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City Wall Walk Part One

Transcript of Coventry Evening Telegraph Urban Walk 31-Mar-2001

Step back In time along the city wall

THIS week, local historian Joe Davies, who regularly conducts walks along the route of Coventry's mediaeval city wall, is our guide.

The walk starts at St John's Church where the outline of Spon Gate is marked in coloured bricks in the road surface.

"Spon Gate was one of the most spectacular of the city gates," said. Joe. "It was complete by about 1400, and the church adjoining was where Royalist soldiers were imprisoned during the Civil War; it was said they were 'Sent to Coventry'
 


STARTING POINT: St John's Church

Fortification

"We set off across the road to the modem representation of the wall opposite.  It's built on the original fortification and would have taken a straight line through to Greyfriar's Gate at the bottom of Hertford Street, another grand affair.  Here there is a gate picked out in coloured tiles."

But to reach this point we take a more devious route cross the light-controlled crossing to the City Arcade and Shelton Square where the line of the wall is marked by castellated bricks on the ground.

The route now follows New Union Street across another light-controlled crossing, past numerous estate agents' offices to Cheylesmore Manor House, where occupants were well protected by the city wall 100 metres to the west.

"Cheylesmore Gate was south-east of the manor house and the wall then continued across to Little Park Street near the police station," said Joe.

"The line of the wall ran parallel with Parkside to the very end of Much Park Street at New Gate, now under the Ring Road.

"This was the main entrance to the city from London, and the first of the city gates to be built.

"It was here that citizens saw some action in 1642 when Charles I's army blew a hole in the city wall with cannon fire; but townspeople defended the breach and the King ordered a withdrawal."

Today we walk by way of St John Street to reach this point, turning right at the Greyhound Pub.

Then make for the gate-house to Whitefriar's Monastery now Coventry's Toy Museum, and pass through the archway following Whitefriar's Lane, a freshly cobbled way alongside a pleasant green park.

At Whitefriar's Street turn right into the pedestrian underpass and make for Whitefriar's Monastery.

"As you emerge be sure to notice the great Oriel window facing you," said Joe.

"It was here that Queen Elizabeth I spoke to the men of Coventry during her 1565 visit.

"She began her speech, 'Ye men of Coventry, what fools ye be' but unfortunately they forgot to write the rest down and her words were lost!  But the chances are she was talking about religion - always a sore point in Coventry."

From this point the wall followed Gulson Road enclosing the new university library to the old river crossing at Shut Lane Mill.  Here was a substantial watch tower.  It then turned 90 degrees and followed the river to Gosford Street.

Monastic

"But we skirt the great monastic building, pass through the car park to Gosford Street, and turn right making for Astleys," said Joe.

"Near the river crossing upstream was Gosford Gate another grand structure with a chapel dedicated to St George.

"The line of the wall is marked in the tyre station driveway, and a beautiful plaque in the wall of the bridge depicts Gosford Gate itself and the river Sherbourne."

Part two , completing the walk will appear next Saturday, 7th April.


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