Cathedral Reflections

As part of the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of the consecration of the Cathedral, the Friends of the Cathedral have published a small book called Cathedral Reflections.

The book is a miscellany of anecdotes and memories of the cathedral over the past 60 years. More than a dozen short stories tell us some of the unknown or forgotten episodes in the modern history of the Cathedral, its people and its music.

Martin Williams, Chairman of the Friends, tells us the story behind two of the stories. Martin writes…

The Cov Soc newsletter carried a past story about the wartime static water tank opposite the Golden Cross. I remembered that in 1962 the huge Jacob Epstein statue of Christ from Llandaff Cathedral was erected on that water tank site in the middle of an exhibition in support of the World Hunger Campaign.  

“Apart from old news cuttings I could find no written account of it. The Coventry Council of Churches was responsible for the exhibition – largely through its secretary, Allen Edwards, who I knew as a vigorously active member of the Cathedral congregation. I traced and spoke with one of Allen’s children and I was able to put the story together adding some of his photo snaps.  

“It was an important part of the Cathedral Festival that followed the Consecration, and is particularly relevant this year with the big Epstein exhibition in the Cathedral.  The Coventry Council of Churches no longer exists, but it often used the Chapel of Unity which also celebrates its Diamond Jubilee in 2022. The work of the former Council of Churches is now done effectively through the Council of the Chapel.”

On another story that Martin wanted to see documents was the Call to Mission.

“In 1968 I watched with amazement Bishop Bardsley’s “Call To Mission- Learn To Live” which I later learned was the largest Church of England mission in the 20th century. I had never seen anything like it.  For some 10 nights it packed the Cathedral, Holy Trinity, Cov University (then the Lanchester), the Methodist Central Hall and the Cathedral Ruins via TV links and some 50,000 people came to it.  

“Once more, I could find no written account of it, yet I knew it deserved to be recorded. In 1968 it was part of the 50th Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Coventry Diocese. I remembered the name of the young curate from Rugby who was the organising secretary, now Canon Peter Larkin. Today he is in his 80s and retired in Truro, but I managed to trace him and he was really pleased to share with me his memories of that event which had a lasting impact on his life. Fortunately, he still had some of the papers related to it and he was pleased to secure them in the Cathedral Archives.”

Martin says “I am really pleased that the new book tells both these stories for posterity! Bishop Bardsley had a film made of the Coventry “Call To Mission”, but I have asked everywhere and have not been able to trace it.   Personally, I think it is probably sitting at the back of a cupboard in a parish church somewhere in the Diocese, but we will never know.” Perhaps you have some information about this?

There are also stories in the book about Royal visits, the history of the Cathedral’s music, Benjamin Brittain’s War Requiem, the story of the stonemasons who cut the stone for the Cathedral, the Deans and Bishops of the Cathedral and the three Cathedral offices.

Cathedral Reflections is published on 25th May and is on sale at the Cathedral Nave shop and St Clares in St. Michael’s Way for £5 or by post with postage extra – order online via MRWLegal@aol.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s