This week I am wandering to the city where I grew up. Coventry, in the Midlands, is a city with a long history. It is where Godiva rode the streets naked, where the original Peeping Tom first looked at what he shouldn’t, where kingmakers, nobility and powerful abbeys once ruled together. It’s where the phrase ‘true blue’ was coined, said to refer to a particular type of blue dyed cloth made in the city during the middle ages, which held its colour very well. Coventry was also a major stopping post on the way to London, so prisoners of rank, including Mary, Queen of Scots, were held here for a time before being transferred to the Tower for execution. During that time, no-one would speak to them for fear of being seen as a sympathiser, hence the idea that no-one speaks to you when you’ve been ‘sent to Coventry.’
In the 1930’s, three acres of some of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe were razed to accommodate new, wider streets and modern businesses. At the time, it was denounced as an act of vandalism in the press. Then the Second World War came, and much of the remaining town centre was destroyed in a single night of bombing on November 14, 1940, codenamed Moonlight Sonata by the Luftwaffe. There are theories that Churchill was aware of the bombing before it happened, but chose not to alert the city as it would have signalled that the Allies had cracked the Enigma code, so the city was sacrificed ‘for the greater good.’ However, these claims have never been proven.
After the war Coventry city centre was rebuilt, with modern architecture covering most of what remained. However, there are still little pockets of history hidden away, and Ford’s Hospital is one of them.
Built in 1509 as an almshouse for women, the hospital was badly damaged during the 1940’s blitz. Restored in the 1950’s, it is now seen as one of the finest examples of its type in the UK. When attempting to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the designers came to Ford’s Hospital to understand Elizabethan doorways (thanks, Wikipedia!).
So on a recent trip home, I went for a wander through the town centre, taking the alleyway down by what was once Habitat and is now just a shop selling tat, to find myself outside the hospital. It’s still in use, a modern (and fairly sympathetic) extension extending the original living quarters. The little garden on the side was green and well-tended, while Christmas lights sparkled in the ancient inner courtyard. And I took these photos, to share with you.
Thanks for joining me on another Wednesday Wander! 🙂