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Priory Visitor Centre, Coventry Canal and the Lichfield Connection

Having worked as a volunteer at the Priory Visitors Centre for just over a year between February 2018 and March of this year the closure of this resource due to funding issues came as a bit of a blow. I had hoped to resume volunteering there and work alongside their dedicated team to help showcase an important site in local and national history.


The Visitors Centre displayed artefacts recovered from the site (Coventry's first cathedral and associated priory - both destroyed under the reign of Henry VIII) and provided guided tours of the ruins of both. It also became home to community initiatives and a venue which promoted and supported local Social Enterprises under the able stewardship of Carole Donnelly. It is closely linked to the Godiva story and has been home to English Parliament and prolonged visits by several monarchs. It is a site which richly deserves to be properly funded and to play a major part in the "City of Culture" celebrations.


Another one of my local interests is the Coventry Canal - which together with the Vistors Centre buildings shares important links to Lichfield. The footbridge which links the Canal Basin to the City Centre across the ring road is accessed via Bishop Street at the town side and St Nicholas Road at the basin side. These roads are the Coventry end of the ancient road to Lichfield. Bishop Street was so named as the Bishops of Coventry and Lichfield (a joint Diocese) would travel along there journeying between the twin seats of Coventry and Lichfield. Lichfield Cathedral is considered to share many similarities with the destroyed sister cathedral of St Mary's in Coventry and helps to build an impression of how the latter may have looked.


Coventry Canal was financed by local colliery owners who employed the famed engineer James Brindley. The completion of the canal from Coventry to Fradley Junction (near to Lichfield) fulfilled Brindley's vision of a national waterways network connecting England's navigable rivers together. The Coventry Canal connects to the Trent & Mersey Canal at Fradley and to the Oxford Canal at Hawkesbury Junction.


Whilst playing in a national backgammon tournament over the weekend I was very interested to discover that one of my opponents lives in an historical listed building at Fradley Junction closely connected to the history of the canal - a visit is in order and hopefully more to report soon!

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