Charm of the English country

Coventry

When I expressed my desire to visit Coventry to a friend in London, he raised his eyebrows, gave a sly smile and said that in English language “sending someone to Coventry” means to ostracise that person.

According to a folktale, Lady Godiva rode on a horse in the nude in Coventry to make its ruler waive taxes and had exhorted the inhabitants not to look at her. When a tailor by name Tom drilled a hole on his door and caught a glimpse of Godiva, he was instantly struck blind and the phrase “peeping Tom” originated from this tale.

The statue of Godiva stands prominently in the city centre of Coventry, which is 150 km away from London. Coventry is the 12th largest city in UK and has traditionally been the home of automobile industry in England. Because of its heritage, the Transport Museum is the pride of the place.

The Transport Museum has more than 240 cars and commercial vehicles, hundreds of motorcycles and bicycles. I was fascinated to see vintage cars such as Triumph, Humber, Standard etc. Three of the famous exhibits are the Daimler car used by Queen Mary (1935), a car featured in the film Back to the Future, and the staff car of General Montgomery during World War II.

It was in Coventry Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of Jet engine, and J K Starley, the founder of Rover Car Company, were born. Sir Whittle’s statue as well as an arch named after him is erected in front of the Museum. There is also a time zone clock showing world times nearby.

Coventry suffered vast damage during the World War II. On November 14, 1940, the German Air Force attacked Coventry, damaging over 4,000 houses and killing more than 1,000 people.

The most important site in Coventry is St Michael’s Cathedral. This church was built in the late 14th century and was destroyed during the German bombing. Only the tower, spire and the outer wall of this church now remain. The spire is 300 feet high and is the tallest structure in the city.

The cathedral, which was severely damaged during the war, has a wooden cross and the Cross of Nails, which are its centre of attraction. Adjacent to the ruins a new cathedral was built in 1962. A sculpture of St Michael’s Victory over the Devil is placed on the outer wall of this building.

Two important universities in UK, namely the University of Warwick and Coventry University are located in and around Coventry. In the outskirts of Coventry lies Meridian, a village which is described as the exact midpoint of United Kingdom. There is a stone stake showing the traditional centre of England.

Coventry is home to a large Asian population because of its motor industry. There are a number of Asian and Indian shops and restaurants in and around Coventry.

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