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City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)

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Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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31 of 151  Sat 6th Jan 2018 10:41am  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:1573

6th Jan 1329 King Edward III granted Coventry the charter to build the City Wall on this day - although it was about 17 years later before the first stone was actually laid.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Roger T
Torksey
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32 of 151  Sun 7th Jan 2018 11:35am  
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I took the opportunity of reading your underlined very interesting history of the city wall, which indeed brought it to "life" and also commented on its demise. One thought that ran through my mind during reading - that must have been an awful lot of stone, where did it come from and what happened to it when it was demolished. As a confirmed DIYer, I`m sure if I was alive and had a bit of land, I would have liked a chance to recycle it. Are there any records of how the local building industry operated in those days? Presumably through Guilds?

Question

City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Midland Red
Cherwell
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33 of 151  Sun 7th Jan 2018 1:37pm  
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British History Online states: The greater part of the modern city is on Permian Breccia and Sandstone, with a ridge of Triassic Keuper Sandstone giving place to Keuper Red Marls on the eastern side. If you type "sandstone" into the search facility on this forum, there are many references to the vast amounts of the material available and buildings etc constructed therefrom Thumbs up
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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34 of 151  Sun 7th Jan 2018 3:15pm  
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One of the reasons Coventry started was because of the excellent resources. Shelton's articles document finding quarries for stone in Broadgate and sand at the Burges for the castle that were later turned into waste pits and cellars. The bulk of the wall was sourced from places like the Cheylesmore park, where a big open pit developed. There doesn't seem to have been a massive team involved and the wall progressed fairly slowly. The south sections were finished first (after about 41 years) to protect the Lord's side but the north took some effort to extract money from the prior and the poorer people in the north. A lot of time they were just repairing the wall they'd already built. When the wall was demolished it seems to have taken 500 men a mere 3 weeks. The stone was sold to anyone who wanted it and vanished very quickly to build boundary walls and anything you would imagine needed a nice bit of dressed stone. Initially some the walls probably remained at a lower height as boundary walls and were only fully demolished when the land was redeveloped. A good example is the stretch from Cook Street to Bishop street. Other walls were largely intact. The gatehouses were untouched but mostly converted into homes. The demolition was stopped abruptly when Charles II realised that the work had been over done and even the south range of his own manor had been demolished since it was part of the walls. Edited by member, 7th Jan 2018 3:19 pm
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Roger T
Torksey
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35 of 151  Tue 9th Jan 2018 10:12pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2019  Total posts:556

Thank you MR and Helen F for the information. Obviously the material was handy close by to build it, but it was the 3 week demolition period that caught my eye. I can`t see even in modern times with JCBs and Monteverdis etc that it would be done and I`m sure it was all hand labour in those days, possibly with picks and crow bars, but even mortar joints can set pretty tough after 41 years. I got out my estimating fag packet and put a few calculations on the back of it. Length of wall 2.125 miles 11,220ft Less 12 Gate Houses - allow 30ft each 360ft Nett wall length 10,860ft Width 8ft Height 12ft 10,860 x 8 x 12 = 1,042,560 cu ft = 38,613 cu yds Avg weight Sandstone/mortar 135lb x 27 = 1.63 tons per cu yard Demolition 500 men x 3 weeks x 84 hrs (6am-6pm 7days) = 126,000 hrs Allow 25 hours hand labour demolition time per cu yard Assume half the height of wall only demolished - 38,613 = 19,306 cu yards x 15 hrs = 28,950 hrs I think somebody has been telling antique porkies - I`ll bet it took at least 6 months, and that`s all without carting away the debris and clearing site - if most of it was decent squared off stone, if I was the contractor I`d be selling it off Cheers
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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36 of 151  Wed 10th Jan 2018 10:21am  
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Good points but what remains now, isn't the same as what remained then. Look at the 1750 Bradford map to see how much still stood after a 100 years of additional wall robbing. Bradford map Another thing that may have happened is the exterior dressed stone might have been stripped and the core left exposed. They may have undermined sections of the wall and toppled them into the ditch. The wall doesn't seem to have had foundations as we'd know them, they were often just sat on the soil or pilings so toppling was a viable method. It was a trick used of old to break into castles. Then the king's men would have removed the good stuff and the rest they left in the ditch and may still be there. They might have used gunpowder. They might have done deals with locals to help them or just demanded it (remember, Coventry was on the losing side). Random bits of the wall may have remained but quickly removed by the locals as they were pointless on their own. The demolition crew concentrated on the south, since that seems to have been the most accessible direction. The north was more protected by the nature of the land including boggy areas and the rivers. The Cheylesmore manor may have only been affected because it was between the Much Park Street and Greyfriars gates. There doesn't seem to be much evidence of crenellations after 1650, so that might have been part of the initial job, plus removing the defensive parts of the gatehouses. Sadly much of the wall was a victim of Coventry's own plans along with the buildings we know were lost to development. External attacks were only part of the story.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
baffled54
usa
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37 of 151  Sat 3rd Feb 2018 12:33am  
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ajm

