Plans have been unveiled to spruce up Coventry Cathedral’s Unity Lawn, the fenced lawn next to the Chapel of Unity. The scheme covers the area bounded by Cuckoo Lane, Priory Row, Bayley Lane with St. Michael’s Avenue running up the middle. Historically the area was part of St. Michael’s Graveyard but there haven’t been any burials there since 1847.
The new scheme removes the railings to open the space up and provides new benches, lighting, paving and planting to create a more inviting space to enjoy the views of the Cathedral and the surrounding historic architecture. In a nod to the Lennon / Ono artwork from the Sixties, a circular bench will also be added around the largest tree in the lawn, which offers the best view of the Cathedral and the ruins.
The project has been designed by Studio Morison, an artist lead creative practice.
The Cathedral has confirmed that all graves and memorial plaques will be preserved and protected, with much of the new design focusing on the edges and central walkway. The plans also include the intention to uncover a hidden part of Coventry’s history; a former Coventry-born gladiator whose monument is currently hidden by shrubbery.
The monument states that John Parkes was a gladiator who was born in Coventry in 1681, fought over 350 battles across Europe “with honour and applause”, before accepting his defeat at the age of 52 in 1733. It is thought he was a professional sword fighter and fencing master, but was also known as a boxer.
The scheme is funding by the West Midlands Combined Authority and is set to begin in the autumn. It is due to be completed by spring 2021 in time for the new start date of City of Culture.
The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry, added: “We are very excited about the plans to improve the areas of St Michael’s Avenue and Unity Lawn.
“The first of the cathedral’s values is hospitality and we sincerely hope this will make our outdoor spaces more welcoming and encourage people to pause and reflect in this special part of our city centre.”