For the October meeting of the Society, we got the chance to see inside the recently re-opened Grade II listed St. Mark’s Church, adjacent to Swanswell Park, with its remarkable mural by Hans Feibusch.
Reverend Tim Eagles, Curate at the Church, welcomed forty members and visitors to the meeting and explained about the mission of this City Centre Resource Church. The Church is not a traditional Parish Church, but working closely with the Bishop of Coventry to help evangelise the city and transform society. There is a particular focus on engaging students and young people.
Architect Graeme Beamish told us about the history and architecture of this Grade II listed Church. Graeme was the Architect employed by the Diocese when the Hospital vacated the premises to survey the building and look at options for its future.
Coventry Society Secretary, John Payne, told the story of Hans Feibusch, who painted the renowned mural at the Church. Hans was a successful and well known Jewish artist who fell afoul of the Nazi regime and was one of the artists denigrated in Goebbels’s infamous Degenerate Art exhibition of 1937. He emigrated to Britain in 1933 and developed a reputation for painting murals in British Churches, painting the mural at St. Mark’s in 1963. He died in 1998 just four weeks short of his 100th birthday.
John also displayed a collection of materials about Feibusch, including books (one of which was signed by Feibusch himself), postcards, newspaper cuttings and other materials which he has donated to the Church.
We were very pleased to have Stephen Cooke in the audience. Stephen was the son of Rev. Christopher Hamel-Cooke, the last vicar of St. Mark’s before it closed in 1972. Stephen remembered Hans Feibusch and told us amusing stories about the “tiny German artist” who stayed with them whilst he painted the mural.
The society is proud to have played a small part in securing the future of this building and its remarkable mural. In addition to making Coventry aware of the mural through a social media and publicity campaign, we also opened the building for Heritage Open Days between 2012 – 2015, put on an exhibition about the mural and requested Historic England to include the details of the mural in the Listing particulars of the building.
The photo shows Society Chairman, Paul Maddocks, Secretary John Payne and Stephen Cooke, son of the last vicar of St. Mark’s in front of the Feibusch mural.
More about the Church on our website here.