City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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38 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 10:33am  
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As most of you know, I'm trying to model the city and the model is now giving up evidence of its own. Two of the most iconic images of the city are the north and south prospects of the city by Wenceslaus Hollar. Zoomable copy of the images at the British Library If you zoom in to the Cook Street gate (left of centre, bottom view, labelled number 2), you see two fine round towers. This has led a great many people to assume, not unreasonably, that the gate had round towers. But I really don't think it did. 1) Only two gates were reliably drawn with side towers (Greyfriars and Spon Street). Gosford probably had them at one time but they were built into the Chapel. Newgate on the London road probably had them too but they'd gone by the time the Speed map was drawn. These were all the major gates, with the exception of Bishop Gate. So why did the most insignificant gate have a set? 2) The map doesn't show it having round towers. 3) The Hollar image was just before the wall was demolished. Now I could understand the towers being brought down as part of that process but if you look at the picture of the gate above, you'll notice that the ditch goes right up to the gate. There is no area that could have been the platform for a tower. Who would have recut the ditch AFTER the tower was demolished? 4) What I think the Hollar prospect shows is a corner tower about 30m away from the gate, where the wall turned towards Bishop Street. The next round tower to the right would be the one that was next to where the Post Office depot used to be. The square tower beyond that is what I think was an ammunition tower on Dogge Lane, a short way from the Bishop Street gate. I think he saw the round wall tower and the gate in line and thought they were together. He either added a second tower to the gate or there was another tower (maybe the Swanswell gate) that optically got merged into one. When he got back to his desk, the final draft looked like a grand gate with towers. So I think on balance that the Cook Street gate had no round towers. Edited by member, 9th Feb 2018 10:44 am
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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39 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 11:09am  
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From the same south prospect, the wall looks like it runs through the Cook Street gate and then off to the left. Actually the wall to the left of the gate is quite a bit further away than the wall on the right. It's the stretch of wall that runs round Pool Meadow and the round tower on the far left is the tower that joined up the two stretches of wall in the Cox Street car park MR photographed in post 18.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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40 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 1:03pm  
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Helen, I don't know if this is any help. From "History of Coventry" by Taunton. 1869. there are also Taunton's pictures of the gates. I would think you have these but if not I will scan them for you. "From the granting of the first license to the monks, up to the time of the completion, comprised a period of nearly seventy years ; and the actual building, which commenced in 1355, occupied about forty years. The wall was three miles in circumference, and about three yards in thickness. It contained thirty-two towers, including twelve gates. There was a tower near Bishop-gate, also Lady-tower, and a round tower at White Friars Mill; a round tower near Lady-tower; a tower in the Pool Yard; one in Cheylesmore Close; and sixteen smaller towers. The gates were as follows: New-gate, Gosford Gate, Bastil-gate (Mill Lane), Priory gate , Cook Street Gate, Bishop gate, Well Street gate, Hill Street gate, Spon Gate, Grey Friars gate, Cheylesmore gate and Little Park Street gate. It appears, however, that a small portion of the wall as originally erected, was some years afterwards taken down and re-built on another site; for in the year 1461, Prior Shotswell represented to the mayor, William Pere, that the wall standing on various parts of his ground, was a serious injury to the priory, and he therefore entreated, that instead of its being built on the course of the river from the Priory Mill to Bastil Mill on the north, that it should enclose his stews ans St Osburg's Pool. This request was evidently complied with as is proved by the still-existing traces of the wall in a line forming the northern boundary of the Pool Meadow from Priory Gate."
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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41 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 1:27pm  
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Thanks Anne, I haven't got that book but I've got ones that reference it. "he therefore entreated, that instead of its being built on the course of the river from the Priory Mill to Bastil Mill on the north, that it should enclose his stews ans St Osburg's Pool. This request was evidently complied with as is proved by the still-existing traces of the wall in a line forming the northern boundary of the Pool Meadow from Priory Gate." It's that bit of wall you can see to the left. Originally the wall ran in a rough line with the Cook Street and Swanswell gates to the river. Shelton dug up the remains.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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42 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 6:31pm  
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Yes, and the fabulous Bradford survey map of 1749 once again shows us wonderfully, not only the final line of the wall, but the clues to its original path too, supporting what you've both said. If we look at the section where the word SHERBOURNE shows the river skirting the southern edge of what is now Pool Meadow, we can see the wall to the north of it defining a roughly rectangular piece of ground - the Prior's fishing pool, which he demanded be protected from outsiders. The short piece of wall running south-east from Priory Gate takes an unusual sudden turn eastwards - obviously not the way it would've been built if it had been planned to encompass the pool from the outset. But the map also clearly indicates a dotted line continuing south-east from that stub of wall, which makes me ninety-nine point ten (!) percent certain that this was the wall's initial location - something also supported by J. B. Shelton, as you mentioned, Helen. If I could ever have the opportunity to request an archaeological dig or two, it would be just under the north edge of the Old Fire Station, where we would hope to find the place where the wall "turns" - and just outside the entrance to the Swimming Baths in Fairfax Street, where the wall rejoins it's later line just south of the river. Incidentally, the modern day Priory Street crosses the culverted Sherbourne where the footbridge once crossed - which was almost certainly built upon the place where the wall bridged the river, which acted as its "moat".
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
moriarty
allesley park coventry
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43 of 151  Fri 9th Feb 2018 10:16pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2017  Total posts:18

