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St Mary's Priory ruins and Hill Top

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Helen F
Warrington
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16 of 19  Sun 14th Jan 2018 2:02pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:827

I keep hoping the monks would have posted a few selfies with St Mary's in the background but it seems they must have deleted their internet history Wink Seriously now - I don't know the oldest but there are a batch of Wingrave photos from the 1860s. There are lower quality photos but they're not necessarily older. Birmingham may possess some older photos from their early glass plate photographer collections but I've not been able to get much joy from their archivists in finding out what they might have.
Local History and Heritage - St Mary's Priory ruins and Hill Top
Helen F
Warrington
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17 of 19  Sun 14th Jan 2018 4:31pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:827

Thanks Anne. Yes, that panorama is from a similar position. When you look at both the Smyth sketch and the tapestry, it looks like the remaining St Mary's tower was a substantial size, easily visible even though St Mary's was just over the ridge. It would have looked slightly less prominent when the rest of the cathedral was there, because the main body of the church came well up the tower but a fair old size regardless. The tapestry conundrum is the number of spire like objects between the V of WIKAV and a crenelated tower to the right. 5 in total. Is the first, small one the Coventry Cross or the west end towers of St Mary's? Is the next tower Holy Trinity but with St Michael's markings? Is the tower with the witchy poo hat the central crossing tower or the west end towers? Is the next tower St Michaels? Is the final tower the central crossing tower of St Mary's or did St Mary's have a tower on its apse? Thought provoking.
Local History and Heritage - St Mary's Priory ruins and Hill Top
moriarty
allesley park coventry
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18 of 19  Mon 15th Jan 2018 11:36am  
Member: Joined Oct 2017  Total posts:6

I wonder if I might put forward a few suggestions about those early engravings of the Priory. I did once approach George D of the council with my idea and it didn't go so well! Overall it was a "NO" and a very pitying look. However, I was quite interested in post 12. I hadn't seen this image before. The church buildings are missing, it's clearly from the north - the Bastille gate in the middle, Bablake would be far right, the Priory and Bablake have been shifted an equal amount to the left. The interesting thing is the height of the Priory in the picture. Now if you examine Hollier's engraving, it's very accurate (in my opinion) - the south shows the fortlet or Caesars tower and the north the Cross where it would stand. Now if you look at the side of St Michael's there is a door half way along in the engraving (unfortuately I only have this cr*p copy), there is also something that resembles a door, but it's nothing like the door in St Michael's. If you enlarge the image it appears more like a tower and would have been obscuring the side door. It rises above the building of St Michael's and is almost the same height as post 12. It was known that the central tower was kept after the Priory was dismantled - this engraving by Hollier is 100 years on but it could still be and would definitely be on the engraving (ignore the captions, only the cross would be correct).

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Local History and Heritage - St Mary's Priory ruins and Hill Top
Helen F
Warrington
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19 of 19  Mon 15th Jan 2018 1:18pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:827

You're in good company Moriarty. Coventry is very confusing and all the experts have conflicting theories. There are many images of Coventry with deceptive clues. Some are just obscure, others are made up. Two of my favourite images turned out to be pure fiction. Sad St Michael's did have a prominent north door and many steps up to it, giving it the impression it was window height. Apart from the Spon Street gate and Greyfriars gate, I don't think any of the other gates had round or square side towers by Hollar's day. He doesn't show them on the map and they weren't in evidence in later images/maps. Apart from New Gate on the London road, I'm not sure that they ever did have the kind of gate you'd expect from a castle. The wall wasn't tall enough or strong enough to repel a serious attack. The Bastille gate wasn't that prominent. In later images it grew taller due to additional building and a roof. Looking from the north it was framed by the mill on the left and the mill pond/river on the right. So why does Hollar show towers at the Cook Street gate? The best explanation I can come up with is based on modelling. When you get the churches in roughly the right position, the Cook Street gate is in direct line with the corner tower of the wall where it turns sharply towards Bishop Gate. It looks like a gate with a tower but the gate and the tower are actually about 30m apart. There may have been another round tower where the wall turns towards the Swanswell gate but none of the maps show one. I think that Hollar misinterpreted his sketch and added a tower to a gate that had none because one tower would have looked wrong.
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