new south porch, of stone and timber, was built as a war memorial in 1931. (fn. 883) This replaced an earlier porch of unknown date. (fn. 884) In 1929 clergy and choir vestries were added on the north side of the church. (fn. 885) After the Second World War, during which the building had been shaken by bombing, the foundations were strengthened and alterations were made to the east end. These included the addition of a north chapel and a south organ chamber in 1952. (fn. 886)
The octagonal stone font is of the 14th or 15th century, and a carved piscina of about the same date has been re-set in the chancel. Some fragments of armorial glass were assembled in the west window of the tower during the extensions of 1860-1. (fn. 887) The church contains a Jacobean chair and chest, and a painted Royal Arms of 1820. The present organ, on the south side of the chancel, was presented in 1956. (fn. 888) Mural tablets, mostly re-set, include those to Mary Harwar (d. 1719), Ann Brockhurst (d. 1760), Charles Newcombes (d. 1815), and Canon T. A. Blyth (d. 1913). (fn. 889)
Up to 1902 there were three bells only, which at that date were never rung, owing to the decay of the woodwork; two (no. 6 and the former no. 2) were by John de Colsale and of early-15th-century date, and one (no. 4) of 1624 by Hugh Watts. In 1902 new fittings and framework were installed, no. 2 was recast, and nos. 3, 5, and 7 added as the gift of Joshua Perkins, who also gave a new treble and tenor in 1905. All the new bells were the work of John Taylor and Co. of Loughborough. (fn. 890) The ancient plate consisted of a large chalice and paten of uncertain date and a smaller chalice inscribed 1675. These vessels were replaced in 1882 by a silver set which was presented by Edward Ralphs. (fn. 891) Registers survive from 1573 and are largely complete, apart from a gap between 1649 and 1672. (fn. 892)
The remains of several medieval buildings, presumed to have been chapels, have been found in Stoke. Derelict farm buildings were said to have stood at the north end of Aldermoor Lane in the 1860s. Within an enclosure were the remains of two buildings, a two-storied, 16th-century house and a cottage with a barn attached; the barn apparently included walls of a medieval structure with two round-headed windows and what were thought to be traces of a piscina and a priest's door. The building seems to have been demolished by 1869. It was assumed to be the medieval Pinley chapel and was marked as such by the Ordnance Survey. (fn. 893) It is unlikely, however, that the attendance of residents in Pinley at a chapel in Stoke would have been unremarked in the records of St. Michael's parish, of which Pinley has always been part, but no such reference has been found. The building may more probably have been a chapel connected with the hamlet or manor-house of Bigging or with some other farm-house. (fn. 894)
In the early 20th century during the construction of the Harefield building estate another building was found in St. Osburg's Road, just off Walsgrave Road. It was described as orientated east-west, and as including an apparently Norman capital and remains of early-13th-century work. It was then presumed to be the medieval Bisseley or Shortley (fn. 895) chapel, but this seems unlikely. It would have lain a quarter of a mile inside the ancient parish of Stoke, whereas Shortley formed part of St. Michael's parish, and as the chapel would have been only 500 yards from Stoke church on the east it is not clear what its function on this site could have been. It is possible that one or other of these buildings had been merely a substantial medieval farm-house.
The chapel of St. Chad of Stoke was mentioned in two deeds of about 1250 and 1300 which between them provided for the maintenance there of a chantry, the yearly obit of Rose, widow of Thomas de Ardern, and a light before St. Mary's altar. (fn. 896) This chapel was assumed by George Eld, the 19thcentury antiquary, to have been the same as the present parish church which seems to have been dedicated to St. Michael (fn. 897) for most of its history. It is possible that the 12th-century chapel, which was superseded by the present church building in the 14th century, was originally dedicated to St. Chad, but nothing is subsequently recorded of the upkeep of the chantry, the obit, or the light in St. Michael's, and there is, as already indicated, enough evidence for the existence of several other medieval chapels in Stoke to suggest that St. Chad's may have been one of them.
In 1410-11 a piece of land in Shortcroft was described as lying next to the chapel of St. Anne. (fn. 898) This chapel may have been one of the buildings mentioned above, but is more likely to have been the chapel or hermitage of St. Anne in Shortley. (fn. 899)