The mystery of Cook Street Gate. For many years people have been baffled by Hollar's beautiful depiction of the northern panorama of our city, because the principle gate (Cook Street) bears not the slightest resemblance to the actual gate. This somewhat impacts on the whole work downgrading it significantly. Wenceslaus Hollar was the most eminent engraver of the 17th century. He was recognised throughout the world, he was the first person to engrave a city panorama from one fixed viewpoint (his trademark). I refer you to the University of Toronto digital images. His view of London before and after the Great Fire is superb. He was capable of engineering standards - view his ground plan of old St Paul's. He used many novel techniques including a grid which was fixed to the ground, and he was meticulous in his work. But something has gone significantly wrong with his panorama of Coventry. The following is my interpretation of how, through trying to adhere to the above discipline, he transformed Cook Street gateway. Firstly he sketched the northern view (as many artists do) just to the right of Cook tower - note from this position he has accurately drawn the tower minus the entrance which would not be seen from this position. Now the eastern line of the wall onwards from Cook tower poses a problem - it follows the line of sight from this position so could not be drawn, however he must have been able to partly see Hales Street tower down the hill and he could see the archway and two windows in it, so in perspective he's added it to the sketch. This entails a half size Hales gate adjoined to the lefthand side of Cook gatehouse being the only position practicable. The interconnecting wall could not be represented. Now to complete the eastern wall you have to take another viewpoint (further left). This then means you have to revert back to multiple viewpoints with all its disadvantages. Mindful of his reputation of a single viewpoint he takes another sheet of "paper" and copies exactly in size and position a second identical Cook Street tower as a reference point (if you look at the two towers they are just too identical - this is one tower copied twice) still minus the entranceway as he intends to pass it off as one fixed view point! The Hales Street gate is not copied again because the interconnecting wall will now be visable from the new viewpoint. These are of course working sketches, he or an assistant completes the eastern section using the tower as a guide. It will be many months later, well away from Coventry, when the engraving starts, so when they align the sheets you see two towers with nogateway, and the halfsize Hales Street gate tacked on to one tower with the only archway. So combining the images and considering you have just previously engraved Spon etc I think this is how the towers were created, also engraving entails a mirror image to be made so identifying a view is difficult.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Helen F
Warrington
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44 of 151  Fri 27th Apr 2018 5:44pm  
Moderator: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:2110

Pictures of the excavated wall at Pool Meadow Click right for more in the series.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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45 of 151  Fri 27th Apr 2018 8:11pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1712

That's interesting Helen, I wonder if it was the part of the wall where Earls/Bastille Gate was situated as that was where one of my ancestors lived.
City Wall and Gates (inc. Cook Street)

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