The Coventry Cathedral Ruins: Historical Timeline, Directions, Things To Do

Are you ready to travel through time by revisiting one of Coventry’s oldest historical landmarks? 

The original Coventry Cathedral of St Michael dates back to the early 15th century. The historical cathedral has lived an enthralling life and stands today as the centrepiece of the UK city of Coventry.

Get ready to explore the spire, tower, and church of both the old and new Cathedral when you visit this important historical site! 

Read more: 
Be sure to explore the West Midland region and take a quick trip from Coventry to Birmingham

When in the area, check out these historical Castles in Birmingham

This Article Contains 

Information About the Coventry Cathedral Ruins

Coventry Cathedral’s Remarkable History

2 Reasons to Visit the New Cathedral

  1. Architecture and Art
  2. Events and Activities

FAQs About the Cathedral Ruins

Information About the Coventry Cathedral Ruins

Address: Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5RN, United Kingdom
Phone Number: +44 24 7652 1200
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday, 9 am – 5 pm 
Ticket Fees: Free entry (donations encouraged)

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Coventry Cathedral’s Remarkable History

The original Coventry Cathedral was known as the Parish Church of St Michael, before the Coventry Blitz of 1940. It stood alongside three other beautiful churches in the West Midlands, one of which is the Cathedral of St Mary. 

You can still visit the jaw-dropping landmark today, even though most of it stands in ruins post-World War II. One of the most transformational periods for the United Kingdom was the years during World War II. 

The old Coventry Cathedral ruins are now next to the magnificent new Cathedral. 

Visiting these stunning landmarks will give you insight into the importance of this historical transformation! 

The Old Cathedral

The early 15th century Church of Saint Michael was bombed to ruins in the Coventry blitz. The ruins were left behind in the UK city so we can visit and remember the tumultuous and sad time of war. 

Visit the Blitz Museum in Coventry to learn more about this important wartime event. 

One of the oldest surviving artefacts is the Charred Cross a burnt cross found by stonemason Jock Forbes after the World War II bombing. 

The tower, spire, and outer wall survived the blitz, while the rest of the historic cathedral was left in rubble. 

Prepare to experience the remnants of World War II when you step onto this site of remembrance. 

The New Cathedral 

A stark feature of the new Coventry Cathedral is that it was built alongside the Old Coventry Cathedral ruins in 1962.  

Provost Howard and Basil Spence wanted the stark contrast between the two to teach us that rebuilding and growing from disaster is always possible. 

The new Cathedral of St Michael has quickly become one of the most opulent and magnificent attractions in the United Kingdom. It is also one of the most visited sites in Coventry.

When you step onto the Cathedral church grounds, expect a striking medieval yet modern building designed by the great architect Sir Basil Spence. Spence was knighted for his work in designing the new Coventry Cathedral. 

The West Midlands public embraces the New Cathedral as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. 

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2 Reasons to Visit the New Cathedral

There is a lot to experience at the new Cathedral church, including breathtaking architecture, gorgeous tapestries, and historical symbols and art. 

Let’s take a closer look:

1. Architecture and Art

When designing St Michaels Cathedral, Basil Spence, along with Provost Richard Howard, were adamant that the old cathedral remain intact. 

So you’ll have a chance to visit the old remnants and the new tower, spire, and parish church. 

Here are a few of the great art and architectural pieces to check out:

  • Saint Michael Defeats the Devil: The outer wall of the cathedral is decorated with sculptures, including Jacob Epstein’s Saint Michael Defeats the Devil. 
  • Coventry Cross of Nails: The sorrowful Coventry Cross of Nails was donated by the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. Provost Howard was the visionary behind the Coventry Cross of Nails exhibit.

The Coventry Cross of Nails has been honoured by reverend John Witcombe. He speaks about remembering this site as a parish church that became a Cathedral on the formation of the Coventry Diocese in 1914.

The Cross of Nails has also been carried on board many British warships, including the HMS Coventry. 

  • Christ in Glory Tapestry: Inside the new Cathedral, you will find a spectacular tapestry, designed by Graham Sutherland, decorating the interior walls. 
  • The Tablets of the Word: The foundational stones within the Cathedral walls, known as the Tablets of the Word, were engraved by German artist Ralph Beyer.
  • The Screen of Saints and Angels: This was engraved by John Hutton in 1962. 
  • Huyshe Yeatman Biggs Effigy: A bronze effigy of the church’s first-ever bishop, Huyshe Yeatman Biggs, is one of the only artefacts to have survived the Coventry Blitz bombing. 
  • 195 Colourful Window Panes: John Piper designed over 195 colourful panes.

John Piper was an official war artist during the second world war.

  • Lady Chapel: The intimate and holy Lady Chapel – a small section devoted to prayer and worship.

    The windows within the Lady Chapel were designed by modernist artist Einar Forseth. 

The sculptures and art represent the strides that the United Kingdom and Germany took in reconciling their battles from the past. 

These pieces are a must-see if, you’re a history buff or an art connoisseur. 

The Cathedral also routinely hosts art exhibitions, showcasing many pieces borrowed from galleries in Birmingham and Coventry, including the Herbert Art Gallery.

2. Events and Activities 

When the new Coventry Cathedral first opened, a performance of War Requiem, written by Benjamin Britten, was performed. 

A host of events continue the tradition of using the Cathedral grounds as a space for performance, art, and community gatherings.

Here are some upcoming events to check out in the rest of 2022: 

Type of EventsEvents and Dates
Art Exhibitions Andy Farr: Portraits of Coventry (2 Aug – 30 Aug)
Performances and DramaJane Eyre: Outdoor Theatre (25 August)
ScreeningsOpen Air Cinema (June – September)
Ice SkatingCoventry Glides (approved by the Coventry City Council) (November – January)
ActivitiesTower Climb (all year round)

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FAQs About the Cathedral Ruins

If you’re planning to visit the Cathedral ruins soon and want more information, here’s what you need to know: 

Is the Cathedral Accessible for All People?

The entire Cathedral, and both entrance points, are only on one level. No stairs or ramps need to be traversed to enter the venue. 

Historic England and the Coventry City Council paved smooth slabs around the Cathedral. There are also toilets for disabled people in the Cathedral church. 

Is There Any Transport Near the Cathedral? 

There are a few bus and train stations within walking distance of the Cathedral on Priory street. 


  • Herbert Gallery (ES1) (2 min walk)
  • Trinity Street (4 min walk)


  • Coventry (15 min walk)
  • Canley (40 min walk)

What are Other Attractions Near the Coventry Cathedral?

The Coventry Cathedral is the centrepiece of the city, so you won’t have to travel far to see a variety of other sights. 

These are a few of the great attractions near the Cathedral ruins. Historic England has worked hard to create landmarks worth visiting!

  • Herbert Art Gallery and Museum 
  • Blitz Museum
  • Coventry Transport Museum 
  • War Memorial Park 
  • Coventry Music Museum 

Cathedral of St Mary