• Phil

A Tudor tapestry and a few more tunnels.....

I've attended two interesting events over the last two evenings. On Thursday I went along to the Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon to watch "Coventry's Tudor Inheritance: The Wars of The Roses, The Royal Tapestry and Shakespeare - The Film". On Friday I went along to the Unitarian Church on Holyhead Road to hear a talk on local history by Larry Watson to the Greyfriars Arts & Recreation group

I had intended to take a stroll around the "Earlsdon Trail" before going toThursday's event but it was a pretty wet evening. I did pause in Moor St to have a brief look at the old nail factory and to contemplate the other buildings mentioned on the trail plaque on Earlsdon library which I had been looking at a few days ago . The Imperial Cinema had stood on the corner of Earlsdon Street and Moor St. Another local cinema on Albany Road is now a performing arts centre. The Criterion theatre itself sits at the site of an old chapel next to some wevers cottages on Berkeley Road.

Berkeley Road is an apt venue for a performance concerning Coventry's connections with the Wars of the Roses, the Tudors and Shakespeare. During the renaissance period the aristocratic Berkely family resided at Caludon Castle and had strong links with the Bard. The film included quotes from Shakespeare's Richard II along with a brief description of Thomas Mowbray's ride out from Caludon Castle to duel with Henry Bolinbroke on Gosford Green. King Richard abandoned the duel then banished the combatants and confiscated their lands. He was later to be overthrown by Bolinbroke who became Henry IV (quotes from Shakespeare's histories around his life were also given alongside some from the plays regarding Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III). Both Henry IV and Henry VI held pariliament in Coventry and all of the quotes were chosen for links with our city.

Present at the event was Peter Wilford of the City of Coventry Freemen's Guild. The guild grew out of the medieval trades guilds and still holds meetings for its members at St Mary's Hall. The tapestry in the guild hall was one of the themes of the event. Peter has paid a big part in promoting the guild hall. It was Peter who published the colouring book (an excellent local history resource) mentioned in one of my previous "Busy researching and colouring in" post. I have also reported details about the tapestry in my post "Our tapestry and the editing of history". It seems unfortunate that as we approach Coventry's 2021 City of Culture status that the Guild Hall will not re-open until April of that year.

Peter recently introduced me to the Greyfriars Art and Recreation group which brings me on to Friday evening. Prior to Friday's event at the Unitarian Church I was informed that the church was home to the oldest Hammond Organ in the country and venue for Coventry's , Welsh speaking congregation. The Greyfriars Arts & Recreation group meets there every Friday and also provides for cultural visits to local sites, theatre performances and walks during the week. I was impressed by the turnout, the welcoming atmosphere and enthusiasm for local history amongst the groups members.

Larry's informative talk covered many aspects of Coventry and Warwickshire history - the Sowe Valley walk, experiences of his time working at Hatton Hospital (which he described as self sufficent and "city like"), further experiences in work at the early years of the motor museum, Coventry's leper hospitals, unsolved murders and a subject which has inspired me to plan a little walk - Folly Lane tunnels.

Folly Lane tunnels are listed "buildings" which can be accessed from London Road and lead to Humber Road (which was called Folly Lane until the Humber Company built their factory there. The tunnels which give access under railway lines were used by locals as makeshift air raid shelters during WW2. One of the railways was the local loop line serving local mines, power stations and industries. I'm planning a walk around its route and will report on here as my "Coventry Ramble" project continues.........


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