The most useful thing to come out of lockdown – a model of Coventry in 1509

So what did you do in lockdown? Lose or put on weight? Realise just how difficult it is to play a musical instrument? Discover or rediscover cookery or gardening? Decorate? Realise that teachers probably do need and deserve those long summer holidays? Write half a chapter of the book you’ve been talking about writing for years and then sink back in front of the telly? Or just carry on working the job you’ve been doing for years with no change apart from having to put up with all your mates keep telling you what they’ve been doing with all this time they have on their hands?


Well without doubt, the person who from a Coventry perspective has won first prize in lockdown is Peter Garbett, who decided that the best use of his time, which was eight hours a day seven days a week, would be to build a model of Coventry, from 1509.

As they would have been in 1509, (but viewed from where the top of the mast in Broadgate is today) from the left: St Marys Cathedral and Priory, Holy Trinity Church, Michaels Church.
As they would have been in 1509, from the left: St Marys Cathedral and Priory, Holy Trinity Church, St Michaels Church (which became the Cathedral in 1918).

Back in March, Peter told the Evening Telegraph why he chose 1509:
“Henry VIII had just come to just come to the throne, so he hadn’t started his destructive bit, taking down the churches and things. Coventry at that point had built all its walls, they were all in place and all its gates were pristine.”

Greyfriars Spire (later Greyfriars Spire (later known as Christchurch, now Dhillons) before the first time it lost it's attached building. On the Right Cheylesmore Manor House, part of which survives as the registry office.as Christchurch, now Dhillons) back when it had a building attached. On the Right Cheylesmore Manor House, part of which survives as the registry office.
Greyfriars Spire (later known as Christchurch, now Dhillons) before the first time it lost it’s attached building. On the top right is Cheylesmore Manor House, part of which survives today as the registry office.

“We also had some fantastic Tudor buildings, like Bablake Hospital and Ford’s Hospital in England, and I wanted to include those into into into the timeline. So 1509 was just about the best time I could, I could get to without, you know, losing some of the stuff you know. So it’s a great time.”

Whitefriars in 1509. You know that old building by the London Road/Gulson Road ring road junction? Well that's a tiny bit of the building on the left of this picture. The spire would be in the middle of the ring road today.
Whitefriars in 1509. You know that old building by the London Road/Gulson Road ring road roundabout? Well that’s a tiny bit of the building on the left of this picture. The spire would be in the middle of the ring road today.

At the time he said that
“I just want to get it into somewhere where it can be properly displayed, and everybody can come and see it and get some enjoyment out of it. I think people would get a lot of enjoyment from going and seeing it.”20210507_163848

Well it might not have a permanent place to be displayed as of yet, but for now you can go down to the Central Library and see it through May and June.

St John the Baptist Church. I should really go back and take that photo again to get Spon Gate (you can see the top of it at the bottom) in properly..
St John the Baptist Church. I should really go back and take that photo again to get Spon Gate (you can see the top of it at the bottom) in properly…..

Besides picking out the buildings that are still there, surely the thing that most people will do is stand in awe at the sheer scale of St Marys Cathedral, and how it dwarves not only Holy Trinity, which it literally hidden behind it from some angles, but also St Michaels Church, which would go on to become the Cathedral and then Cathedral Ruins.

As they would have been in 1509, (but viewed from the 19-sorey Coventry University building on Priory Street that got knocked down a couple of years ago) from the left: St Michaels Church, Holy Trinity Church, St Marys Cathedral and Priory.
As they would have been in 1509,  from the left: St Michaels Church, Holy Trinity Church, St Marys Cathedral and Priory.

Here’s hoping that a permanent place for it to be displayed will be found soon.

The map which appears at the start of the video forms part of the colouring book “Coventry’s Medieval Story”, by Peter R Wilford, available from the Herbert Museum.

Published by skybluecitywalks

Guided Walks of Coventry, the UK Capital of Culture 2021

2 thoughts on “The most useful thing to come out of lockdown – a model of Coventry in 1509

  1. Fantastic piece of work from my little brother who is passionate about Coventry and deserves all the credit that comes to him

    Like

  2. This topic has always fascinated me as a child as we did it at school , still continuing to do so today and I’m 70 now

    Like

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